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Control of the Emotions in Hebrew Thought

In the history of Western thought, the emotions have usually been subordinate in importance to the reason. In the Platonic tradition, emotion has even been regarded as the enemy of reason, judgment, truth and morality; the emotions have needed to be controlled by the reason. Despite the classic insistence of the Scottish philosopher David Hume, in his Treatise of Human Nature (1740), that ’reason is, and ought only to be, the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them’, our contemporary culture tends to polarize reason and emotion.The purpose of this paper, as part of a larger project on the Hebrew emotions, is to weigh the importance of emotions in biblical thought, wondering why this rich vein of human experience so well attested in the texts has not been more extensively mined. How important in the Hebrew Bible is the idea of the control of the emotions? Are all emotions to be controlled, or only some? What is it in the human person that can or should control the emotions? Does God control the divine emotions?

Author(s):  Clines, David J. A.
Format:  Article
Date:  2000