The Human Heart as Brain in Christian Thinking












The Jarvik 7 Artificial Heart
(Could Jesus Live Here?)

Several years ago I debated a Christian apologist over the fact that the Biblical writers had no idea of what the human brain was.



My point was that, if the Bible was correct, than the first artificial heart recipients Barney Clark and Robert Schrader (who died on these machines) would have been "unable to have asked Jesus into their hearts" since they had no hearts “for him to live in” and thus ended up in Hell. This Christian apologist said this was "ridiculous" and was very adamant that the term "heart" in the Bible was used as a purely symbolic term and "they knew fully well that it was not the place of emotions and thought". Of course, I strongly disagreed and reaffirmed that what the Bible said about the heart / Kardia is exactly what it meant! Thus, such a statement by Jesus is typical of the entire New Testament: “For out of the heart come forth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual sins, thefts, false testimony, and blasphemies.” (Matt. 15:19)

Moreover, if this very important word is merely a symbolic term in the New Testament, then how are we to know whether other important terms such a Resurrection, Heaven, Hell, Virgin Birth and the many more important doctrinal terms themselves are not also simply symbolic terms when use in theology?

Put in a historical perspective, this concept of the heart would be expected of any ancient Near Eastern culture whose understanding of human anatomy was hardly a scientific fact. Most ancient cultures felt the heart was the seat of emotions because it reacted via its heart rate depending on the emotional state of the person...thus a person was claimed to think and feel emotions with his or her heart ( Compare Hebrew “LBB“ with Akkadian “libbu” / “seru“) .

The Biblical tradition is filled with claims of organs used as the seat of emotions drawn from her neighbors. The Hebrew Bible understands the liver, bowels and heart as emotional seats for mental states which was latter defined in the New Testament (under Hellenistic / Greek influence) as the heart being the emotional center. This concept was symbolized over a thousand years earlier by the ancient Egyptians who, in the process of mummification of their pharaoh god for eternal life, the priests would save all the major internal organs in urns (including the heart) and removed the brain through the nasal cavity and threw it away as totally useless.

For two thousand years the Church has continue this erroneous concept about the heart. Gospel tracts tell the "sinner" that his heart is corrupt and that "only Jesus can heal a sinful heart" and all people "must give their hearts to Jesus". In the last days all humanity will stand before God and be judged on the thought and intents of the heart.

Catholic icons of both the Virgin Mary and Jesus often show each with a sacred (often wounded) heart shaped much like the symbol we would see on Valentine cards or love letters. While watching new's reports from the Vatican on the death watch of Pope John Paul II, a major news reporter stated that: "This heart that loved his Church and the world so much is now starting to fail." After his death, a cardinal stated that John Paul II's body would be interned in the grotto under St. Peter's Basilica, but this Polish pope's heart would be removed (cut out) from his body and sent back to his native Poland for burial to show his love for his native country.

With respect to the above (and as my summation), as long as Christianity pushes theology (which is of itself a very flawed reasoning system drawn from a pre-scientific ancient world view) as the dogmatic bases for the truth, then any modern society is doomed to have its scientific advances hobbled to an anachronistic mythical religious past.

88 comments:

John W. Loftus said...

According to Kittle's Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Abridged:

There is in the Testament a rich usage of kardía (the heart) for a. the seat of feelings, desires, and passions (e.g., joy, pain, love, desire, and lust; cf. Acts 2:26; John 16:6; 2 Corinthians 7:3; Romans 10:1; 1:24); b. the seat of thought and understanding (cf. Matt. 7:21; John 12:40; Acts 8:22; Mark 11:23; Revelation 18:7; Rom. 1:21); c. the seat of the will (e.g., Acts 11:23; 2 Corinthians 9:7; Luke 21:14); and d. the religious center to which God turns, which is the root of religious life, and which determines moral conduct (e.g., Luke. 16:15; Romans 5:5; 8:27; Ephesians 3:17; Hebrews 8:10; 2 Peter 1:19; as the heart of the sinner, Mark 7:21; John 12:40; Ephesians 4:18; James 1:26; as the heart of the redeemed, Matthew 11:29; 1 Timothy 1:5; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; Colossians 3:22; 1 Peter 3:15; James 4:8, etc.).

Harry McCall said...

Thanks John. Kittle's is a great resource.

The last time I had Jesus in my heart, I think it was heart burn!

gl_carey said...

Harry,

I would like to discuss your propostion. First, I would like to address the idea of determining the difference between a symbolic term and a non-symbolic term.

If a child is hurt or injured in an accident and a person nearby sees the injury, then tells somone else, "When I saw that child hurt it broke my heart." This is a common phrase. How do we determine which words of the phrase are symbolic or non-symbolic? If I make the statement, "My heart is broken, becasue my girlfriend left me." Does that mean my physical heart no longer pumps blood properly, or is torn and no longer functioning?

If my physical heart is clogged and cannot pump blood casuing me to have a heart attack or bypass surgery wouldn't my heart be broken therefore requiring repair by the surgeon?

People use figurative langauge in modern communication and figurative langauge or symbolic terms were used in NT times as well as ancient times.


The proverbs of Solomon are full of symbolic language examples.

So to think that the Biblical writers did not understand the use of symbolic language is not accurate.

The other part to your point is how do we determine the difference between symbolic and non-symbolic language.

How do you know the difference now?

You are taught.

Thanks for being open to my ideas while I consider yours as well.

I will agree with you on this point - you didn't say it expressely but did imply that catholicism was inconsistent by placing emphasis on the physical heart. Catholicism is a man made religion and is not equivalent to the teachings of Jesus. I will concur with the ideas that we can discount 99% of all catholic dogma. If 1% is accurate it is only that percent that comes from the teachings of Jesus.

Thanks for the discussion - I am still reviewing the rest of your post but wanted to start with the symbolic/non-symbolic language usage concept.

Harry McCall said...

Thanks for you commits gl_carey.

I understand your point, but as Sam Harris has stated in his "The End of Faith", once the doctrinal interpretation starts down that slippery slop of allegorical symbolisms, where do we stop? This is why Sam Harris has more respect for Christian Fundamentalist then Christian Liberals.

Philo understood the Hebrew Bible in this sense as well as the entire eastern part of Christianity know as the Alexandrian (Egypt) school of thought (as found today in the Orthodox Christian traditions). Plus, the early Christian, Origen, recorded this interaction in his Hexapla as different ancient Greek versions understood the Old Testament.

The Targums or the Aramaic translations of the Hebrew felt that all the anthropological references describing God were sacrilegious and symbolic, thus this ancient translation leaves these out understanding God a strictly spirit.

Theological interpretations of the Hebrew text was started in the Old Greek and continued in the LXX (see the excellent 5 volumes set by John William Wevers: “Notes on the Greek Text of Exodus” (as well as his other 4 volumes on the Pentateuch published in the SBL series: Septuagint and Cognate Studies).

I think most Christians would like to think that if Jesus came back to earth for several months, he would make a bee line to their church and give all the members a great big hug and say: “Well done thou good and faithful servant.”, but all sects down deep truly think their doctrines are orthodox and Jesus would do the same for them.

Tyro said...

Harry,

You are right on the money, and this belief was not restricted to a small region of the earth or to the bible writers. In fact, the heart was considered the centre of thought well up until the 16th Century when the first people started challenging the idea, and it wasn't until the 17th Century when Thomas Willis first broke from Galen's work on anatomy which had been the de-facto standard for centuries (but which was unfortunately not based on dissections of actual humans due to religious laws).

The heart was literally thought of as the centre of thought. It was connected to the rest of the body by these big, powerful-looking structures (veins and arteries) and the heart was a big, powerful-looking organ, suitable to the centre of thought. When we cut off the head, we separate the sense organs from the heart and so the body dies, which makes a kind of sense. The brain which would turn to custard immediately without preservation was never considered as a suitable organ for thought and was dismissed as a means for radiating heat.

It is true that we use "heart" as a metaphor today, but that's a remnant of a very real belief that disappeared relatively recently. Same with the expression that passion is in the veins instead of arteries (we know now that veins carry the waste-laden and oxygen-depleted blood back to the heart) and a "gut instinct" (again, it used to be believed that some thoughts were literally processed in the gut based on the sheer number of blood vessels that went there).

Anyone who tries to argue that the heart was used as a "symbol" are painfully ignorant of history and are not above making up stories to support their beliefs. When the bible authors talk about using our "heart", they would have written "brain" if they had an accurate understanding of anatomy.

For an engaging history of how the brain was first discovered as the centre of thought, read Carl Zimmer's "The Soul Made Flesh".

gl_carey said...

Harry,

I am not sure we are on the same page. Or at least I am not on the same page as you.

I do not have a string of letters behind my name describing my academic accomplishments and will quickly admit that I will need to be a life long student continually seeking truth. What I am saying is that I did not understand your technical response and it did not seem to be a understandable explanation of why symbolism was not an acceptable form of communication in spritual writings.

Would you consider that mankind has communicated in some way, shape or form by utilizing symbols, a drawing of a cat to represent a cat, letters for sounds, a combination of letters to make words, sentences, etc. If this is true then why would it be unreasonable for people to have communicated with symbolism or in figurative terms. The native americans did it often. If they named a son "running bear" does that mean he became a literal running bear or does that mean he runs like a bear, or he is strong like a bear or some other attribute of a bear.

If I say that when I dream I feel like I am floating on the wings on an eagle. Does that mean I have floated on the wings of an eagle so I can relate my experiences to each other or would it mean that my dream was like an experience that I had not had before, seeing that riding on the wings of an eagle is an unlikely experience.

My point is that people have used symbols, gestures, sounds and terms of comparison (symbolism) to communicate long before the NT writers and it is not unreasonable to think that people would use symbolism in religious writings just like they would any other writing that described life's experiences.

My observations from my readings and my current dialogue with others is that people communicate with both literal terms and symbolic terms often within the same sentence.

I wonder when the term heart was first applied to the organ that pumps blood? Before it was used as a term to describe the source of internal feelings, thoughts and those attributes listed in Kittle's definition or after?

Also you stated in your original post that "the Biblical writers had no idea of what the human brain was." There are several references to the use of the mind, I am not up on my greek but is that the same word translated for heart? If not then how did the writers distinguish the two different words, one to describe the mind and one to describe the heart?

Thanks

Grant

John Murphy said...

Well I apologize for being blunt again, but this argument might, perhaps, maybe would satisfy a second grader, but no one older.

You need to get a dictionary and study what metaphor and symbolism mean. You use them virtually every day of your life, but they are "illegitimate" in the theological realm?!?

Come on! Surely you have a better argument than this.

Harry McCall said...

Tyro, thanks for the background. I’ve learn a lot from both your discussion and web sites. That was great.

Again, thanks for your response gl_carey.

We do use symbols today just as in “1” means “On” and “0” means “Off”, but the computer reality is that ones are highs in logic while ) is logic low, but both are directly related to modern reality.

The same could be said about picture graphic traffic signs which communicate to all languages via symbols.

Emotions are universal reactions in the animal world which includes mankind. My point would be that if El, Yahweh, = God designed us (after himself), then the grand anatomical architect should know the make up of his creation: humans. But this is not the case from the start as the term heart is use in the Bible 1,224 times as the seat for thoughts and emotions.

On your final point, both the concept of the soul and mind are always a sub-section of the heart and this is so in pre-Socratic Greek philosophy as well.

john murphy stated: “You need to get a dictionary and study what metaphor and symbolism mean. You use them virtually every day of your life, but they are "illegitimate" in the theological realm?!?”

Did you read an understand my post? According to the Christian Science Church, the whole Bible is metaphoric. According to liberal Christianity, Hell, Heaven, Being born again, Satan, and other topics of theology are only metaphors and symbols. This is easily seen with icons in the Orthodox and Catholic churches, which has drawn sharp attacks from Protestants from Luther and Calvin to the Jehovah Witnesses today.

So, as I asked the Christian apologist in my post; why is heart a symbol and metaphor and Hell is not?

Finally, a Valentine heart does not condemn me should I choose not to believe in its symbols and metaphors, the Bible, on the other hand, does!

Evan said...

This is an interesting discussion and I agree Harry that nobody can put forward a clear method for determining when the metaphor starts in the Bible that satisfies all believers.

In fact the "metaphor" dodge is the only way literalism has survived this long, which I find deliciously ironic.

Grant I would first like to welcome you and thank you for showing such interest.

Additionally you say:

Catholicism is a man made religion and is not equivalent to the teachings of Jesus. I will concur with the ideas that we can discount 99% of all catholic dogma. If 1% is accurate it is only that percent that comes from the teachings of Jesus.

So here are some following Catholic dogmas and you tell me if you believe them:

1. Jesus was a man in 1st century Palestine.

2. Jesus was born to a virgin.

3. Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist.

4. Jesus preached and performed miracles during his ministry.

5. Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate.

6. Jesus was raised from the dead.

7. Jesus' death allowed our sins to be washed clean in the eyes of God.

8. Jesus will resurrect all of us and bring the faithful to Heaven and send the damned to Hell.

Let me know if you disagree with 99% of that, because if you do we are pretty much in agreement.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Harry,
great post,
I wish I'd done it!

This is another concrete example of how we are not talking about an all knowing god, but a man that preached, got mistaken for the messiah, then got caught and crucified as a rabble-rouser. Then the cognitive dissonance set in and the rationalization started from a ready made set of ideas floating around at that time. Man-Gods, God-Kings, death and resurrection as part of a theolgy going back at least as far as egypts earliest recorded history with osiris going down to the underworld everyday, and coming out everyday, and finally becoming the king of the underworld after he was killed and his SON horus took over.

moving on to mesopotamia.....
Can anyone say Gilgamesh? Real King, stories say he was man-god-king, had lots of adventures, but he had a cute but fierce man-dog sidekick. Someone should make a movie out of it. Can anyone say "Legendary"? "Folklore"?

how about law givers from Ur? Ring any bells? Its worth looking up.....and as we work our way eastward we start seeing three gods that work as one in ancient Pakistan......and more Man-God-Kings....man, they're all over the place...

Lee Randolph said...

ooops,
got gilgamesh's sidekick wrong. His name was Enkidu. Cute huh? It was a clone made of clay(1) from one of the gods that lived in the wilderness(2) until it was civilized by another 'love god' who introduced him to bread and wine(3), then he came out to do battle with Gilgamesh(4) and they became friends then they teamed up to do battle with the god of the forest wilderness, of whom Enkidu detested(5) and they killed it. But one of the gods demanded that One of them die to make up for it(6) so Enkidu died. But before he died he cursed his creator and the day he'd been born(7).

themes involved with christian parallels:
1. Adam
2. John the Baptist
3. Communion/Eucharist
4. Jacob Wresteled the Angel or his brother, whichever version you want to pick from and defeated him.
5. Battle against primitive nature indwelling
6. Atonement
7. Job.

previously mentioned, Gilgamesh was a king that was 60% god, 30% human.

Now these are not unique to Gilgamesh, they are common folklore, hero, cultural practices and themes of the Near East.

Steven Bently said...

The reason that the Bible writers used the term "heart" is because they wrote about "what appeared to be true to them at that time", not what they knew was absolutely true, the only knowledge that was available to them at that time, was practically near "zero'".

The majority of people living up to 1692 thought that the world was flat, because it appears to be flat, even if you go on top of a mountain and look around, it still appears to be flat.

The sun and stars appear to revolve over the earth, therefore it appears to us that the earth is at the center of the universe.

The heart reacts from the adrenaline that the brain tells the adrenal glands to enter the blood system for the heart to react and pump harder, it's called Flight or Fight Syndrome, it reacts to everything that we see hear and feel, via the brain, naturally the heart appears to be the center of the body.

When someone today becomes seriously ill, we get on the phone and dial 911, back 2000 years ago, when someone got ill, they started praying.

Christians presume that the Bible writers knew and had as much access to medical and scientific knowledge as we do today and even more, because god told them what to do and write.

I would guess that the people living back then had an IQ of a 5 year old child or less, living today.

The word brain is nowhere mentioned in the Bible, surely the god of all creation would have known about the brain, but the Bible was not written by divine inspiration. It was written by people of extreme ignorance.

The Christian will say, well the Bible is not a medical reference book, you damn sure got that right.

The Christain will say, well the Bible is not a science book, no they wrote about things unseen and invisible, from what they believed, not from what they knew.

The Bible is a book about ancient beliefs, not about modern knowledge.

Why did it take a god 400 years to send a deliverer (Moses) to lead the Hebrews out of bondage, because it is passed down urban legends and fables.

Why was Samson considered a great hero, when the Bible god said, "Thou shall not kill"? Because the Bible is about passed down urban legends and fables.

Why did not a god intervene and help save six million of his chosen people, the Jews? Because there is not a god living in the clouds above that intervenes on peoples behalf.

Why does not a god inspire people to continue to update the Bible and tell us what Jesus is up to these days? Because there is not a god to do so.

The Bible is only a conglomerate of passed down urban legends, fabels, dreams, visions, revelations, myths, hearsay, gossip, ancient beliefs, written by ignorant men of their time, not a book of divine inspiration nor of intellectual knowledge.

Why do Christians refuse to see the obvious?

Because to refute the Bible, would mean to call grandma a liar, or uncle Joe or the fat preacher down the street, all liars.

Because they are all perpetuating passed down lies and Biblical propaganda.

richdurrant said...

Hi Lee,

One big obvious question for me, after reading this,
previously mentioned, Gilgamesh was a king that was 60% god, 30% human.
what is the other 10%? Or did I get yet another bad grade in Jethro math?

Lee Randolph said...

Dang it Rich! Nothing gets by you!

okay,
he was two-thirds god and one-third human.

I was using the authentic ancient sumerian couting method........

aw, who am i kidding, i had a 'senior moment'.
;-)

Steven Bently said...

Sorry, I meant 1492, Columbus and everyone else thought the world was flat, no one cares if it's flat or not anyway.

Tyro said...

Steven,

Not sure why you're harping on about a flat earth. There were some prominent philosophers that did think the earth was flat (possibly including Aristotle), but as early as 250BC the earth was not only shown to be spherical but its diameter was calculated with great accuracy. According to Wikipedia, Pliny the Elder wrote in the 1st Century that everyone agreed on a spherical earth.

It's a tangent, but we should give our ancestors credit where it's due.

gl_carey said...

Evan,

I would agree with your eight points as being the 1% taken from the NT teachings and ask you to make note that the NT teaches that Jesus is the author of salvation to all those who obey Him. How many churches did Jesus build when He said "I will build my church" in Matthew 16?

I notice that the readers/coment posters often quote and make point with denominational teachings and I guess that is what you call Evangelical Christianity or Christian Fundamnetalists but those people are not following the NT teachings. They do not even where the name of Christ. They call themselves baptist, lutheran, presbyterian, catholic, etc. all of which can be traced back to a person such as Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, Martin Luther, John Wesely, John Calvin, etc.

I would agree with most of you that these people have a mix of tradition, self invented and small percentage of Bible in their teachings. I do not count them as representative of NT teachings.

Even this William Lane Craig guy, he is a philospher himself and is so noted on his website.

Thanks

Grant

A Skeptic said...

Grant-

I'm going to try to put it a different way than some of the other posters. This is why people here are making such a big deal of the "symbolism" vs "literal" issue:

You're claiming that some of the bible is purely symbolic. You claim that some is literally true. How do you decide?

You decide by applying knowledge from outside the bible. Therefore, the bible is not the source of all truth.

Harry McCall said...

I want to thank even, lee and steve for the comments.

I seems the Christian world loves to keep their faithful in ignorance. Most die-hard Christian Bibles Believers that teach Sunday school can not tell even tell me which books of the Bible come from which Testament. It seems as if the preacher is some paid spiritual guide to get the faithful to Heaven and all that the believer need do is to be sure they are “paid up and prayed up”.

Even the icon evangelist for the conservative Christina faithful, Billy Graham, claimed repeatedly that he was not a Biblical scholar and just left all his trust and intellect to his Southern Baptist faith.

Fact is, I never left Christianity, it left me. I was asked to leave 3 different churches, not because I was unethical, immoral, rude, lied about facts, un-Christian, or impious, but because I brought in new facts and required these Christians to think things through…to engage their (I would say “God given brains”, but in light of this post, I’d better not) Biblically speaking; hearts.

The last Baptist church that I had trouble with (many years ago), told me that they would call off any Sunday school class I was going to attend if I tried to encourage in what they (the preacher and deacons) called “discussions which caused Christians to doubt their faith” no matter how true it was. I found out very fast that, in the “religion business“, support of their product - Christianity - must be maintained at all cost; this coming from a one half of one-trillion dollar a year industry.

In my opinion, the religion industry has a defective product that needs to be re-called and removed from the market for human minds, but the establishment clause allows this parasite to continue to feed on humanity both spiritually and financially.

Jason said...

You're suggesting that Christ was using the term "heart" literally in Matthew 15:19 because...why exactly?

What other dungeon is so dark as one's own heart!
Nathaniel Hawthorne

My heart, which is so full to overflowing, has often been solaced and refreshed by music when sick and weary.
Martin Luther

Throw your heart over the fence and the rest will follow.
Norman Vincent Peale

It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of nonviolence to cover impotence.
Mahatma Gandhi

Are these symbolic or literal references to the heart? If they're symbolic, are you going to suggest there was no way to know if Ghandi's teachings of non-violence were literal since he was known to have used symbolism?

Trou said...

The point of this heart/mind commentary is that it reveals how the Bible was written in accord with the knowledge of the day. This would mean that it was written by man not by God. We all understand that the heart is not literally the seat of thought and emotions. Ancient peoples did believe this, however.
God, in his wisdom, if he did dictate the Bible, would have been able to convey truth without falling into error. He could have used words like thoughts, mind and feelings without resorting to mistaking the brain for the heart. He could have done this without changing the meaning of the text. Yet he didn't. Why, maybe because he didn’t have a part in writing the Bible. Well, who’s kidding who. This is another indication that the Bible was written by man and these errors can't be understood any other way.
If God exists and wants me to know him then he has to do a better job of revealing himself.

Evan said...

Jason,

I refer you to your previous ranting on my Babel/Elijah/Christ thread.

You are the one who can't imagine the Bible is not literally true.

You are the one who is sure that all texts mean exactly what they say and are in no way figurative.

You are the one who believes that if the text says there was a flaming chariot with flaming horses and someone went up into a whirlwind that is exactly what it means.

Now you are saying the Bible is full of metaphor not to be taken literally.

I see this as progress, but how do you know what's metaphor and what's not? What method do you use?

David said...

I'm just curious where in the Bible Jesus is described as entering a person's heart?

Harry McCall said...

Jason stated: “You're suggesting that Christ was using the term "heart" literally in Matthew 15:19 because...why exactly?”

All your quotes (accept Gandhi) as drawn form famous people using the heart as symbol / metaphor are based on the very REAL assumption that the ancient Biblical mentality mapped out a FALSE human anatomy FIRST! This type of understanding is discussed in the 1991 Philip Schaff Prize for the best book on the history of Christianity and the 1991 Merle Curti Prize in American Intellectual History by Harvard Professor David Hall entitled:
Worlds of Wonder; Days of Judgment: Popular Religious Belief in Early New England.

I sure most of these famous people prayed (with their eyes closed…to help with fantasy) or trusted the Bible as a book of truth; and thus its use in the court room and in official political swearing ins.

The Bible claimed God lived on the top of a mountain or in the sky. Thus the first Soviet Cosmonaut to enter space (following his traditional teaching in the Russian Orthodox Church) claimed he did not find or see God there. To protect this “God in the Sky” theology, Christian apologist have now relocated God to deep space. What I saying is that as the old symbols and metaphors fall apart in reality, they are simply re-defined or relocated.

So, whether it’s a three leveled cosmology as depicted in Genesis (where man could actually build a tower to reach the Gods (Please note the word Elohim = Gods here / Genesis 11:7) and where the Gods feared that man really could do this or whether the heart is totally misunderstood as the brain, the end is all the same: Mythology.

Finally, I have no problem with people named John, Joseph, Samuel, James, Mary, Elizabeth, Sarah, and Hannah as many religious parents often hope that their children will emulate these Biblical characters in faith and works; an accepted use of symbol and metaphor (Little wonder no one has named their son and daughter Ahab and Jezebel…I wonder how these infamous Biblical names would play out in Sunday school), however, I do have a problem with ancient physiological alchemy.

David said...

Evan,

I don't know about Jason, but here is my basic criteria:

1. Know the original language
2. Know the stylistic patterns/ word usage of the author...as well as what he has said in the across all the various texts he has produced. (the Biblical theology approach if you will)
3. Analyze the overall flow of argument (if a literal/allegorical interpretation destroys the coherence of the author's point it may be an unwarranted interpretation)
4. Keep the literary genre in mind (poetry, apocalpytic, historical narrative)

I know some of you are laughing because this is basic hermeneutic stuff, but honestly I use this process when I read the newspaper so I don't think it is that difficult. This method does not have 100% certainty in producing the authorial intent, but I am unaware of any alternative that will.

Reading the verses John provided in this post, and assuming the author meant a literal organic heart...the passages are incoherent. I can either conclude one of two things:
1. The author is being absurd
2. My method of interpretation is flawed

Ok maybe a combination of the two is possible too! :)

Jason said...

Evan said: "Now you are saying the Bible is full of metaphor not to be taken literally."

Please read my post. I asked "You're suggesting that Christ was using the term "heart" literally in Matthew 15:19 because...why exactly?" I haven't said anything about the Bible being full of metaphor.

I see this as progress, but how do you know what's metaphor and what's not? What method do you use?

Er, that's the question I'm asking.

Stan, the Half-Truth Teller said...

Evan asks of Jason:

"[H]ow do you know what's metaphor and what's not? What method do you use?"

I recognize my own audacity in answering on Jason's behalf, but in keeping with the "spirit" of this topic, I believe speaking on another's behalf is perfectly acceptable...

At any rate, the answer to the question is three-fold:

1. He has a gut feeling;
2. He weighs the gut feeling using the scales in his heart;
3. He pulls an answer out of his ass.

--
Stan

Jason said...

Harry,

You didn't answer the question. You're suggesting that Christ was using the term "heart" literally in Matthew 15:19 because...why exactly?

Gen 24:45 "And before I had done speaking in mine heart..."

Basic, everyday imagery. Did ancient people believe hearts had mouths that spoke...?

Evan said...

Basic, everyday imagery. Did ancient people believe hearts had mouths that spoke...?

Which is more probable, a talking heart, or flaming horses and a flaming chariot?

Which is more probable, a talking heart, or a talking snake?

Which is more probable, a talking donkey, or a talking heart?

Which is more probable, a man living in a whale's stomach for 3 days, or a talking heart?

I would say all are very improbable.

Therefore, they are all legend or metaphor.

My solution works great.

How does yours work, Jason?

David said...

Evan:

Am I right in my understanding of your position? Bear with me, I am not a philosophy major. :)

-Premise list of events is improbable
-Conclusion: the Bible contains mythological content
-Assumption: pragmatism (what works is the best method)

Original question to be addressed:
...how do you know what's metaphor and what's not? What method do you use?


I understand that you can't accept truth claims in a book that contains descriptions of improbable events.

I do not understand how that is relevant to the usage of kardía in the Bible.

You have concluded that since they are all improbable, and thus didn't happen...this particular example of the usage of kardia can be taken literal and thus also disregarded as myth. Is the sole justification for taking it literally, the fact that it allows that particular passage to be disregarded as myth? Surely I am wrong about this.

What if I could demonstrate that a more textually warranted, coherent, and stylistically valid interpretation of kardia works just as well as the literal organ interpretation ? Not saying I can but I'm just curious if you would accept that.

Thanks,
David

Tyro said...

It's interesting that a lot of people see passages which talk about our "heart" or "gut" as obvious metaphors, and then say something like:

1. Know the original language
2. Know the stylistic patterns/ word usage of the author...as well as what he has said in the across all the various texts he has produced. (the Biblical theology approach if you will)


(Singling David out, but a lot of people have said similar things.)

You're facing a big problem that I think you're completely blind to, namely that we use phrases today in a strictly metaphorical sense which were once literal. This goes for "in our heart", "gut instinct", but there are many more. Thinking just of mistaken anatomy, we still use "melancholic", "choleric", "phlegmatic", "mercurial", "X is in her veins", "possessed" and probably dozens of others. No one today believe that melancholy is caused by black bile yet that is exactly what the people who originally used the term thought. No one believes that too much phlegm makes someone calm, yet this is what earlier people believed.

The brain/gut/heart change was even more abrupt and supplanted earlier thought within a single generation, yet for thousands of years people literally believed that our thoughts came from our heart. Not a metaphor.

It's a clear demonstration that many people are not just unable to understand ancient writing, but are blind to their own limitations.


I'm not saying that "heart" was never used metaphorically, I have no idea. But if you substitute some modern expression like "use your head" for "use your heart", you will get a real understanding of what the authors are saying. Maybe they didn't really think Jesus was in their head, but you can't use the fact that they were using the term "heart" instead of "head" as evidence of a metaphor. That's just evidence of their ignorance, not just them but everyone.

Harry McCall said...

Jason said...
Harry,

{You didn't answer the question. You're suggesting that Christ was using the term "heart" literally in Matthew 15:19 because...why exactly?}

Because that’s all Jesus knew as a simple religiously educated Jew. Why would Jesus have known modern anatomy when it was a religious defilement to touch a corpse. Just how would they have known any different any more than Jesus knew about mental illness, germs and viruses. Simply put, the heart was the part that controlled the neurobiology in the body and when people had a mental illness, demon possession or sin controlled the heart. I’ll challenge you to find me ANY ancient Near Eastern Text that provide evidence that’s different.

{Gen 24:45 "And before I had done speaking in mine heart..."

Basic, everyday imagery. Did ancient people believe hearts had mouths that spoke...?}

Jason, just what do the un-pointed Hebrew letters “La-medh, Beth, Beth” mean? When in doubt, the Greek of the LXX is used to help determine Hebrew etymology. So, in short, the English text reflects the etymology of Classical Greek which was influenced by the meaning of kardia from the Greek of Homer and Hesiod.

As far as Genesis 24: 45, the text is as you read it, ancient people did talk in their hearts
(the mouth part is your idea) just as Mary, Jesus’ mother, “ But Mary kept all these sayings, pondering them in her heart.” Luke 2:19.

You Christians have created a “Catch 22” for yourselves here. Either the Bible is literal here in its use of the word “heart“, or the whole New Testament is merely symbols and allegories and is thus meaningless for the Church.

Evan said...

What if I could demonstrate that a more textually warranted, coherent, and stylistically valid interpretation of kardia works just as well as the literal organ interpretation ? Not saying I can but I'm just curious if you would accept that.

You'd have to show that that was the understanding of the author at the time for it to be valid. If you could show medical texts from that time that knew the brain was the organ of cognition and emotion, you might have a point.

I doubt you can, but I allow for the possibility.

If, on the other hand, the widely held belief among the common people of the time and the elite is that the heart is the organ of cognition and emotion was being portrayed in the text of the Bible, it strains credulity to believe that the authors of the Bible were the ONLY ones using it metaphorically and that they were winking at their audience for being such rubes.

This is very unlikely.

Evan said...

Grant,

Thanks for your response. It's good to know you don't take the Bible so literally, but I have some questions:

If you are correct when you say:

I would agree with your eight points as being the 1% taken from the NT teachings and ask you to make note that the NT teaches that Jesus is the author of salvation to all those who obey Him. How many churches did Jesus build when He said "I will build my church" in Matthew 16?

Does that then mean there are no other items of Catholic doctrine that you agree with? Or are there more?

I am curious to know if you believe that exhausts the 1% or not.

Jason said...

Harry said:Because that’s all Jesus knew as a simple religiously educated Jew.

This sounds an awful like a personal opinion. Do you have anything to offer on how it is you've come to understand the limits of Christ's knowledge level?

Why would Jesus have known modern anatomy when it was a religious defilement to touch a corpse.

I know hearts don't have mouths and I can assure you I've never touched a corpse. Firsthand experience isn't a prerequisite for knowledge.

I’ll challenge you to find me ANY ancient Near Eastern Text that provide evidence that’s different.

Argumentum ad ignorantiam.

As far as Genesis 24: 45, the text is as you read it, ancient people did talk in their hearts
(the mouth part is your idea) just as Mary, Jesus’ mother, “ But Mary kept all these sayings, pondering them in her heart.” Luke 2:19.


1st century Jews understood, and used, symbolism. As do you and I. It shouldn't be a surprise.

You Christians have created a “Catch 22” for yourselves here. Either the Bible is literal here in its use of the word “heart“, or the whole New Testament is merely symbols and allegories and is thus meaningless for the Church.

This is a ridiculous and ignorant assumption. Ghandi used symbols but no one assumed his teachings of non-violence were symbolic. Christ used parables to communicate but this isn't any reason to assume the entire Gospel message is symbolic. Paul used the image of a heart being uncircumcised but I'm not aware of any major early church document that assumed this was literal. Heart symbolism has even been used dozens and dozens of times on this very site by atheists. Should Christians assume their words were only symbolic...?

The fact of the matter is symbols are used in Scripture as they are in the vast majority of every book ever written.

Personally, I think David's criteria for intelligently determining what's symbolism is a fair one:

1. Know the original language
2. Know the stylistic patterns/ word usage of the author...as well as what he has said in the across all the various texts he has produced. (the Biblical theology approach if you will)
3. Analyze the overall flow of argument (if a literal/allegorical interpretation destroys the coherence of the author's point it may be an unwarranted interpretation)
4. Keep the literary genre in mind (poetry, apocalpytic, historical narrative)

Evan said...

The fact of the matter is symbols are used in Scripture as they are in the vast majority of every book ever written.

I think it's just fabulous that you are admitting that scripture is largely symbolic and I applaud you for it.

But again, the mind thinks. The mind has an internal monologue. And if you think the mind is located in the organ of the heart, then the speaker of the internal monologue (the voice you hear that tells you what to type, write, say, or think) would then be located in the heart to a person who believed the heart was the organ of cognition.

Thus when I say my brain is speaking to me, I am being literal because I believe the brain to be the organ of cognition. When I say my brain tells me I ought to do this, but my heart tells me no, I am separating metaphorically my emotions from my cognition.

Now if you can find some structural text that shows that 1st century Palestinians understood this, and this can be shown by context or by description, than your ideas may be valid.

But Aristotle didn't think so. And Aristotle was considered authoritative until the 16th century at the earliest. So the onus is on the person who claims this is a metaphor to show that it was believed by the writer that the heart was not the organ of cognition, emotion, and the internal monologue.

David said...

Tyro:

May I suggest that you check out two books on the subject of exegesis. You appear to be confused about the difference between etymological analysis and contextual analysis.

Exegetical Fallacies (D.A. Carson)
Biblical Words and Their Meaning, An Introduction to Lexical Semantics (Moises Silva)


To briefly respond:
you are correct in your assertion that the word choice alone is insufficient to indicate what literary device is present in the text. Of course, I would make no such argument.

I am simply pointing out that you must adhere to ALL of the things I listed and make a balanced decision from that.

Simply looking at the historical usage of the word in other writings will not cut it. In fact that will lead to almost certain misunderstanding because language evolves (as you've described in your post).

You said:
It's a clear demonstration that many people are not just unable to understand ancient writing, but are blind to their own limitations.


Quite right! I couldn't agree more. Go read those verses and assume the human heart organ was intended by the author...if you do that and honestly accept the consequences of that interpretation then ok.

Another issue covered in the Exegetical Fallacies book is that of assuming one meaning for a word, and mechanically applying that definition irregardless of contextual placement and idiomatic usage.


"Maybe they didn't really think Jesus was in their head."

I am still waiting for textual evidence (relative to the time period of the New Testament) that anyone made these statements. I don't deem it unlikely, just want to read it for myself.

You're definitely making a good point though, some words are now metaphorical and were originally literal.

Thanks,
David

Harry McCall said...

Jason, what would I have to do to provoke God to wrath? Cruse Him in public? Burn down churches? Brake every legal code in the Old Testament? Defile the name of Christ?

Jason, just how do you get this symbolic God of your to function; I mean just like in the Old Testament? Oh, I’m sorry! These stories are ancient myths.

Oh yes! When Jesus comes back (he said he was coming back real soon in the book of Acts you know)…Then I’ll face the judgment! REAL SOON is over 2,000 years and counting!!! Or is this simply just another Biblical allegory ?

Jason, it sure is a struggle to keeping a myth alive!

Rod McKenzie said...

Hi Harry great post and even better discussion.
If I were to say to my girlfriend
” I love you with all my heart, please marry me” and then reneged and was sued for “breach of promise”
would I be able to defend myself by saying the first part was metaphor so the rest can be discounted ?
Rod McKenzie

Tyro said...

David,

I think you might misunderstand my position. I'm not saying that the presence of metaphors within rhetoric should dismantle the bible. It seems to me that you can excuse their ignorance, replace "heart" with "head", and then still conclude the authors didn't believe there was a Jesus homonculous within their head. I agree with the argument that this is a metaphor, though one that arises from their all-too-human ignorance of anatomy.

I don't entirely agree with Harry's argument. I think I agree with some of his conclusions, but am not convinced by the strength of this particular argument. In general, there is a serious issue regarding how you decide what is intended as a metaphor and what isn't, but I think this point could be made better by just focusing on other aspects.

So, on to your objections...

Go read those verses and assume the human heart organ was intended by the author...if you do that and honestly accept the consequences of that interpretation then ok.

As I've said, they did mean it as the heart because they thought the heart was the centre of thought. Did they really think there was a little Jesus in there? I'm not convinced.

"Maybe they didn't really think Jesus was in their head."

I am still waiting for textual evidence (relative to the time period of the New Testament) that anyone made these statements. I don't deem it unlikely, just want to read it for myself.


I think you're saying that you're waiting for evidence that people thought Jesus was in their heads as an homonculous or some other literal sense. If so, then I'm with you, I'm waiting for that evidence as well.

I think it is dishonest/special pleading when apologists declare any old passage as a metaphor without any criteria other than their own preference, but I'm not convinced that's happening with this specific incident.

Rod McKenzie said...

Hi Harry great post and even better discussion.

If I were to say to my girlfriend
” I love you with all my heart, please marry me” and then reneged and was sued for “breach of promise”
would I be able to defend myself by saying the first part was metaphor so the rest can be discounted ?

Rod McKenzie

Steven Bently said...

To tyro, You suggested me to a site, but did you happen to read it yourself??

Wiki. "The belief was strongly held up until the 4th and 5th centuries, when scholars started discussing the circumference of the earth."

I was talking about what people believed back then, the people whom wrote the Bible, get it??


tyro - " Pliny the Elder wrote in the 1st Century that everyone agreed on a spherical earth."

I'm wondering which part of the Bible (ch/vs) did Pliny the Elder write?

It appears you 'really didn't' read anything I wrote correctly, you just want to scoff at people.

I was talking about what people believed, not what people knew for pure fact, which was very little back then.

Apparently the Bible writers believed the heart had ears, eyes, vocal cords, feelings, pockets to store their emotions in.

They also believed the earth was flat and the earth was all that there was in the universe. They also thought that they held the key to all knowledge and wisdom that would ever be available to mankind.

Now scoff at this post, go for it!

Harry McCall said...

Rod McKenzie said...

{If I were to say to my girlfriend
” I love you with all my heart, please marry me” and then reneged and was sued for “breach of promise”
would I be able to defend myself by saying the first part was metaphor so the rest can be discounted ?}

Rod, You created a verbal contract (which in civil law would be extremely hard to enforce). Plus, the degree of your love is entirely subjective and unverifiable in a court of law.

So whether it’s all your heart, the most in the world, with your whole being, and so on, the noun you use would have meaning only to the female you wanted to impress.

However, Bible plainly states:

Matthew 24:30 and then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky. Then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.

Matthew 26:64 Jesus said to him, "You have said it. Nevertheless, I tell you, after this you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of the sky."

Mark 13:26 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.

Mark 14:62 Jesus said, "I am. You will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of the sky."

1 Thessalonians 4:17 then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air. So we will be with the Lord forever.

Revelation 1:7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, including those who pierced him. All the tribes of the earth will mourn over him. Even so, Amen.

So if it’s a clear blue sky, does that mean we have Biblical proof that Jesus will not return today? The Bible plainly states that Jesus needs clouds to ride upon to get back to earth. But then again, how can a resurrected body of a man (weighting 150 - 220 lbs) ride on water vapor? (Plus, Jesus NEVER said he was virgin born, but Jesus did say he was the “Son of Man”. Should not we understand this to mean the son of a human or Joseph?)

Conclusion: Either the Biblical writers flat out lied or, most likely, they just did not know what in the hell they were talking about (and I do believe this with all my heart)!

Jason said...

Harry said: Jason, what would I have to do to provoke God to wrath? Cruse Him in public? Burn down churches? Brake every legal code in the Old Testament? Defile the name of Christ?

Harry, I would appreciate it if you dealt with the issue at hand instead of throwing out red herrings.

Paul used the image of a heart being uncircumcised - is there any major early church document that assumed this was literal?

Jeremiah and Ezekiel also refer to the heart being 'uncircumcised'. There's no evidence the 'simple religiously educated' Israelites or modern day Jews have ever tried to literally circumcise the heart which suggests they understood these references to be symbolic. How do you respond?

Heart symbolism has been used dozens and dozens of times on this very site by atheists who have never touched or examined a corpse. Should Christians therefore assume their words were only symbolic?

Tyro said...

Steven,

You said: The majority of people living up to 1692 thought that the world was flat, because it appears to be flat, even if you go on top of a mountain and look around, it still appears to be flat.

I gave references of people that demonstrated the earth was round hundreds of years before the NT and a contemporary of the bible authors who said that all educated people knew it was round. You respond:

I was talking about what people believed back then, the people whom wrote the Bible, get it??

That isn't what you said, but maybe you are right that there were pockets of ignorance. You certainly haven't demonstrated that the bible authors held this view. However, I was responding to your absurd claim that Flat Earth was a dominant belief up until the 17th Century.

You quote Wikipedia as saying "The belief was strongly held up until the 4th and 5th centuries, when scholars started discussing the circumference of the earth."

I'll take this as a tacit admission that you are dropping your Columbus claims. I'll also assume that you read the entire intro where it contradicts itself and says "with extraordinary few exceptions no educated person in the history of Western Civilization from the third century B.C. onward believed that the earth was flat".

So, given contradictory passages in the wiki, I chose to use the judgement of a person who lived at the time. Understand?

Either way, it doesn't matter much - the earth was demonstrated to be a sphere (and accurately measured) 350 years before the NT was written.

They also believed the earth was flat and the earth was all that there was in the universe.

I can see how you would build a case using the OT, but not the NT. The bible has enough failings without people trying to manufacture more, especially when a belief in a flat earth isn't relevant or necessary.

Darren said...

Tell me, if the ancients were so scientifically illiterate and ignorant of the natural world then how could they have made something as sophisticated as this:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/11/061129-ancient-greece.html

Basically, it's an ancient (as in "predates the time of Christ") mechanical computer used to map the orbit of planets in our solar system.

Yep, they wacky ancients were so stupid they didn't know their head from a whole in the ground.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi all,
as you are debating which bunch of ancients knew what and when, don't forget that communication infrastructure sucked in those days, some people lived in villages and cities and some were nomadic and politics always plays a big part in dissemination of information and then theres those pesky christians burning down libraries in alexandria and all.

yes some ancients were advanced, but technology has to be appreciated to be adopted. Some ancients in the same time period were dumb as dirt and fought to stay that way.

Harry McCall said...

Jason, all you have are ancient dinosaur bones an no living God that is functioning today.

Can Jesus ride on clouds? “Were is the promise of his coming? For since the father have fallen asleep, things remain as they are.”
Amen to that verse!

Jason, can resurrected bodies ride on water vapor? Paul tells us the dead in Christ will meet him in the air and the we which are alive will be next to ride in the clouds.

And why does Jesus need clouds to come back in (I in a frog on this one (get the pun)? The heart only knows how a (170 lb ?)man can ride in the clouds…that makes perfect ancient sense!!

Darren, the ancient Greek were MUCH more intelligent than the dumb Biblical writers. Classical Greeks such as Plato, Socrates, Aristotle were the exceptions. I web noted that this gadget was Greaco-Roman and not Biblical.

Thus, the Hellenistic Paul used their logic just as the Gospel of John did to make the human Jesus into he Christ of Judaism.

Jason said...

Harry,

Your opinions on bones and water vapour aren't relevant. Please answer my questions dealing with the topic you opened up for discussion.

David said...

In response to the inquiry about riding on clouds. I did a quick study and basically it looks like the Jewish people equated clouds with the glory of God. Of course there are alternate interpretations, but considering the audience that these words were spoken to, I personally conclude that this may/may not be literal; however, the imagery was chosen to communicate something to the audience.

This article was interesting:
http://ejmmm2007.blogspot.com/2007/10/clouds-of-glory-gods-sukkot-gods.html

"Rabbi Dennis has studied in Jerusalem and earned a Master’s Degree in Hebrew Letters and ordination from Hebrew Union College, the oldest Jewish seminary in the Americas"

Stan, the Half-Truth Teller said...

How far this topic has come, and how many tangents have been put forth...

Back to the original topic:

The term "heart", as used in the Bible, was primarily used literally. Today, yes, we recognize that the brain is the cognitive center, and yes, today we use the term "heart" as metaphor when referring to thoughts, emotions, and the like.

Metaphors, as pointed out by various respondents, were at some point based on a literal statement. We have countless phrases today (check out a "Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins" -- it's humorous and fascinating) about whose origins we are almost completely unaware, and it shouldn't surprise us in the least that things we find to be strictly metaphorical today were thought of in the literal sense in the past.

The Bible's use of the "heart" as the emotional/cognitive center was pretty clearly literal.

Anyway, I think the underpinning point here is that if we claim that the Biblical use of the term "heart" is metaphorical in these cases, then we are now required to support our reasoning for accepting some, but discounting other, portions of the Bible as literal rather than metaphor.

There isn't a magical decoder ring by which we can distinguish allegory from the literal.

The onus is clearly on the Christian to explain why he believes the Bible to be 100% true, and square that with his insistence that the parts which are clearly false are somehow metaphorical in nature, while managing to maintain that the rest of it is literally true.

The Atheist and Agnostic merely look at ancient texts such as the Bible as either purely allegory, or as the literal understanding of the ignorant peoples who wrote them -- there need be no shame in this, but the Christian or other religionist will refuse to admit this possibility, since it is so central to a belief structure without which he can hardly survive...

The Christian is the one who claims that his god is omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, perfect, and eternal. It is the Christian, therefore, who must answer why such a capable being failed to create a perfect universe (even in my clearly imperfect state I can conceive of vastly superior universes, with regard to perfection), fails to act in a manner consistent with an omnipotent being, fails to keep his own apparent documents from being inconsistent with one another, fails to have his ancient writings come even close to being scientifically accurate, etc.

I recall the end of the Disney movie "Aladdin", when Princess Jasmine is apparently being denied the opportunity to marry the "street rat" Aladdin, when the Sultan says that she cannot wed him because of the law. Even this simple-minded fool recognized that as Sultan, he could change the law. The god of the Christian, however, seems incapable of recognizing this simple fact -- he can change anything.

From the moment of "the Fall", he could have zapped everything back to perfect, but that isn't the real problem...

No, a perfect, eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and omnibenevolent being has no excuse for making any sort of mistake, or for having any part of its being (which we all must be, if these attributes are to be considered true) be in any way imperfect. It is inexcusable.

The arguments the non-Christians, especially the Atheists and Agnostics, put forth, are basically all variations on a theme: your proposed deity cannot logically exist based on the limitations you place on him.

If Christians would cease to claim that their god were omnibenevolent and perfect, for instance, then it would be much more difficult to deny the possibility of his existence. Of course, if this were true, then why should we worship such a being, and therein lies the rub (o O metaphor).

So we return once again to the realm of what is, and what is not, metaphor in an ancient set of texts written, copied, and translated by thousands of ancient peoples, who were necessarily ignorant of science in virtually all of its splendor, and whether or not we should expect every word of it to make sense, or to agree, and whether we should force, by the use of arbitrary interpretation and clever use of rhetoric, it to seem a coherent, historically, and scientifically (in terms of the current scientific theories when said interpretation is taking place) accurate guideline for how we should live.

Come on, people.

Lastly, as a specific rebut to Jason's nonsense regarding our second-hand knowledge of anatomy due to the study of cadavers... The point was that touching a corpse was taboo for anyone under Jewish law -- not just Jesus. Consequently, any anatomical knowledge learned by anyone through the "desecration" of a corpse was condemned. Today, we have this knowledge because we no longer believe that touching a corpse is taboo, and so we learn from others who have touched corpses. While it is not necessary for me to work with a cadaver to pass an Anatomy & Physiology class, it is a requirement at some point, if I pursue a medical degree. Surely even you can see the stupidity of your argument, at least in that case...

--
Stan

Scott said...

Harry: "Jason, what would I have to do to provoke God to wrath? Cruse Him in public? Burn down churches? Brake every legal code in the Old Testament? Defile the name of Christ?"

Based on the following verses...

Matthew 24:30 and then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky. Then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.

Revelation 1:7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, including those who pierced him. All the tribes of the earth will mourn over him. Even so, Amen.

My guess is the only thing that would immediately provoke God's wrath would be an attempt to destroy the human race in it's entirety. If there was no one there to see him return, this would throw a major monkey wrench in God's plan. Of course, this would interfere with Man's free will, which appears to be a contradiction. I'd also assume that God would prevent some kind of global catastrophe that would wipe out humanity.

Of course, given my lack of belief in God, this isn't a theory I'd want to test.

But, beyond that, it seems that God is willing to let people do what they want, including killing and torturing innocent people.

Jason said...

Stan,

Why're you so insulting?

My point was that not being able to touch a corpse doesn't affect whether or not someone would know the heart doesn't have a mouth. The Egyptians were pulling organs out of bodies centuries before Christ. The Romans had an even better grasp on anatomy. Do you think this knowledge would have somehow been hidden from an entire society that shared the same confines as the Romans? Whether or not one could actually dissect a body wouldn't stop the natural spread of information.

While it is not necessary for me to work with a cadaver to pass an Anatomy & Physiology class, it is a requirement at some point, if I pursue a medical degree. Surely even you can see the stupidity of your argument, at least in that case...

Jesus wasn't trying to pass an anatomy course nor was he pursuing a medical degree. He did however know hearts didn't have mouths. Why? Because this knowledge was as commonplace back then as it is now.

Re: ...I think the underpinning point here is that if we claim that the Biblical use of the term "heart" is metaphorical in these cases, then we are now required to support our reasoning for accepting some, but discounting other, portions of the Bible as literal rather than metaphor.

This has already been addressed. Twice.

David said...

Stan:

"The Bible's use of the "heart" as the emotional/cognitive center was pretty clearly literal."

Yup, that settles it. No need to argue any further. :)

"The Atheist and Agnostic merely look at ancient texts such as the Bible as either purely allegory, or as the literal understanding of the ignorant peoples..."

"There isn't a magical decoder ring by which we can distinguish allegory from the literal."

Approaching literature (ancient or modern) in such a rigid manner is inconceivable to me. I hope others preclude themselves from your statement, or that I have misunderstood you.

Nice summary on the problem of evil...

Even if I accepted the premise that the ancient writers wrote of the heart as center of cognition...my hermeneutic still allows for that. I don't put modern standards on ancient authors. IF the text is inspired, it was done so in a manner so that the original intended audience could understand it.

Ancient people are just as foolish to us as we would have been to them, with the exception that we are able to study history.

Just a thought.

Stan, the Half-Truth Teller said...

David:

I'll concede your point that "IF the text is inspired, it was done so in a manner so that the original intended audience could understand it", if you'll likewise concede to me the fact that following from your statement and significant advances in technology, the text is no longer relevant as an instructional tool (or a guideline for living) today.

As to the heart, and your tongue-in-cheek dismissal of the fact that the bible truly did consider the heart the cognitive center, well, laugh if you must, but it's true. It doesn't mean that the statements involved can't be reinterpreted as metaphor given what we today know about the brain versus the heart, but the fact remains that bibilical authors, divinely inspired or not, thought the heart did what we know the brain to do today.

As to my approach to ancient texts/literature, I certainly don't read it expecting to find divine inspiration, if that's what you think, and I don't think that very many of the participants on this blog do so either. The only notable exception would be the way you Christians read the bible...

Jason:

Re: "...I think the underpinning point here is that if we claim that the Biblical use of the term "heart" is metaphorical in these cases, then we are now required to support our reasoning for accepting some, but discounting other, portions of the Bible as literal rather than metaphor."

This has already been addressed. Twice.


Really? I must've missed it despite reading each and every response... Remind me, will you? Or at the least point out the specific points at which you so deftly addressed this problem, and rendered the rest of the discussion on this topic moot.

(Sorry if you found me insulting)

--
Stan

David said...

Stan,

"the text is no longer relevant as an instructional tool (or a guideline for living) today"

I think you're right in as much as the Bible isn't a biology or physics manual. Historically, well thats a can of worms we'll leave for the moment. :)

I believe when properly understood in light of the original audience/author...the Bible accomplishes what it sets out to accomplish (2 Tim 3:14-15).


This question is addressed to the former Christians reading here: I'm just curious what your thoughts are in hindsight concerning your time reading the Bible? Do you think it motivated you at all in comparison to the current moral system you subscribe to? Did you ever experience anything that some Christians describe as conviction, peace, etc..? Lets limit this to the NT, since there is much to say about the OT but come on who does their devotional reading in Leviticus? Anways, just curious....

Harry McCall said...

I’ll challenge you to find me ANY ancient Near Eastern Text that provide evidence that’s different.

Jason stated: “Argumentum ad ignorantiam.”

Jason, wake up! There are none! And we have tons of cuneiform clay texts used to back up both the multi volume “Chicago Assyrian Dictionary” and Wolfram von Soden’s series: “Akkadsches Handworterbuch”.

Jason, are you able to relate the entomology of the relationship of the ancient Semitic language families? I’m looking at my “A Concise Dictionary or Akkadian”, Published by Harrassowitz Verlag / Wiesbaden, 2,000. The Hebrew cognate of “lbb” is based on the older Akkadian “libbu(m)”. The first definition is: “inner body; heart” A.1.”inner body, internal organs”. 2. “heart” of human; of animal, in expistpicy, as meat portion. 3. As seat of emotions, thought, memory” mind, mood, spirit”; joyful, angry, sorrowful; of loyalty.

I also checked the Hebrew in the most recent lexicon by EJ Brill “The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament” vol. 2 , pp. 513-515 and the noun “lb” has 13 definitions all dealing with the heart as the center of thought. In fact both “blb-ym” means in the center of the sea just a the Akkadian “ina libbi tamti” equally means int the center of the sea. From this cognate root “libbi“= “blb” one must conclude that the organ, like the center of the sea, is at the center of the body; thus the heart.

Now up to Jesus’ day, the lingua franca was Aramaic. Since the Aramaic definition is still “Heart” I’ll move to the Aramaic of the Semitic early church and use Oxford University’s “A Compendious Syriac Dictionary” and “lb” in Syriac is defined as: the heart: understood as the mind; the breast as the seat of intelligence and feeling.

Jason, in light of the above, I puzzled over David’s criteria:

You said: “Personally, I think David's criteria for intelligently determining what's symbolism is a fair one:

1. Know the original language
2. Know the stylistic patterns/ word usage of the author...as well as what he has said in the across all the various texts he has produced. (the Biblical theology approach if you will)
3. Analyze the overall flow of argument (if a literal/allegorical interpretation destroys the coherence of the author's point it may be an unwarranted interpretation)
4. Keep the literary genre in mind (poetry, apocalyptic, historical narrative”

Finally, Jason, as to your question: “You're suggesting that Christ was using the term "heart" literally in Matthew 15:19 because...why exactly?”

Reply: Was Jesus native tongue Semitic (Aramaic) or Greek? Why did Jesus cry out in Aramaic from the cross if, in fact, he spoke Greek?

Yes! Jesus was using the term literally based strictly on the Semitic cognates as discussed above.

Even if you want to use Greek, check out the definitions for “kardia” drawn form the Classical works based in Harvard’s Loeb Classical library as defined in Oxford University Press: “A Classical Greek Lexicon“, heart is defined (via Homer and the Classical authors) as the literal organ that feels and thinks. And this is carried over into the age of the Church Father’s in Oxford’s “Patristic Greek Lexicon”. The Greek is clear; it’s the literal heart that is meant.

Jason, unless you can counter the above facts based on the etymology of historical Semitic cognate roots (and even Greek be it Hellenistic or Classical), your objections are simply wishful apologetic gut feelings of fait - well intentioned - but wrong.

I'll discuss the "cloud" issue tomorrow.

Jason said...

Stan,

Here are the points you missed (quoting dave):

1. Know the original language
2. Know the stylistic patterns/ word usage of the author...as well as what he has said in the across all the various texts he has produced. (the Biblical theology approach if you will)
3. Analyze the overall flow of argument (if a literal/allegorical interpretation destroys the coherence of the author's point it may be an unwarranted interpretation)
4. Keep the literary genre in mind (poetry, apocalpytic, historical narrative)

Jason said...

Harry said: Jason, wake up! There are none! And we have tons of cuneiform clay texts used to back up both the multi volume “Chicago Assyrian Dictionary” and Wolfram von Soden’s series: “Akkadsches Handworterbuch”.

Harry, this is precisely why your argument is one of ignorance. Not being able to prove something false doesn't automatically make it true. Otherwise it'd be a breeze to prove God exists :)

You've been avoiding these questions for a while now. I'd appreciate answers:

1. Paul used the image of a heart being uncircumcised - is there any major early church document that assumed this was literal?

2. Jeremiah and Ezekiel also refer to the heart being 'uncircumcised'. There's no evidence the 'simple religiously educated' Israelites or modern day Jews have ever tried to literally circumcise the heart which suggests they understood these references to be symbolic. How do you respond?

3. Heart symbolism has been used dozens and dozens of times on this very site by atheists who have never touched or examined a corpse. Should Christians therefore assume their words were only symbolic?

Harry McCall said...

{Harry, this is precisely why your argument is one of ignorance. Not being able to prove something false doesn't automatically make it true. Otherwise it'd be a breeze to prove God exists :}

“You've been avoiding these questions for a while now. I'd appreciate answers:

1. Paul used the image of a heart being uncircumcised - is there any major early church document that assumed this was literal?”

Jason, does the heart have a foreskin? Paul used a misnomer (the mistaken heart for brain) to make his allegory with.

Do you know what the word “Patristic” means? “A Patristic Greek Lexicon” edited by G.W.H. Lampe, Oxford University Press 1961; pp 702 - 703, first definition is the main one = Heart. Sub-definitions are function of the heart (as kardia is the Greek term used) B. “mind; as visible to God.” C. “soul; that is, the two foregoing together. Notice please, mind means heart the and NOT brain! The Eastern Church Father would have used Syriac (as already addressed).

As Jesus spoke Aramaic, he was in line with the Semitic definition as proofed in my last comment above.

“2. Jeremiah and Ezekiel also refer to the heart being 'uncircumcised'. There's no evidence the 'simple religiously educated' Israelites or modern day Jews have ever tried to literally circumcise the heart which suggests they understood these references to be symbolic. How do you respond?”

Example: I will be a monkey’s Uncle. I (a real person = reality) will be a monkeys uncle = symbolism and allegory a subjective phase modifying the real subject of the allegory or heart.

Thus, Jeremiah 3:17; Israel heart is evil. Israel is a fact and evil modifies heart. Or, when Israel goes after other gods and is called by Yahweh a harlot; Israel is a fact and harlot is an adjective modifying Israel.



Jason, you just stated David’s criteria of which point one was to know the original language. You are using an English translation to question the Hebrew. Again, Jeremiah and Ezekiel are using reality (the heart)with an allegory = to circumcise.

“3. Heart symbolism has been used dozens and dozens of times on this very site by atheists who have never touched or examined a corpse. Should Christians therefore assume their words were only symbolic?”

Atheists know better, while the Jew did not.

Jason said...

1. Jason, does the heart have a foreskin? Paul used a misnomer (the mistaken heart for brain) to make his allegory with.

Er, that's my point. So now Paul thought the brain needed to literally be circumcised...? And you still haven’t provided any major early church document that assumed Paul was talking literally.

Remember, the medical understanding of the heart and brain at the turn of millennium is hard to ignore: Hippocrates (420BC) understood the difference between the heart and brain. Herophilus of Chalcedon (300BC) recognized the brain as the centre of the nervous system and the site of intelligence. Erasistratus (280BC) concluded that the heart was not the center of sensations but instead functioned as a pump. It’s therefore not enough for you to just say Paul mistook the heart for brain when the knowledge of the time had long ago put this idea to rest.

“A Patristic Greek Lexicon” edited by G.W.H. Lampe, Oxford University Press 1961; pp 702 - 703, first definition is the main one = Heart. Sub-definitions are function of the heart (as kardia is the Greek term used) B. “mind; as visible to God.” C. “soul; that is, the two foregoing together. Notice please, mind means heart the and NOT brain! The Eastern Church Father would have used Syriac (as already addressed).

This still isn’t addressing the issue: The Israelites had already separated heart and mind and the medical knowledge of the time had already proven the heart and mind were vastly different and it still doesn’t explain on what grounds you’re claiming Paul thought the ‘mistaken heart for brain’ had a foreskin.

2. Example: I will be a monkey’s Uncle. I (a real person = reality) will be a monkeys uncle = symbolism and allegory a subjective phase modifying the real subject of the allegory or heart. Thus, Jeremiah 3:17; Israel heart is evil. Israel is a fact and evil modifies heart. Or, when Israel goes after other gods and is called by Yahweh a harlot; Israel is a fact and harlot is an adjective modifying Israel.

Which means Israelites knew their hearts shouldn’t literally be circumcised. They understood this to be symbolism. They also understood hearts didn't literally have mouths. How do you think they came to this knowledge?

Jason, you just stated David’s criteria of which point one was to know the original language. You are using an English translation to question the Hebrew. Again, Jeremiah and Ezekiel are using reality (the heart)with an allegory = to circumcise.

I’m not arguing this. I’d like to know why you think the Israelites knew circumcising the heart was symbolic.

3. Atheists know better, while the Jew did not.

Lol That’s your argument? Why do atheists know better then Jews – is there some kind of advanced medical understanding inherent in unbelievers? The Israelites sure knew the difference between heart and mind. They also understood symbolism. The Greeks and Romans also knew the function of the heart and brain. I'd say the Jews would have known a lot more then you're giving them credit for.

Tyro said...

Remember, the medical understanding of the heart and brain at the turn of millennium is hard to ignore: Hippocrates (420BC) understood the difference between the heart and brain. Herophilus of Chalcedon (300BC) recognized the brain as the centre of the nervous system and the site of intelligence. Erasistratus (280BC) concluded that the heart was not the center of sensations but instead functioned as a pump.

You need to look up exactly what these people said, and more importantly, who believed them.

Aristotle and Plato placed all sensory perception, thought and emotion in the heart and when they said something, it stuck. It's grossly inadequate to point to one person and say "look they got it right, therefore everyone must have believed it."

Galen, who even more than Aristotle, had the biggest lasting influence in anatomy, kept the heart as the centre of emotion and passion but involved the brain in "psychic pneuma" (reasoning) because the brain allowed blood to cool. To him and all physicians to follow, heat was central to our passions and our actions. The heart warmed our blood and spread that heat through our body, and the brain cooled it (hence a "hot head" is someone whose reasoning is governed by passion, and our best calculating or reasoning is "cool" - all metaphors dating back to Galen's humours).

It’s therefore not enough for you to just say Paul mistook the heart for brain when the knowledge of the time had long ago put this idea to rest.

"Put to rest", you jest. Having one person accidentally get it right no more "put the idea to rest" than quoting Democritus on atoms "put to rest" alchemy.

The Israelites sure knew the difference between heart and mind.

I don't think the Israelites even had a theory of mind, let alone one that didn't involve the heart. All evidence shows that the heart was widely acknowledged as integral to emotion, thought, and reason until the 17th Century when Thomas Willis finally overthrew Galen.

Jason said...

Tyro said: "You need to look up exactly what these people said, and more importantly, who believed them."

I did. :)

"Put to rest", you jest. Having one person accidentally get it right no more "put the idea to rest" than quoting Democritus on atoms "put to rest" alchemy.

Would the physicians of the time have known if the heart had a mouth or if the heart/brain had foreskin?

I don't think the Israelites even had a theory of mind, let alone one that didn't involve the heart.

They sure did. In fact, they even separated the heart from the soul.

All evidence shows that the heart was widely acknowledged as integral to emotion, thought, and reason until the 17th Century when Thomas Willis finally overthrew Galen.

Yes, I'll submit to this, but as per my argument, it wasn't acknowledged neither the heart nor brain had foreskin or a mouth, correct?

Tyro said...

Jason,

Would the physicians of the time have known if the heart had a mouth or if the heart/brain had foreskin?

I don't know what that would mean, but despite religious prohibitions against doing autopsies on humans, Galen did extensive autopsies on animals (and tried to adapt it to what he thought the human body would look like). His diagrams of the different organs were very detailed and served as a guide for two thousand years.

So if there is a literal foreskin, then educated people would have checked Galen's work and would know that no, there wasn't. Not as far as I'm able to make sense of that term, but perhaps there are other interpretations.

They sure did. In fact, they even separated the heart from the soul.

Can you please provide some citations for this? Your statements sound to be at odds with my understanding of history but I don't know where the disconnect might be. If we turn to the sources, perhaps that would help.

Turning again to Galen whose teachings dominated western thought, he believed the soul was spread out over his three systems corresponding roughly to the liver, heart and brain. In no way did he separate the heart from the soul, quite the contrary.

Yes, I'll submit to this, but as per my argument, it wasn't acknowledged neither the heart nor brain had foreskin or a mouth, correct?

Not literally, no. I've been staying out of that debate, but if you want to know my opinion I think we can say "speak from the heart" to mean "speak from our mouth but with the heated passion that comes from our heart". The heart itself is not speaking, but the expression still relies on the flawed understanding of emotion and passion that Galen and others advocated. The emotions, passion and vigour ("vital spirit" or pneuma zoticon) came from the heart.

Harry McCall said...

Jason, first, you NEVER addressed Semitic language and logic via the etymology of the Hebrew. By even quoting Greek authors (right or wrong), you are comparing apples with oranges. Jason, please address the Hebrew text and not an English translation.

With your logic, if the Chinese had gun powder in the mid 9th century, than the Europeans, who were just as advanced, must have known about it too. However, Europe did not have any idea of what gunpowder was until about the 1300’s or 400 years after the Chinese.

Paul is a Jew. Jesus is a Jew. Most all (if not all) Biblical writers were Jews. Jews believed God and Torah. The Hebrew “lb” meant heart. To question this is to question God.

As for as I’m concerned, this point is closed. I’m not going to get into an endless discussion with you like I did with Paul causing women to suffer today for the sin of Eve.
The fact that only there are only three of us left here - Tyro and I agree - while you are the only one still arguing the Jewish mind was some how was based on science is simply wrong. God was their answer to history via revelation in written and oral Torah. Rabbis argued Torah, not science which was considered pagan / gentile.

Jason, quote me a massage from the Mishnah that proves your point. Until then, China and Europe were 400 years apart just as the Jews were from modern science.

Mean while, my next post (on the cruelty of God) is one you might like to get in on.

Jason said...

Tyro said: I don't know what that would mean, but despite religious prohibitions against doing autopsies on humans, Galen did extensive autopsies on animals (and tried to adapt it to what he thought the human body would look like). His diagrams of the different organs were very detailed and served as a guide for two thousand years.

It would establish the fact the Jews would have understood ‘speaking from the heart’ and ‘circumsize the heart’ to be imagery, not literal. As gl_carey said earlier in this discussion “My point is that people have used symbols, gestures, sounds and terms of comparison (symbolism) to communicate long before the NT writers and it is not unreasonable to think that people would use symbolism in religious writings just like they would any other writing that described life's experiences…”

So if there is a literal foreskin, then educated people would have checked Galen's work and would know that no, there wasn't. Not as far as I'm able to make sense of that term, but perhaps there are other interpretations.

Therefore, if one is going to maintain that circumcision is symbolic (since the heart doesn’t have foreskin) but the heart is literal (since the people of the time didn’t know any better), I fail to see what Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Paul would have meant by “symbolically circumcising the literal heart”.

Can you please provide some citations for this? Your statements sound to be at odds with my understanding of history but I don't know where the disconnect might be. If we turn to the sources, perhaps that would help.

1 Sa 2:35 “And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind...”

Dan 5:20 “But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride…”

Mat 22:37 “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.”

Jason said...

Harry mccall said: Jason, first, you NEVER addressed Semitic language and logic via the etymology of the Hebrew. By even quoting Greek authors (right or wrong), you are comparing apples with oranges. Jason, please address the Hebrew text and not an English translation.

What exactly do you want me to address?

With your logic, if the Chinese had gun powder in the mid 9th century, than the Europeans, who were just as advanced, must have known about it too. However, Europe did not have any idea of what gunpowder was until about the 1300’s or 400 years after the Chinese.

The Jews occupied the same confines as the Greeks and Romans during the same period, did they not? I’m fairly confident the Chinese were in China and the Europeans were…well, in Europe.

Paul is a Jew. Jesus is a Jew. Most all (if not all) Biblical writers were Jews. Jews believed God and Torah. The Hebrew “lb” meant heart. To question this is to question God.

I’m not questioning if “lb” means heart. I’m questioning whether or not it’s meant to be taken literally or symbolically and when.

As for as I’m concerned, this point is closed. I’m not going to get into an endless discussion with you like I did with Paul causing women to suffer today for the sin of Eve.

Speaking of which, did you ever find those elusive Bible references that says Paul blamed Eve for sin? The reference I found blames Adam (Romans 5:12). Seems like these “endless discussions” always end when your argument’s been torn to shreds… ;)

Jason, quote me a massage from the Mishnah that proves your point. Until then, China and Europe were 400 years apart just as the Jews were from modern science.

Proves my point? I’m pretty sure you were the one trying make the point…?

Tyro said...

Jason,

It would establish the fact the Jews would have understood ‘speaking from the heart’ and ‘circumsize the heart’ to be imagery, not literal.

Well, as I said, I agree with you that it is figurative, but the figure is based on a flawed understanding of human anatomy, emotions and our mind. I'm not trying to make any bigger point, I'll leave that to others.

Tyro: Can you please provide some citations for this? Your statements sound to be at odds with my understanding of history but I don't know where the disconnect might be. If we turn to the sources, perhaps that would help.

Jason: 1 Sa 2:35 “And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind...”

Dan 5:20 “But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride…”

Mat 22:37 “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.”


Hmm... It seems to me that the possibility of a confusion arising due to translation and shifting language is enormous. We started this discussion by observing that even something as simple as "heart" has had very different meanings and connotations over the centuries, so to deal with what the original authors understood when they wrote this is not as simple as finding a contemporary English translation with the word "mind". That seems like sloppy scholarship.

If you can't find anything that deals more explicitly with this issue, I have to say I find your argument very unpersuasive.

Harry McCall said...

Jason, I was looking over the name change at “Atheism Sucks” (AS) and happily found pro-Frank Walton supporters and pro-William Hawthorne supports busily attacking one another and calling each other names.
I see you appear to be a pro-Walton fan. From your comments at AS, it seems like you have gotten upset at DC. If that’s the extent your Christian anti-atheist blog scholarship, it’s little wonder I can NOT reason with you! God, what a mess. (Jason, do you think I believe in God since I used his title here?)

Just consider the mentality of the name calling at A.S. and it looks like the whole Blog will implode into itself, just like you Christians in-fight in your churches.

Hey, Jason; if scholarship does not work (as it does not at A.S.), try name calling. Man, now that’s what I call first class scholarship from an apologetic Blog, just like Holding‘s Tekton.

You better get back to A.S. Blog. I think the pro-Walton CHRISTIANS seem to be loosing the name calling squabble and they just might need your logic!

Jason said...

Tyro said: Well, as I said, I agree with you that it is figurative, but the figure is based on a flawed understanding of human anatomy, emotions and our mind. I'm not trying to make any bigger point, I'll leave that to others.

I’m a little confused. I thought you agreed the Israelites knew hearts didn’t have mouths or foreskin…? If they did, then it’s not a flawed understanding of human anatomy – it’s symbolism.

Hmm... It seems to me that the possibility of a confusion arising due to translation and shifting language is enormous...

I’m not sure what would be confusing about the references I provided. Both heart and mind are mentioned and both are referred to as being quite separate from the other. If you want to look into the actual Hebrew and Greek words, you’ll find the separation remains remarkably intact:

1 Samuel 2:35.
Heart = lebab (heart)
Mind = nephesh (life, being, soul)

Daniel 5:20
Heart = lebab (heart)
Mind = ruwach (mind, spirit)

Matthew 22:37
Heart = kardia (heart)
Mind = dianoia (mind, understanding, thoughts)
Soul = psychē (soul, life, breath)

The Israelites weren’t idiots. They knew the difference between heart and mind (and soul) and they understood symbolism as well as we do today.

Jason said...

Harry, Harry, Harry. There you go again.

I’ve never been to AS before. Ever.

Oops.

True to character though, you’re more happy with tossing out red herrings and making fun of others then attempting to intellectually, and Biblically, defend your views. :)

John W. Loftus said...

Jason, you've been commenting here for some time. Have you read any of our books or are you planning on doing so? They explain in much greater detail the reasons we no longer believe.

Harry McCall said...

This was taken from A.S. So will the real Jason stand up:

Jason said...
And you're so wonderfully above it all..

Thank you. It's not difficult to be above something that sucks so much.


What does it suck?

I'm thinking pig slop.


Indeed. This blog brings out the best in militant neo-christians.

Meh. The "best" of the militant neo-atheist trolls is much, much more fascinating.

11:02 PM

Tyro said...

I’m a little confused. I thought you agreed the Israelites knew hearts didn’t have mouths or foreskin…? If they did, then it’s not a flawed understanding of human anatomy – it’s symbolism.

I think I made it clear what is based on a flawed understanding. I think you're wilfully misinterpreting my statements. Either way, you can re-read my earlier comments if you wish.

Both heart and mind are mentioned and both are referred to as being quite separate from the other. If you want to look into the actual Hebrew and Greek words, you’ll find the separation remains remarkably intact:

1 Samuel 2:35.
Heart = lebab (heart)
Mind = nephesh (life, being, soul)


This is exactly the sort of problem that I saw coming. You use the word "mind", but "soul" or "life" are also valid and have dramatically different meanings. You seem to want to say that, despite all evidence, the ancient Jews had a modern theory of mind when "soul" is an equal translation and would fit better with their culture and time.

If you wish to pursue this, you must demonstrate that "mind" is the best translation, and that their view of "mind" matches ours. I don't think it can be done. Everything you've quoted is consistent with an Aristotelean or Galen-ic (??) view of the soul as spread between the liver, heart and brain, and not with some modern notion of a mind.

The Israelites weren’t idiots. They knew the difference between heart and mind (and soul) and they understood symbolism as well as we do today.

They weren't idiots, but they were ignorant, as were all people of the time. Your claims about what they knew about the soul is contradicted by the evidence.


You can argue biblical interpretation all you wish, but it doesn't look good if you rely on these claims. And if not, why are you fighting? How could you imagine that the ancient Jews/Christians had a modern understanding of the human body and why is this so important to you?

Harry McCall said...

“1 Samuel 2:35.
Heart = lebab (heart)
Mind = nephesh (life, being, soul)”

Mind = WRONG!

Jason, exactly which Hebrew lexicon are you using? I’ve check my two and “Mind” is not used even once. As verb, nephesh means “to inhale, breath”. As a noun, nephesh means 1. “throat”; 2. “neck“ ; 3.“Breath”; 4. “living being”; 5. “people”; 6. “personality”; 7. “life”; 8. “soul”; 9. “dead soul”.
Jason, quite throwing out misinformation. Give me your lexicon’s title and publisher!
Mine is the 4 volume set ($1,000 or $250 per volume) : The Hebrew and Aramaic LEXICON of the Old Testament; by EJ Brill. Volume 2, pp. 711- 713.

“Daniel 5:20
Heart = lebab (heart)
Mind = ruwach (mind, spirit)”

Mind = WRONG AGAIN!

Again, where is mind?????????? The Hebrew and Aramaic LEXICON, vol. 3, pp. 1197 - - 1201: ruwach 1. “breeze, breath”; 2. “breeze”; 3. “wind”; 4. “wind”; 5. “wind and God”; 6. “breath”; 7. “sense”; 8. “the spirit of Yahweh”; 9. “spirit of God / El”; 10. “a holy spirit”; 11. “(the) spirit of God; 12. “transferring the spirit from one person to another.; 13. “”particular types of spirit”; 14. ‘corresponds to El”; 15. “text uncertain”.

“Matthew 22:37
Heart = kardia (heart)”

Mind = dianoia (mind, understanding, thoughts) But where? Not in the head! Reference: A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. P. 187.

“Soul = psychē (soul, life, breath)”

You have no Greek links to the head! Only to the HEART.

Remember the Wizard of Oz? You have a Scare Cow dancing around without a brain.

List your references. Are they simply devotional or scholarly? Be responsible! Do your home work and note your sources!

Tyro said...

Again, where is mind?????????? The Hebrew and Aramaic LEXICON, vol. 3, pp. 1197 - - 1201: ruwach 1. “breeze, breath”; 2. “breeze”; 3. “wind”; 4. “wind”; 5. “wind and God”; 6. “breath”; 7. “sense”; 8. “the spirit of Yahweh”; 9. “spirit of God / El”; 10. “a holy spirit”; 11. “(the) spirit of God; 12. “transferring the spirit from one person to another.; 13. “”particular types of spirit”; 14. ‘corresponds to El”; 15. “text uncertain”.

Now that's a translation that I could buy. The view of human function was governed by the "pneuma" which derives literally from breath (hence "pneumatic tire"), but which was synonymous with soul or spirit (hence the breath of god or the breath of life as a reference to soul). It was thought that the body was governed by three pneuma: pneuma physicon or the natural/nutritive spirit found in the liver; pneuma zoticon or vital spirit found in the heart; and pneuma physicon or the psychic/animal spirit found in the brain. Taken as a whole, the pneuma are the soul, NOT what we call "mind"!

A person writing 2,000 years ago would definitely be talking about the pneuma or spirit, they would not be talking about the mind.

Harry McCall said...

Amen to that, Tyro! But I just do not think Jason will ever see the logic.

Jason said...

tyro said: I think I made it clear what is based on a flawed understanding. I think you're wilfully misinterpreting my statements. Either way, you can re-read my earlier comments if you wish.

You said “not literally, no” in answer to whether people thought hearts and mouths and foreskin. If the answer is no, then any reference to the heart having a mouth or foreskin is symbolism, correct?

This is exactly the sort of problem that I saw coming. You use the word "mind", but "soul" or "life" are also valid and have dramatically different meanings.

I think you’re misunderstanding my intentions for providing those references. The word “mind” is the English translation of the word, which is why I’ve provided the original Greek and Hebrew meanings. I’m pointing out the Israelites separated the heart from the soul.

You seem to want to say that, despite all evidence, the ancient Jews had a modern theory of mind when "soul" is an equal translation and would fit better with their culture and time.

I’m not disagreeing “mind” can mean “soul”. You said, about Galen: In no way did he separate the heart from the soul, quite the contrary. The Israelites, however, apparently did.

If you wish to pursue this, you must demonstrate that "mind" is the best translation, and that their view of "mind" matches ours.

Again, you’re missing the point. This isn’t a discussion about translations, this is a discussion about the separation between heart and soul, or heart and life, or heart and spirit. According to you, there should be no separation. The heart and soul should be one and the same. Yet they’re not.

I don't think it can be done. Everything you've quoted is consistent with an Aristotelean or Galen-ic (??) view of the soul as spread between the liver, heart and brain, and not with some modern notion of a mind.

Aristotle believed the soul was in the heart. The references I’ve provided separate the two. Perhaps the question is, what do you/what did Aristotle define as "soul"

They weren't idiots, but they were ignorant, as were all people of the time. Your claims about what they knew about the soul is contradicted by the evidence.

What they knew about the soul suggests they knew it was separate from the heart. Christ knew this as well.

And if not, why are you fighting? How could you imagine that the ancient Jews/Christians had a modern understanding of the human body and why is this so important to you?

They don’t need a modern understanding of the human body. They only need to know symbolism and that hearts don’t have mouths or foreskins. Which they did.

Jason said...

Harry said: Jason, exactly which Hebrew lexicon are you using? I’ve check my two and “Mind” is not used even once. As verb, nephesh means “to inhale, breath”. As a noun, nephesh means 1. “throat”; 2. “neck“ ; 3.“Breath”; 4. “living being”; 5. “people”; 6. “personality”; 7. “life”; 8. “soul”; 9. “dead soul”.

Like Tyro, you’re getting caught up on the English translation. My intent isn’t to show you the Israelites understood the “mind”, my intent is to show you that they separated the soul/spirit/life from the heart, contrary to what’s being claimed the knowledge of time was.

Mine is the 4 volume set ($1,000 or $250 per volume) : The Hebrew and Aramaic LEXICON of the Old Testament; by EJ Brill. Volume 2, pp. 711- 713.

Wow Harry, thanks for telling me how much it was!! Is it true the more you spend on a book, the better it is? lol

Again, where is mind?????????? The Hebrew and Aramaic LEXICON, vol. 3, pp. 1197 - - 1201: ruwach 1. “breeze, breath”; 2. “breeze”; 3. “wind”; 4. “wind”; 5. “wind and God”; 6. “breath”; 7. “sense”; 8. “the spirit of Yahweh”; 9. “spirit of God / El”; 10. “a holy spirit”; 11. “(the) spirit of God; 12. “transferring the spirit from one person to another.; 13. “”particular types of spirit”; 14. ‘corresponds to El”; 15. “text uncertain”.

My point is that the heart is separated from sense and spirit.

Daniel 5:20 “But when his heart was lifted up, and his spirit was hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him.” (NKJV)

Daniel 5:20 “But when his heart and mind were hardened with pride, he was brought down from his royal throne and stripped of his glory.” (NLT)

Mind = dianoia (mind, understanding, thoughts) But where? Not in the head! Reference: A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. P. 187.

But not in the heart since the heart is already mentioned. ☺

You have no Greek links to the head! Only to the HEART.

Sorry, Harry but no. Christ isn’t saying to love only with the heart, but with the mind/thoughts and soul/life. They’re quite clearly not the same.

List your references. Are they simply devotional or scholarly? Be responsible! Do your home work and note your sources!

Oh, they can't be nearly as scholarly as yours. I didn't spend nearly enough money on mine.

Jason said...

Tyro said: Now that's a translation that I could buy. The view of human function was governed by the "pneuma" which derives literally from breath (hence "pneumatic tire"), but which was synonymous with soul or spirit (hence the breath of god or the breath of life as a reference to soul). It was thought that the body was governed by three pneuma: pneuma physicon or the natural/nutritive spirit found in the liver; pneuma zoticon or vital spirit found in the heart; and pneuma physicon or the psychic/animal spirit found in the brain. Taken as a whole, the pneuma are the soul, NOT what we call "mind"!

Wonderful. The point is, again, that the pneuma, or sense, is separate from the heart. Which means yes, Jesus could live in someone with an artificial heart and someone with an artificial heart, if such a thing were possible 2000 years ago, could love and worship God.

Tyro said...

Jason,

I think you’re misunderstanding my intentions for providing those references. The word “mind” is the English translation of the word, which is why I’ve provided the original Greek and Hebrew meanings. I’m pointing out the Israelites separated the heart from the soul.

You can "point out" that God Himself told you that I'm wrong and you're right, but it doesn't make it so, and it doesn't change the facts.

Was the common view that the soul was entirely contained in the heart? No, as I said in elaboration to Harry's definition, the soul/spirit/pneuma was divided across the liver, heart and brain. So were the Israelites any different than other Western people of the time? Evidence points to no, they weren't. Did they separate the soul from the heart? No, these passages are fully consistent with the ancient view of a soul that was spread out through the body.

Though I am glad that you've stopped saying that soul should be translated as "mind", thank you for that.

Aristotle believed the soul was in the heart. The references I’ve provided separate the two. Perhaps the question is, what do you/what did Aristotle define as "soul"

From what I understand, Aristotle had the idea of a three-part soul and believed the soul was entwined with the body (unlike Plato), but did not seat the soul in any particular region. It was Galen which did that.

Do you have any sources for your claims?

And when you give passages where the soul does not reside entirely in the heart and act like this means the writers didn't believe the soul was in the heart, you're not proving your case. The soul was seated in the liver, heart and brain, I've told you that several times.

Here are some simple summaries for you to read:

http://www.thebigview.com/mind/timeline01.html
http://campus.udayton.edu/~hume/Galen/galen.htm

Jason said...

Tyro,

Sorry, I just had a brain cramp. What exactly are we arguing about...? :)

Just going back and looking at Harry's original claim that Jesus couldn't live in someone with an artificial heart, it appears he's saying people expected Jesus to actually live in their literal heart.

Since there's no Scriptural teaching that says Jesus will literally live in the literal heart of a believer, why bother claiming the heart is literal?

Jesus can be literal, and the heart can be literal, but Jesus living in a heart is quite obviously symbolism.

Harry McCall said...

Mine is the 4 volume set ($1,000 or $250 per volume): The Hebrew and Aramaic LEXICON of the Old Testament; by EJ Brill. Volume 2, pp. 711- 713.

{Wow Harry, thanks for telling me how much it was!! Is it true the more you speList your references. Are they simply devotional or scholarly? Be responsible! Do your home work and note your sources!}

{Oh, they can't be nearly as scholarly as yours. I didn't spend nearly enough money on mine.nd on a book, the better it is? Lol}

Jason, do you think your ignorance is funny? I’ll take the opinion of a Harvard educated scholar over a Jerry Farwell “Home Study Bible Course” any day. You get what you pay for!

You continue to quote from English translations that are easily looked up on line or bought in comparisons of multiple English versions. You continue show that you have no ability handle the basic original language lexicons much less sight read Hebrew and Greek. Again and again, you fail to answer my questions about referencing your dogmatic position other that comparing English Bible versions. I used to see your type in first year Greek class.

I worked my butt off to get the best reference materials I could and, Hell yes, I’m proud of my personal library and I’ll put up my personal library against any non-professor (and most professors) I the U.S. Plus, I took the Bible seriously enough to major in it in undergraduate and graduate school. I still take the Bible seriously to study the languages and up date my library. I would state, that, even as an atheist, I spent more on scholarly books on the Bible yearly than you and most of your fellow believers do.


{What they knew about the soul suggests they knew it was separate from the heart. Christ knew this as well.}

Jason can “suggest” here and that’s totally OK, but when I reference women who suffer today in conservative denominations because of Paul and the Old Testament, you demand it can ONLY be proved by citing exact chapter and verse form the Bible. May I “suggest” this? May I “suggest” that? And, Jason, by your double standard in logic, may I “suggest” you don’t know what you are talking about!!

Tyro said...

Jesus can be literal, and the heart can be literal, but Jesus living in a heart is quite obviously symbolism.

A physical Jesus certainly couldn't, but with God being omnipresent, who knows what some Christian believe. It could be symbolism, but it isn't obvious.

Anyway, I'm not trying to make any bigger argument here, just watching and piping in only to comment on issues of anatomy and some historical beliefs. Harry makes the point that some statements in the bible about Jesus affecting our heart and thereby affecting our emotions are based on a fallacious understanding of anatomy and I agree.

If he then argued that attempts to make this symbolic are flawed because the original authors didn't intend them to be symbols, I would agree. I think that exposes a serious problem where modern readers are passively rewriting the bible to conform with modern understanding, even if this means that readers contradict Jesus.

Instead, I think Harry is arguing that if this is a symbol, then everything else could be a symbol. I'm not sure I follow that, but I think he's saying that since the author didn't mean "heart" to be a symbol and modern readers still claim it to be symbolic, then the same process can be applied to anything. We know that the heart isn't the centre of emotion, but we also know that people don't do miracles, so why aren't both symbolic?

Anyway, I'm not trying to defend any of those positions, despite agreeing with them in principle. I think Harry raises an interesting issue but I personally think there are stronger examples and I'm picking my battles :)

Since there's no Scriptural teaching that says Jesus will literally live in the literal heart of a believer, why bother claiming the heart is literal?

In fairness, there's no Scriptural teaching that says anything is literal. AFAIK, Paul comes the closest by saying that some things must be believed, but he's equally clear that these points must be a matter of faith making me wonder if it's understood that the events are either not literal or, if literal, apply to some spiritual realm. Once you start talking about omnipresence, spirits, souls and other fluff, then I see no reason to say that Jesus can't literally be in our literal heart - that makes as much sense as anything else.

Jason said...

Harry said: Jason, do you think your ignorance is funny?

I think my humour is funny, not sure about my ignorance though. Still forming an opinion.

I’ll take the opinion of a Harvard educated scholar over a Jerry Farwell “Home Study Bible Course” any day. You get what you pay for!

If a Harvard scholar says Eve ate an apple in the Garden, is he right because he's a Harvard scholar?

You continue to quote from English translations that are easily looked up on line or bought in comparisons of multiple English versions.

I make it a habit to quote from English translations since I’m fluent at English.

You continue show that you have no ability handle the basic original language lexicons much less sight read Hebrew and Greek. Again and again, you fail to answer my questions about referencing your dogmatic position other that comparing English Bible versions. I used to see your type in first year Greek class.

I tried asking you before which questions you wanted me to answer. You didn’t respond. That greatly affected my ability to reference my dogmatic position.

I worked my butt off to get the best reference materials I could and, Hell yes, I’m proud of my personal library and I’ll put up my personal library against any non-professor (and most professors) I the U.S. Plus, I took the Bible seriously enough to major in it in undergraduate and graduate school. I still take the Bible seriously to study the languages and up date my library. I would state, that, even as an atheist, I spent more on scholarly books on the Bible yearly than you and most of your fellow believers do.

Riveting.

Jason can “suggest” here and that’s totally OK, but when I reference women who suffer today in conservative denominations because of Paul and the Old Testament, you demand it can ONLY be proved by citing exact chapter and verse form the Bible. May I “suggest” this? May I “suggest” that? And, Jason, by your double standard in logic, may I “suggest” you don’t know what you are talking about!!

Based on your unwillingness to answer (not for the first time I’d like to note), I’ll assume you don’t have an intelligent, relevant, Biblical response to my point.

You originally said: My point was that, if the Bible was correct, than the first artificial heart recipients Barney Clark and Robert Schrader (who died on these machines) would have been "unable to have asked Jesus into their hearts" since they had no hearts “for him to live in”...

Are you saying people expected Jesus to actually live in their literal heart?

Harry McCall said...

I’ll take the opinion of a Harvard educated scholar over a Jerry Farwell “Home Study Bible Course” any day. You get what you pay for!

{If a Harvard scholar says Eve ate an apple in the Garden, is he right because he's a Harvard scholar?}

The key is “opinion” and I accept it as such…Genesis does not say “Apple”, simply fruit.

{Are you saying people expected Jesus to actually live in their literal heart?}

While they know better, Billy Graham, Gospel tracts, tent evangelist, TV preachers and Southern Baptist in general relate to this via the Bible.

Since I left Christianity, well meaning Christians still keep telling me that while I had Biblical scholarship in my head, I never had accepted Jesus into my heart. Thus, if I attended any evangelical Church and said that “Jesus does not live in my heart, but as a scholar, I only have Jesus living in my head / brain”; I would be considered lost! This is Biblical as the majority of saved Christians would agree; contra you. Thus, the two artificial heart recipients had to be as lost as I am in that the saved Christians would claim that neither I nor those on total heart machines have a Jesus living in our hearts. However, if I pushed this point, than they would start to reject the Biblical view of the heart and go on to a modern understanding of emotions derived from the brain, but still condemns me based, not on a Jesus living in my heart, but doctrines of salvation…dogma.

Tyro, my position is that the heart (Greek) and Bowels (Semitic) is the seat of thought and emotions. While an Episcopalian would truly understand that Jesus does not live in a Christian person’s heart, the more one moves down the educational scale and on to the emotionalism of Pentecostalism and mountain snake handlers, these Christian would demand that God / Jesus must live in ones heart if he / she is truly saved. Why, because the Bible claims the heart is where on thinks and believes. If Jason wants to argue this point, he only needs to attend the many independent Churches of the Appalachian Mountains!

Since very few people of Biblical times could read (much less write), they would definitely believed the same ignorant way (with Jesus being no exception unless). Please note here: If your watch Jason, he often calls Jesus “Christ” showing just how Jason views Jesus: An all knowing God in the Flesh or, since God knows all, he really knew better when he had the Biblical authors write heart.

That’s my position and I’m out of this post. I need to work on my next post.

gl_carey said...

Looks like this one has been beat like a dead horse. Is that a literal statement? Anyway, thank you for your input. I did see one posting that someone thought Christians were the most closed minded of all and I just want to say as a Christian I try to be open minded. So I just want to say I appreciate everyone's input and exchange of ideas. It is time for me to move on to the next topic also.

Thanks

Grant

Jason said...

Harry said: ...showing just how Jason views Jesus: An all knowing God in the Flesh or, since God knows all, he really knew better when he had the Biblical authors write heart.

Harry, between mistaking me for visiting Atheism Sucks and now being a Trinitarian, I'm really starting to wonder how much help those expensive books are really doing you.

Do your homework.