This is something I’ve been dwelling on for quite a while, and figured I should toss it out and see what others think.
I was reading a book review a while back, and this statement by the review’s author stood out to me:
In the Bible, the “heart” is the seat of the mind, rationality, imagination, conviction, and determined faith in God. It is not the organ of emotion, sentimentality or intuitiveness. Christianity is off the biblical track about this word.
Well, I was reading the Jewish Publication Society’s commentary on Deuteronomy, specifically Deuteronomy 6:5, and got this:
with all your heart and with all your soul In Hebrew, “heart” (lev or levav) usually refers to the interior of the body, conceived as the seat of thought, intention, and feeling, and “soul” (nefesh) refers to the seat of emotions, passions, and desires. [this comes from page 77. Published by the Jewish Publication Society, 1996.]
Basically, “heart” in Hebrew thought has the same meaning as “mind” in western symbolism.
Keeping that in mind, what does that do to the following verses?
Deuteronomy 6:5 – And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
Deuteronomy 8:2 – And you shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.
Deuteronomy 10:16 – Circumcise then your heart, and stiffen your neck no more.
1 Samuel 16:7 – But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart
Psalm 24:4 – He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood, And has not sworn deceitfully.
Psalm 77:6 – I will remember my song in the night; I will meditate with my heart; And my spirit ponders.
Proverbs 4:21 – Do not let them depart from your sight; Keep them in the midst of your heart.
Proverbs 6:25 – Do not desire her beauty in your heart, Nor let her catch you with her eyelids.
Jeremiah 29:13 – And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 31:33 – But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (adds an interesting spin to the whole Christian interpretation of the New Covenant, huh?)
Psalm 119:2 – How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, Who seek Him with all their heart.
And, just to ponder a little, I wonder if the concept holds for the following “New Testament” verses?
Matthew 5:8 – Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Mark 6:52 – for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened.
Mark 8:17 – And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet see or understand? Do you have a hardened heart?
Luke 8:15 – But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.
Romans 5:5 – and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
And so on…
So, is it possible that the Church has over “emotionalized” stuff based on a faulty understanding of a Hebrew concept?