Soul, mind, and heart: Not understanding the Biblical text


Which one sounds wrong?

A. Do you have the guts?
B. Put your heart into it.
C. Make up your heart.

What is the heart?
The answer might surprise you.

In modern times, the “heart” has been called, “the feeling mind”. That sounds pretty good to me. What do you think?

A recent visitor responded to my post Is Chocolate Filling my God-shaped Hole? with the comment below (edited down). I think it would help to respond through a post, also. Now we can open up the whole thing to dialogue a bit more. Thanks for your contribution on this topic.

Visitor Response to Post–Submitted: on 2010/12/03 at 3:10 pm
The way I look at it, viewing the heart and mind as separate is extrabiblical; thus, in fact, “that thing that ‘falls in love’ or gets sentimental” *is* the mind. So the modern “follow your heart” does not connote the *opposite* of the biblical “heart,” but rather only *part* of it. Bottom line, I can’t trust my mind or my heart, or even my own spirit completely… only God is 100% trustworthy. As for filling our “voids” with things “besides” God, I try to remember that God gets the credit for all good things anyway…

My response:
I should have also pointed out [within that post] that the Hebrew equivalent of the emotions or passions (what many now consider the “heart”) were also referred to differently than the mind (i.e. set a different category, if you will–the bowels or “guts”).
The “guts” implied connection with those qualities of emotion, and so forth.

To sum up: In the Bible, (most especially in the Old Testament)…

1. What is translated as “heart” (in the KJV and others) is closer to what we now term as “the mind”. More specifically, the individual’s command center, or the place where decisions are made– which includes the will.

2. What we may think of as “the heart” that is, passions, desires, emotions, in the Hebrew language is connected with “the guts” or “bowels” of a person. For instance, “In his guts he loved her”. Yes, it sounds awkward, at best.

Even more controversy:
THE SOUL

There is a big dissimilarity in the Hebrew vs. English renditions of the word often translated in English as “soul”. In Hebrew, it refers to the whole being. The whole person (So, no. It does not mean a ghosty thing that floats to the clouds like in Warner Brother cartoons). We can understand it in our context more this way when we say, “30 souls were lost [died] in the shipwreck.”

Hey, everyone, please, weigh in.
This post is open to opinions, thoughts, comments, or if you’re of the particular stripe…exegesis.
(Yes. That’s the BIG word of the day.)

Exegesis (EGGs -eh- Jesus) is this definition hereIt’s not a variant, or French spelling of “Eggs and Cheeses” which we may be tempted to think at first blush, right? 

"Eggs and Cheeses" (Not Exegesis)

(click photo to find its source)

Tomorrow’s post–
“Does your Breakfast (and your deity) make you AWESOME?”

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5 responses to “Soul, mind, and heart: Not understanding the Biblical text

  1. Laurie Mellinger

    I’m not going to “weigh in” on the “heart-mind, heart-guts, soul” issue–but I love the snow flurries!

    This means that I am really ready for a break, which is one of the things Christmas means for me (not “to” me–big difference). I long for some sitting in front of the fire watching snow fall outside. So thanks for the snow flurries, Lisa!

  2. Which sounds wrong you ask? Well…none….

    I would ask….Do you have the guts (#1) to purpose in your hear (#3) to go after Him with all you’ve got (#2)?….it’s all good.

    Speaking of breaks (speaking to Laurie)…have you seen my ‘last’ blog entry – a little clip about the festive time we are in. 🙂 See here

    To respond:
    The variances in translation of words in our English Bibles is enacting a form of relevance, that in doing so – I believe loses a lot of the value and meaning of the truths found there-in. While, it is a good thing to translate to reflect cultural understanding of words and their meanings – the ‘dumbing down’ (so to speak) of the words themselves, not in scripture but in culture, lends to a lesser valuing of the words by meaning…perhaps reflective of a Darwinian influenced world-view…..

    Hebrew thought was very holistic in the sense that there is little differing between mind/soul/heart/emotion. As well…Spirit and Physical life are so intertwined as well….as seen in Acts 12 when Peter is in prison….the disciples who were praying for Peter to get out of jail had more faith to believe there was an angel at the door when it was actually Peter released from prison….how times have changed. Today, we find it hard to believe that anyone would even see an angel.

    I’m rambling….

    Nice snow flakes. :p

  3. I forgot…..regarding Hebrew thought….

    This is one reason Paul when writing Romans said we have to renew our mind…be not conformed to the world’s thought but be transformed by the renewing of the mind…

    Greek thought – the prevalent thought of the day (and today) is very compartmentalized and linear….while Hebrew thought is very holistic (whole-istic) and cyclical….

    A Hebrew timeline is cyclical (there is no point A to B)….just as the Hebrew spirit is cyclical….everything effects everything (so to speak).

    stop me…I’m rambling again.

    • So, Paul (and Dallas Willard) have a (basically) Greek outlook. Lots of potential pie charts, diagrams, etc.

      But the Hebrews see what is probably more realistic: An intertwining of many things that make us human.

      • the Hebrews see what is probably more realistic: An intertwining of many things that make us human.

        Yes….Hebraic thought does not allow for a separation of spirit and flesh. Nor, does it allow a separation of secular and sacred…..

        And it not only effects our view of humanity – but really, all of history….they have a much better understanding of “time”.

        try to imagine, if you will…..

        It’s somewhat easy for us in our minds to comprehend eternity to come….but how much more distantly difficult is it to wrap your mind around eternity past? In God’s time…there is no beginning or end. But, in the creation of Genesis (the genesis of Creation), God created time as we understand it….He created a linear moment on His circle of eternity. I think He did this to accommodate our frailty. 🙂