Saturday, January 22, 2011 4:24 AM

Biblical Sense

Saturday, January 22, 2011 4:24 AM
Saturday, January 22, 2011 4:24 AM

Semse/heart, mind, soul, spirit, self, i.e., the source of life of the inner person in various aspects, with a focus on feelings, thoughts, volition, and other areas of the inner life

The Bible looks at sense as if it comes from the heart, almost as a wisdom of the soul.

Concrete meanings referred to the internal organ and to analogous physical locations. However, in its abstract meanings, “heart” became the richest biblical term for the totality of man’s inner or immaterial nature. In biblical literature it is the most frequently used term for man’s immaterial personality functions as well as the most inclusive term for them since, in the Bible, virtually every immaterial function of man is attributed to the “heart.”

Wisdom and understanding are seated in the heart. The “wise heart” (I Kgs 3:12: RSV, “wise mind”) and “wise of heart” (Prov 16:23) are mentioned. This idiom can be so strongly felt that “heart” virtually becomes a synonym for such ideas as “mind” (II Chr 9:23; RSV) or “sense” (Prov 11:12; RSV). The heart functions in perception and awareness as when Elisha’s heart (i.e. Elisha’s perceptive nature; RSV “spirit”) went with Gehazi (II Kgs 5:26). As the seat of thought and intellect, the heart can be deluded (Isa 44:20; RSV “mind”).

The heart is the seat of the will. A decision may be described as “setting” the heart (II Chr 12:14). “Not of my heart” expresses “not of my will” (Num 16:28). The “hearts” of the Shechemites inclined to follow Abimelech (Jud 9:3). Removal of the decision-making capacity is described as hardening the heart (Ex 10:1; Josh 11:20). Closely connected to the preceding is the heart as the seat of moral responsibility. Righteousness is “integrity of heart” (Gen 20:5). Moral reformation is to “set one’s heart aright” (Job 11:13). The heart is described as the seat of moral evil (Jer 17:9).

Personality dispositions may be considered as more or less permanent personality patterns. Some typical dispositions located in the heart are generosity (“generous heart”; Ex 35:5), pride (“ his heart became high”; II Chr 26:16), and faith (“the heart made firm”; Ps 78:8).

Harris, R. L., Harris, R. L., Archer, G. L., & Waltke, B. K. (1999). Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (electronic ed.) (466–467). Chicago: Moody Press.

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