From Fratricide To Forgiveness The Ethics Of Anger In Genesis -- By: Matthew Richard Schlimm

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 61:1 (NA 2010)
Article: From Fratricide To Forgiveness The Ethics Of Anger In Genesis
Author: Matthew Richard Schlimm


From Fratricide To Forgiveness
The Ethics Of Anger In Genesis1

Matthew Richard Schlimm

In the first book of the Bible, every patriarch and many of the matriarchs have significant encounters with anger. However, scholarship has largely ignored how Genesis treats this emotion, particularly how Genesis functions as Torah by providing ethical instruction about handling this emotion’s perplexities. This dissertation aims to fill this gap in scholarship, showing both how anger functions as a literary motif in Genesis and how this book offers moral guidance for engaging this emotion.

After an introductory chapter outlining the goals, methods, and limitations of this study (ch. 1), this dissertation draws on works in translation theory, anthropology, and cross-cultural psychology to lay a theoretical framework for analysing emotion described in another language by another culture (ch. 2). It shows that scholars need to exercise particular care when translating and interpreting terminology for biblical emotion—resisting the temptation to impose modern Western conceptions of emotion onto the biblical text. In particular, interpreters need to resist the Western assumption that emotions are irrational—an assumption that is foreign to the Hebrew text and that has been called into question by many recent philosophers, neuroscientists, and psychologists.

The third chapter appropriates the findings of cognitive linguistics to analyse the terminology, conceptions, and associations of anger in the Hebrew Bible. It shows that while the methodologies of cognitive linguistics provide useful gateways into the biblical text, previous interpreters working with biblical emotion have made problematic moves in their appropriations from cognitive linguistics. This chapter corrects previous errors, allowing readers to arrive at a better understanding of the language and conception of anger in the Hebrew

Bible. It provides a model of linguistic examination that can be utilised with other biblical emotions.

The fourth chapter evaluates the advances that have taken place in the field of Old Testament ethics in recent decades, supplementing them with insights from philosophical, literary, and critical theorists to formulate an understanding of ethics and narrative that aligns with the contours of Genesis. It argues that previous attempts at articulating the ethics of the Old Testament have failed to break free from the strictures of modernity, thus imposing foreign models of ethics onto the text that lead to significant incongruities. This chapter articulates an alternative way of approaching ethics that is much more congruent w...

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