Original Research

What is it like to be a god? A philosophical clarification of instances of divine suffering in the Psalter

Jaco W. Gericke
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 33, No 1 | a700 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v33i1.700 | © 2012 Jaco W. Gericke | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 November 2011 | Published: 28 May 2012


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Abstract

There are times when one would like to hang the whole human race, and finish the farce. (Mark Twain)

In philosophy of religion, there is a long history of belief that divine reality is immutable, although this has changed recently. In this article, the author takes a closer look at what some texts in the Psalms assumed about what it feels like for a god to suffer mentally. By paying attention to what is presupposed in language about negative divine emotions, the nature of mental anguish in the life of a deity is elucidated from examples in the text in which Yhwh is said to have states of mind involving anger, hate, compassion, jealousy and grief.


Keywords

Divine emotions; suffering; Psalms; philosophical clarification

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