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

About the author(s)

Jaco W. Gericke, North-West University (Vaal Triangle Campus), South Africa


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.


Divine emotions; suffering; Psalms; philosophical clarification


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Crossref Citations

1. 'My tongue is the stylus of a skilled scribe' (Ps 45:2c): If so in the Scriptures, then why not also in translation?
Ernst R. Wendland
Verbum et Ecclesia  vol: 34  issue: 1  year: 2013  
doi: 10.4102/ve.v34i1.777