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  #1  
Old 05-03-2012, 05:38 AM
gamerunknown gamerunknown is offline
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Did Jesus use the term "heart" metaphorically...

or does the use of thinking from the heart as a metaphor stem from revising scripture? I've heard that Aristotle assumed the brain was nothing more than a cooling system for the blood, but when did it become common knowledge that thoughts originated in the brain? Would that information have been available to a (non-omniscient) Nazarene in the first century AD?

Edit: Matthew 15:19 is one instance of thoughts arising from the heart (though I don't know the original text).

Last edited by gamerunknown; 05-03-2012 at 05:39 AM..
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  #2  
Old 05-03-2012, 06:25 AM
njtt njtt is offline
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The first clear argument that the brain is the organ of thought comes from the Hippocratic Corpus of Greek medical writings from the 5th and 4th century BC, particularly the treatise On The Sacred Disease (which argues that various diseases, including epilepsy, that lead to disordered thought and odd behavior, are not caused by the gods, as was popularly believed, but by brain damage from accident or disease). Before this, the heart was most commonly thought to be the source of thought and emotion.

The Hippocratic Corpus predates Aristotle, but although his teacher Plato accepted that the heart was the seat of the soul, and although Aristotle himself (the son of a doctor) was well up on the medicine of his time, and was the greatest biologist of the classical world, he himself did not buy this new fangled theory. It took a while to catch on, and it would be no surprise if a Palestinian carpenter was not aware of it even a few centuries later.

On the other hand, just a few centuries after that, Christian intellectuals like Nemesius and Augustine are well aware that the brain is the organ of thought. Furthermore, despite the fact that medieval intellectual life was dominated by Aristotle's ideas, medieval scholars and medics did not generally follow him on this point and accepted the brain as the organ of thought. Given that we still use the heart metaphor today, especially regarding emotions, even though just about everybody knows it is really the brain, it is quite possible that Jesus was speaking metaphorically

Last edited by njtt; 05-03-2012 at 06:30 AM..
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Old 05-03-2012, 07:10 AM
Keeve Keeve is offline
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I don't understand the question. Are you looking for the history of our medical knowledge that thinking is in the brain, or are you looking for the history of the rhetorical device of emotions being sourced in the heart?
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Old 05-03-2012, 07:37 AM
ThelmaLou ThelmaLou is offline
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Or are you asking about original early Christian texts and how the English word "heart" was derived from them?
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Old 05-03-2012, 07:44 AM
DrFidelius DrFidelius is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gamerunknown View Post
. . . Would that information have been available to a (non-omniscient) Nazarene in the first century AD?

Edit: Matthew 15:19 is one instance of thoughts arising from the heart (though I don't know the original text).
Would the concept that thoughts originate in the brain be understandable to the audience in the 1st century CE? I do not believe Rabbi Yeshua was trying to give anatomy lessons.

Last edited by DrFidelius; 05-03-2012 at 07:45 AM..
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Old 05-03-2012, 09:22 AM
gamerunknown gamerunknown is offline
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I'm interested in the original language (are there nuances or contextual clues to the terms "heart" and "thought" in that passage)?

I'm also interested in the prevailing view at the time and if it were dominated by the concept of "hearts as thought centres" how long it took for that view to change (and why).

To be fair, I am interested in constructing an argument against Biblical literalism. Someone posited religion and the example of Jesus or his apostles as the answer to all moral questions, but I don't think it works for things like food preparation or heart transplants.
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Old 05-03-2012, 09:36 AM
kunilou kunilou is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gamerunknown View Post
To be fair, I am interested in constructing an argument against Biblical literalism. Someone posited religion and the example of Jesus or his apostles as the answer to all moral questions, but I don't think it works for things like food preparation or heart transplants.
Most believers understand that stories that come out of an oral culture, that are written down years later, and translated years to centuries after that, may have some rhetorical flourishes creep into the basic narrative. Don't be surprised, however, if your argument fails to convince a literalist.
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Old 05-03-2012, 09:52 AM
njtt njtt is offline
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Originally Posted by DrFidelius View Post
Would the concept that thoughts originate in the brain be understandable to the audience in the 1st century CE?
Why the hell not? As I pointed out in my post, it was known to people, not very far away, in the 4th or 5th century BCE. By the first century AD (or CE if you must, although I do not know what the fuck is "common" about it), Palestine had been thoroughly Hellenized for several centuries. Heck, the scriptures of the Jesus religion were all written, by Jews, in Greek. What is more, the center of Hellenistic science was just round the corner, in Alexandria, where people had already, a couple centuries before Jesus's time, been doing stuff like dissecting out the human central nervous system. Aristotle was a late holdout for the heart. Even those strongly influenced by him soon came to realize he had been wrong on that one. I do not say it had necessarily happened, but I do not think it is at all absurd to think that, over the available period of about 400 years, some knowledge of Greek and Hellenistic science had seeped down even to the Jewish peasantry (never mind middle class carpenters, if that is what Jesus really was). Educated Jews would undoubtedly have known about it.

Last edited by njtt; 05-03-2012 at 09:56 AM..
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Old 05-05-2012, 04:53 PM
Nametag Nametag is offline
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CE if you must, although I do not know what the fuck is "common" about it
Well, since you ask so nicely...

"Common era" is a translation of the Latin vulgaris aerae, and indicates that the year is not calculated from the ascension of a king (regnal era). The current use of the term is credited (by some) to 19th century Jewish scholars, and is continued by those who prefer a designation that is (1) sensitive to non-Christians and (2) not manifestly untrue.
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Old 05-07-2012, 02:23 PM
BigT BigT is offline
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Originally Posted by Nametag View Post
Well, since you ask so nicely...

"Common era" is a translation of the Latin vulgaris aerae, and indicates that the year is not calculated from the ascension of a king (regnal era). The current use of the term is credited (by some) to 19th century Jewish scholars, and is continued by those who prefer a designation that is (1) sensitive to non-Christians and (2) not manifestly untrue.
I'd be fine with it if it didn't necessitate also using BCE.
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Old 05-07-2012, 04:24 PM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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The ancient Egyptians believed th heart was the seat of thought (and emotion, etc.) When mummifying, they preserved the stomach, intestines, liver, and heart as important and needed in the afterlife. The brain was extracted and thrown away, since it was not important.

I would have thought anyone with practical everyday experience, especially in the times when mortal combat with hand weapons was common, would quickly deduce that blows to the head could be disorienting and disrupt thoughts in a way that heavy blows to the thorax rarely did. It's not a great leap from that to "hmm, maybe that's where my memory and the little voice inside me reside..." The fact that your eyes and point of view seem to be the head probably helps.

Whereas the heart is what beats faster in periods of excitement and stress, so is logically the seat of emotion.

Last edited by md2000; 05-07-2012 at 04:25 PM..
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  #12  
Old 05-07-2012, 04:27 PM
YoYoYo_Imblack YoYoYo_Imblack is offline
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I wouldnt believe a sinlge word out of the bible and you shouldnt either.unless you believe in fables.
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  #13  
Old 05-08-2012, 06:55 AM
Mean Mr. Mustard Mean Mr. Mustard is offline
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Originally Posted by YoYoYo_Imblack View Post
I wouldnt believe a sinlge word out of the bible and you shouldnt either.unless you believe in fables.
I love it when people tell me what I should believe.


mmm
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