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Divine Emotions: 2. The philosophical critique of divine passions. The Church Fathers on divine emotions: a test case of divine wrath. Divine impassibility ( apatheia ) as an apophatic qualifier of divine emotions. Xenophanes against anthropomorphism: .

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divine emotions 2

Divine Emotions: 2

The philosophical critique of divine passions.

The Church Fathers on divine emotions: a test case of divine wrath.

Divine impassibility (apatheia) as an apophatic qualifier of divine emotions.

xenophanes against anthropomorphism
Xenophanes against anthropomorphism:
  • “Homer and Hesiod have attributed to the gods everything that is a shame and reproach among men, stealing and committing adultery and deceiving each other” Fr. 11.
  • “But if cattle and horses or lions had hands, or were able to draw with their hands and do the works that men can do, horses would draw the forms of the gods like horses, and cattle like cattle, and they would make their (the gods’) bodies such as they each had themselves.” Fr. 15.

Xenophanes (6th c. BCE)

xenophanes s religious proposal
Xenophanes’s religious proposal:
  • “[There is] one god, (Or “god is One”), greatest among gods and men, in no way similar to mortals in either body or in thought.” Fr. 23.
church fathers on pagan gods
Church Fathers on pagan gods:
  • Figments of imagination
  • Divinized heroes and rulers of the past
  • Worst human passions personified
  • Demons
julian ii 361 3 against divine wrath
Julian II (361-3) against divine wrath:
  • “In proportion as we attain to apatheia, in so far do we become like God. But what sort of imitation of God is praised among the Hebrews? Anger and wrath and fierce jealousy.” Quoted by Cyril of Alexandria, Contra Julianum 171E.
arnobius d 330 on divine anger
Arnobius (d. 330) on divine anger:
  • “You judge that the deities are angry (irasci) and perturbed (perturbati), and given over and subject to the other mental affections; we think that such emotions are alien from them, for these suit savage beings and those who die as mortals.” Arnobius, Adv. nat. 7. 36.
  • Def. of anger: “a passion which approaches closest to wild animals and beasts, disturbs with misfortune those who experience it and leads to the danger of destruction.” Ibid. 7. 5.
irenaeus against marcion
Irenaeus against Marcion:
  • “That [the Marcionites] might take away the vindictive and judicial power from the Father, imagining that to be unworthy of God, and thinking that they had found a god angerless (sine iracundia) and good, they taught that the one [god] is a judge and the other is a savior, ignorant of the fact that they were taking away the intelligence and justice of both deities.” Adv. Haer. III. 40. 1.
  • Tertullian: anger is judiciariussensus.
two kinds of anger distinguished
Two kinds of anger distinguished:
  • “[T]he philosophers say that God is not angry, not knowing what they say. For anger is evil whenever it disturbs the mind (mentem turbat) so that it destroys right judgment. That anger, however, which punishes the wicked does not bring on disturbance of the mind (perturbationem menti non infert), but is, I may say, one and the same affection which allots rewards to the good and punishment to the wicked. For if he should give blessings to the virtuous and to the wicked and bestow similar remuneration on the good and the evil, he would appear unjust rather than good.” Ps.-Clement, Recognitiones 10. 48.
augustine on divine anger
Augustine on divine anger:
  • “The wrath of God is an emotion which is produced in the soul which knows the law of God, when it sees this same law transgressed by sinners.” Augustine, Enar. in Ps. 2. 4.
  • “God does not suffer perturbation when He visits men in anger; but either by an abuse of the word, or by a peculiarity of idiom, anger is used in the sense of punishment.’ Augustine, Contra Faustum,22. 18.
novatian d 258 on divine emotions
Novatian (d. 258) on divine emotions:
  • “A human being can be corrupted by them [passions], since he is corruptible; but God cannot be corrupted by them since he is incorruptible. They [passions] may overpower material which is passible (passibilis materia), not impassible substance (impassibilis substantia). God becomes angry not out of vice, but for the sake of healing us. He is merciful even when he threatens, because through his menaces humans are recalled to rectitude.” Novatian, De trinitate,5.
augustine again
Augustine (again):

“Although God cannot suffer [anything evil] (deus nihil [mali] pati posit), and patience (patientia) surely has its name from suffering (patiendo), we not only faithfully believe in a patient God (patientem Deum), but also steadfastly acknowledge Him to be such. Who can explain in words the nature and the quantity of God’s patience? We say He is impassible(nihil patientem), yet not impatient (impatientem); nay, rather, extremely patient (patientissimum). His patience is indescribable, yet it exists as does His jealousy, His wrath, and any characteristic of this kind. But, if we conceive of these qualities, as they exist in us, He has none of them. We do not experience these feelings without annoyance (sine molestia), but far be it from us to suspect an impassible God (impassibilem Dei) of suffering any annoyance. Just as He is jealous without any ill will, as He is angry without being emotionally upset, as He pities without grieving, as He is sorry without correcting any fault, so He is patient without suffering at all.” Augustine, De patientia, 1. 1

cyril of alexandria d 444 on divine emotions
Cyril of Alexandria (d. 444) on divine emotions:

“The divine nature is exceedingly terrible in uttering reproofs, and is stirred to violent emotion by unmingled hatred of evil, against whomsoever the divine decree may have determined that this feeling is justly due; and this is in spite of immeasurable longsuffering. Whenever therefore the Divine Scripture wishes to express God’s emotion against impious designs of whatever kind, it derives its language as on other occasions from expressions in use among us, and in human phraseology speaks of anger and wrath; although the divine essence is subject to none of these passions in any way that bears comparison with our feelings, but is moved to indignation the extent of which is known only to Itself and utterly unspeakable.” In Ioannem, 12. 6.

the euthyphro dilemma
The Euthyphro dilemma:
  • "the pious (holy/ good/ just) is loved by the gods because it is pious (holy/ good/ just), or
  • is something pious because it is loved by the gods?" Plato, Euthyphro, 10a.

Bust of Plato. Capitoline Museum, Rome.