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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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 (6th c. BCE)
“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
“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.
Bust of Plato. Capitoline Museum, Rome.