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Faithful Feelings: Rethinking Emotion in the New Testament Paperback – August 22, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Kregel Academic & Professional (August 22, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0825425425
  • ISBN-13: 978-0825425424
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #267,354 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

“Everything we do, say, and think is, in some sense, emotional. We describe ourselves and our experiences in terms of how we feel.”

In the New Testament, Jesus and Paul displayed a wide range of emotions in their lives and teaching. Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards and others have recognized the vital importance of emotion in Christian experience. However, in recent times, many preachers and theologians have relegated it to the margins. Our thinking on the relationship between reason and emotion is often confused or obscure.

Faithful Feelings takes a fresh look at the causes, nature, and role of felt experience in Christian living. While the author discusses the vocabulary of emotion—love, joy, hope, jealousy, fear, sorrow, anger—his primary concern is with emotion itself, how it was perceived by the New Testament writers in their cultural context, and what role it should play in the lives of Christian believers. He argues that our feelings play an essential role in Christian faith, theology, and ethics.

“This book shows originality in its choice of subject, in the application of current research in psychology to ancient texts, in the comprehensiveness of its scope, and to some extent in the interpretation of individual texts. There is no other book that covers the same ground, and the topic is an important one.”

—I. Howard Marshall
Emeritus Professor of New Testament Exegesis,
University of Aberdeen

“This is an immensely significant work that breaks new ground, opening a new field of inquiry that those who follow must address. The interdisciplinary niche it carves out invites further dialogue between New Testament scholars and our colleagues in counseling and psychology.”

—Craig S. Keener
Professor of New Testament Studies,
Palmer Seminary

Matthew A. Elliott (Ph.D., University of Aberdeen) is president of Oasis International, a Chicago-based distributor of books and Bibles into the English-speaking developing world.

About the Author

Matthew A. Elliott (Ph.D., University of Aberdeen) is president of Oasis International, a Chicago-based distributor of books and Bibles into the English-speaking developing world. He and his family live in Geneva, Illinois.

More About the Author

From the time he was a teenager, MATTHEW ELLIOTT wanted to know what the Bible meant when it said to love God and hate evil. After earning a BA in economics and MA in New Testament at Wheaton College, as a newly married man Matthew, with his wife Laura, moved through Chicago, Lexington Kentucky, and Saginaw Michigan where he provided management services in large hospitals.

Feeling that God had something else in mind for their future, Matt and Laura decided to follow their passion and go to the University of Aberdeen in Scotland to study emotion in the Bible. Matthew went on to earn both a Masters of Theology and a Doctorate of Philosophy in New Testament Studies at Aberdeen. He was ordained at College Church in Wheaton, Illinois under Dr. Kent Hughes.

In addition to his academic pursuits, Matthew is President of Oasis International, a multinational distributor of books and Bibles into the English-speaking developing world. Oasis is pioneering a new model of distribution that supplies affordable Christian literature to Africa's 400 plus million Christians. Oasis and their national partners in Africa have now distributed about four million books and Bibles by harnessing the power of entrepreneurship and sound business principles.

Matthew is most at home when he is with his wife of sixteen years, Laura, and their three children: Jackson, Evan, and Cailin. Having lived in several different countries and states, they now reside near Chicago, Illinois. The Elliotts enjoy biking by the Fox River, camping, and watching their kids play soccer. They are active members of their church where they are leaders in the small group ministry.

Customer Reviews

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A must-read for anyone interested in seriously thinking about emotions from a theological perspective.
Shopper3489
Elliott's approach to emotions in the New Testament opens the door to an entirely new way of understanding emotion in the whole canon.
A. Schmitz
Elliott's cognitive view of emotions provides a solid foundation for understanding who we are and how we relate.
Robert W. Kellemen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Robert W. Kellemen on July 16, 2009
Format: Paperback
Created in the image of our passionate and compassionate God who experiences deep joy and profound sadness, we are emotional beings who experience life deeply and internally. God created us to feel. God loves emotions. Jesus wept, and so do we. The Spirit grieves, as we do. The Father rejoices, as do we. We have the emotional capacity to respond to our outer world based upon our inner actions, choices, goals, beliefs, images, longings, and desires.

However, the Christian world sometimes makes emotions "the black sheep of the image bearing family." Some people view emotions as primarily negative, typically unreliable, and best when ignored or "controlled." Pastors and counselors at times pit feelings against beliefs by viewing emotions as "irrational passions."

Because of our often faulty views of emotions, New Testament scholar Matthew Elliott wrote Faithful Feelings to challenge us to rethink emotions biblically. Elliott seeks to determine how emotions were perceived by the writers of the New Testament, and what role they thought emotions should play in the life of the believer. His purpose is to explore the importance of emotions to our faith.

What Is Emotion?

Elliott begins with the basic question, "What is emotion?" The answer is not as simple as one might imagine. In chapter one, Elliott presents a rather technical debate between those who view emotions as non-cognitive and those who view emotions as cognitive.

The theory of non-cognitive emotions states that an emotion is an impression internally experienced but not caused by a cognitive process. Emotions, in this view, are separate from the intellect.

Elliott supports the cognitive theory of emotions and frequently refers to emotions as "cognitive-emotions.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A. Schmitz on January 12, 2007
Format: Paperback
Faithful Feelings is a foundational work in the Theology of Emotion. For too long biblical scholarship has neglected the primary nature of emotions in one's proper interpretation of Scripture.

Matthew Elliott's work does not simply offer a good definition of emotion; it goes on to examine the theories of emotion and their consequences. Elliott's work maintains the cognitive theory (as opposed to the non-cognitive theory held by biblical scholarship for too long) and defends an appropriate connection between reason and emotion. The books examination of emotion theory in Jewish and Greco-Roman history offers excellent support to Elliott's premise. In the following section, Elliott discusses the implications of the foundational principles he established in the previous chapters--implications which have immense influence on our interpretation and application of Scripture. By using several key New Testament terms as examples, Dr. Elliot begins to unravel some of the significant, central terms (specifically study the sections on "Love" and "Anger and hatred").

Elliott's conclusion seems to be right on target. Although the book could be lengthened by several chapters to include a section into Old Testament emotional terminology, like loving-kindness and faithfulness, the text is an excellent introductory study. Elliott's approach to emotions in the New Testament opens the door to an entirely new way of understanding emotion in the whole canon. Dr. Elliott has only begun a study that has substantial repercussions to our understanding of biblical terms like fear, hope, joy, and love. Faithful Feelings makes an enormous contribution to modern biblical interpretation, and demands the attention of any New Testament student.
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Format: Paperback
Faithful Feelings: Rethinking Emotion in the New Testament is a studious and pious examination of the role emotion plays in the New Testament, how it has been perceived by New Testament writers in cultural context, and how emotion affects modern Christian faith, theology, and ethics in an essential role. Chapters discuss the definition of emotion, including cognitive and non-cognitive perspectives; emotion as perceived in both the Greco-Roman world and in Jewish culture; instances of the emotions of love, joy, hope, jealousy, fear, sorrow, and anger in the New Testament; and more. A thoughtful examination of a dimension of the New Testament that is all too often marginalized in importance.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Brenda Poinsett on May 21, 2007
Format: Paperback
Faithful Feelings is a unique book or at least I have not seen this kind of book in my years of Bible study. It is unique because of how serious it takes emotion in the life of a believer. This has been an interest of mine for a long time so it is great to have an academic study of the intertwining of the emotional and spiritual. Particularly insightful are the sections on joy and hate. This book will be a part of my library for years to come.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Brandon C Benziger on September 30, 2014
Format: Paperback
As the subtitle of this gem of a book indicates, Faithful Feelings seeks to overturn some long-cherished notions about emotion in the New Testament (NT). While the author is principally concerned about the text of the NT, he also takes pains to locate the NT in its Jewish and Greco-Roman contexts, devoting a chapter apiece to both. Two rather lengthy chapters on the NT follow, one on love, joy, and hope, and the other, jealousy, fear, sorrow, and anger—seven of the most basic human emotions (129). Of course, there is a conclusion and an introduction as well. The latter is especially noteworthy for our purposes, as Elliott defends a cognitive theory of emotion there—over against a non-cognitive theory, which has been inculcated among the vast majority of modern scholars since Darwin and Descartes.

For Elliott (and other cognitive theorists as well), emotion is not an animalistic impulse unconnected to the reasoning capacity of the mind. Rather, emotion is integrally connected to the mental faculties of evaluation and belief. Accordingly, emotions have real or imagined objects; they are justifiable so long as they are based on right judgment; and they are often highly motivational. Emotion and behavior often influence each other; “emotion can show us the truth about our own beliefs and values and give us insight into the beliefs and values of others” (37); and, since emotions are based on beliefs and evaluations, we are indeed held responsible for them. Moreover, emotions affect our memory, learning, performance, ethics, and, not least, leadership and social interaction. In fact, “It is probable that emotions play a larger role in successful social adjustment and popularity than does intelligence or any other single factor. . . .
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