Barry Newman's Blog

May 2, 2010

“The Heart” in the New Testament (part VI)

Filed under: kardia,Lev and Levav — barrynewman @ 4:41 am

A comparison of the Lexical Semantic Fields of lev/levav and kardia (cont.)

Of the 13 main categories listed in Table 1, 12 also appear as members of the 16 categories appearing in the equivalent Table in “The Matter of the Heart”. The 4 main categories in the latter Table not appearing in the Table 1 here were “The heart not set towards God”, “The heart that is the mind” “The unsettled heart” and “The person”.  The category in Table 1 here not listed in the other Table is “The heart that is the inner being”.  There is however some overlap between “The heart that is the mind” and “The heart that is the inner being”.  The difference between the two categorizations is hardly significant however given the small number of instances involved – 4 in “The heart that is the inner being, 16 in “The unsettled heart”, 4 in “The heart that is the mind” from a total of 805 usages of lev/levav and 3 in “The person” from a total of 164 usages of kardia.

At the minor category level while there are many similarities in the categories created there are also differences.  One would suspect that these differences are due in part to the much smaller number of instances being available for investigation in the case of the New Testament. There are similar high percentage frequencies for “The internally active heart” (22 for lev/levav and 25 for kardia), “The unrighteous heart” (16 for lev/levav and 14 for kardia) and similar low percentages for “The knowing heart”, “The heart able to contain or receive”, “The turning heart”, “The heart of noble character” and “The heart that issues in speech”.  There are however significantly different percentage frequencies for the categories of “The emotional heart” (18 for lev/levav and 7 for kardia) “The righteous heart” (4 for lev/levav and 12 for kardia), “The heart set towards God” (8 for lev/levav and 2 for kardia), “The wise/understanding/knowing heart” (10 for lev/levav and 6 for kardia) and “The heart that can be influenced” (3 for lev/levav and 15 for kardia).  Again the differences could be due to the much smaller number of usages of kardia compared to those of lev/levav. However the contexts of the Old and New Testament scriptures are sometimes vastly different so one would not expect the percentage frequencies to correspond.  The different percentage frequencies for the category of “The righteous heart” – 4 for the Old Testament context and 12 for the New Testament context might be mainly as a result of the two very different contexts of the Testaments taken as a whole, though it should be noted that for the category “The unrighteous heart” there is little difference.  Perhaps what is remarkable is the similarity of percentage frequencies in some of the categories, particularly the large category “The internally active heart”.

In summary, the lexical semantic fields for lev/levav and kardia appear to be rather similar and just as it appeared that the usage of lev/levav in the Old Testament related in the main to mental states and functions so too appears that in the main, in the New Testament kardia relates to much the same.

April 30, 2010

“The Heart” in the New Testament (part V)

Filed under: kardia,Lev and Levav,The Heart — barrynewman @ 8:03 am

A comparison of the Lexical Semantic Fields of lev/levav and kardia

Table 2 is the Table taken from the “The Heart” in the Old Testament series, equivalent to Table 1 above and is inserted for convenience.

Category Sub-category Number of occurrences Percentages[1]
The emotional H                            143 18
  fearful 44  
  happy 53  
  sorrowful 39  
  hateful   4  
  angry   3  
The internally active H                            178 22
  desiring 28  
  planning 28  
  speaking internally 39  
  deciding 30  
  remembering/forgetting 17  
  reflecting 19  
  concentrating 13  
  acting as conscience   4  
Knowing the H                              30  4
  the H can be searched/tried 15  
  opening or not opening the H   7  
  God knows what is in the H   7  
  the H knowing within itself   1  
The H able to contain or receive                               18                             2
  matters being in or on the H   9  
  to take to H   6  
  not to take to H   3  
The unrighteous H                            132                            16
  hardened/stubborn/stony 44  
  proud/lifted up 27  
  evil 12  
  perverse   5  
  sinful/wicked 18  
  deceitful/false/divided/double   9  
  destroys/is destroyed   3  
  needing correction   8  
  other   6  
The H not set towards God                               10                                  1
The righteous H                               36                                      4
  upright 12  
  humble/humbled   5  
  clean/cleansed   4  
  H of integrity   4  
  other 11  
The H set towards God                               61                          8
  seeking/loving with all the H 24  
  seeking God with a perfect H 12  
  set to seek God/towards God 11  
  single-minded in seeking God   6  
  other   8  
The wise/understanding/ knowing H                              83                                     10
  the wise H 32  
  the H that is not wise 20  
  the H that understands   7  
  the H that doesn’t understand   8  
  the H that knows   6  
  the H that searches for wisdom    6  
  other   4  
The turning H                              33                                      4
  the H that turns away from God    7  
  the H that God turns   6  
  the H that turns to God 11  
  the H that does not turn to God    4  
  other   5  
The H that can be influenced                               31  4
  the H that can be touched/spoken to  11  
  the H that can be persuaded   5  
  the responsive/tender/fleshy H    5  
  the H that can be deceived   5  
  the H that can be tempted   3  
  The H written upon   2  
The H of noble character                               19                                      2
  courageous   8  
  free from anxiety   4  
  a settled H   5  
  a H that trusts   2  
The unsettled H                                 6                                           1
The H that issues in speech                                 8                                         1
The H that is the mind or the inner being                               14                                            2
  the H of a man   3  
  another or new H   3  
  other   8  
The person                                3                            -
  A H that may fail or live   3  

                                                                                                        Table 2


[1] The percentages are calculated on a total of 805 usages although there are only 791 distinct references involved.  This is because in a few instances a reference falls into two or more categories.

March 25, 2010

“The Heart” in the Old Testament (Full Series PDF)

Filed under: Lev and Levav,The Heart — barrynewman @ 11:31 pm

Here is the full series

February 26, 2010

“The Heart” in the Old Testament (part II)

Filed under: Lev and Levav,The Heart — barrynewman @ 9:18 am

For lovers of the Old Testament, our problem is to know how the Hebrew words that could be translated “heart” should be properly understood.  We need to keep in mind that there isn’t a word that we would translate “brain” and that in some sense or another our minds are where our dispositions, interests, attitudes, knowledge and understandings are “located”.  We also need to remember that a Hebrew word might not function in the same way as a so-called English equivalent word might function.  For example, the Hebrew word might have a very different semantic field than the English word often provided as a translation.  Furthermore, the Hebrew words may have changed their function in the course of time and during the development of the Hebrew language, though the Hebrew text we generally rely on, and relied upon below, the Masoretic text, was finalised in the second half of the first millennium A.D.  The linguistic general context in which the words are found may help immensely.  However, no matter how carefully we attempt to arrive at a correct understanding in some cases doubt about our translation will persist.

By far the most common Hebrew words underlying the English word “heart’ are the two words: lev and levav[1].  They are considered to be equivalent.  They and their derivatives[2] occur in excess of 850 times[3], with the English translation very commonly being “heart” or one of its cognates.  Unless otherwise obvious, references to leb or lebab below are to be understood as including any derivatives.  There are other Hebrew words or their cognates which are sometimes translated “heart”. One word is commonly understood as “kidneys”, another as referring to “bowels”, “abdomen” or “womb”, another is commonly translated as  “breast”, “bosom” or “lap”, another is sometimes translated “viscera” or “innards” or by use of a personal pronoun but commonly translated with the sense of  “midst”,  another is commonly translated “stomach” or “womb”, another is commonly translated “liver” and the word, nephesh is commonly translated “soul”.  Nephesh aside, of all the instances where these latter words (and two other words which occur only once each) are used, about 50 appear in contexts where it could be plausibly argued that they perform functions similar to those performed by either lev or levav. On 17 of these 50 odd occasions the New International Version (1986) uses “heart’ as the translation.   On these 50 or so occasions, even if the Hebrew words were translated “heart”, they would add no new sense to what can be discerned by simply examining leb or lebab.  For this reason and because lev and levav are the words most commonly underlying translations involving the English word “heart”, the focus below is on these two Hebrew words alone.  Some mention of nephesh and its relationship to lev or levav will be given below.  Each textual reference was checked at least twice.  In many instances a textual reference was checked three or more times.


[1] There are valuable discussions on the two main Hebrew words for “heart” in Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament (eds. G. J. Botterweck, H. Ringgren and H. –J Fabry; translated by: D. E. Green) Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI: H. –J. Fabry, VII [1995]:  399-437 and in Anthropology of the Old Testament (Sigler Press: Mifflintown, PA:  H. W. Wolff, 1996): 40-58.

[2] In addition to about 847 uses of lev, levav, their cognates and their combinations with other words, there are 8 Aramaic forms.

[3] Occurrences occur in all Old Testament books with the exceptions of Amos, Micah and Habakkuk.

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