Barry Newman's Blog

March 29, 2010

“The Heart” in the Septuagint (part II)

Filed under: The Heart — barrynewman @ 9:49 pm


Table 1 indicates the numbers and percentages where, in the Septuagint textual material equivalent to the Hebrew text is omitted; kardia, its cognates or compound words derived from kardia are used substantially in lev/levav of the Hebrew text; no Greek word occurs in the place of lev/levav but texts have a similar meaning; dianoia, psuche, phren/phroneo and nous or their cognates are used substantially in place of lev/levav with both texts having essentially the same meaning; other words are used substantially in place of lev/levav with both texts having much the same meaning;  the texts having essentially different understandings.

Matter in the Greek text in the place of lev/levav of the Hebrew text  Number of Occurrences % of all instances present in the Hebrew[i] (% of instances present in the Greek[ii])
Textual material absent from the Greek text  13  1.5 (not applicable)
Kardia, cognates and derived compound words  702  82.0 (83.3)
No Greek word but the meaning similar  36  4.2 (4.3)
Dianoia and the meaning similar  33  3.9 (3.9)
Psuche and the meaning similar  25  2.9 (3.0)
Phren/phroneo and the meaning similar  7  0.8 (0.8)
Nous and the meaning similar  6  0.7 (0.7)
Other Greek words and the meaning similar  25  2.9 (3.0)
The texts contain different understandings  9  1.1 (1.1)


                                                        Table 1

[i] The number of occurrences of lev/levav ascertained to be occur in the Masoretic text was 856.  The percentage is based on this figure as the total.

[ii] The number of instances where the textual material was present in the Hebrew text but absent from the Greek text was 13. The percentage in parentheses is based on the figure 843 (856 – 13).


March 28, 2010

“The Heart” in the Septuagint (part I)

Filed under: The Heart — barrynewman @ 1:27 am

“The Heart” in the Septuagint

In the previous series an investigation was made into the semantic fields covered by lev/levav of the Old Testament.  This was done by examining all occurrences of these words. In this series, the Old Testament section of the Greek Septuagint is examined at those locations corresponding to the occurrences of lev/levav in the Hebrew text.  The purpose is to determine what Greek words are used to serve purposes similar to the Hebrew words, where in the first place, the same locations, with a similar sense being conveyed, can be found.  This might provide clues to those words in the Greek New Testament that correspond to some degree or another to the Hebrew lev/levav.

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

March 24, 2010

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

Filed under: The Heart — barrynewman @ 12:48 am

The Soul and the Heart

Of the 42 references to “all the heart” 20 are also associated with “all the soul”.  With all one’s heart and all one’s soul one walks before or turns to or turns back to Yahweh.  Yahweh is or is to be sought, served, loved, or his commandments obeyed with all one’s heart and with all one’s soul. One may know with all the heart and with all the soul.  God himself wishes to do good with all his heart and with all his soul. There are only 4 references to heart and soul occurring together, where “all” is not involved.  In a previously blog series it was argued that “all the soul” means something like “all of one’s person”, “all of one’s very being”.  “All the heart” would seem to focus on the mental side of one’s being. To love God with all of one’s heart and all of one’s soul is to love God with all that one is!!  There is no “except for …” phrase!! 

This concludes the blog series on “The Heart” but only so far as the Old Testament’s association with heart.  Thge next blog series will deal with “The Heart” in the Septuagint.

March 21, 2010

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

Filed under: The Heart — barrynewman @ 9:37 pm

Translations (cont.)

Not uncommonly, where there were the same or very similar linguistic contexts, the translators sometimes used quite different English words, albeit with the same general meaning.  This is particularly noteworthy in the NIV.  For example “to say in the heart” is translated: “to realise’, to say to oneself”, “to think” or “to say in the heart”.  “Heart of the seas” is sometimes translated: “high seas” but on other occasions: “heart of the seas”.  Sometimes an unnecessary word seems to be added, for example where the NIV translates “heart” with “heart and soul” (1 Samuel 14:7).  Both the NIV and the ESV translate “kidneys and heart” with “heart and mind” (Psalm 26:2), seemingly equating the English word “heart” with the Hebrew word for “kidneys” and the English word “mind” with the Hebrew word for “heart”.  The one-off translation of “spirit” for “heart” in the NIV (2 Kings 5:26) is remarkable. 

Interesting turns of phrase abound in the handling of various Hebrew expressions.  For example: “a heart and a heart” of 1 Chronicles 12: 33 is translated “double heart” (KJV), “undivided loyalty” (NIV) and “singleness of purpose” (ESV).  The same expression found in Psalm 12:2 but in a negative context, is translated “double heart” (KJV and ESV) but “deception” (NIV). 

Of difficulty for the English reader are those texts where “heart” or a derivative appears in the translation but where the corresponding Hebrew is neither lev or levav or a derivative.  This occurs a number of times in the KJV.  The relatively large number of times where lev or levav or a derivative is translated “mind” or one of its derivative: 15 (KJV) and 46 (NIV and ESV each), is supportive of the thesis that they have as a legitimate important referent what we might describe as mental functions.  However, it is not the case that whenever we find “mind” in a translation that lev or levav is the Hebrew word on which it is based.  A notable example of this are the translations offered for Isaiah 26: 3.  In part, the translations are: “in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee” (KJV), “in perfect peace, him whose mind is steadfast” (NIV) and “in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you” (ESV).  Though each translation refers to “mind”, the Hebrew word, occurring only a few times in the Old Testament, is found, for example, in Genesis 6:5 where the KJV renders it “imagination” (of the thoughts of the heart), the NIV “inclinations” (of the thoughts of the heart) and the ESV “intention” (of the thoughts of the heart).  Its usage seems to imply, in these instances, its association with specific elements of the operation of the mind, rather than simply the mind.  The popularity of the Isaiah text probably operates against perhaps a more helpful translation, involving a word such as “purposes”, being made.

March 19, 2010

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

Filed under: The Heart — barrynewman @ 10:05 pm


The reader of English rather than Hebrew is dependent on the translator for the various renderings given to the two Hebrew words.  A comparison was made among: the King James Version (KJV), the New International Version (1986) (NIV) and the English Standard Version (ESV).  The % of occasions the translators used the word “heart” or a derivative was as follows: KJV: 90%; NIV: 68%; ESV: 82%.  These percentages are not surprising given the antiquity of the KJV on the one hand and the reputations of the NIV and the ESV, the former for its flexibility in expression and the latter for its more literal approach, on the other.  Where a translation did not use the word “heart” or a derivative, a single word or a set of words was often used to provide the sense of “heart” or the sense of a set of words in which “heart” was imbedded, as deemed appropriate.  The single words mentioned below were judged to be the main words, in some way or another, replacing “heart”.  The KJV avoided the word “heart” or a derivative in about 20 or so distinctly different ways.  These ways included using the words “understanding” and “mind”, each constituting about 2% of the total and “consider”, “wise/wisdom” and “midst”, each constituting about 1%. 

With both the NIV and ESV, on some occasions a translation was affected without replacing the word “heart” with any word.  These instances are referred to as ”omissions” in what follows.  Decisions to include or exclude from this category proved to be difficult to make.  The NIV avoided the word “heart” or a derivative in over 80 distinctly different ways (50 or so being single instances). These included “omissions” constituting about 3% of the total and using the words: “mind” 5%,  “my/your/him/her/self” or “themselves” totalling 3%, the personal pronouns “I/me/you/them” 1%, “think/thought” 2% and “skill/skilled/skilful, “will/willing/willingly” and “judgement” about 1% each.  The ESV avoided the word “heart” or a derivative in over 40 distinct ways (20 or so being single instances).  These included using the words: “my/your/him/self” or “themselves” about 1% of the total, “mind/minds” about 5%, “sense/senseless” about 2% and “understanding” and “consider/considered” each about 1%.

March 13, 2010

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

Filed under: The Heart — barrynewman @ 8:59 pm

All the Heart

There are about 42 references to “all the heart”, “all” being co-joined with lev or levav.  A person has not turned or turns or is to return to Yahweh with all the heart.  One walks before or does not walk before Yahweh with all one’s heart.  Yahweh is or is to be sought, served, loved or trusted with all one’s heart.   His commandments are to be obeyed with all one’s heart.  One looks for favour from Yahweh and gives thanks to him with all one’s heart. One may know with all the heart.  God himself wishes to do good with all his heart.  To react towards Yahweh with all one’s heart, that is, with one’s whole heart, is to have one’s affections, desires, dispositions, attitudes, interests, and loyalty centred upon him.  “Wholeheartedly” is an appropriate way to describe such a response.  There are about 15 references to “the perfect heart” or “the heart that is not perfect”.  The sentiment expressed seems to be similar to what is intended by “all the heart”.


The most common main categories in Table 1 are: the internally active heart (mental processes), the emotional heart (emotional states) and the unrighteous heart (a morally deficient state).

Of the larger books of the Old Testament, the most concentrated occurrences of lev or levav  taking account of the different word lengths of these books, are to be found in: Proverbs, Psalms, Deuteronomy, 2 Chronicles, Jeremiah, 1 Kings, Job, Exodus, Isaiah, Ezekiel and 1 Samuel, roughly in descending order.  The total occurrences for these words in these books are:  98, 136, 51, 44, 66, 37, 30, 47, 49, 46 and 30, respectively.  Of the medium sized books, Ecclesiastes is the most concentrated with lev or levav occurring 42 times, the concentration being higher than that for Proverbs.  Hosea, with lev or levav occurring 10 times has a concentration near that of 2 Chronicles.  Daniel, with lev, levav or their Aramaic forms occurring 15 times, has a concentration approximating that of Isaiah.  Of all the occurrences of lev or levav approximately one third are levav and two thirds are lev.  Of those books mentioned in the previous paragraph, the ones with the percentage of occurrences of levav greater than 50% are: Deuteronomy (92%), 2 Chronicles (70%) and 1 Kings (65%).  The books mentioned above, with a percentage of levav occurrences less than 15% are: Ezekiel (13%), Jeremiah (12%), Hosea 10%, Ecclesiastes (2%), Exodus (2%) and Proverbs (2%).

March 11, 2010

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

Filed under: The Heart — barrynewman @ 9:43 pm

The Mental and the Physical – the Heart and the Brain

The close to 800 usages of levand levav associated with the non-physical aspects of human beings could in almost all instances be interpreted, from a modern point of view, as referring to the brain functions of mental state or activity.  The largest category in Table 1, with a percentage of 22 – “the internally active heart” is clearly a category relating to mental activity, while most of the other categories could be interpreted as mainly relating to mental states.   However, as indicated above, lev and levav are also used, albeit in only a few instances, to refer to a physical part of the human body, located somewhere in the vicinity of the chest.  Even the metaphorical usage “in the midst of” is suggestive of a dependency of the metaphor on the middle regions of the body.  Given also that there is no known Hebrew word for brain, it is not implausible that in an ancient Israelite understanding of things biological, the functions of lev and levav were located in the physical region of the chest.   However, it is also likely that parts of the body such as kidneys, bowels, abdomen, breast and viscera were also understood as locations for mental states and activities.  Perhaps there were different understandings at different times held by different people.  Perhaps at various times, any biological understanding in these matters was imprecise.  Whatever, the biological understandings of the location of mental functioning held by the ancient Israelite and the modern world are quite different.

March 9, 2010

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

Filed under: The Heart — barrynewman @ 11:50 pm

The Human Heart (cont.)

The Wise/understanding/knowing Heart

Over half of the references to heart in the context of wisdom, knowledge or understanding are to be found in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. The books of Exodus and Job also have a significant share.  The heart may obtain wisdom, wisdom may be put within the heart or the heart may simply be wise or belong to a wise man.  Conversely, a heart may lack wisdom, indeed be foolish, and lack sense and God may take away wisdom from the heart.  Similarly, the heart may understand, learn, apply itself to understanding, be enlarged (as in gaining understanding) or does not have understanding, be fat or dull or lose understanding. A heart may know, one might know with all one’s heart and soul or a word may be in one’s heart. The heart may be a searching heart, looking for wisdom or applying itself to wisdom or understanding.

The Turning Heart and the Heart that can be Influenced

The heart sometimes turns away from God, even after other gods, needs to turn back to God and occasionally does so. A person may turn to God with all the heart, even all the heart and soul. God turns the heart.  The heart may not turn to God, not turning aside from its ungodly ways.  A heart may simply change its point of view.  A heart may be spoken of as a tender, fleshy heart, a heart that can be affected or spoken to.  A heart may be persuaded or something simply comes upon a man’s heart and is then in his heart and his heart may then impel him.  The heart can be tempted or deceived.  Matters are put within the H or written upon the H.

The Heart of Noble Character, the Unsettled Heart and the Heart that issues in Speech

There is a heart that is courageous, a strong heart, a heart that stands, a heart as the heart of a lion.  God may be the rock of one’s heart.  The heart may trust another or keep trust with another.  The heart may be settled, steadfast unswerving or free from anxiety with matters not being laid to heart.  An unsettled heart may be a heart that is confused, hasty, restless or timid.  One may give thanks with all the heart.  The heart can teach.  Speech may come from the heart or the heart may burn to speak. The heart can speak perverse things.

The Heart that is the Mind or the Inner Being and the Heart – the Person

Sometimes the heart seems to refer to somewhat unspecified aspects of what we would call the mind with its dispositions, interest, attitudes and fears etc.  God instructs that tender speech be made to the heart of Jerusalem.  The heart of a man is to become the heart of an animal.  There can come into being a new heart or a different heart.  A heart can reflect what the person is really like and it can determine how life will be lived.  A heart can be trusted in, won over or have a similar attitude and resolve to that of another.  The heart may stand for the person and a suitable translation might simply be “he”, “she” or similar.  Such a person lives or if the heart fails, dies.  In many of the instances above, regardless of the categorisation given there, the translator may see the use of the word “heart” as referring so fundamentally to a significant aspect of the person, in the context given, that a personal pronoun is chosen in the translation without any reference to the word “heart”.  A person is what their heart is.

March 7, 2010

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

Filed under: The Heart — barrynewman @ 11:16 pm

The Heart of Humans (cont.)

The Heart that can be Known

What is in the heart can be searched.  It can be known.  God knows what is in the heart and he can test what the heart is like.  Humans may try to keep what is in their heart from being known or alternatively may decide to open up their hearts so that what was unknown is then known.  The heart may know what it itself is like.  Such an understanding of the heart entails the view that to some extent the thoughts, attitudes, interest and decisions of the mind are private at least with respect to other human beings.  This usage bespeaks of our individuality.

The Heart that has Within it or On it

Matters can be on or in the heart, received into the heart, taken to heart and kept in the heart. Some things are not taken to heart.  Such situations will affect the bearer of the heart.  The matters are very much to the fore of their mind.

The Unrighteous Heart and the Heart not Set Towards God

The heart is evil or set to do evil and it knows evil.  The heart is wicked, perverse, crooked or speaks perverse things.  It is ungodly, not upright, deceitful, or divided.  People tempt God in their heart or err in their heart. There is a heart that is far from God, has hateful things within, works iniquity, goes after idols or other abominations, is adulterous or needs to be washed from wickedness.  A heart can be destroyed by its taking a bribe or it can destroy others.  It can be a hardened, stubborn or stony heart.  The heart may be proud, not humbled or lifted up.  The heart may need correction, or need to be kept in line or guarded.  There is a heart that envies, that is deep (cunning?), weak-willed or double (deceptive) by nature.  The category of the unrighteous heart is one of the largest.  The evil of our minds, as we might put it, is a fundamental problem.  It is not our bodies that are evil.  Our brains are not evil.  However, not every aspect of our minds is evil, for example our emotional states. When people rightly see themselves as evil they are reflecting on certain of their attitudes, interests, dispositions and decisions.   Of course, for the Israelite, neither unrighteousness nor righteousness is regarded as a state dissociated from one’s relationship with God.  It is his world. People do not serve God with all their heart nor do they seek him with a whole heart.  The heart is not set towards seeking him or giving him glory.

The Righteous Heart and the Heart Set Towards God

A heart can be one of integrity, upright, clean or cleansed, blameless, not regarding evil, humble or humbled, not proud, one that speaks the truth or one that is not double (deceptive) by nature.  The heart may seek God, be faithful before God, know God and may be single-minded in seeking, loving, serving God and keeping his commandments.  A person may seek God with a perfect, whole or undivided heart.  The heart may set itself to seek God.  God may set a person’s heart towards him.  A person is under obligation to seek, love, serve, keep the commandments of, and walk before God, trusting him with all one’s heart. 

Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at