Kal Kaplan on Biblical Psychology

Kalman Kaplan, a visiting lecturer and Fulbright Scholar in the department of psychology at Tel Aviv University, provides an interesting analysis of ancient Hebrew philosophy and psychology in contrast to that of the ancient Greeks, in an essay over at the Jewish United Fund of Chicago’s website:

Freedom is a central and fundamental idea in the literature and thought of both the ancient Greeks and Hebrews. But the way in which the two cultures understand and deal with freedom is very different.
To the Greeks, freedom is a struggle against the control of others and an effort to establish some sense of control over one’s own life. The highest form of control over one’s self is the freedom to decide whether to continue to live or to die; i.e., suicide.
Biblical thought, in contrast, sees freedom as a central feature of the foundation legends, and the issue of control is resolved in a direct manner. Freedom can be achieved only by accepting the realities of man’s relationship with God.
This sets the stage for a striking psychological contrast. For Greeks and Romans, suicide represents a very high form of creativity. In biblical thought, life itself is the essence of creativity and suicide only destroys this opportunity.

Read on…

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