Journal Article

Broken Hearts: The Violation of Biblical Law

Marjorie O’Rourke Boyle

in Journal of the American Academy of Religion

Published on behalf of American Academy of Religion

Volume 73, issue 3, pages 731-757
Published in print September 2005 | ISSN: 0002-7189
Published online September 2005 | e-ISSN: 1477-4585 | DOI:
Broken Hearts: The Violation of Biblical Law

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Broken hearts are a compelling case of the general misinterpretation of the most important anthropological concept in the Hebrew Scriptures, the heart. Scholarship anachronistically assumes that biblical brokenhearted conforms to the dictionary definition of grief. Based on the history of medicine, this research proposes that biblical broken hearts are neither physiological nor psychological but lawless. Broken hearts are embodied in the Hebrew Scriptures as crippled legs that have walked deviant paths, stumbled, and fallen against the law. The deliberate omission of brokenhearted from the New Testament is explained by medical knowledge. The traditional but erroneous insertion of brokenhearted in gospel manuscripts and editions is then reported. The mistranslation “contrite” is exposed as gravely consequential in the Reformation theological controversy about grace and will. The source for the definition of brokenhearted as grieved in English philology is identified as secular, not biblical, literature.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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