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An Assessment of Robert Jenson's Hermeneutics on Divine Im/Passibility and the Emotions of God

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Abstract

The term apatheia, ‘impassibility’, has had varied meanings in Christian history. While some theologians have dismissed this attribute due to its Greek origins – as Paul Gavrilyuk states, a classic case of committing the genetic fallacy – Robert Jenson has prudently noted that for some of the church Fathers impassibility did not mean God was affectionless as the Greeks proposed; rather, it meant eternal faithfulness. This essay examines whether Jenson's appropriation of the early church's understanding of apatheia is true to the Fathers' original intentions. I first identify Jenson's assumptions regarding his interpretation of Scripture that causes him to conclude that God is im/passible. I then assess the validity of Jenson's claim that his own view is the same as the early church Fathers.

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