How does language shape our beliefs?

Monday Fun Fact quiz: What word is used in the Bible (KJV) 830 times?

Hint: (It is not God, or Jesus or holy, or faith or other common terms)

And the answer is:

Depends on what version of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis one subscribes to.

It’s more that language gets attached to our experiences, and our experiences with those links shapes our concepts. So definitely, our experience with biblical language shapes our concepts of what the the Bible teaches. Reading exclusively in one version of the Bible can cause a person to have some odd concepts, because every translation involves lots of choices and languages change over time.

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Screenshot 2022-09-19 at 11-19-20 King James Bible Dictionary - Reference List - Hearts'


Congrats. you are the winner.


Sorry I don’t know what the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is - maybe you can educate me.

Terry got the answer right.

Follow up question. My understanding is that Moses wrote Genesis after Israel escaped slavery after being in Egypt for 430 years. My guess is that the Israelites picked up some of the Egyptian terminology. My understanding is that when an Egyptian leader died, the heart was carefully preserved and placed in the embalmed body because they thought that the heart was where the persons thoughts came from. The brain was scrambled and pulled out thought the nostrils because they thought it was a useless bunch of tissue. Obviously they were wrong about both organs so why are we still using the term “heart” so extensively today to designate our essential self?

Because we understand that in certain contexts “heart” refers to somebody’s innermost character, feelings, or inclinations. No need to make any changes.


Interesting question. The Egyptians weren’t alone. Aristotle thought the brain was like a radiator to keep the heart cool. This is just another instance of “ancient science” in the Bible, in this case medical science. The biblical authors reflected the commonly accepted “science” of their time and place. They weren’t uneducated “rubes.” haha. We understand “heart” as a metaphor today, but the metaphor retains the essential meaning. Ancient medicine also said the gut (bowels, intestines) was the seat of emotion. This idea is still preserved in our language. “Trust your gut.”

Just for fun, here are some KJV translations (or mistranslations) that we still use in everyday English:

At wit’s end
Crystal clear
Fly in the ointment
From time to time
Hold your peace
Holier than thou
Labor of love
Land of the living
My brother’s keeper
Put words in his mouth
Rise and shine
Run for your life
Sick to death
Sign of the times
The powers that be


Many think that, but the Bible does not say it and the text is pretty clear that it was a later writing probably from around the time of exile. Here are some of the reasons from our very own Vinnie:


Well it seems that ‘the handwriting is on the wall’, we are stuck with the heart metaphor - at least for the average person. It just seems like we might benefit as a society if we used more anatomically correct terminology for where our thoughts and emotions come from – no??

That would be our gut.


If only I could put my finger on it. Then, I could get it out of my hair.


Valentine’s Day cards would certainly have a different look, like a page from an A&P textbook. Or even an image from your latest colonoscopy for a personal touch. Or we could go with a diagram of oxytocin:


Not a pleasant picture. XD

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Or is it really the kidneys?

For more see The Bible and Ancient Science. Excellent book, Denis O. Lamoureux, "The Bible & Ancient Science: Principles of Interpretation" - YouTube


Lord have mercy, if AIG ever decides to go into medicine!


Probably easier to just google it. The linguistic relativity debate is to anthropology and linguistics what nature/nurture is to psychology.

Most Bible scholars think the form of Genesis we have now was compiled during the exile period based on oral tradition and manuscripts that were sacred to the community. Moses didn’t sit down and “author” Genesis in the modern sense of authorship. The idea that the heart was the center of thought existed in the Greek/Roman context of the New Testament as well. People argue that Paul talks as if thinking/belief and the heart are connected all the time. In the OT the intestines were considered the source of emotions like compassion and pity, the liver was the source of honor, and the spleen was the source of anger. Many translations change these organs to heart in English because English speakers associate all emotions with the heart.

It’s a conceptual metaphor. One theory is that most cultures associate either their hearts or their stomachs or intestines with feelings because the human body registers the effects of adrenaline and other stress hormones (associated with strong feelings) with an increased heart rate and/or “butterflies” in the stomach.


My understanding is spirit heart
When I allow unconditional love in me teach me I’ll feel unconditional love burn fire in my spirit heart

Or I could call unconditional love light., light would burn in my spirit heart and this burn fire is spiritual water food

What are your thoughts about spirit heart?

Even though our spirit bodies looks like our physical bodies for the most part, I don’t think they work in the same way. It makes me wonder if you think the heart organ in the spirit body has a different function. But I frankly don’t think our spirit body is composite any more than God is. I think it has more to do with our sense of identity and how we choose to show ourselves to others. For example, I think the wounds Jesus showed to Thomas were His own choice for the sake of Thomas and not because of some limitation of the resurrection in healing the body.

Thus I think it likely that any “parts” of the resurrected person are rather conceptual and thus its only heart would indeed be the same as GtownPhil is calling the heart metaphor. BUT this is not the same as saying the spirit body is only conceptual or non-material in the sense of being without substance. I don’t think it is composed of atomic matter like the physical body, but if it can be said to be composed of anything it would be composed of the choices we have made.


When I explain my spirit I’m understanding in relation to spirit, that would continue even when my spirit leaves my physical body., however for explaining I use the physical body as explaining where., because I don’t know of a spirit word for location

I look for words to help me communicate. So I reference physical body areas to help me explain. Actually I would be fed fire burn in the whole chest area., so a larger range then the heart area.

No, I’m not referring to the actual organ of the heart. I used to write “chest” instead of “heart” then after seeing someone else write “spirit heart” online, I decided that sounded better. This is because I experience spiritual fire burning in my chest region. Even after my spirit has left my body, I will still be fed here in this area of my spirit. When I let the Holy Spirit teach me, Holy Spirit feeds me. All of us have the Holy Spirit living within us. I’ll experience a fire burning in my spirit heart, which is spiritual food and water, when I let the Holy Spirit teach me.

The point about the use of “heart” in Western culture is that it suggests the faith is one of emotions only, and so detracts from the need for thought that is inherent in the Christian life. How else could we gain in understanding, wisdom and discernment? It provides an opening for mental switch off with the deleterious results that we are only too familiar with. A good alternative, though cumbersome, is “inner thought life”.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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