Impassibility

Impassibility (from Latin "in-", "not", "passibilis", "able to suffer, experience emotion") describes the theological doctrine that God does not experience pain or pleasure from the actions of another being. Some theological systems portray God as a being subject to many (or all) emotions; in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, however, it is understood that God is not subject to sin. Biblical scholars do not take anthropomorphic phrases in the Bible like "the finger of God" or "the hand of God" to mean that God literally has a hand or finger. This is not the case in all religions: many folk religions, especially ones dealing with ancestor worship, will treat good weather, favorable harvests, etc., as a sign that the gods are pleased, and will attribute disease or misfortune to their anger.

Many polytheistic traditions portray their gods as feeling a wide range of emotions. For example, Zeus is famous for his lustfulness, Susano-o for his intemperance, and Balder for his joyousness and calm. Impassibility in the Western tradition traces back to ancient Greek philosophers like Aristotle and Plato, who first proposed the idea of God as a perfect, omniscient, timeless, and unchanging being not subject to human emotion (which represents change and imperfection). The concept of impassibility was developed by medieval theologians like Anselm and continues to be in tension with more emotional concepts of God. Recent works on divine impassibility:
* Gavrilyuk, Paul L. (2004). [http://www.us.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/ReligionTheology/HistoryofChristianity/EarlyChurch/?view=usa&view=usa&ci=9780199297115 "The Suffering of the Impassible God: The Dialectics of Patristic Thought"] . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004/ 2006.
*Weinandy, Thomas G. (2000). [http://www3.undpress.nd.edu/exec/dispatch.php?s=title,P00461 "Does God Suffer?"] Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2000.
*Creel, Richard E. (1986). "Divine Impassibility". Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1986.


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  • impassibility —    Impassibility is the divine property of being incapable of being externally acted upon and, thus, of being immune from suffering. Of all the properties of God in classical theism, impassibility is probably the most controversial and widely… …   Christian Philosophy

  • Impassibility — Im*pas si*bil i*ty, a. [L. impassibilitas: cf. F. impassibilit[ e].] The quality or condition of being impassible; insusceptibility of injury from external things. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • impassibility — (|)im, əm+ noun ( es) Etymology: Middle English impassibilite, from Middle French or Late Latin; Middle French impassibilité, from Late Latin impassibilitat , impassibilitas, from impassibilis + itat , itas ity : the quality or state of being… …   Useful english dictionary

  • impassibility — noun see impassible I …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • impassibility — See impassible. * * * …   Universalium

  • impassibility — noun The state or condition of being impassible …   Wiktionary

  • impassibility — n. lack of susceptibility to pain or suffering; lack of susceptibility to injury or harm; insensitivity, lack of emotion …   English contemporary dictionary

  • impassibility — n. 1. Impassiveness, insensibility, impassivity, lack of feeling, indifference. 2. Incapability of suffering, insusceptibility to pain or grief, impassivity, impassiveness, sovereign omnipotence, unconditioned existence, self activity …   New dictionary of synonyms

  • impassibility — im·passibility …   English syllables

  • impassibility, divine —  Бесстрастность божественная …   Вестминстерский словарь теологических терминов

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