Interdisciplinary research: Positive emotions in the Hebrew Bible

As both a psychological scientist and a biblical scholar, I inform my primarily quantitative program of research with rigorous qualitative analysis of emotions in religious fundamental texts, specifically, the Hebrew Bible in its original language. This unique integration illuminates a fuller understanding of how people experience and respond to religion and allows me to generate innovative research questions (Van Cappellen, 2011, 2012, 2017). In addition, given that the Hebrew Bible is common to two world religions (Judaism and Christianity) and has shaped Western culture in pervasive and untold ways, this additional line of research stands to offer profound insights into how religion shapes people’s behaviors, decisions and life trajectories today. So far, I have scrutinized how positive emotions are conceptualized in the Hebrew Bible. I found for example that pride, which is highly self-focused and often viewed as an undesirable emotion, is not always condemned. On the contrary, pride can be mixed with feelings of gratitude and even be felt by God (Van Cappellen, 2012).

Relevant publications: 

Van Cappellen, P. (2017). Rethinking self-transcendent positive emotions and religion: Perspectives from psychological and biblical research. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 9, 254-263. (Special Issue on “The Psychology of Virtue: Integrating Positive Psychology and the Psychology of Religion”)

Van Cappellen, P. (2012). La fierté dans les Psaumes, ou le paradoxe de la glorification de soi en Dieu. [Pride in the Psalms, or the paradox of self-glorification in God]. Revue Théologique de Louvain, 43, 341-362.

Van Cappellen, P. (2011). Un rituel collectif: Analyse de 1 Ch 15-16 selon le modèle de E. Durkheim [A collective ritual : analyze of 1 Chr 15-16 from E. Durkheim’s perspective]. Scandinavian Journal of the Old Testament, 25, 289-302.