Emotional Ethics in Biblical Texts: Cultural Construction and Biological Bases of Morality
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In the evolution of human beings as a successful social species, emotions have played a crucial role. This article focuses on the role of empathy for moral discernment, and especially on its role for an expanding altruism. Although a cultural construct, morality rests on emotional underpinnings which have ensured the survival of humankind. Some of these mechanisms are illustrated by a discussion of select biblical and Second Temple period Jewish texts, including texts from the Covenant Code, Deuteronomy, the Holiness Code, Proverbs, Genesis, and ben Sira. Special attention is given to definitions of altruism, the role of kin, and potentials for expanding empathy beyond assumed limits.