Heart, Mind, and innermost Being

And that having the eyes of your heart full of light, you may have knowledge of what is the hope of his purpose, what is the wealth of the glory of his heritage in the saints.

Eph 1:18

The eyes of your heart. An interesting phrase. The word for eyes – ophthalmos – means eyes, sight, vision. The word for heart – kardia – heart, thoughts, feelings, middle.

Lately I felt challenged whenever reading heart or mind in the bible. Because both in Greek – as we just saw – and in Hebrew the word is not as clear as it seems. Leb in Hebrew means feelings, intellect, or centre of anything, breast, courage, understanding.

What is so dangerous about translating the word with either heart or mind?

Well, many people will make the mistake to contrast the two. How many times have I heard: it is important that the verse speaks about the heart and not the mind. Information is what is in the mind, but revelation is what made its way down to the heart. The longest 30cm in the world.

The verse above could be, and is in some translations, worded differently: that the perception of your mind might be enlightened. (HCSB)

Only when translated into Latin, semantics was narrowed down to eyes of the heart. (illuminatos oculos cordis vestri)

We think too narrow. I used to say that we had a Greek thinking, but in this case it’s more Roman. Romans were peasants that learned to fight, but their culture was borrowed from the Greek. But I have the feeling that they never were such deep thinkers as their eastern neighbors. Modern times, starting during the Enlightenment, narrowed down semantics in the name of precision and sciences. We turned the Machiavellian phrase divide et impera, divide and rule, into a mantra for everything. Taken from the Roman politics to scatter a conquered people to rule it, it has become a maxim for just about everything.

Thus we look at the details instead the big picture. We try to understand things by dissecting instead of stepping back and looking at the principles.

The danger is, that heart-lead people will emphasize feelings, while head-heavy people will counter that it speaks of the mind.

In the light of Enlightenment, most bible translators wanted to counter the mind-oriented new spirit of the world. Thus they translated the word with heart, justifying all from Latin. But it is not about feelings, nor about thinking. At least not only.

So let’s step back from the verse above and see what the eyes of the heart means.

Start with the perception of the inner most being. This for me talks about the impressions of the Spirit, the talking of  the Holy Spirit with my spirit. This still and small voice. Sometimes only an impression, a picture, sometimes cloudy. But if that would be the only meaning we assign to the phrase, that would again be doing the same as the people contrasting heart and mind. Paul is talking about the whole semantic field of the combination of words.

The field of connotation of kardia, as we saw, includes inner most being, heart, mind, and ophtahalmos is eyes, sight, vision, perception.

Just like the Amplified Bible, I am going to give you a semantically enhanced version of the verse that might be more close to what Paul wanted to say:

Look at the perception of what the Holy Spirit is showing you and what is more and more becoming the vision of both your heart and mind as they are changed to not follow the thinking of the world, but Christ’s mind. You could also call it this vision driving you as a whole person,stirred by the Spirit, but not stopping there, but flowing into your feelings and thoughts, becoming your motif in life. I pray that this perception, this vision will become more and more clear, enlightened, brightened up, as the Spirit sheds rays of light on things. What for? So you can be aware and clearly see, even understand what kind of expectation and confidence, hope and faith lays in his calling, and what kind of glorious and honorable riches and abundance his inheritance for the saints encompasses.

Quite long and complicated, worthy of Paul. Let’s try to shorten that:

I pray that your whole being, including your Spirit, feeling, and mind, might be changed by the light of God, so you understand what kind of hope and riches you receive as you are called to be a son of God, inheriting all.

Ready for change from the inside out, changing your heart and your mind, your whole being? Ready to not mind the gap, but bridge it changing your mind and heart?