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Holy affections

Newton, H. (2017) Holy affections. In: Broomhall, S. (ed.) Early modern emotions: an introduction. Routledge, London, pp. 67-70. ISBN 9781138925748

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This entry considers the early modern concept of the ‘holy affections’, a set of special spiritual emotions in Christian culture that were directed at God, and thought to be imbued with the Holy Spirit. Developed in the writings of the medieval theologians St Augustine of Hippo and St Thomas Aquinas, the holy affections included love for the Lord, praise and thankfulness, and the joyous anticipation of salvation. What was it like to experience these emotions? Why, when, and how were they expressed? Drawing on diaries and sermons from seventeenth-century England, I show that the holy affections were often found to be the most exquisite of all human feelings – they saturated the body and soul, filling it with ‘heart melting sweetness’. Exploring these delightful experiences helps rebalance our picture of the emotional landscape of early modern Christian culture, which has traditionally concentrated on the gloomier passions of guilt, grief, and fear.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Early Modern Research Centre (EMRC)
Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Humanities > History
ID Code:68034


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