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Metaphysics of Sadness: Jeremiah and Melancholia

Kim, Sun-Jong 1

1호남신학대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Sadness and depression are the emotions that not only human beings, but also creatures, and furthermore, God experiences. This fact shows that melancholia, which encompasses sadness and depression, is not a negative emotion that reveals the imperfections of a person or God. Jeremiah’s statement that God is also sad tells us that melancholia is a metaphysical concept that is inherent in the structure of the world. This paper analyzes the dimensions of Jeremiah’s and God’s character as a melancholian in terms of psychology, philosophy, and religion. Furthermore, it analyzes ‘Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem’, which Rembrandt drew in reference to Dührer’s ‘Melancolia I’. In general, melancholia occurs when different orders conflict between the two beings. In Jeremiah’s case, he was alienated from God and his enemies, but he was a melancholian in pursuing his new order without compromising on the traditional doctrines and religious traditions that pressured him. In order to analyze Jeremiah’s character as a melancholian, we mainly deal with the text of ‘Confession of Jeremiah’. In the case of God, He is sad in the reality that He has no choice but to judge His people whom He created, due to the destruction of the covenant with Israel. In order to analyze God’s character as a melancholian, we mainly deal with the text of ‘God’s Lament’. God’s lament and pain serve as the basis for the ‘theology of God’s pain’ and shed light on the meaning of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion. In many of the texts in the Book of Jeremiah, it is unclear whether the subject of sorrow is a prophet or God, but it can be seen that sadness is a medium between man and God. If the sentiment of melancholia is not a provisional emotion that should be removed but a metaphysical substance that continues to the apocalyptic reality, it is necessary to find the positive functions of melancholia. From the standpoint of the reader-response criticism and the reception history, Rembrandt and readers extract their own feelings of sadness through the historical Jeremiah or Jeremiah’s character described as a fictional character. Through the inner portraits painted by works of art, readers also face their sadness. Pains are healed by pains, and wounds are healed by wounds.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.

This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.