In 2013, Gerald W. Peterman wrote a book called Joy and Tears. The subtitle of the book,The Emotional Life of The Christian, is suggestive in light of another work on a similar topic. B. B. Warfield once wrote an excellent essay titled “On The Emotional Life of Our Lord” in which he articulates a conception of the emotional life of Jesus grounded on the specific emotions ascribed to him in the gospel narratives. Warfield’s essay sought to bring clarity to the church’s conception of the emotions of Jesus; in the same way, Peterman’s book brings great clarity to how we think about our own emotions in light of the emotions of Jesus. The two works really belong together on multiple levels. The latter is a corollary of the former. Actually, it seems as though Peterman’s book functions as a sequel to / continuation of Warfield’s study.
- Warfield’s essay was published as a chapter in Biblical and Theological Studies and is available on Amazon and also Logos Bible Software.
- Joy and Tears is available on Amazon. Below is a short review of what’s inside.
Peterman has taken a topic that is notoriously difficult to understand and made it accessible for the rest of us. The book is filled with incredibly insightful explanations. In almost every chapter I experienced an aha moment. The book has a very personal feel to it. A book on emotions would be very hard to plow through for the average reader if it were overly academic and scholastic. But Peterman has done a great job of keeping close to the needs of the averagereader. He addresses issues and questions that we are actually asking (as opposed to theoretical speculation)! And most importantly (for me anyway) he gives plenty of examples and illustrations, often from his own life. This was extremely helpful for thinking of specific manifestations of otherwise abstract ideas. For example, when I began each chapter discussing the various emotions I expected to skim through them quickly, thinking myself to be relatively “neutral” on most of them. But Peterman’s examples helped me to realize just how many ways they manifest themselves. The book is thoroughly biblical, constantly directing our thoughts to Scripture to guide us in our thinking about emotions. This is important because there are many popular misconceptions about emotions (and Peterman goes to Scripture to correct them!). Particularly fascinating and insightful is the idea that Jesus’ display of emotions was sinless and therefore it’s a good thing for us to imitate them (e.g., joy, anger, grief, sadness, etc.). I only have one minor critique of the book: the suggestions for further reading at the end of each chapter are surprisingly small. I would’ve loved to have more suggestions to dig deeper.