“The Freedom to have Consciousness” – Expressions of “Consciousness” in Ancient Jewish Literature
In the following study we will analyze the concept of “consciousness” as it was understood and expressed in the writings of the Old Testament. Most scholars who have analyzed the notion of “consciousness” in the Hebrew and Greek ancient sources have reached the conclusion that the Old Testament did not exhibit an understanding of “consciousness” as advanced and profound as did the Greeks. They contend that the very word “consciousness” appears in Greek sources, but not in the Old Testament. In this sense, we will focus on a representative sample of Old Testament texts in order to understand whether the Hebrews knew about the phenomenon of consciousness, what terminology they used, and what were the contexts (social, legal, religious) in which this phenomenon was manifested. Our purpose is to show that even though the Old Testament lacked a singular and specific term for “consciousness,” its authors understood the phenomenon very well and employed a variety of terms in several different contexts in order to express it.