A Transformation in God: Change, Regret, and Inconsistency in the Deity of the Hebrew Bible

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2024) | Viewed by 283

Special Issue Editor

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Jewish History and Biblical Studies, University of Haifa, Haifa 3498838, Israel
Interests: Hebrew Bible; biblical theology; historical‒literary analysis; biblical mythology and psychology; biblical religions and politics

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The idea of a change of mind or a change in one’s actions indicates an assumption of inconsistency in behavior and of ideological variability. Is a deity also depicted as changing mind and modifying his actions? Do people visualize their deities as able to regret and update their ideas and intentions? Accordingly, does this imply a perception of the deities as erring or enforcing wrong judgments? Or does a change in the deity indicate a response to people's capacity for remorse, and to transform and progress? This Special Issue will examine the idea of transformation and inconsistency in the Deity of the Hebrew Bible.

The possible ramifications of the concept of transformation in God may explain the reservations of readers of the Hebrew Bible, both Jews and Christians, about the image of God changing his mind. However, many narratives in the Hebrew Bible reflect upon moments in which God does not adhere to his initial wishes and plans. Some texts regard God’s change or regret as a means of enabling compassion and allowing repentance for humans, while also recounting and justifying divine vengeance and retaliation. Therefore, in the Hebrew Bible, the deity’s capacity to modify is often a vital virtue of God's performance.

Nonetheless, the Hebrew Bible also contains statements that decisively deny the association of God with either regret or change, claiming that “God is not a man”. Such denial regards the notion of regret as a trait of human weakness. An implicit dispute regarding God’s tendency to change seems to have accompanied the gradual development of monotheism, which inter alia has conveyed the idea that the deity manifests omnipotence and omniscience.

The Special Issue, titled A Transformation in God: Change, Regret, and Inconsistency in the Deity of the Hebrew Bible, will examine textual evidence that conveys and rejects the idea of changes in the biblical deity.

Submissions for this Issue are expected to shed light on the moral usages and theological inferences implied in the biblical text regarding the notion of divine transformation. Articles can discuss a variety of occurrences of the idea in various literary genres and textual sources of the Hebrew Bible and explore the theological and philosophical implications of this image, including the interdependent connections of divine modification and earthly affairs.

Articles can examine the literary and historical backgrounds generating the variety of views within this thematic framework. Relevant narratives and accounts are to be assessed in their immediate textual settings or in their broader context, while considering intentional polemic, alongside reckless inconsistencies. The topic can also be explored through a linguistic lens, e.g., regarding the different verbs that describe or deny a divine transformation (e.g., נחם, עצב, חרה, מחה, שנה).

Articles should apply methods of biblical scholarship, such as literary analysis, textual criticism, source analysis, theories of textual and theological evolution, and other literary and historical‒literary tools that help unfold the scribes’ beliefs, ideology, and political positions. With these means, investigations of the image of the eternal deity as either consistent or flexible will provide intriguing insights into the formation of the ancient theology as well as the ancient texts.

Prior to submitting a manuscript, interested authors are required to initially submit a proposed title and an abstract of 400‒600 words regarding their intended contribution. Please send it to the guest editors (gkugler@univ.haifa.ac.il) or to Religions editorial office (religions@mdpi.com). Abstracts will be reviewed by the guest editors for the purposes of ensuring proper fit within the scope of the Special Issue. Full manuscripts will undergo double-blind peer-review.

Dr. Gili Kugler
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • Hebrew Bible theology
  • divine regret and change of mind
  • divine errors
  • divine infallibility/inerrancy

Published Papers

There is no accepted submissions to this special issue at this moment.
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