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Augustinian Studies

Volume 50, Issue 1, 2019

Sarah Stewart-Kroeker
Pages 65-86
DOI: 10.5840/augstudies2018102349

A Wordless Cry of Jubilation
Joy and the Ordering of the Emotions

Joy is an affective state that, unlike fear and grief, has a certain continuity with the anticipated affective dispositions of heavenly life: for those who long for the heavenly “life of felicity,” joy responds to the same object of love and contemplation, i.e., God, whether they are on earth or in heaven. But the mortal, finite believer encounters certain obstacles to full vision and to sustained contemplation in this earthly life. This fact reveals fundamental difficulties in tracing the continuity Augustine posits in De ciuitate dei 14.9 across earthly and heavenly emotions, especially given the differences he also posits between earthly (temporal) and heavenly (eternal) states. This article examines how Augustine describes the affective (and, in particular, experiential) qualities of believers’ earthly and heavenly joy and jubilation with particular attention to the (dis)continuities between their temporal and eternal expressions in both speech and song. I argue that, by transcending the temporally-spoken word, the non-verbal cry or song comes closest to matching the expression of heavenly joy as it responds to the God who surpasses utterance, and whose embrace fulfills understanding and elicits inexhaustible love and praise.