Spirit Filled Temperaments

Episode #19

I recently listened to Professor Paul Freedman, of the Open Yale Courses series, teach on the origin of the four basic temperaments. The lecture had to do with the history of Islam. Freedman illustrated how originally Islam was not that unlike other segments of the world’s population. Christian, Jewish and secular philosophers, along with Islamic philosophers, he said, all subscribed to the idea that the earth was composed of four basic elements:

  • Earth
  • Air
  • Water and
  • Fire

From that developed the idea that the body was composed of four bodily fluids:

  • Blood
  • Yellow Bile
  • Black Bile and
  • Phlegm

The notion, held by everyone from the Chinese, Indian to the Greeks and Arabs was that a healthy body was in a state of equilibrium in these four fluids. Whenever a person suffered from either physical or mental problems it was believed the four fluids were out of balance.

  • Depression, for instance, was the result of too much black bile
  • Anger would be the result of an overbalance of yellow bile

The terms that developed were:

  • Melancholy
  • Choleric
  • Sanguine and
  • Phelgmatic


I do not deny that people can be described as one of the four temperaments, or a combination of two or more, But I do like Pastor Sooter’s description better.

Pastor Tom Sooter’s message, check it out at, http://download.yourstreamlive.com/gluster/yourstreamlive/5622/851509.https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/bible-baptist-church-fairbanks-sunday-evening-service/id1347807028?i=1000407976760&mt=2

Professor Paul Freedman’s Open Yale Lecture, check it out at, https://oyc.yale.edu/history/hist-210/lecture-17


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