Jesus and Psychology is a collaborative study, showing how psychology can be used to illuminate the historical and modern portrayals of Jesus, the wisdom of his sayings and the reasons people read and understand the Bible differently.
The book is divided into three sections. In the first I open with a discussion of the value of a psychological approach to the Gospels. Contributor Justin J. Meggitt follows with an essay on the potential contributions made by a psychological study of the historical Jesus. Liz Gulliford then offers an analysis of three contemporary films: Jesus Christ Superstar; The Last Temptation of Christ; and The Passion of the Christ, shedding light on the psychological dilemma of whether to portray Jesus as human or divine and how to integrate the two.
Sara Savage begins the next section with a comparison of contemporary methods of psychological therapy and studies how Jesus responded to the people that he met. I continue the discussion with a look at threads of psychological meaning in Jesus teachings. Beaumont Stevenson then examines the importance of breaking taboos that occur at several crucial points in the gospel narrative. Jesse W. Abell draws on the frameworks of cognitive psychology to illustrate how our thought processes affect our readings of texts like the Gospels. James Day finishes with a discussion of developmental psychology and how an individual’s personal developments are likely to influence how he or she interprets the Gospels.
In the third section, Leslie J. Francis explores Jungian personality types and how they can affect an individual’s reading of the Gospels. Everett L. Worthington Jr then examines how the value people give to virtue is shown to have significant implications on what is perceived as the central message of the scriptures and the interpretation of the interplay between justice, mercy, grace and forgiveness. Jesus and Psychology presents new scholarship in the field of psychology and religion, while extending the global science-religion dialogue.
Fraser comments: “Work on psychological approaches to the Bible has lagged behind work on sociological approaches. However, there have been significant advances in the psychology of the Bible in the last 20 years. It seems to me a really important practical area of the psychology of religion. A lot of sermons are built around the Gospels and, if preachers were better able to connect them with psychology, sermons would have more human relevance. I hope this little book points to what can be done along these lines.”
1. Approaching the Gospels Psychologically Fraser Watts
2. Psychology and the Historical Jesus Justin J. Meggitt
3. Fully Human, Fully Divine? The Cinematic Portrayal of Christ Liz Gulliford
4. Healing Encounters Sara Savage
5. Personal Transformation Fraser Watts
6. Turning Taboo on its Head Beaumont Stevenson
7. Interpretive Processes Jesse W. Abell
8. Personal Development James M. Day
9. Psychological Types Leslie J. Francis
10. Virtue Orientations Everett L. Worthington, Jr.