Society of Biblical Literature

God, Biblical Studies and Psychoanalytic Understanding

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Kessler, R. and Vandermeersch, P. (2001). God, Biblical Studies and Psychoanalytic Understanding. Frankfurt: Peter Lang.

This book is a collection of essays arising from an intensive program on psychoanalysis and the reading of religious texts which was held across Europe from 1996-2000 and sponsored by the European Union’s ERASMUS/SOCRATES program. The eleven essays cover a broad spectrum of issues; of most interest to psychological biblical criticism are essays by P. Vandermeersch (“Psychoanalytic Interpretations of Religious Texts: Some Basics” and “Looking Back at Sodom: Psychoanalysis and Diachronic Reading” R. Kessler (“Psychoanalysis as a Hermeneutical Tool: the Example of Ex. 4:24-26”); H. Raguse (“The Oedipus Complex in the Book of Esther”); and J. Carlander (“The Saul-David Story from a Kleinian Perspective.”). I especially recommend the articles by Vandermeersch. In his introductory article he demonstrates how psychoanalytic biblical criticism has matured since early efforts. His concluding reflection examines the reader’s response to the biblical text and suggests that historical-critical methods may have derived some of their appeal due to their effectiveness as defense mechanisms.


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