Society of Biblical Literature

Jesus at Thirty: A Psychohistorical Inquiry

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Miller, J. W. (1997). Jesus at Thirty: A Psychohistorical Inquiry. Minneapolis: Fortress.

Taking key events from Jesus life— the conflict with his family, the decisive events of his baptism followed by the struggle with Satan, and certain features of his teaching and relationships with others— Miller suggests that what we know of Jesus is consistent with a model of human development derived from Freud, Fromm, Erikson and Daniel Levinson. Miller proposes that Jesus had positive early experiences with his father, but his father’s death when Jesus was still an adolescent left him with feelings of loss and the responsibility as firstborn son to take on the care of the family. In his encounter with John the Baptist and his dramatic experience at his baptism followed by a struggle with powerful temptations, Jesus passed through crisis of identity and faith, coming into his own unique ministry, “at about thirty.” Tensions between Jesus and his biological family reflect the shift he has undergone from fathering his own father’s family to caring for his own— God’s family of outcasts and sinners.
(D. Andrew Kille)

This book was featured in a joint session of the Psychology and Biblical Studies Section and the Historical Jesus Section at the Annual Meeting in San Francisco in November 1997.

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