Society of Biblical Literature

2009 New Orleans

Psychology and Biblical Studies

Annual Meeting, November 21-24, 2009
New Orleans, LA

Jesus The Village Psychiatrist,
A Critique and Appreciation

A review of Donald Capps’ Jesus, the Village Psychiatrist (Westminster John Knox 2008)

J. Harold Ellens, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Presiding

Panel

  • Donald Capps, Princeton Theological Seminary, Panelist
    Jesus, the Village Psychiatrist: A Summary
  • Andries van Aarde, University of Pretoria, Panelist
  • Raymond Lawrence, Panelist
  • F. Morgan Roberts, Panelist
  • Andrew Village, Panelist

Donald Capps, Princeton Theological Seminary, Respondent

The Secret Gospel of Mark, Sex, Death, and Madness:
The Psychodynamics of Morton Smith’s Proposal

Critical response to The Secret Gospel of Mark Unveiled; Imagined Ritual of Sex, Death, and Madness in a Biblical Forgery, by Peter G. Jeffery [See the reviews of The Secred Gospel of Mark Unveiled at the Review of Biblical Literature.]

J. Harold Ellens, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Presiding

Panel

  • Peter Jeffery, Princeton University, Panelist
  • Robin Jensen, Vanderbilt University, Panelist
  • Donald Capps, Princeton Theological Seminary, Panelist
  • J. Harold Ellens, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Panelist
  • Raymond Lawrence, Panelist

Peter Jeffery, Princeton University, Respondent

Otherness and Motherness:
Psychological Forays into the Hebrew Scriptures

D. Andrew Kille, Presiding

Barbara Mei Leung Lai, Tyndale Seminary
Total Otherness, Self-Condemnation, and “Mission Impossible”: A Psycho-Dramatic Reading of Isaiah 6

(This presentation will be preceded with a 5-7 minute “Animated introduction.”) Employing a psychological lens along with literary (including the Bakhtinian perspectives on polyphony and dialogism) and historical-critical tools, this presentation undertakes a psycho-dramatic approach to the “Vision-Report” of Isaiah 6. The intricacy of the textual depiction of God as the “Total Otherness,” leading to the self-condemnation of the prophet (the psychology of guilt), and climaxing at the commissioning to the “Mission Impossible” (perplexed and repressed Isaian emotions) shapes the momentum in the development of this paper. An “audience” perspective in readers in reading biblical “vision-drama” will be highlighted. The overall objective is to demonstrate that a psycho-dramatic reading strategy may further expand the horizon of perception and enrich the meaning-significance of this first-person “vision report.”

Ginny Brewer-Boydston, Baylor University
Overbearing Mothers and Childhood Regression: A Feminist Psychoanalytic Reading of Judges 4-5

Judges 4-5 is a text that can easily produce a wealth of interpretation and readings through such approaches as historical traditional criticism, redaction criticism, new literary criticism, and new historicism. As the story features two women who rise as leaders of a patriarchal society to deliver the nation in a time of war and oppression, a feminist critical approach is appropriate for interpretation of the passage. What is rather strange is the lack of feminist critics interpreting the text through a psychoanalytic lens. This paper will, therefore, read Judges 4-5 in its canonical form through a feminist psychoanalytic view with the aim of answering what such a reading can offer the current field of feminist biblical critique on this passage, in particular how two women in ancient Israelite society yielded great power over two military commanders. This text is an example of female subversion of patriarchal culture but the main concern is with how this subversion takes place: through Deborah’s and Jael’s roles as mothers and Barak’s and Sisera’s regression to childhood behaviors and mentality. In Judges 4-5, Deborah and Jael are indeed women who step outside of patriarchal bounds and seize the moment to deliver ancient Israel. The possibility for their powerful actions is opened by way of the main male characters of the story. Barak and Sisera regress to a childhood state and become dependent upon Deborah and Jael, who act as mothers towards both men. A feminist psychoanalytic approach to this text offers a reading that gives reason and opportunity for Deborah and Jael to assert themselves in a patriarchal society.

Adrien J. Bledstein, Independent Scholar, Chicago
David’s Mother

In an ancient patriarchal culture a man was usually known as the son of his father, a woman as the daughter of her father, wife of her husband, sister of brothers, or in connection with a place (the woman of Abel). How can we learn about David’s mother who is not named? When David curses his cousins, Joab and Abishai, he calls them the sons of Zeruriah who is their mother and David’s sister. In 2 Samuel 17:25 it is possible that Nahash is the mother of Zeruriah and Abigail so possibly of David. Whatever his mother’s name, David’s relationship with her lives on in prayers which tradition attributes to her gifted son. David’s experience came to my attention when I was leading Bible study with adults in a congregational setting. The course entitled “What Was David Thinking?” integrates Psalms tradition attributes to David with the narrative about him in 1 Sam 16 through 1 Kings 2. After a psychoanalyst in the class asked, “What do we know about David’s mother?” I chronologically traced David’s expression at different moments in his life regarding this fundamental relationship. By experiencing David’s feelings revealed in prayers in context a great deal may be discerned about his sense of connection with and appreciation of his mother, in youth, throughout life, in a moment of shame, and in preparation for death.

D. Andrew Kille, Bible Workbench, Respondent

Psychology and Biblical Studies Section Business Meeting

New Testament Texts and Methods: Jesus, Marriage, and Personality

Wayne Rollins, Hartford Seminary, Presiding

Bas van Os, Free University of Amsterdam
The role Jesus played in God’s narrative

In this paper I will investigate the usefulness of Sundén’s role theory to understand the historical Jesus. Sundén observes how religious people can position themselves within a religious narrative, and take the role of one of the actors, even of God. I will investigate how Jesus applied the roles of the prophet to John the Baptist, whose pupil he was. I will suggest that the healings that occurred forced him to rethink his own role in the light of Isaiah and other prophets. This perspective could give us an alternative way of looking at Jesus’ final actions, when he entered Jerusalem on a donkey, cleansed the temple and applied the pesach celebration to his impending death.

Leslie J. Francis, Warwick University
Psychological type and biblical hermeneutics: an empirical enquiry among Anglican lay preachers

The SIFT method of biblical hermeneutics and liturgical preaching has its roots in three fields: a theology of individual difference situated within the doctrine of creation, an application of Jungian psychological type theory, and empirical observation. The present study tests the empirical foundations for this method using two forms of empirical enquiry. Quantitative methodology is employed to generate the psychological type profiles of over 200 Anglican lay preachers in England, using the Francis Psychological Type Scales, in order to establish the distinctiveness of this group compared with published materials for Anglican clergy in England. Qualitative methodology is employed in analysing the content of biblically-based preaching materials generated by sub-groups of these lay preachers in relation to their individual psychological type preferences.

Andrew Village, York St John University, UK
The Bible and Clergy: Psychological type and biblical interpretation among Anglican clergy in England

This paper examines the way in which recently ordained clergy in Anglican churches in the UK interpret the bible. Clergy were asked to read a test passage from mark 9:14-29 and to answer questions about it. They were also asked to complete a measure of psychological type. The paper reports on the correlation between preferred interpretations of the test passage and psychological type preferences. Results from this study are set alongside comparable results from a sample of lay people from the Church of England.

Wayne Rollins, Hartford Seminary, Respondent

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