Society of Biblical Literature

Psychological Analyses and the Historical Jesus

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Van Os, Bas, Psychological Analyses and the Historical Jesus (London: T&T Clark International, 2011).

This book is a prodigious achievement, breaking ground simultaneously in three fields: historical Jesus research, psychological biblical criticism, and early church studies. With an impressive command of European and American scholarship, Bas van Os initiates us into the world between the historical Jesus and earliest Christianity with an intriguing thesis:  that the effect of the former on the latter provides compelling psychological, anthropological, demographic, and sociological insight into the historical Jesus.

The reader will not be able to put the book down as van Os initiates us into six disciplines new to most biblical scholars: attachment theory, rational choice theory, anthropological psychology, the psychology of coping with loss, and role theory, all of which open unexpected doors to a past that is constantly at work in the conscious and unconscious life of church and scholar.   – Wayne G. Rollins

Since Albert Schweitzer’s monumental work, nearly a century ago, psychology has been banned from Historical Jesus research. But both disciplines have advanced and it is time to review the contribution that psychology can make. Bas Van Os examines the problems which surround both the historical and the psychological study of Jesus, such as the fact that we can only work with the surviving traditions that some of his early followers left us. Following this, Van Os proposes a theoretical framework that combines sound psychological theories and critical biblical scholarship to explain how Jesus’ life and religious experience impacted the beliefs of his friends and family after his death. – Publisher description.

This book was featured in a session of the Psychology and Biblical Studies Section at the SBL Annual Meeting in San Francisco in November 2011.

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One thought on “Psychological Analyses and the Historical Jesus

  1. Pingback: Review of “Psychological Analyses and the Historical Jesus” posted | psybibs

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