Society of Biblical Literature

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Donald Capps dies at 76

Donald Capps

Donald Capps

Donald Capps, retired Professor of Pastoral Theology at Princeton and a former member of the Psychology and Biblical Studies steering committee died August 26, 2015 from injuries suffered in a traffic accident.

Capps was a significant figure in the development of Pastoral Theology, and wrote many books in the field, including two of particular note for psychological biblical criticism: Jesus, A Psychological Biography (Chalice, 2000) and Jesus the Village Psychiatrist (Westminster John Knox, 2008). The former book was reviewed in a Psychology and Biblical Studies session in 2000.

He served as President of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion from 1990-1992, and was book review editor for the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 1980-1983 and 1983-1988. He began at Princeton in 1981, retired as professor emeritus in 2009, but continued to teach as an adjunct.

Read more at Planet Princeton.

Atlanta, GA

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Psybibs sessions for SBL Annual Meeting 2015

The Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting this year will be held in Atlanta, Georgia, November 21-24, 2015.

Psychology and Biblical Studies Section sessions will include:

  • Biblical Selves in Public and Private
  • Bible and the Brain

For fuller listings of sessions, with participants, times, and locations, see the 2015 Atlanta page. Links to paper drafts will be added as they become available.

For more information about the SBL Annual meeting, including registration, see the SBL website.

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International SBL July 20-24, 2015

The International Society of Biblical Literature meets in Buenos Aires this coming July 20-24. For more information and registration, see the SBL website.

One of the program units that has offered sessions each year is Psychological Hermeneutics of Biblical Themes and Texts. This years sessions include:

Theme: More Widely Applicable Interpretive Approaches

Tuesday, July 21, 4:00 – 5:30 pm

Heather McKay, Edge Hill University, Presiding

Hendrik Viviers, University of Johannesburg
Natural Retreats and Human Well-being:
Reading the Song of Songs through the Lens of Attention Restoration Theory

Working within the field of environmental psychology, Rachel and Stephen Kaplan developed their Attention Restoration Theory to address the problem of directed attention fatigue. ‘Involuntary’ attention can put the voluntary or directed attention mechanism at rest. This happens markedly (but not solely) within natural settings that are both wild (e.g. reserves) and domesticated (e.g. gardens). Cognitive depletion becomes substituted with cognitive restoration and leads to a replenished state of mind so as to function effectively. Notions such as ‘being away,’ ‘“soft” fascination,’ ‘extent’ and ‘compatibility’ aptly describe the human:nature relationship, and function as descriptive properties that natural settings require to enhance the restorative experience. Shining the light of these insights onto the Song of Songs, it will be determined if this ancient book had an (intuitive) appreciation for nature’s healing/restorative powers. The focus will especially be on the natural retreats that the two young lovers more than often avail themselves of (e.g. 1:15-17; 2:8 ff.; 6:2; 6:11-12; 7:11-13; 8:5; 8:13-14). Do these retreats (unknowingly) comply with the requirements of restoration? Do the wild places, open and cultivated fields, gardens, etc., pictured in the Song, meet the properties of being away, fascination, extent and compatibility?

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Marcus Borg

Marcus BorgIt is with sadness we mark the passing of Marcus J. Borg, a significant Jesus scholar and author of  twenty-one books on the historical Jesus, Christian faith, the Bible, and more.

Among his many interests, Professor Borg was one of the group of scholars that advocated for the creation of what has become the Psychology and Biblical Studies Section of the Society of Biblical Literature. He served on the organizing committee and was the moderator of the first session, held in 1991. Since that time, he served on the Steering Committee and several times as a participant in Annual Meeting sessions.

He will be greatly missed.



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Call for Papers: November 2015 in Atlanta

psybibs.call4papers.fwSBL Annual Meeting

November 21-14, 2015
Atlanta, GA

We always welcome proposals for papers that address Biblical texts, themes, figures and/or readers using the concepts and interpretive tools of any field of psychology. We urge the use of the original Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic, especially when the argument of your paper rests on the meanings of specific words or phrases.

For 2015, we are particularly interested in papers that offer psychological perspectives as applied to character studies, with special focus on “Psychological Profiling of Strong Women in the Bible.”

We also welcome any papers that highlight methods, models, and approaches in the interface between psychology and Biblical studies, including from the emerging fields of neurotheology, brain physiology and religious experience, and evolutionary psychology.

Proposals are due by March 4, 2014

Submit proposals online

More information at the Society of Biblical Literature site.

San Diego

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SBL Annual Meeting begins on Saturday

San DiegoThe Annual Meeting of the SBL will be held in San Diego, CA, this year, and will begin on Saturday, November 22. The Psychology and Biblical Studies Section will have three sessions: on Ritual, Psychology, and the Bible, on Daniel Merkur’s Relating to God, and on  Shame and Shadow in the Hebrew Bible.

If you’re planning to be there, a full ist of sessions, times and locations is available here. We’ll try to report on some of the sessions as they take place.

For other sessions, you can consult the online program book at the SBL.

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Psychology in the Review of Biblical Literature

A recent search on “psychology” as a topic for the SBL site Review of Biblical Literature turned up 25 titles:

A Violent God-Image: An Introduction to the Work of Eugen Drewermann
Beier, Matthias
New York: Continuum, 2004
Reviews: 1 Review by Wayne Rollins, published 4/16/2005
Subjects: Bible, Literature, Methods, Social Scientific Approaches, Psychology, Theological Approaches, Other Methods

Cain’s Lament: A Christian Moral Psychology
Hughes, Richard A.
New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2001
Reviews: 1 Review by D Andrew Kille, published 5/24/2003
Subjects: Bible, Hebrew Bible / Old Testament, Pentateuch, Genesis, Literature, Methods, Social Scientific Approaches, Psychology, Theological Approaches Continue reading