Jesus and Psychology

Edited by Fraser Watts

A collaborative study, Jesus and Psychology shows how psychology can be used to illuminate the historical and modern portrayals of Jesus, the wisdom of his sayings, and the reasons people read and understand the Bible differently.

The book is divided into three sections. In the first, Fraser Watts opens with a discussion of the value of a psychological approach to the Gospels. Contributor Justin J. Meggitt follows with a essay on the potential contributions made by a psychological study of the historical Jesus. Liz Gulliford then offers an analysis of three contemporary films—Jesus Christ Superstar, The Last Temptation of Christ, and The Passion of the Christ—shedding light on the psychological dilemma of whether to portray Jesus as human or divine and how to integrate the two.

Sara Savage begins the next section with a comparison of contemporary methods of psychological therapy and studies the way Jesus responded to the people that he met. Fraser Watts continues the discussion with a look at threads of psychological meaning in Jesus' teachings. Beaumont Stevenson then looks at the importance of the breaking of taboos that occur at several crucial points in the Gospel narrative. Jesse W. Abell draws on the frameworks of cognitive psychology to illustrate how our own thought processes affect our readings of texts like the Gospels. James Day finishes with a discussion of developmental psychology and how an individual's personal development is likely to influence how he or she interprets the Gospels.

In the third section of the book, Leslie J. Francis explores Jungian personality types and how they can affect an individual's reading of the Gospels. Everett L. Worthington Jr. then examines how the value people give to virtue is shown to have significant implications on what is perceived as the central message of the scriptures and also on the interpretation of the interplay between justice, mercy, grace, and forgiveness.

Jesus and Psychology presents new scholarship in the field of psychology and religion and extends the global science-religion dialogue.

Contributors / ix
Preface / xiii
1. Approaching the Gospels Psychologically / 1
Fraser Watts
2. Psychology and the Historical Jesus / 16
Justin J. Meggitt
3. Fully Human, Fully Divine? The Cinematic Portrayal of Christ / 27
Liz Gulliford
4. Healing Encounters / 44
Sara Savage
5. Personal Transformation / 62
Fraser Watts
6. Turning Taboo on its Head / 78
Beaumont Stevenson
7. Interpretive Processes / 95
Jesse W. Abell
8. Personal Development / 116
James M. Day
9. Psychological Types / 137
Leslie J. Francis
10. Virtue Orientations / 155
Everett L. Worthington, Jr.
References / 174
Index / 183

"Kudos to Fraser Watts and his Cambridge University colleagues for their insightful reflections on psychological understandings of Jesus, on the psychological wisdom in his sayings, and on how psychological factors influence our biblical interpretation. This is state-of-the-art scholarship.

David G. Myers, co-author with Malcolm A. Jeeves, Psychology through the Eyes of Faith