While biblical scholars have all too often remained skeptical, preachers and pastoral counselors have always known, consciously or not, that the Bible is a richly psychological document. Until recently, psychological biblical criticism has been one of the hidden avenues of biblical interpretation, made more inaccessible due to the lack of organization and coherence within the literature. Recent shifts in the discipline of biblical studies, along with the increasing influence of psychological perspectives on the culture in general have made psychological approaches to the Bible more visible. It is useful to identify three dimensions or levels of the biblical text: the world behind the text, the world of the text and the world in front of the text. Such a division can help to identify the goals of a particular psychological approach and the appropriateness of its aims.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Aichele, G., Burnett, F. W., Castelli, E. A., Fowler, R. M., Jobling, D., Moore, S. D., Phillips, G. A., Pippin, T., Schwartz, R. M., & Wuellner, W. (Eds.). (1995). The postmodern bible. New Haven: Yale University.
Capps, D. (1981). Biblical approaches to pastoral counseling. Philadelphia: Westminster.
Clinebell, H. (1984). Basic types of pastoral care and counseling: Resources for the ministry of healing and growth (Revised ed.). Nashville: Abingdon.
Fiorenza, E. S. (1992). But she said: Feminist practices of biblical interpretation. Boston: Beacon Press.
Halperin, D. J. (1993). Seeking Ezekiel: Text and psychology. University Park, PA: Penn State Press.
Homans, P. (1979). Jung in context: Modernity and the making of a psychology. Chicago: University of Chicago.
Kille, D. A. (2001). Psychological biblical criticism. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.
Oates, W. E. (1950). The diagnostic use of the bible: What a man sees in the bible is a projection of his inner self. Pastoral Psychology, 1, 43-46.
Oates, W. E. (1953). The Bible in pastoral care. Philadelphia: Westminster.
Pruyser, P. (1991). The tutored imagination in religion. In H. N. Maloney & B. Spilka (Eds.), Religion in Psychodynamic Perspective: the Contributions of Paul W. Pruyser (pp. 101-115). New York: Oxford University.
Rollins, W. G. (1987). Jung's challenge to biblical hermeneutics. In M. Stein & R. L. Moore (Eds.), Jung's challenge to contemporary religion (pp. 107-126). Wilmette, IL: Chiron.
Rollins, W. G. (1999). Soul and psyche: The Bible in psychological perspective. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress.
Schneiders, S. (1991). The revelatory text. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco.
Schweitzer, A. (1948). The psychiatric study of Jesus: Exposition and criticism (C. R. Joy, Trans.). Boston: Beacon Press.
Scroggs, R. (1982, March 24, 1982). Psychology as a tool to interpret the text. Christian Century, 335-338.
Tate, W. R. (1991). Biblical interpretation: An integrated approach. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson.
Theissen, G. (1987). Psychological aspects of pauline theology. Philadelphia: Fortress.
Underwood, R. (1997). Primordial texts: an object relations approach to biblical hermeneutics. Pastoral Psychology, 45(3), 181-192.
Wink, W. (1973). The Bible in human transformation: Toward a new paradigm for biblical study. Philadelphia: Fortress.
Wulff, D. M. (1985). Psychological Approaches. In F. Whaling (Ed.), Contemporary approaches to the study of religion, vol. 2, the social sciences (pp. 21-88). Berlin: Mouton.
About this article
Cite this article
Kille, D.A. Psychology and the Bible: Three Worlds of the Text. Pastoral Psychology 51, 125–134 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1020054613578
- psychological biblical criticism