It seems to me that Christ included just about everyone in his community, except the arrogant.


I perceive a parallel between some theological concepts out of the Judeo-Christian tradition and current psychological theory. For instance, the idea of original sin now has its manifestation as the psychoanalytic concept of primary narcissism. Also, the Old Testament prohibition against idolatry now appears within attachment theory. Idol worship involved what in psychological language is called bad and unhealthy attachments with an objects, one which takes the place of an attachment to an intangible being. Modern attachments to things that we make are misguided if we end up understanding ourselves in terms of the things that we make. On one hand it was useful to understand brain function in terms of the telephone system including the switchboard, and it has become useful to understand  brain function in terms of the computer software that some of us make. On the other hand, however, something is lost if our primary way of comprehending ourselves is in terms of the things we make.

It seems to me that the parable of the prodigal son told by Christ has a structure similar to Freud's tripartite theory of personality consisting of id, ego and superego.  Social roles/relations are hence transformed into mental processes. The prodigal son becomes sthe id, the father becomes the ego, and the eldest son becomes the superego.  Freud added more to these roles, like the artist side of the id, but nevertheless the irresponsible impulsivity of the prodigal son is evident in the id, and the judgemental resentment of the eldest son is evident in the superego.  Meanwhile, ego is in the position of the father, and in this case makes the decision to accept the id and acknowledge the expectations of the superego.

The theological concepts of justification and sanctification, when taken out of their theological framework, are formulations that counterbalancde "being okay" and "becoming okay." Justification involves realizing that, at bottom, one can do nothing but to accept and surrender to "save" oneself., whther with respect to current adversity and suffering in this life, or to whatever comes next. Sanctfication, by contrast, captures the realization that oneself is far from perfect, gets afraid when threatened, and still is "in process."


The above reflections presume that during the last three thousand years of Western history, theological thought and its language have evolved into psychological thought at its language. As I indicate above, they are in some cases referring to the same phenomenon in human experience but from different perspectives. To elaborate further, private psychological experience of the kind we know today did not occur the further back in Western history we search. As others such as Julian Jaynes have noted, people were apt to experience their thoughts as due to external forces. A person  was a locale for thinking and feelings, but such experience was not necessarily attributed to oneself. For lack of better words, thinking and feeling was attributed to intangible forces or beings, sometimes conceived as being spirits. As this kind of personal experience slowly became less communal and more private, and as self reflection and self observation developed over the centuries, thinking and feeling became more attributed to oneself. This resulted in the slow emergence of  a psychological perspective, one at the core of humanism.

Stephen Greenblattt presents interesting relflections. What is missing from his reflections is a sense of the developmental aspects that permeate this fundamental story of Adam and Eve. He misses a sense of the way that the writer or writers projected a sense of their own personal origins to the origins of humans. In other words, the story contains a rudimentary sense that the history of humanity has its paralllels in individual human development, one in which an age of innocence and self reflection are lost.

According to Greenblatt, it is Augustine who first gave a literal interpretation of the first chapter of Genesis. For me this brings us to the subject of the origins of "literal" interpretations of anything. Augustine was, in my estimation, like King David and perhaps Leonardo Da Vinci, that is, hundreds of years ahead of his time, when evaluated in terms of psychological reflection. Apparently David's relationship with Jonathan is the earliest recorded friendship in Western history, in that he had a strong personal bond and comraderie with  someone outside his clan. For this to occur, he necessarily needed to transcend current mores and customs. Regarding Augustine, his historically precocious personality was most evident in his Confessions. This self reflection was much more sophisticated and elaborate than that expressed in any other documents preserved until, say, autobiographical reflections that began to appear in the 12th century. As well, Augustine, his style of self reflection perhaps qualifies him as the western world's first neurotic. His precocious abilities in regards to self observation/reflection also inclined him to acquire a new perspective.

The concept of literal truth cannot occur until people are literate. That is, visual reading becomes a primary source of knowledge and thus the reservoir of truth. The words are given a status that is elevated above the oral tradition and this "literal" truth is assumed to be unequivocal fact.

Those who contributed to the oral tradition that resulted in the words comprising the first chapter of Genesis had no sense of words being "literal." First of all, as Martin Buber emphasized in comments regarding his translations, the further back one goes in the bibilical record, the more the words were first fundamentally spoken, and remembered as part of an oral tradition.. Like prayer, the oldest biblical accounts were spoken words, and only later did they evolve into written words.

In sum, the idea of lilteral interpretation is a relatively modern invention that attained full form as part of the Scientific Revolution of the 17th century.

Regarding biblical interpretation, there are two opposites that on their own are misguided, one being the literal emphasis and the other holding that the biblical account consists of stories that are at best historical fiction that do not contain authority any more than other documents from the past.  By coitrast, exegetical interpretation tries to focus on what the writers of the various books on the Bible meant to communicate when they wrote what they wrote, which means we are to understand the context of a particular passage and imagine the tacit assumptions and beliefs of the writer.  To consider the books of the Bible to be fictional writing represents a kind of denial, a simplistic way to dismiss that which is apriori perceived to be not logical and not true. By contrast, those adhering to some kind of literal truth regarding Biblical passages are neurotically holding on to a belief and frame of reference that cannot tolerate doubt or dissent.  Ultimately it is fear based, and represents the inability to dialogue about possibilities. It lacks creativity.


That Adam and Eve started out naked parallels that all humans and born naked.  The Fall is something involving an awakening somewhat parallel to puberty.  It is misleading to consider this awakening to be some kind of teenage experience because, the modern teenager is yet another moderan creation that began to appear in the 19th century and did not really get going in North America until, say, the 1950's. Perhaps Rousseau was our first teenager, as evident in the angst conveyed in his Confessions.

Puberty does involve a break, which in previous centuries involved a transition to a new role within society, one usually involving bethrotal and then marriage, as community events.  There was no dating, and few friendships with the opposite sex, as that too is a modern creation.