Original Research - Special Collection: Applied subjects - Practical Theology and Science of Religion

Empathy for the psychological underdog: A positive psychological approach to Luke’s Gospel

Eben Scheffler
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 70, No 1 | a2742 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v70i1.2742 | © 2014 Eben Scheffler | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 May 2014 | Published: 20 November 2014

About the author(s)

Eben Scheffler, Department of Biblical and Ancient Studies, University of South Africa, South Africa


Taking the lead from Wisdom of Solomon 7:20, which clearly indicates that ancient authors did engage in the specialised ‘scientific’ (although contemporary) study of mental processes (διαλογισμοὺς ἀνθρώπων), it is argued that the author of Luke’s Gospel paid special attention to the alleviation of human psychological suffering. Employing an approach recently being labelled as ‘positive psychology’, attention will be paid to general affliction (e.g. Lk 4:18; 6:21, 25), old age (Lk 1:5−80; 2:25−38), grief (e.g. Lk 7:11−17) and the emphasis on mental processes in Luke’s portrayal of Jesus’ exorcisms (e.g. Lk 4:35; 6:18−19; 9:38), as well as the psychological dimension involved in other types of suffering (e.g. poverty, sickness, enmity and social ostracism). The ‘mental process’, ‘feelings’ or ‘empathy’ that motivate the alleviation of suffering (in the behaviour of Jesus and his followers) will also come into focus in the discussion of the Lucan use of the terms οἰκτίρμων (Lk 6:36), ἔλεος and σπλαγχνίζομαι (e.g. Lk 10:33, 37).




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doi: 10.4102/hts.v71i1.2982