Original Research - Special Collection: Old and New Testament Studies

Reflecting on Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness from a positive psychological perspective

Eben Scheffler
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 71, No 1 | a2982 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v71i1.2982 | © 2015 Eben Scheffler | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 April 2015 | Published: 30 October 2015

About the author(s)

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


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Abstract

In its quest for a non-medical, pro-health approach to psychotherapy, positive psychology surprisingly focuses on concepts that are biblical and specifically present in the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth. In this paper,(1) the teaching of Jesus in the synoptic tradition on forgiveness will be compared to recent positive psychological approaches (e.g. McCullough & Witvliet); attention will be paid to the (2) contexts of forgiveness (interpersonal and/or political); (3) the (philosophical) positive or negative judgement on forgiveness as a positive notion (e.g. the Buddhist concept of karma, [e.g. Arendt, Deridda, Wolterstorff]); (4) the (perceived) positive role of forgiveness in psychotherapy; (5) the ‘techniques’ or method of forgiveness when the latter seems difficult; and (6) the relation between forgiveness and religion or spirituality.

Keywords

Forgiveness; Jesus of Nazareth; karma; positive psychology; politics

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