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Philotheos

Volume 10, 2010

George Varvatsoulias
Pages 68-81
DOI: 10.5840/philotheos2010106

The Parable of the Prodigal Son as a Modern Psychological Reading

The present paper deals with the topic of psychology of religion. It discusses the parable of the prodigal son and its understandings as a modern psychological reading. The article consists of two methods of approach: 1. The first presents and discusses the various theological narratives of the text and their relation to the actual parable. 2. The second interprets the parable of the prodigal son as a de-contextualised psychological reading. As to the first approach, the parable of the prodigal son is explained in relation to the discomfort the Pharisees and the Scribes were expressing against Jesus; it is continued with a discussion about the opposition of Jesus’ contemporaries as to His message to the people, whereas it is completed with the understanding of the parable as the parable of the Loving Father. As to the second approach, there are explored family relations and dynamics; there are discussed fight/flight, and attachment/separation issues, whereas finally there are investigated aspects regarding the Elder Brother as an Ego image in the parable, and the Prodigal Son as a psychological narrative about the restoration of the Self unto Christ.

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