Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Brent A. Strawn et al. on the Bible and Happiness

Brent A. Strawn (ed.), The Bible and the Pursuit of Happiness: What the Old and New Testaments Teach Us about the Good Life (Oxford: OUP, 2012), 368 pp., ISBN 9780199795741.

Having something of an abiding interest in so-called ‘happiness studies’, I was delighted to see this full and substantive collection of essays appear late last year.

The OUP blurb and the contents are listed below.

‘Scholars of the social sciences have devoted increasing attention of late to the concept of human happiness, mainly from sociological and psychological perspectives. This groundbreaking volume, which includes twelve essays from scholars of the New Testament, the Old Testament, systematic theology, practical theology, and counseling psychology – along with an extensive introduction and epilogue by the editor – poses a new and exciting question: what is happiness according to the Bible? Informed by developments in positive psychology, the contributions explore representations of happiness throughout the Bible and demonstrate the ways in which they impinge upon both religious and secular understandings of happiness.’

Brent A. Strawn
Introduction: The Bible and... Happiness?

Part I. Hebrew Bible/Old Testament

Terence E. Fretheim
God, Creation, and the Pursuit of Happiness

Nathan MacDonald
Is There Happiness in the Torah?

Jacqueline Lapsley
A Happy Blend: Isaiah’s Vision of Happiness (and Beyond)

William P. Brown
Happiness and Its Discontents in the Psalms

Carol A. Newsom
Positive Psychology and Ancient Israelite Wisdom

Part II. New Testament

Carl R. Holladay
The Beatitudes: Happiness and the Kingdom of God

Joel B. Green
‘We Had to Celebrate and Rejoice!’ Happiness in the Topsy-Turvy World of Luke-Acts

Colleen Shantz
‘I Have Learned to Be Content?’: Happiness according to St. Paul

Greg Carey
Finding Happiness in Apocalyptic Literature

Part III. Beyond the Bible: Continuing the Conversation into Other Disciplines

Ellen T. Charry
The Necessity of Divine Happiness: A Response from Systematic Theology

Thomas G. Long
A Constructed Happiness: A Response from Practical Theology

Steven J. Sandage
The Transformation of Happiness: A Response from Counseling Psychology

Brent A. Strawn
Epilogue: The Triumph of Life: Towards a Biblical Theology of Happiness

Michael J. Chan
Appendix: A Biblical Lexicon of Happiness

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