The Charismatic Imagination
Clergy Reading Mark 9: 14-29
Keywords:Anglican clergy, Charismatics, imagination, ordinary readers, personality, psychological type
The idea that imagination plays a key role in biblical interpretation has become increasingly important over the last few decades. The ability of readers to project from their present-day into an ancient narrative might be promoted by psychological functions that foster imagination, and by specific theological beliefs such as Charismaticism, which are associated with experiential and analogical hermeneutics. This study of 857 Anglican clergy examined the extent to which the Jungian psychological function of intuition and the practice of Charismaticism are associated with readers being able to imagine themselves into a New Testament healing story. The results provided evidence to support the idea that one way in which readers might tackle Mark 9:14-29 is to imagine themselves into the story, possibly by identifying with one of the characters in the narrative. The propensity to do this is partly related to psychological type preferences, with intuitives being more likely to imagine themselves into story. Independent of psychological preferences, Charismaticism also promotes imaginative engagement and identification with characters, and this is especially so for identification with Jesus and with the disciples. Empirical studies of this sort help to remind interpreters that interpretative preferences may be linked to individual differences in psychology and experience.
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