Term Paper: Christian Counseling Book Review: Brown, William P

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Christian Counseling Book Review:

Brown, William P. (2002) Seeing the Psalms: A Theology of Metaphor. 2002.

Seeing the Psalms? Shouldn't the scholar William P. Brown's book be entitled Reading the Psalms? After all, the Psalms are written texts, transmitted as part of the Bible from one generation to the next through printed prose rather than through images. Yet the ancient iconography that still survives from Biblical Israel also dots the pages of many leaves of Brown's text, as does Brown's prosaic interpretations of these images as well as the words of the Psalter. Above all, to understand the Psalms, Brown stresses seeing rather than reading. The need to see one's spiritual orientation, as well as to vebrally construct it in theological interpretations is essential to his understaing of the Psalms and also, of in the context of Biblical Christian counseling, one could add, essential to the conception of the Christian journey through the modern world.

At the beginning of his intepretation, W.P. Brown affirms the words of the Pslams as some of the most inspirational texts of the Bible. He suggests that the Christian reader of these texts ought to move beyond form criticism, which tends to focus only on the historical setting of the text and the literary genre and type of expression involved, when reading these 'songs' of ancient Israel. He also states that readers of the Psalms reclaim the poems and the roots of these works as theological songs that have deeper than purely literal meanings. Thus, he counsels the reader away from mere fundamentalist redactionism, subsuming the Pslams poetic imagedry to mere dogma and literal understanding. Instead, W.P. Brown's view is that scholars have overlooked the literary beauty of the Psalter at a spritual font of wellness for Christian believers and Christian thinkers. He states that the idea driving his study "is the conviction that familiarity with both the ancient setting and contemporary poetics is essential to understanding the Psalter's theological landscape," and a reader must approach the Psalms both with an open Christian mind to history and an open Christian mind to the literary, psychic and spiritual presence of the Psalm's in one's life as well. (p. x).

The poetics of the psalmic imagination are metaphorical, rather than literal, and thus they have a unique beneficial affect upon Christian counseling, for they allow the believer to make sense of his or her life in metaphorical, imagistic, and mythic terms of the beliver's own past and the past history of his or her faith. "Rife with the language of analogy and anomaly, the Psalter is the schoolhouse of incarnational imagination, in essence that the psalms help believers come to terms with the contradictions and complications of their own lived, Christian lives. (p. 13). One technique for Christian counselors suggested by Brown that a therapist could easily adopt is to use the central metaphors and images of the Psalter to help make a myth or an image or storyline for the troubled person's own conflict and life, during a counseling session.

Images are particularly critical to Brown's understanding of the psalms, and Brown places great emphasis on the ancient iconography he includes in his text as well as literal meanings. Using images and iconography can be useful in counseling, especially when dealing with younger people, even children, who do not necessarily have the full verbal means or emotional articulateness to exprss theological difficulties or even simple feelings. The psalms are "populated by a number of concrete images, whose target domain is the protective God" (p. 19).

The author's favorite Psalem is Psalm 2:12, which reads, "How fortunate are all who take refuge in him." The notion of a refuge from the problems of the world is one of the reasons troubled minds seek both Church and Biblical counseling. The refuge offered by the image of these texts, along with the concept of the healing power of Biblical understanding through… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Christian Counseling Book Review: Brown, William P.  (2005, February 9).  Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/christian-counseling-book-review-brown/5976448

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"Christian Counseling Book Review: Brown, William P."  Essaytown.com.  February 9, 2005.  Accessed December 5, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/christian-counseling-book-review-brown/5976448.