Behold the Dreamer — More Psychojunk
“Behold, the dreamer cometh.” Of whom do I speak? Of Joseph, the Hebrew lad victimized by his brothers? (Genesis 37:19). No, rather, I refer to a relatively recent writer who sought to “analyze” Joseph, and who has given us one more example of “science” gone askew.
Joseph, son of Jacob, is one of the rich treasures of Old Testament literature. He was devout before God, moral in his interactions with others, full of wisdom, and industrious in his business endeavors.
At the tender age of seventeen he was sold as a slave down into Egypt by his own brothers. They despised him for several reasons. First, he refused to overlook their “evil” (whatever that was), and reported their misdeeds to Jacob. Second, the venerable father was partial to young Joseph (a child of his old age), and the brothers were jealous of that relationship (cf. Acts 7:9); they could scarcely say a kind word to him (Genesis 37:2-4). Moreover, Jacob had given Joseph a special coat. It is commonly called the “coat of many colors,” but the Hebrew is ambiguous. It can denote a patterned coat, a garment with long sleeves (ASV fn), or perhaps even an ornamented robe suggestive of royalty (cf. 2 Samuel 13:18-19)—or at least status. It likely hinted that Jacob intended to make Joseph his principal heir.
In Egypt, the lad was purchased by an officer of the king. Never mind, “Jehovah was with Joseph” (Genesis 39:2). By and by, Potiphar’s lustful wife became infatuated with the youngster. Repeatedly, she sought to seduce him. He resisted her vile designs, however, exclaiming: “[H]ow then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (v. 9). The young man’s faith and courage flash like a strobe on the panorama of biblical history. He is a model for the ages. What a tragedy that he should be back-stabbed by a modern who fancies himself an analyst of sorts.
Enter the picture Dr. Robert Greenblatt. For many years Dr. Greenblatt served as professor of endocrinology at the Medical College of Georgia. The distinguished professor authored several books and was a contributing writer to the Encyclopedia Britannica. Curiously, one of his books was titled, Search the Scriptures – A Physician Examines Medicine in the Bible. Therein he spins some of the most fantastic yarns imaginable! As a biblical “analyst,” the doctor is a quack!
In his book, Greenblatt questions the biblical narrative that suggests Joseph’s conduct was guided by faith in God and ethics; rather, he opines the lad was troubled “by fear of his sexual inadequacy.” Hear him: “Almost certainly, Joseph suffered from delayed pubescence together with the pangs and torments associated with retarded physical and sexual development. Deep were his emotional turmoil, his insecurity, his envy of the virility of his brothers, and the psychosexual trauma than ensued” (1963, 25).
The doctor further describes Joseph as “gentle, effeminate, and handsome in a girlish way.” He says that Jacob sought to compensate for “his son’s frailties” by lavishing love and attention on him, and “befittingly” providing for him that “coat of many colors.” This descriptive contains a slanderous insinuation too obvious to miss. In Freudian fashion (admitted in the text), Dr. Greenblatt interprets Joseph’s dream regarding bowing sheaves of grain as a craving “for the attainment of manhood and sexual potency” (26-27).
What garbage! Has a man no consicience—who will resort to the character assination of a great Bible character for a personal, selfish motive? But Greenblatt did not confine his “analysis” to Joseph. Later he suggested (citing anthropologist Ashley Montague) that the inspired Psalmist, “in unconscious reverberation,” was fantasizing about a woman’s anatomy when he wrote: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my sustenance” (121:1).
Quite frankly, these are the guys who have the problem! Furthermore, they are attempting to exploit the greatest body of literature in the world’s history, the Bible, for their own egotistical ends. How tragic it is that men should attempt to ride piggy-back upon the sacred Scriptures in order to generate a modest level of publicity.
Remember this: Not everything that claims to be “science” is. There’s a lot of pure nonsense, parading as “science,” “psychology,” etc. The discerning student must know how to separate the wheat from the chaff. And to be honest about it, there’s far more chaff than wheat!
- Greenblatt, Robert. 1963. Search the Scriptures – A Physician Examines Medicine in the Bible. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott.