I’m speaking for myself, but having grown up with the story of Joseph, it’s been pretty easy to take the whole ordeal for granted. Not to say that I’ve been unfamiliar with the story, but there’s certainly a contrast between the dramatic Biblical portrayal of the events and Donny Osmond’s Technicolor dreamscape. What I’d like to do is capture this difference, and I feel like the best way to humanize the story would be to analyze the psychological weight of the events in the Joseph cycle.
Despite being a Sunday School favorite, the tale is rife with emotional trauma. Parental favoritism, sibling rivalry (perhaps “forced estrangement” is a more worthy term), wrongful imprisonment, and loss of a child are just a few of the issues that plague Joseph and his family. By applying the effects of these situations to the characters in the Joseph story, maybe we can more effectively humanize them and gain a better appreciation for their behaviors. Ultimately, my goal isn’t to psychologically typify Joseph and his family, but to quantify/qualify their individual struggles insofar as the scripture’s depth allows.
I’m aware that not every apparently traumatic event in the story may be paired with a reaction. Depending on how frequently I run into such a situation, I’m prepared to explore the possible significance (or, rather, insignificance) of the missing details. I also want to stress that I intend to be very careful about falsely attributing significance to passages of the story. Ideally, the essay will be a neutral analysis.
In terms of resources, and this may go without saying, I’ll be leaning pretty heavily on Genesis 37-50. I’ve managed to uncover a few articles that lie on the intersection between psychology and the Joseph story. I intend to include some broad psychological studies to either affirm or refute the characters’ actions and reactions, as well as explore the significance of their decisions. When all is said and done, I’d like to have significantly explored the emotional depth of the story, and perhaps have some substantial evidence that the story is more worthy of an HBO miniseries than an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical.