A theological, ancient Hellenistic, and psychological look at the dreams of Pharaoh's chief cupbearer and chief baker (Genesis 40: 5-13, 16-18)

Yong Lu


The intriguing study of dreams in the Bible has cut across not only some traditional fields such as biblical textual criticisms, comparative religions, philosophy, and genre writing analyses, but also psychoanalyses. However, psychological interpretation is still not underscored in Christian tradition. In this paper, first, hermeneutical exegeses on the biblical dreams and especially Pharaoh's chief cupbearer's (or butler's) and chief bakers' dream narratives (Gen. 40: 5-13, 16-18) are investigated. Second, the general meanings of dreams are defined and explained from some ancient Hellenistic philosophers', i.e.  Aristotle, Cicero, Eusebius, Heraclitus, Herodotus, Philo of Alexandria, and Plato, understandings. Furthermore, special attention is given to Philo of Alexandria's hermeneutics on the two dream narratives. Third, it is the thesis of this paper that the two dream narratives are exceptions and can be also interpreted in the light of modern dream interpretation, especially Freudian, Jungian, and other psychoanalysis, as well as a cognitive judgment approach called the equate-to-differentiate model. Seeing them through the lens of psychology and for the first time through the baker's cognitive perspective can aid us in our understanding of human nature while enhancing the study of both traditional theology and psychology.


dream; vision; chief cupbearer; chief baker

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11588/ijodr.2016.1.26646

URN (PDF): http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:bsz:16-ijodr-266468