Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Theology (MTh)




Martin Luther University College

First Advisor

Peter VanKatwyk

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


This study proposes that family systems therapy can prove useful in understanding Biblical families and thus add to our understanding of the Bible. Employing family systems therapy is appropriate because the Biblical narrative contains a comprehensive treatment of the human family. The Bible deals with family overall, many specific families as in the Jacob cycle, and ends with a vision of the family of God that exists already in the kingdom of heaven. Family systems theory is often useful to the pastor in understanding his/her own family, and the larger extended family of their church congregation. Thus, with new freshness family systems helps us grasp the truth that Biblical families are like the families we know, our own families. Such appreciation can provide useful material for preaching, teaching and pastoral counselling. This study will begin by outlining some basic concepts of family systems therapy in the first chapter. It will follow by examining the Old Testament concept of family in Genesis I-3 and analyse a number of representative families in the Old Testament such as Adam and Eve, Jacob, Moses, Ruth and Naomi, and David’s families. Proceeding to the New Testament there will be a focus especially on issues of fusion, differentiation, and triangulation applying these concepts to Jesus, Paul, Peter and the Prodigal Son. The chapter on the New Testament will close by offering a suggestion about what the eschatological end of the family might be. Finally, this study points out limitations in the use of family systems therapy for Biblical interpretation, outlines possible pastoral applications, and discusses how far we can use Biblical models of family in support of the concept “traditional family values.”

Convocation Year


Convocation Season