Smiling for Joy: Theological Engagements with Psychology

    Project Details


    My presenting question in this project is: did Jesus smile? There is no record of Jesus smiling in the Bible. There is little, if any, theological reflection on Jesus’s smile in Christian literature. There is little investigation of the smile or smiling in general in Christian theology. This fundamental feature of human identity has been largely overlooked by theologians. (The fullest theological articulation of the smile to date will appear in Cocksworth and Ford, 2022.) Because of the lack of theological source material, I plan to engage with the fertile scientific research area of smile psychology to investigate the possibility of Jesus’s smile. However, while the project begins with the presenting question of the smile of Jesus as a way of engaging with psychology around a specific theological issue, the project opens up into much broader theological treatment of the smile. My ultimate aim, then, is to develop a science-engaged theology of the smile in order to understand how the smile forms individuals and communities for joy.

    External consultants:

    Oriana R. Aragón (Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business)
    Daniel S. Messinger (University of Miami)
    Jonathan Jong (Coventry University / University of Oxford)
    Short titleSmiling for Joy
    Effective start/end date17/01/2216/01/23


    • John Templeton Foundation: £24,107.51