Theology, Psychology, and the Plural Self  . By LéonTurner . Ashgate Science and Religion Series . Farnham , Surrey , England : Ashgate , 2008 . X + 227 Pages. $99.95 .

When one looks at both contemporary and historical theological studies, the “healthy self” has most often been viewed as a “unified self” (p. 3). With the advent of scientific research presenting the self as a plurality of “selves,” this traditional theological conception has come into question. In Theology, Psychology and the Plural Self, Léon Turner attempts to bridge this gap and open room for future dialogue between theology and science. Turner is currently a Senior Research Associate/Teaching Officer (Divinity Subgroup) at the Psychology and Religion Group, University of Cambridge ().

The author lays groundwork for building a stronger foundation between psychology and theology by attempting to show that theological frameworks that require the unity of personhood are not mutually exclusive with current psychological research. This text is but a beginning, urging readers that the divide over the self is not insurmountable. Turner begins by introducing the study, followed by a lengthy discussion of the psychological matter on the plural self, which encompasses three chapters (chapters 2–4). This is followed by two chapters covering theological interpretations of the self (chapters 5–6), looking specifically at the work of Wolfhart Pannenberg and Alistair McFadyen. He concludes with a brief overview of the study and a call to future work based upon the establishment of the idea that “[a] divided self is not always a troubled self” and hence psychological narrative approaches to the self can be useful for theologians (pp. 179, 186). He goes on, “if self‐multiplicity can co‐exist in harmony with personal continuity, then multiplicity itself no longer carries such an existential threat” (p. 186).

To bring his argument into clearer focus, Turner argues for an “approach to self‐multiplicity that” in accord with many others “is one in which no central processor exists”—the sub‐personalities of a person do not have a central “dictator” to which they report (p. 111). The author attempts to strike a balance between the modern approaches to the self, which tend to be individualistic, and postmodern, which can seemingly lead to a lack of unity (p. 119). To condense the argument, I see him presenting the following: (1) Theology has tended to focus on the unity of the self. (2) Postmodern psychology affirms the plurality of the self. (3) Theologians cannot accept this plurality because they see it as pathology (in Pannenberg, for example, p. 158). (4) Postmodern descriptions of narrative identity allow for a healthy continuous self to endure in the reality of multiple plural selves over a person's lifetime (one example of narrative cohesion of the self is S. E. Braude's description on pp. 102–103). (5) Thus, the singular self can be maintained within the reality of the plural self, giving theologians a starting point to engage the most current psychological developments. Therefore, in essence, Turner is leveling the playing field for theologians and psychologists where some may have seen an impasse up till this point of time.

To summarize, Turner has presented a solid text that will offer a starting point for theologians to re‐enter engagement with the psychological realm as regards the singular/plural self. The volume is fairly dense, and familiarity with the work of Pannenberg and McFadyen and current psychological research regarding the plural self will be of great benefit. The author has provided an opening for further dialogue between theology and the psychological sciences in a way that will benefit future interaction between the two fields where some may have previously seen a stoppage. This, in itself, is a much‐needed achievement.