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SCM Studyguide to Religious and Spiritual Experience

SCM Studyguide to Religious and Spiritual Experience

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Publisher: SCM Press
ISBN: 9780334057963
Published: 31/03/2020

Spiritual, religious, sacred, or mystical experiences may be broadly defined as subjective human experiences that appear to the person undergoing them, or to others, to convey or imply contact with or knowledge about a transcendent power, presence, or superior reality beyond the realm of the physical.

Research has shown that these forms of awareness of ‘something beyond’ are of considerable significance in the ordinary lives of very many people, as well as being elements of signal importance in the origin and development of religion: not least by deepening characteristically spiritual or religious attitudes, emotions, beliefs, values and practices, along with fundamental orientations of life and quests for meaning.

This Studyguide provides a succinct and lucid introduction to the subject for those studying and teaching religion at both undergraduate and GCE AS/A level. By exploring the key areas of both the empirical and theoretical study of religious and spiritual experience, the Studyguide will serve as an accessible and nonpartisan guide to enable its readers to explore the range of challenging data, debates, approaches, and issues that relate to the study of this widespread and significant phenomenon.

Introduction vii

Acknowledgements xiii

Part 1 Definitions 1

1. Defining the Terms: Experience, Religious Experience, Spiritual Experience 3

Part 2 Data 17

2. The Characterization, Classification and Reporting of Religious and Spiritual Experiences 19

3. Qualitative and Quantitative Research 27

4. Categories of Religious and Spiritual Experiences: From Mysticism to NDEs 37

Part 3 Debates 55

5. Experience and Experiences 57

6. Triggers and Facilitators 67

7. Experience and Fruits 75

8. Experience and Interpretation 83

9. Objectivity and Veridicality 103

10. Evidence and Argument 115

11. Challenges of Diversity and Naturalistic Explanations 123

12. Religious Experience and Religious Language 135

13. Religious Experience and Revelation 148

14. Gender Issues 162

Part 4 Disciplines, Doubters and Defenders 169

15. The Psychology of Religious and Spiritual Experience 171

16. Religious and Spiritual Experience in Scripture 179

17. Religious and Spiritual Experience in the Christian Tradition 193

18. The Theology of Religious and Spiritual Experience 205

19. The Philosophy of Religious and Spiritual Experience 216

20. The Anthropology and Sociology of Religious and

Spiritual Experience 226

Appendix: Religious and Spiritual Experiences and Neuroscience 244

References 247

Index of Subjects 273

Index of Names 299

Jeff Astley

Jeff Astley is the Alister Hardy Professor of Religious and Spiritual Experience, Bishop Grosseteste University, Lincoln, and Honorary Professor in the Department of Theology and Religion at Durham University.

"This is the best introductory resource for studying religious and spiritual experiences ever created. Jeff Astley is a reliable guide to complicated terrain and gifted at introducing beginners to the fascinating landscape." -- Wesley J. Wildman, Professor of Philosophy, Theology, and Ethics, Boston University 

"While the focus is on Christian experiences, the Studyguide is useful for everyone who wants to learn how to study all types of non-ordinary experiences, whether they root in Christian ideas or any other religions, or have no religious background at all. I highly recommend the Studyguide to everyone interested in the study of religious and spiritual experience." -- Bettina Schmidt, Professor in the Study of Religion, University of Wales Trinity Saint David