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Mind Over Matter: Altered States of Consciousness and the Narrative Rationalization of Ecstatic Visions in the Apocalypse of John


Mind Over Matter: Altered States of Consciousness and the Narrative Rationalization of Ecstatic Visions in the Apocalypse of John

Raddatz, Jonathan E. (2013) Mind Over Matter: Altered States of Consciousness and the Narrative Rationalization of Ecstatic Visions in the Apocalypse of John. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Raddatz_MA_F2013.pdf - Accepted Version


This thesis postulates John’s apocalypse is the author’s attempt to create a rational narrative from a series of ecstatic trance visions which he experienced in an altered state of consciousness. These involved: (1) a feeling of being “influenced” or possessed by the Spirit of God, and (2) a subsequent sensation where his “spirit” was separated from his body and able to move freely in the spirit world. I propose that taking these experiences provisionally at face value is a crucial hermeneutical key to understanding the meaning of this text, as it was perceived by John and the early proto-Christian community he was addressing. Tackling John’s religious experiences phenomenologically opens up a line of inquiry that has thus far been handled poorly by strictly literary epistemological paradigms. Little of substance has been said about the psychological function and cognitive causality behind John’s text and apocalyptic literature generally. What little research that has been published in this regard has approached the question comfortably within the confines of source and genre criticism. This thesis systematically breaks down the interpretive issues surrounding the double occurrence of the phrase evgeno,mhn evn pneu,mati (“I was in the spirit”) in Rev 1:10 and 4:2, to achieve a degree of clarity in regards to this critical experiential aspect of John’s text. From that foundation, I proceed to provide an alternative philological hypothesis taking into account the polysemic quality of John’s symbolic language in an effort to resolve the interpretive tension between the separate (but nonetheless complimentary) meanings of the phrase as it occurs in Rev 1:10 and 4:2. From there, I have a sustained look at the neurobiological aspects of altered states of consciousness (ASCs), and the mind-body problems associated with ecstatic trance and out-of-body experiences (OBEs). To better qualify these experiences on an experiential and physical level, I adopt an interdisciplinary approach that combines philology with anthropology and neurobiology. Here, I place John’s experiences on a diachronic trajectory that begins with the Jewish prophets (with an emphasis on Ezekiel) and ends by comparing and contrasting the physical and neurotheological linguistic elements of John’s experience with another New Testament ecstatic named Paul. I conclude the thesis by exploring a broad anthropological paradigm for ecstatic experiences called the shamanic complex and establish that John’s experiences strongly correlate with that model.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Theological Studies
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Raddatz, Jonathan E.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Theological Studies
Date:July 2013
Thesis Supervisor(s):Gagné, André
Keywords:New Testament, Apocalypse, Apocalypse of John, Apocalyptic Literature, Revelation, John of Patmos, Altered States of Consciousness (ASCs), Out-of-body Experiences (OBEs), Ecstatic Trance, Spirit, Neurotheology, Phenomenology, Genre Criticism, Source Criticism, Rhetorical Criticism, Shamanism, Shamanic Complex, Prophet, Prophecy, Religious Experience, Symbols, Symbolic Language, Brain Hemisphere Specialization, Rational, Narrative.
ID Code:977566
Deposited On:26 Nov 2013 15:28
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:44
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