Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Experientia, Volume 2

Experientia, Volume 2: Linking Text and Experience

Colleen Shantz
Rodney A. Werline
  • Book Info
    Experientia, Volume 2
    Book Description:

    This collection of essays continues the investigation of religious experience in early Judaism and early Christianity begun inExperientia, Volume 1, by addressing one of the traditional objections to the study of experience in antiquity. The authors address the relationship between the surviving evidence, which is textual, and the religious experiences that precede or ensue from those texts. Drawing on insights from anthropology, sociology, social memory theory, neuroscience, and cognitive science, they explore a range of religious phenomena including worship, the act of public reading, ritual, ecstasy, mystical ascent, and the transformation of gender and of emotions. Through careful and theoretically informed work, the authors demonstrate the possibility of moving from written documents to assess the lived experiences that are linked to them. The contributors are István Czachesz, Frances Flannery, Robin Griffith-Jones, Angela Kim Harkins, Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte, John R. Levison, Carol A. Newsom, Rollin A. Ramsaran, Colleen Shantz, Leif E. Vaage, and Rodney A. Werline.

    eISBN: 978-1-58983-670-9
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  2. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Opening the Black Box: New Prospects for Analyzing Religious Experience
    (pp. 1-16)
    Colleen Shantz

    The essays in this volume and the firstExperientiacollection reflect efforts to revise and reinvigorate the understanding of religious experience. Over the last century the category waxed and waned in popularity. Indeed, sometimes religious experience has been invoked in critically naïve or even apologetic ways, and these errors have led some to abandon the category altogether. In an effort to rescue the baby from the bathwater, the Religious Experience in Early Judaism and Early Christianity section of SBL has continued to invite papers that try to refine the category—both what it is and how we might access it...

  4. The Experience of God’s Paideia in the Psalms of Solomon
    (pp. 17-44)
    Rodney A. Werline

    The imperial domination and political turmoil of the Second Temple period generated multiple textual traditions that addressed the problem of suffering. These traditions sprang from Jewish groups who needed in some way to bring their difficult experiences in line with faith in a righteous God. Well known and rather obvious questions naturally spring from these situations: How can the Jews who are suffering maintain faith that God cares for them? What does this suffering say about God’s relationship to Israel as a whole and the covenant God has with the people? How and why does such evil continue in the...

  5. Esoteric Mystical Practice in Fourth Ezra and the Reconfiguration of Social Memory
    (pp. 45-70)
    Frances Flannery

    At the end of 4 Ezra, the Most High gives Ezra a distinctive command regarding the circulation of his revelations, saying, “Make publicthe twenty-four books that you wrote first [i.e., presumably some form of the Tanak] and let the worthy and the unworthy read them; but keep the seventy that were written last, in orderto give them to the wise among your people” (4 Ezra 14:47; also 8:61–62; 12:38–39; 14:26).¹ This fictional coda assumes the existence of two kinds of writings, public and esoteric, and two kinds of audiences, the wider public and the smaller group...

  6. Filled with New Wine? Religious Experience and Social Dynamics in the Corinthian Church
    (pp. 71-90)
    István Czachesz

    The purpose of this essay is to present a new interpretation of the religious dynamics of the Corinthian church as known from the Pauline epistles. This new interpretation draws on recent neuroimaging research on religious experience, connecting such insights with social and theological factors. Neuroimaging uses noninvasive brain-scanning technology to observe which parts of the brain are active as people perform some task. To be more precise, neuroscientists compare the activation of different brain areas in a series of conditions: some group of neurons will work harder than others in some conditions and vice versa; the same group of neurons...

  7. Ideology and Experience in the Greek Life of Adam and Eve
    (pp. 91-118)
    John R. Levison

    The opening scene of the television seriesDesperate Housewivesbegins with Jetsonesque music from the 1960s and a medieval portrait of Eve that moves as Eve plucks the apple from the tree and hands it to Adam. In the final moment of this opening scene, the apple falls into the hand of one of the desperate housewives, who are mesmerizing a generation of those who inhabit TV Land. The more recent trailer begins with a split-second image of a serpent and an apple. The first time I saw the connection betweenDesperate Housewivesand Eve was in a German U-Bahn...

  8. Violence as Religious Experience in the Gospel of Mark
    (pp. 119-136)
    Leif E. Vaage

    Initially I wrote this essay because I was invited to join a conversation already underway about the possibility of reclaiming—or, as I would rather state it, using the language of Jonathan Z. Smith, redescribing and rectifying—the faded scholarly category of “religious experience,” specifically regarding early Christianity and early Judaism. I have not generally wanted to use the category of religious experience when writing about the ancient Mediterranean world. Indeed, I have cautioned other scholars against using this category and urged them, if they insist on doing so, to clarify exactly what they mean by it, since I have...

  9. “Keep Up Your Transformation within the Renewal of Your Mind”: Romans as a Therapeutic Letter
    (pp. 137-160)
    Robin Griffith-Jones

    Our chief concern in this paper will be the imaginative engagement in the typological redefinition of the self that Paul’s letter to the Romans demanded of its listeners. Paul himself, in markers that point up the letter’s structure and the progress through which it was to take the listeners, reveals that the letter was therapeutic: Paul set out to heal the νοῦς of the letter’s recipients through and during its reception. We will return to this architecture, but it is well to have a sketch of it before us from the outset. The opening attack on idolaters climaxes at 1:28:...

  10. “In Christ” and “Christ in” as Expressions of Religious Experience: Testing the Waters in Galatians
    (pp. 161-180)
    Rollin A. Ramsaran

    The phrase “in Christ” and various similar constructions have been examined with regard to “participation”¹ or “mystical union.”² Interest remains strong in clarifying this concept both in terms of revisiting previous work and in positing new directions. On the one hand, the work of Adolf Deissmann and Albert Schweitzer continues to warrant reconsideration, as evidenced by recent studies.³ On the other hand, new models and new ways of conceiving religious experience warrant a reconsideration of “in Christ” language as well.⁴

    Just as certain shifting social, philosophical, and cultural factors caused the ideas of “religious experience” and “mysticism” in the work...

  11. Paul, Baptism, and Religious Experience
    (pp. 181-204)
    Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte

    In her guide toReligions of the Ancient World, Sarah Iles Johnston gives a brief, but excellent introduction to the mystery cults of antiquity.¹ The author outlines the main characteristics of the Eleusinian mysteries, the Samothracian mysteries, the Bacchic mysteries, and the cults of Meter, Mithras, and Isis. She observes a number of similarities with the early Christian movement, but then notes an important difference: “As a proselytizing religion that aimed to build the largest possible community as quickly as possible, Christianity used the lure implicit in the wordmysterymore boldly than anyone previously had and in doing so...

  12. Religious Experience in the Dead Sea Scrolls: Two Case Studies
    (pp. 205-222)
    Carol A. Newsom

    Though this paper is informed by theories of ritual and by sociolinguistically keyed cultural anthropology, it focuses primarily on specific case studies rather than theory per se. These case studies consider the careful use of language in prayer and liturgical texts to induce certain kinds of religious experience. The texts in question come from the Dead Sea Scrolls, specifically texts that were composed by members of the Qumran community. One is a collection of mostly first-person singular prayer texts known as the Hodayot or Thanksgiving Psalms. The other is a collection of thirteen linked liturgical songs called the Songs of...

  13. Religious Experience through the Lens of Critical Spatiality: A Look at Embodiment Language in Prayers and Hymns
    (pp. 223-242)
    Angela Kim Harkins

    This essay proposes that critical spatial theory can offer a helpful framework for examining how a reader can move from text to religious experience. In this essay, religious experience is understood to be the transformation of the ancient reader from a more or less detached observer to a full participant in the events that are being described. Such an experience has phenomenal aspects of lived experience, including elements of sensory perception and affect. The texts that I have chosen to discuss, Neh 9 and Ephrem’sHymns on Paradise, are not simply writings that were preserved for their literary artistry; they...

  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 243-262)
  15. Contributors
    (pp. 263-264)
  16. Index of Ancient Sources
    (pp. 265-278)
  17. Index of Modern Authors
    (pp. 279-282)
  18. Index of Subjects
    (pp. 283-286)