Trances, visions, healing miracles: permeating the biblical records are these altered states of consciousness, through which some early Christians experienced God. Today's rituals and liturgies are related to those experiences, which have become significant elements in the Christian tradition and mysticism. Pilch uses cultural anthropology, cognitive neuroscience, and medical anthropology to interpret these past events, and to explore the contemporary liturgical potential of this new understanding. Backed with solid, scientific insights, this interdisciplinary book will help the reader gain appreciation of our ancestors’ faith and the power of Scripture and liturgy.
Chapters are: Introduction, Chapter One: "Acts 1-2: The Journey Begins: Communal Religious Trance Experiences (ASCs)," Chapter Two: “Acts 3-5: Temple Tours: God Acts in the Temple and a Private Home,” Chapter Three: “Acts 6-12: Excursions Outside Jerusalem: Encountering God Away From the Temple,” Chapter Four: “Acts 13:1-21:36: Journeys into Non-Israelite Territory Inspired By Altered States of Consciousness Experiences,” Chapter Five: “Acts 21:37-28:15: Paul the Prisoner’s Progress Illuminated and Aided By Altered States of Consciousness Experiences,” and “Acts 28:16-31 Re-orientation—The Journey Concludes.” Also includes Introduction, Conclusion, Resource Bibliography, Appendix One: “Outline of Acts,” Appendix Two: “Rite and Trance,” and Appendix Three: “A Ceremonial Rite for Experiencing the Realm of God in Altered States of Consciousness.”
John J. Pilch, a highly-regarded biblical scholar and author, taught at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland and passed away in 2016. Among his numerous publications are The Cultural World of Jesus, The Cultural World of the Apostles, and The Cultural World of the Prophets series published by Liturgical Press.