Otherworld Journeys: Accounts of Near-Death Experience in Medieval and Modern Times

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9780195056655: Otherworld Journeys: Accounts of Near-Death Experience in Medieval and Modern Times

Dozens of books, articles, television shows, and films relating "near-death" experiences have appeared in the past decade. People who have survived a close brush with death reveal their extraordinary visions and ecstatic feelings at the moment they died, describing journeys through a tunnel to a realm of light, visual reviews of their past deeds, encounters with a benevolent spirit, and permanent transformation after returning to life.
Carol Zaleski's Otherworld Journeys offers the most comprehensive treatment to date of the evidence surrounding near-death experiences. The first to place researchers' findings, first-person accounts, and possible medical or psychological explanations in historical perspective, she discusses how these materials reflect the influence of contemporary culture. She demonstrates that modern near-death reports belong to a vast family of otherworld journey tales, with examples in nearly every religious heritage. She identifies universal as well as culturally specific features by comparing near-death narratives in two distinct periods of Western society: medieval Christendom and twentieth-century secular America. This comparison reveals profound similarities, such as the life-review and the transforming after-effects of the vision, as well as striking contrasts, such as the absence of hell or punishment scenes from modern accounts.
Mediating between the "debunkers" and the near-death researchers, Zaleski considers current efforts to explain near-death experience scientifically. She concludes by emphasizing the importance of the otherworld vision for understanding imaginative and religious experience in general.

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Carol Zaleski is a Lecturer on the Study of Religion at Harvard University.

Review:

"Zaleski's command of the literature, her careful analysis of the narratives, and her recommendations for interpretation make this book a classic in the study of religious experience and popular religion."--The Journal of Religion

"Zaleski...has had the excellent idea of putting recent near-death narratives in perspective by comparing them with those of an earlier period....An extremely interesting piece of work, and one that offers many shrewd insights."--John Gross, The New York Times

"The most important book on the topic."--Virginia Quarterly Review

"The most thorough, scholarly, and convincing study thus far published concerning the cultural and religious implications of near-death experiences....The most important book on the topic."--Virginia Quarterly Review

"A sophisticated postmodern, hence nonphilosophical, book about that timeless philosophical problem. The problem is how to explain mental objects (for example, a vision of heaven or an encounter with a leprechaun)."--The New York Times Book Review

"The first historical perspective on the subject....A brilliant, historically rich, commonsensical book."--Jonathan Cott, Vogue

"An open-minded and scholarly study, impressive in its intelligence, fairness, humanity, and breadth."--Boston Phoenix

"A work at once scholarly and engrossingly readable....A rich and eminently successful work."--Robert Ellwood, Parabola

"Wide-ranging and profound, revealing the imaginative and symbolic content of such experiences as well as their relationship to particular cultural and religious beliefs."--Library Journal

"[Zaleski's] provocative book should be read by all people interested in near-death experiences."--The American Rationalist

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Book Description Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 1988. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.Dozens of books, articles, television shows, and films relating near-death experiences have appeared in the past decade. People who have survived a close brush with death reveal their extraordinary visions and ecstatic feelings at the moment they died, describing journeys through a tunnel to a realm of light, visual reviews of their past deeds, encounters with a benevolent spirit, and permanent transformation after returning to life. Carol Zaleski s Otherworld Journeys offers the most comprehensive treatment to date of the evidence surrounding near-death experiences. The first to place researchers findings, first-person accounts, and possible medical or psychological explanations in historical perspective, she discusses how these materials reflect the influence of contemporary culture. She demonstrates that modern near-death reports belong to a vast family of otherworld journey tales, with examples in nearly every religious heritage. She identifies universal as well as culturally specific features by comparing near-death narratives in two distinct periods of Western society: medieval Christendom and twentieth-century secular America. This comparison reveals profound similarities, such as the life-review and the transforming after-effects of the vision, as well as striking contrasts, such as the absence of hell or punishment scenes from modern accounts. Mediating between the debunkers and the near-death researchers, Zaleski considers current efforts to explain near-death experience scientifically. She concludes by emphasizing the importance of the otherworld vision for understanding imaginative and religious experience in general. Bookseller Inventory # AAV9780195056655

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Book Description Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 1988. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. Dozens of books, articles, television shows, and films relating near-death experiences have appeared in the past decade. People who have survived a close brush with death reveal their extraordinary visions and ecstatic feelings at the moment they died, describing journeys through a tunnel to a realm of light, visual reviews of their past deeds, encounters with a benevolent spirit, and permanent transformation after returning to life. Carol Zaleski s Otherworld Journeys offers the most comprehensive treatment to date of the evidence surrounding near-death experiences. The first to place researchers findings, first-person accounts, and possible medical or psychological explanations in historical perspective, she discusses how these materials reflect the influence of contemporary culture. She demonstrates that modern near-death reports belong to a vast family of otherworld journey tales, with examples in nearly every religious heritage. She identifies universal as well as culturally specific features by comparing near-death narratives in two distinct periods of Western society: medieval Christendom and twentieth-century secular America. This comparison reveals profound similarities, such as the life-review and the transforming after-effects of the vision, as well as striking contrasts, such as the absence of hell or punishment scenes from modern accounts. Mediating between the debunkers and the near-death researchers, Zaleski considers current efforts to explain near-death experience scientifically. She concludes by emphasizing the importance of the otherworld vision for understanding imaginative and religious experience in general. Bookseller Inventory # AAV9780195056655

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