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Frances Flannery Dreams On

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In this continuation of the main episode we discuss many things with Frances Flannery, the conversation circling around the thorny problem of interpreting textual accounts of religious experiences. The fascinating conversation covers many topics, including:

  • The sensorial range present in the Enochic apocalypses, and the smell of the heavenly trees in the Book of Watchers,
  • The problem of interpretation of religious experience, and the dangers of reification or letting the model, rather than the evidence, dictate interpretation,
  • Attempts to open new pathways for interpreting religious experiences from texts, notably comparative analysis of ritual practices and neurobiology,
  • The dreams of the platypus and his monotreme cousin, the echidna,
  • And the question of how stories define us as human beings, and whether we are unique among animals in our storytelling activities (and in our sense of humour).

Recommended Reading:

  • Boustan, R. S. (2007). ‘The Study of Hekhalot Literature: Between Mystical Experience and Textual Artifact’, Currents in Biblical Research 6 : 130-160.
  • Flannery, F. (2014). ‘Dreams, Visions, and Religious Experience in the Apocalypses and Apocalypticism’. In: Collins, J. J. (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Apocalyptic Literature, Oxford University Press.
  • Flannery-Dailey, F., 2004. Dreamers, Scribes, and Priests: Jewish Dreams in the Hellenistic and Roman Eras. Brill, Leiden.
  • Flannery-Dailey, F. (2006). ‘Lessons on Early Jewish Apocalypticism and Mysticism from Dream Literature’. In: DeConick, A. D. (Ed.), Paradise Now: Essays on Early Jewish and Christian Mysticism, Society of Biblical Literature.
  • Proudfoot, W., 1985. Religious Experience. University of California Press, Berkeley/Los Angeles, CA. For an extremely reductionist view of the problem of religious experience (or experience in general).
  • Shantz, C. and Werline, R., (Edd.) 2012. Experientia, Volume 2: Linking Text and Experience. Society of Biblical Literature, Atlanta, GA.
  • Smart, N. (1978). ‘Understanding Religious Experience’. In: Steven Katz (Ed.), Mysticism and Philosophical Analysis, Sheldon Press.
  • Flannery, F.; Schantz, C. & Werline, R. A. (Ed.), 2008. Experientia, Volume 1: Inquiry into Religious Experience in Early Judaism and Early Christianity. Society of Biblical Literature, Atlanta, GA.