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Author: Koenraad Elst
Publisher: Voice of India
ISBN/UPC (if available): 818599000X
This study presents an important new line of research into the origins of prophetic religions like Christianity: the psychological analysis of certain mental phenomena with believers construe as 'divine revelation".
The entire Abrahmic tradition rests on the belief that the One God reveals His will to mankind through privileged messengers, called prophets. They claimed to be conveying God's authentic statements when they were threatening their people with hellfire, and this claim was generally not fraudulent: they genuinely believed that they had heard God speak during moments of 'revelation'. Even Jesus, who for Christians is the Messiah and the Son of God, received His Father's messages in the usual prophetic way, by hearing a momentous voice from heaven.
Modern Psycho9logy combined with Biblical scholarship has been taking a closer look at the reports, some systematic and some fragmentary, which the Old and the New Testament have given of these instances of 'revelation', and of the effect they had on the lives and personalities of their recipients In a number of cases, these reports faithfully reproduce patterns which the modern psychiatrists can recognize as well-defined pathological syndromes.
The socially accepted role of the prophet apparently attracted people with a specific mental constitution in which hallucinations and doctrinal convictions were woven into one, to become the prophetic utterances which believers accepted as God's own world. In other cases, basically sane people interpreted odd moments of altered consciousness as divine revelation.
In a situation where 'secularism' is advertised as the answer for problems of religious fanaticism and of religion-related backwardness and social evils, it is well worth taking this remedy to its logical conclusion: put religious doctrines to rational scrutiny, investigate religious texts with the same methods and criteria as you would apply to secular discourse. As against the belief of prophetic religions in the supernatural origin of their doctrines, the secular approach maintains that, until proof of the contr4ary, religious doctrines and practices may be understood as having their basis in purely human experiences.
Increasingly, even thinkers with a Christian background are coming around to this human explanation of prophetism. Some of them have developed this research along truly scientific lines, and it is mainly their findings which are currently revolutionizing our understanding of the entire Abrahamic tradition
BRINGING SCRIPTURE DOWN TO EARTH
Vanishing of the supernatural
The importance of prediction
Modern interpretation of prophethood
Borrowed themes in Scripture
Numerical perfection of Scripture
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PROPHETISM
A Jesuit breaks free
The great prophets
The first century
PSYCHOLOGY OF JESUS
Nietzsche on Jesus
Jesus the magician
Sifting out the real Jesus
Jesus the paraphrenic
Some fantastic stories
Son of Man
The date of Apocalypse
The author of the Apocalypse
REACTIONS TO PSYCHO-CHRISTOLOGY
Shock and disbelief
Prophetic monotheism and Sanatana Dharma