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

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Description

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.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 288 pages
  • 134.62 x 205.74 x 20.32mm | 294.83g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • black & white illustrations
  • 0195056655
  • 9780195056655
  • 775,484

About Carole Zaleski

Lecturer on the Study of Religion at Harvard Universityshow more

Review quote

'one of those books which ... has elegance and readability in direct proportion to its historical and anthropological learning ... whether one is wired to accept a religious or a hardcore naturalist interpretation of the constancy of such intimations, it is good to know they may be there.' City Limits ' An extremely interesting piece of work, and one that offers many shrewd insights.' New York Timesshow more

Rating details

31 ratings
4 out of 5 stars
5 32% (10)
4 42% (13)
3 23% (7)
2 0% (0)
1 3% (1)
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