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

Paperback | November 1, 1988

byCarol Zaleski

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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 atunnel 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 discusseshow 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 comparingnear-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 ofhell 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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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 atunnel to a realm of light, visual reviews of ...

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

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:288 pages, 7.99 × 5.39 × 0.59 inPublished:November 1, 1988Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195056655

ISBN - 13:9780195056655

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