Hearing Voices, Demonic and Divine: Scientific and Theological Perspectives

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Routledge, Dec 7, 2018 - Religion - 266 pages
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The Open Access version of this book, available at www.taylorfrancis.com/books/9781472453983, has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivative 4.0 license.

Experiences of hearing the voice of God (or angels, demons, or other spiritual beings) have generally been understood either as religious experiences or else as a feature of mental illness. Some critics of traditional religious faith have dismissed the visions and voices attributed to biblical characters and saints as evidence of mental disorder. However, it is now known that many ordinary people, with no other evidence of mental disorder, also hear voices and that these voices not infrequently include spiritual or religious content. Psychological and interdisciplinary research has shed a revealing light on these experiences in recent years, so that we now know much more about the phenomenon of "hearing voices" than ever before.

The present work considers biblical, historical, and scientific accounts of spiritual and mystical experiences of voice hearing in the Christian tradition in order to explore how some voices may be understood theologically as revelatory. It is proposed that in the incarnation, Christian faith finds both an understanding of what it is to be fully human (a theological anthropology), and God’s perfect self-disclosure (revelation). Within such an understanding, revelatory voices represent a key point of interpersonal encounter between human beings and God.


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Voice hearing in contemporary spiritual and religious
history tradition and sacred texts
Hearing voices in Hebrew scripture
Hearing voices in the Christian tradition
Hearing voices in Christian experience
science and theology
Revelatory voices

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About the author (2018)

Christopher C. H. Cook is Professor of Spirituality, Theology and Health in the Department of Theology and Religion at Durham University, an Honorary Minor Canon at Durham Cathedral, and an Honorary Chaplain with Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV). He trained in medicine, at St George's Hospital Medical School, London, and then undertook postgraduate training in psychiatry at Guys Hospital, London. He was an Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist with TEWV until 2017. Christopher was ordained as an Anglican priest in 2001. He has research doctorates in psychiatry and in theology and is Director of the Project for Spirituality, Theology and Health at Durham University. He is the author of The Philokalia and the Inner Life (James Clarke, 2011) and co-editor of Spirituality and Narrative in Psychiatric Practice (with Andrew Powell and Andrew Sims, RCPsych Press, 2016) and Spirituality, Theology and Mental Health (SCM, 2013). He is a member of the core research team for the Hearing the Voice project at Durham University.

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