Religious experience and sacred text




Religious experience, Biblical spirituality, Mysticism


As Kees Waaijman has shown, biblical spirituality engages Holy Scripture in relation to human experience, always with a view toward personal transformation. This article considers various ways in which the relationship between religious experience and sacred text has been construed in the Christian tradition. Beginning with biblical theophanies that represent religious experience in the sacred text, the article moves to early Christian reading practices that foster experience of the text, and then to medieval accounts of mystical revelations that treat experience as a text. Finally, the article turns to the problematic issue of religious experience beyond the sacred text. In some historical instances, experience was supposed to render the text unnecessary, or to sit in judgement over it. But the Book of Revelation implies that the sacred text will no longer be needed, only because its promises have been fulfilled by direct experience of the divine presence.


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