Revelatory Religious Experience & Religious Innovation
I’ve just received my copy of the published version of my Burkitt Lecture, given in Rice University (10 April 2013): “Revelatory Experiences and Religious Innovation in Earliest Christianity,” Expository Times 125/10 (2014): 469-82. I’ve now put the pre-publication version of the lecture under the “Selected Published Essays” tab on this blog site, available here.
In this article, I return to a topic and argument laid out in several earlier publications, in particular my T.W. Manson Lecture, in published form: “Religious Experience and Religious Innovation in the New Testament,” Journal of Religion 80 (2000): 183-205; republished in my book, How on Earth did Jesus Become a God? (Eerdmans, 2005), pp. 179-204.
The core proposal in that earlier article, and re-argued in the later one, is that among the factors that led to the remarkable innovation in Jewish religious tradition that was the earliest Jesus-movement, were powerful religious experiences that struck the recipients as divine revelations. I try to show that the history of religions illustrates this sort of phenomenon as often crucial in various religious innovations. I also argue that the NT writings give reason to think that this sort of religious experience was involved centrally in the eruption of beliefs about Jesus’ exalted status, and the “dyadic” devotional practice that is reflected in NT writings.
In the later article, I also review scholarly developments subsequent to my earlier article, particularly a modest but potentially significant growth in scholarly appreciation of, and interest in, religious experiences.