I am getting some push-back on my discussions of visions. One of the most informed and hard-hitting critiques was this.
I certainly agree that it is within your scope of expertise as a New Testament scholar to use the term “vision” to describe the beliefs of people in Antiquity who used this term to describe certain religious experiences. It is within your scope of expertise to define this term as defined by those ancients. However, with all due respect, as a physician I must point out that it is not within your scope of expertise to use this term to determine what was going on physiologically or psychologically during these experiences. This determination belongs to experts in the field of medicine and psychiatry. That is why I believe you should stop using the terms “veridical vision” and “non-veridical”. Medical experts and psychiatrists/psychologists believe that these ancients experienced one of three things in these “vision” experiences: a dream (a nightdream or a daydream), an illusion, or an hallucination. That’s it. There are no other options. For you to create other categories is to create confusion.
In response, let me first say something about terminology. This reader is pointing out that psychologists use three terms for such experiences: dream, illusion, and hallucination. Fair enough. The question is whether we think these three things have something in common. The answer, I think, is yes. They all involve someone thinking she has seen something that in fact was not really there. Should we have a category for such an experience broadly (encapsulating all three options)? It seems to me that would be very useful indeed. The category I use is …
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