Religious Experience Revisited

Expressing the Inexpressible?


Religious Experience Revisited explores a dilemma which has haunted the study of religion since William James. Is religion rooted in experiences? Is religion rooted in expressions? How are experiences and expressions related? The contributors to this international and interdisciplinary compilation explore the possibilities and the impossibilities of a hermeneutics of religion. Combining theology and philosophy with biblical, cultural, historical and literary studies, they examine how religious experiences and religious expressions have been entangled in the past and in the present. These entanglements call for interdisciplinary conversations in which those who study experiences and those who study expressions can learn from each other in order to carve out important and instructive spaces for the study of religion.

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Thomas Hardtke is a PhD Candidate in German Literature at the Friedrich Schlegel Graduate School of Literary Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin, Germany. His research interests include Literature and Religion, Literature and Madness, Narratology, Museum Studies, and Literary Education.

Ulrich Schmiedel, D. Phil. (Oxford), is a Postdoc in Systematic Theology at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany. His research – located at the intersection of theology, sociology and philosophy – concentrates on contemporary Christianity. Recently, he co-edited Dynamics of Difference (Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2015).

Tobias Tan is reading for a D. Phil. in Theology as the Arthur Peacocke Senior Scholar in Science and Theology at Exeter College, University of Oxford. His doctoral research brings insights from ‘embodied cognition’ into dialogue with theology.


List of Contributors

Introduction: Experience or Expression? A Puzzling Oversight - Thomas Hardtke, Ulrich Schmiedel, Tobias Tan

Part I - Grasping the Ungraspable

Chapter 1. How to do Transcendence with Words? The Problem of Articulation in Religious Experience - Jörg Lauster
Chapter 2. Modern Trials and Texts of ‘Experience’: Plastic Commonplace and Managed Expectation - Yvonne Sherwood

Part II - Imagining the Unimaginable

Chapter 3. Fiercely Proselytizing and Feverishly Protective: Reading John’s Revelation with Jacques Derrida - Hannah M. Strømmen
Chapter 4. Religious Experience without Belief? Toward an Imaginative Account of Religious Engagement - Amber L. Griffioen
Chapter 5. “Is that You?” Hearing God’s Voice in the Words of a Stranger: Judges 6:11-24 - Catherine Lewis-Smith
Chapter 6. Living with Invisibility: Emotion, Mind and Transcendence - Graham Ward

Part III - Interpreting the Uninterpretable

Chapter 7. Navid Kermani’s Poetic Hermeneutics of Religious Experience - Johannes Kleine
Chapter 8. The Complexity of Hermeneutical Experience - Werner G. Jeanrond
Chapter 9. Mediated Immediacy: Karl Rahner and Edward Schillebeeckx on the Non-Reflective Element of Experience - Marijn de Jong
Chapter 10. Supra-Religious? The Concept of Transcendental Experience and the In/Accessibility of the Absolute - Knut Wenzel

Part IV - Performing the Unperformable

Chapter 11. The Trouble with Trust in the Transcendent: Ernst Troeltsch’s Reception of William James - Ulrich Schmiedel
Chapter 12. The Corporeality of Religious Experience: Embodied Cognition in Religious Practices - Tobias Tan
Chapter 13. Religious Experience in Fourteenth Century Mystical Writing: The Revelations of Elsbeth von Oye - Johannes M. Depnering
Chapter 14. Speaking of God: Ludwig Wittgenstein and the Paradox of Religious Experience - Brian Klug

Conclusion: Experience or Expression? Preserving the Puzzle - Thomas Hardtke, Ulrich Schmiedel, Tobias Tan

All interested in the study of religion, theology and philosophy as well as biblical and literary studies, particularly with respect to the relation between religious experience and religious expression.
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