Near-Death Experiences

Carol Zaleski

in The Oxford Handbook of Eschatology

Published in print December 2007 |
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

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In 1969, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross published On Death and Dying, a manifesto calling for reforms in end-of-life care and translating into a psychological idiom the ancient religious idea of dying as a peregrinatio animae, a pilgrimage of the soul from this world to the next. In 1975, Raymond Moody published a slim book, Life after Life, that introduced the now-ubiquitous expression “near-death experience” and opened a new era in the modern search for intimations of human immortality. Coming after the unraveling of the spiritualist movement, and at the high-water mark of the death awareness movement, Life after Life offered a less outré approach to the mysteries of the spirit world. This article examines the debates about near-death experience, focusing on popular narratives and near-death studies. It also discusses critical perspectives about the subject as well as cultural differences and interpretations of near-death testimony. It then looks at the near-death experience of a skeptic, A. J. Ayer, and that of a Roman Catholic priest, Richard John Neuhaus.

Keywords: On Death and Dying; death; near-death experience; Raymond Moody; Life after Life; immortality; Ayer; Richard John Neuhaus

Article.  6988 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Philosophy of Religion ; Comparative Religion

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