Visions of Jesus: Direct Encounters from the New Testament to Today

Visions of Jesus: Direct Encounters from the New Testament to Today

Visions of Jesus: Direct Encounters from the New Testament to Today

Visions of Jesus: Direct Encounters from the New Testament to Today

Synopsis

Eve Zelle, a single mother of two, long out of work and in despair over her situation, extended her hand in a moment of desperate prayer and said to God, "If I could only touch you, if I could only touch your hand"--and when she opened her eyes, she was startled to see Jesus in front of her. "He was on his knees holding both my hands with the most compassionate warm eyes that I had ever seen, with strength behind them." Eve had this vision in the late 1980s. Of course, visions of Jesus have been experienced since the earliest days of Christianity, and have been reported throughout the ages--by Catherine of Siena, Ignatius Loyola, Julian of Norwich, Teresa of Avila, and many others. But what are we to make of contemporary instances? Are they hallucinations? The result of temporary insanity? Or are they genuine visions, comparable to the appearances of Christ recorded in the Bible? In this thought-provoking volume, Phillip H. Wiebe provides the first critical study of visions of Jesus reported in recent years. Here are intriguing accounts of visions as told by thirty people, most of them ordinary men and women without prior or subsequent experiences of this kind, who remain mystified about having had such experiences. Ernie Hollands, a career criminal born in the slums of Halifax, Nova Scotia, said Christ appeared to him while he was in his cell in Millhaven Penetentiary. Maria Martinez saw Jesus at a busy intersection in Miami, Florida, in 1964. Rose Fairs was lying in bed one morning, wide awake, when the Venetian blinds opened up and the head of Jesus materialized before her. Wiebe recounts each of the visions in vivid detail, and examines the often dramatic changes the apparitions brought about in the lives and beliefs of the subjects. He then explores why these individuals believe their visions were of Jesus, and why they typically believe them to be objective happenings, rather than hallucinations or dreams. Wiebe does weigh the possibility that the experiences could be hallucinatory, and to that end he discusses these phenomena in light of recent literature on the psychology and neurology of visual hallucinations. Additionally, he regards these occurrences from perspectives as diverse as those of biblical scholarship and parapsychology, asking such questions as: Were the subjects only imagining a figure that seemed as real as life? How do these experiences differ from dreams? Could they be imaginative visions produced by angels? How does the Church traditionally regard such phenomena? Wiebe concludes that these contemporary visions of Jesus may well represent genuine religious experiences of a mystical character, the implications of which call out for further study and analysis. The fascinating nature of these visions and Wiebe's thoughtful and evenhanded approach to these reports add up to a book that will make provocative reading for skeptics and the faithful alike.

Excerpt

Vision and apparition experiences in which people believe they encounter Jesus Christ have been reported among Christians for two thousand years. the original Christian belief in the resurrection of Jesus was based primarily upon experiences in which followers thought they had seen him in some posthumous form, for the mere disappearance of his body could hardly have given rise to this belief Christic visions continue to be experienced by people living today--among laity and clergy, Catholics and Protestants, devout and casual believers, old and young, women and men, well and poorly educated, and among those who "believe in" visions as well as those not predisposed to do so.

The purpose of this book is to examine this phenomenon. I direct much of my attention toward thirty people who described their experiences to me. For some, the experience takes place in an altered state of consciousness as the familiar world of which they are a part suddenly disappears and another "reality" seems to descend upon them. For others, the Christic figure enters their ordinary lives and is superimposed, as it were, on their world. a few even say that this has been witnessed by groups. the information available challenges many stereotypes about the Christic visionary experience, and poses difficult questions about their explanation. It also brings an important perspective into the work of the scholars who have wondered what events, if any, might he behind the stories found in biblical literature.

The contemporary visionaries who claim to see Jesus attach . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.