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Other titles in the Oxford Theological Monographs series:

Out-Of-Body and Near-Death Experiences: Brain-State Phenomena or Glimpses of Immortality? (Oxford Theological Monographs)


Out-Of-Body and Near-Death Experiences: Brain-State Phenomena or Glimpses of Immortality? (Oxford Theological Monographs) Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Personalised accounts of out-of-body (OBE) and near-death (NDE) experiences are frequently interpreted as offering evidence for immortality and an afterlife. Since most OBE/NDE follow severe curtailments of cerebral circulation with loss of consciousness, the agonal brain supposedly permits 'mind', 'soul' or 'consciousness' to escape neural control and provide glimpses of the afterlife.

Michael Marsh critically analyses the work of five key writers who support this so-called "dying brain" hypothesis. He firmly disagrees with such otherworldly 'mystical' or 'psychical' interpretations, ably demonstrating how they are explicable in terms of brain neurophysiology and its neuropathological disturbances. The original basis and thrust of Marsh's claim sees the recorded phenomenology as reflections of brains rapidly reawakening to full conscious-awareness, consistent with other reported phenomenologies attending recovery from antecedent states of unconsciousness: the "re-awakening brain" hypothesis. From this basis, Marsh also offers a re-classification of NDE into early and late phase sequences, thereby dismantling the untenable concepts of "core" and "depth" experiences.

Marsh further provides a detailed examination of the spiritual and quasi-religious overtones accorded OBE/NDE, highlighting their inconsistencies when compared with classical accounts of divine disclosure, and the eschatological precepts of resurrection belief as professed credally. In assessing the implications of anthropological, philosophical, and theological concepts of 'personhood' and 'soul' as arguments for personal survival after death, Marsh celebrates the role of conventional faith in appropriating the expectant biblical promises of a 'New Creation'.

About the Author

Professor Michael Marsh read medicine at Magdalen College, Oxford and became an academic biomedical research physician in Manchester. In 2006 he was received a Distinguished Investigator Award for his work on gluten intolerance (coeliac disease) and his classification of the intestinal responses which are now internationally adopted. While approaching retirement he took an Oxford degree in Theology, subsequently returning to Magdalen to write a D.Phil thesis on neurophysiological and theological approaches to near-death and out-of-body experiential phenomenology. He is now at Wolfson College and, in addition, a Fellow of the Oxford Centre for Christianity and Culture at Regent's Park College, University of Oxford.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Prospects For Life After Death

1. Getting a Sense of the Other-Worldly Domain

2. Surveying Past Horizons

3. Authors' Interpretations of ECE Phenomenology

4. Objective Analyses Into ECE Subjectivity

5. Conscious-Awareness: Life's Illusory Legacy

6. The Temporo-Parietal Cortex: The Configuring of Ego/Paracentric Body Space

7. Falling Asleep, Perchance to Dream - Thence to Re-awaken

8. ECE and the Temporal Lobe: Assassin or Accomplice?

9. Other Neurophysiological Aspects Pertinent to ECE Phenomenology

10. Anthropological and Eschatological Considerations of ECE Phenomenology

11. ECE, Revelation and Spirituality

12. Subjects' Interpretations of their Experiences

13. Overview and Recapitulation

Product Details

Marsh, Michael N.
Oxford University Press, USA
Religion & Science
Near-death experiences
Theology | Psychology of Religion
Religion Miscellaneous-Religion and Science
Religion World-Religion and Science
Religion & Theology | Psychology of Religion
Oxford Theological Monographs
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
Professional and scholarly
10 black-and-white figs.
6.3 x 9.3 x 1.2 in 1.444 lb

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Politics » General
Religion » World Religions » Religion and Science

Out-Of-Body and Near-Death Experiences: Brain-State Phenomena or Glimpses of Immortality? (Oxford Theological Monographs) New Hardcover
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