A Neurological / Theological Approach to Meditative Reading of the Christian Scriptures

Walker, Robert W. H. (2017) A Neurological / Theological Approach to Meditative Reading of the Christian Scriptures. Masters thesis, University of Gloucestershire.

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Abstract

Lectio divina is effective as a transformative practice because it is an encounter between a reader, properly regarded as embodied, and scripture, which is an instantiation of the incarnation of Jesus Christ. The mode of perception is that of the spiritual senses. Studies of lectio divina generally focus on practical advice on how to do it, and recommending its benefits. What has received relatively little attention is how it functions as a transformative practice. Recent advances in neuroscience give an increasingly detailed picture of brain activity in practitioners of spiritual disciplines, including lectio divina. This highlights that lectio divina, while being an activity that seeks to engage with the divine, should at the same time also properly be seen as an embodied practice. The notion of scripture as an instantiation of the incarnation of Christ is found in the works of Augustine, and has been taken up by Hans Urs von Balthasar in his theological aesthetics. Balthasar also works with the doctrine of the spiritual senses, by which humankind is divinely enabled to perceive the divine “shining through” the material, in this case, the words of scripture. The spiritual senses are therefore key to communication between the human reader and Christ. This thesis combines neuroscience and theology to argue that lectio divina has transformative capacity because it is an encounter between an embodied reader and Christ, embodied in the scriptures. This has implications for a fuller understanding of lectio divina as a devotional practice, and as an essential precursor to wider theological thought.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Additional Information: Master of Arts by Research
Uncontrolled Keywords: Neurology; Theology; Christian scriptures
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BS The Bible
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Education & Humanities > Religious, Philosophical and Historical Studies
Depositing User: Susan Turner
Date Deposited: 22 Jul 2019 15:58
Last Modified: 22 Jul 2019 15:58
URI: http://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/7055

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