Three Ancient Reports of Near-Death Experiences: Bremmer Revisited

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Abstract: In the modern literature, the so-called 'vision of Er,' told by Plato, and the 'vision of Thespesius,' recorded by Plutarch, have sometimes been cited as examples of ancient near-death experiences (NDEs). However, in a recent study, classicist Jan Bremmer (2002) impugned this interpretation. In this article, I offer a fresh analysis of these two texts that challenges Bremmer's stance and that vindicates the similarity between the ancient reports and modern NDEs. The vision of Er emerges as the oldest known direct account of an NDE. I add to these cases Plutarch's description of the 'vision of Timarchus' as an ... continued below

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31 p.

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van der Sluijs, Marinus Summer 2009.

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This article is part of the collection entitled: Journal of Near-Death Studies and was provided by UNT Libraries to Digital Library, a digital repository hosted by the UNT Libraries. It has been viewed 433 times , with 5 in the last month . More information about this article can be viewed below.

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Abstract: In the modern literature, the so-called 'vision of Er,' told by Plato, and the 'vision of Thespesius,' recorded by Plutarch, have sometimes been cited as examples of ancient near-death experiences (NDEs). However, in a recent study, classicist Jan Bremmer (2002) impugned this interpretation. In this article, I offer a fresh analysis of these two texts that challenges Bremmer's stance and that vindicates the similarity between the ancient reports and modern NDEs. The vision of Er emerges as the oldest known direct account of an NDE. I add to these cases Plutarch's description of the 'vision of Timarchus' as an example of an ancient NDE provoked by extreme isolation. Comparison of these reports of NDEs from antiquity with modern analogues suggests a few additional characteristic traits of NDEs.

Physical Description

31 p.

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"[The Journal of Near-Death Studies] is the only peer-reviewed scholarly journal (ISSN 0891-4494) devoted exclusively to the field of near-death studies. It is cross-disciplinary and published quarterly."

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  • Journal of Near-Death Studies, 27(4), International Association for Near-Death Studies, Summer 2009, pp. 223-253

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  • OCLC: 14781775 | External Link
  • ISSN: 0891-4494
  • Library of Congress Control Number: 88-648131
  • Library of Congress Control Number: sn 86-2701
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc461731

Publication Information

  • Publication Title: Journal of Near-Death Studies
  • Volume: 27
  • Issue: 4
  • Page Start: 223
  • Page End: 253
  • Pages: 31

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Journal of Near-Death Studies

The Journal of Near-Death Studies is a scholarly peer-reviewed journal devoted to the field of near-death studies. It is published on a quarterly basis by the International Association for Near-Death Studies. The Journal began publication in 1982 under the name Anabiosis which was changed to its current title in 1986 with the start of Volume 6.

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  • Summer 2009

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  • Dec. 4, 2014, 2:16 p.m.

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  • Jan. 28, 2016, 6:01 p.m.

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van der Sluijs, Marinus. Three Ancient Reports of Near-Death Experiences: Bremmer Revisited, article, Summer 2009; Durham, North Carolina. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc461731/: accessed September 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .