Bulletin for the Study of Religion, Vol 42, No 1 (2013)

The Philosophy of Religious Experience and the Nag Hammadi Texts: A Response to Kaler and Tite

Stephen Bush
Issued Date: 8 Mar 2013


This essay, in response to Michael Kaler and Philip Tite, examines several theoretical issues about mystical experience in the Nag Hammadi texts. First is the problem of whether experiences can be an object of study at all, and I argue that they can, so long as we attend to the causes of the experiences. Attending to the causes of experiences, however, means that neo-perennialists must articulate and defend an account of the cause(s) of the cross-culturally universal experiences that they suppose occur. As for the attempt to apply contemporary psychologists' attachment theory to the experiential knowledge described in the Nag Hammadi texts, questions remain about the relation between attachment to the divine figure purportedly experienced and the experiencer's attachment to his or her religious community.

Download Media

PDF (Price: £17.50 )

DOI: 10.1558/bsor.v42i1.18


Bush, Stephen S. 2012. “Are Experiences Too Private to Study?” Journal of Religion 92: 99–223.
Jackson, Frank. 2004. “Epiphenomenal Qualia.” In There’s Something About Mary: Essays on Phenomenal Consciousness and Frank Jackson’s Knowledge Argument, edited by Peter Ludlow, Yujin Nagasawa, and Daniel Stoljar, 39–50. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
Kaler, Michael. 2013. “Talking About Religious Experience at Nag Hammadi.” Bulletin for the Study of Religion 42 (1): 2–7.
Kirkpatrick, Lee A. 2005. Attachment, Evolution, and the Psychology of Religion. New York: Guilford Press.
Markin, Rayna D., and Cheri Marmarosh. 2010. “Application of Adult Attachment Theory to Group Member Transference and the Group Therapy Process.” Psychotherapy Theory, Research, Practice, Training 47: 111–21. doi:10.1037/a0018840.
Roth, Harold D. 2008. “Against Cognitive Imperialism: A Call for a Non-Ethnocentric Approach to Cognitive Science and Religious Studies.” Religion East & West 8.
Smart, Ninian. 1973. The Phenomenon of Religion. New York: Herder and Herder.
Taves, Ann. 2009. Religious Experience Reconsidered: A Building Block Approach to the Study of Religion and Other Special Things. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
Tite, Philip L. 2013. “Theoretical Challenges in Studying Religious Experience in Gnosticism: A Prolegomena for Social Analysis.” Bulletin for the Study of Religion 42 (1): 8–18.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Equinox Publishing Ltd - 415 The Workstation 15 Paternoster Row, Sheffield, S1 2BX United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)114 221-0285 - Email: info@equinoxpub.com

Privacy Policy