Studying Religions as Narrative Cultures: Angel Experience Narratives in the Netherlands and Some Ideas for a Narrative Research Program for the Study of Religion

Davidsen, Markus Altena; Van Rijn, Bastiaan (2020). Studying Religions as Narrative Cultures: Angel Experience Narratives in the Netherlands and Some Ideas for a Narrative Research Program for the Study of Religion. In: Johannsen, Dirk; Kirsch, Anja; Kreinath, Jens (eds.) Narrative Cultures and the Aesthetics of Religion. Supplements to Method & Theory in the Study of Religion: Vol. 14 (pp. 91-122). Leiden: Brill 10.1163/9789004421677_006

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This chapter presents the key findings of a small research project on the structure, functions, and strategic use of angel experience narratives within the Dutch angel milieu. We found that all the angel experience narratives that we collected follow the same basic pattern: the protagonist experiences danger or distress, an angel intervenes, and the problem is solved. In many cases, the tellers additionally report conversion-like life transformation as a result of their angel encounters. Equally important as the basic structural pattern, we identified five different genres of angel experience narratives, spanning a ‘hierarchy of miraculousness’ from subtle ‘sign narratives’ in which the angels make their presence known merely through signs such as feathers to stories of lifesaving interventions and full-blown visions. What is more, the various genres can be shown to each have their particular functions within the angel milieu: subtle sign narratives, for example, steer the perceptual expectations of lay believers, whereas revelation narratives, among other things, cement the charisma of the field’s religious specialists (i.e. the more or less professional angel healers and angel mediums). In the final section of the chapter, we move beyond our case study to outline a general narrative research program for the study of religion that conceptualizes religions as narrative cultures. We formulate the main tasks of such a research program and reflect on how developing it may benefit the study of religion.

Item Type:

Book Section (Book Chapter)

Division/Institute:

06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Art and Cultural Studies > Institute for the Science of Religion

UniBE Contributor:

Van Rijn, Bastiaan Benjamin

Subjects:

200 Religion

ISBN:

978-90-04-42166-0

Series:

Supplements to Method & Theory in the Study of Religion

Publisher:

Brill

Language:

English

Submitter:

Ursina Wüthrich

Date Deposited:

19 Feb 2020 14:40

Last Modified:

17 Apr 2020 01:32

Publisher DOI:

10.1163/9789004421677_006

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/137959

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