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Them That BelieveThe Power and Meaning of the Christian Serpent-Handling Tradition$
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Ralph Hood, Jr. and W. Paul Williamson

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780520231474

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520231474.001.0001

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Near-Death Experience from Serpent Bites in Religious Settings

Near-Death Experience from Serpent Bites in Religious Settings

(p.170) Chapter 10 Near-Death Experience from Serpent Bites in Religious Settings
Them That Believe

Ralph W. Hood Jr.

W. Paul Williamson

University of California Press

This chapter describes the experience of receiving a near fatal bite from a serpent and the anticipation of death. It places near-death experiences by serpent bite (NDBs) in religious settings in the context of what has become known as near-death experiences. This is done for two reasons. First, the conceptual issues in NDEs are directly relevant to the religious beliefs of serpent-handling churches, particularly with respect to human immortality. Second, the claim to prototypical near-death experiences (NDEs) widely reported in the popular literature lacks clear empirical support. It is not, for instance, typical of NDEs from serpent bites to believers who handle in religious settings. Thus it may be that NDEs are influenced by the beliefs of those near death. Beliefs may be a particularly salient determinant of NDEs when they are firmly grounded in a religious worldview and even more so when that worldview includes a ritual that believers know can kill.

Keywords:   serpent-handling, serpent bite, near-death experiences, human immortality, religious worldview

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