On 29 May 2018, Doru Costache presented the talk ‘Dreaming or Soul-Travel? Saint Athanasius’ Against the Gentiles 30–34′ for School of Arts & Sciences and School of Philosophy & Theology Research Seminars Semester 1 2018, the University of Notre Dame Australia.
Abstract: The established view, foremost represented by Patricia Cox-Miller, is that Against the Gentiles 30–34 is about dreaming and the natural capacity of the human soul to reach out to God. In my detailed analysis of the text I have uncovered that the relevant chapters say little, if anything, about dreaming. Instead, they refer to what contemporary studies in religion call soul-travel, combined with what cognitive scientists designate as lucid dreaming and extrasensory experiences. In making use of such contemporary lenses and also by considering the matters against the backdrop of desert asceticism, I argue that in Against the Gentiles 30–34 Saint Athanasius alluded to the experience of the saints, not to normal dreaming.