Sunday, April 30, 2017

Renberg, Where Dreams May Come

Where Dreams May Come
Incubation Sanctuaries in the Greco-Roman World

Gil H. Renberg
In this book, Gil H. Renberg examines the ancient religious phenomenon of “incubation", the ritual of sleeping at a divinity’s sanctuary in order to obtain a prophetic or therapeutic dream. Most prominently associated with the Panhellenic healing god Asklepios, incubation was also practiced at the cult sites of numerous other divinities throughout the Greek world, but it is first known from ancient Near Eastern sources and was established in Pharaonic Egypt by the time of the Macedonian conquest; later, Christian worship came to include similar practices. Renberg’s exhaustive study represents the first attempt to collect and analyze the evidence for incubation from Sumerian to Byzantine and Merovingian times, thus making an important contribution to religious history.
The description does not specify whether this book includes dream incubations in ancient biblical and Jewish tradition, but arguably there are such. These would include Solomon's dream at the Gibeon sanctuary in 1 Kings 3 and Enoch's dream at the waters of Dan in sight of the holy Mount Hermon (1 Enoch 13-15). And see also this recent post on ancient Jewish dream visions.