Shaman and Sage

Michael Horton

Eerdmans Publishing

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The first volume of Michael Horton’s magisterial intellectual history of “spiritual but not religious” as a phenomenon in Western culture 
Discussions of the rapidly increasing number of people identifying as “spiritual but not religious” tend to focus on the past century. But the SBNR phenomenon and the values that underlie it may be older than Christianity itself. 
Michael Horton reveals that the hallmarks of modern spirituality—autonomy, individualism, utopianism, and more—have their foundations in Greek philosophical religion. Horton makes the case that the development of the shaman figure in the Axial Age—particularly its iteration among Orphists—represented a “divine self.” One must realize the divinity within the self to break free from physicality and become one with a panentheistic unity. Time and time again, this tradition of divinity hiding in nature has arisen as an alternative to monotheistic submission to a god who intervenes in creation. 
This first volume traces the development of a utopian view of the human individual: a divine soul longing to break free from all limits of body, history, and the social and natural world. When the second and third volumes are complete, students and scholars will consult The Divine Self as the authoritative guide to the “spiritual but not religious” tendency as a recurring theme in Western culture from antiquity to the present.


528 pages

May 2024

  • 9780802877116