Dreams in the Bible and in Modern English Discourse: A Shift in Perspective


This paper investigates the linguistic aspect of the phenomenon of secularisation, using as example the English word “dream.” Comparative analysis of the linguistic structure of the dream narratives in the Bible and in modern English texts allowed us to discern two major secularisation trends—humanizing the divine and mystifying the human. In the Bible, entering into contact with the divine while asleep is always evaluated ambivalently: one is fascinated by the great favour and fears for one’s life. In modern religious discourse, the growing number of dream narratives manifest the positive evaluation of the contact with the divine as comforting. The second tendency consists in the transfer of transcendental experiences from the religious sphere into the sphere of narratives describing human mind and emotions. Here, the ambivalent experience springs up from the mysterious depths of the subconscious. At the lexical level, both tendencies result in new senses of the word “dream” as well as in important changes in the narrative structure of texts relating dream experiences. In the end, we provide a dictionary entry for the English noun “dream”.

Author Biographies

Alexandra Yu. Smirnova, Ali Lounici University of Blida 2, El Affroun, Algeria

Alexandra Yu. Smirnova graduated from the English Department of Saint Petersburg State University in 2008. In 2016 she defended her Candidate of Philology thesis on polysemy. In her research she develops the ideas of the linguo-anthropological school of linguistics founded by professor I. V. Tolochin.

Igor V. Tolochin, Saint Petersburg State University, Russia

Igor Vladimirovich Tolochin graduated from the English Department of Saint Petersburg State University in 1984. In 1987 he defended his Candidate of Philology thesis and joined the English Department as an assistant lecturer. In 1997 he defended his doctoral thesis. His current position is Professor in the same department. For more information see http://epl.phil.spbu.ru/sotrudniki/tolochin-igor-vladimirovich


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How to Cite
Smirnova, A., & Tolochin, I. (2022). Dreams in the Bible and in Modern English Discourse: A Shift in Perspective. Changing Societies & Personalities, 6(4), 945–964. doi:10.15826/csp.2022.6.4.211