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”.