Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Perspectives on Becoming Human: A Contribution to the History of the History of Consciousness

Caleb Paul Mechem, Junior from Decatur, IL
Paul Keim, Professor of Bible and religion

There has been an explosion of scientific interest in consciousness in recent decades in fields as diverse as neuroscience, philosophy of mind, cognitive psychology, and artificial intelligence. These developments have also sharpened the longstanding debate in religion and theology about the nature of human beings and the interface of creation and evolution.  Crucial for holistic evaluation and integration of the scientific developments is theological and biblical work that keeps pace with our expanding awareness of the history of consciousness.  The texts of the Bible and the ancient literature of its cultural environment give evidence of reasoned and revelatory reflections on the nature of human beings and their place in the created cosmos. Origin stories, etiological epics, and speculative theodicies reveal the ways in which ancient conceptions of the essential features of humans beings developed.