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Holman Bible Dictionary


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The state of being in a trance, especially a mystic or prophetic trance. The derivation of our word “ecstasy” (from the Greek ek , out plus stasis , state) suggests an out of body state (2 Corinthians 12:2-3 ) or the state of being out of control. In the Old Testament ecstasy was associated with bands or schools of prophets (1Samuel 10:5,1 Samuel 10:9 ; 1 Samuel 19:20 ; 2 Kings 9:1 ). The ecstatic state was often accompanied by music (1 Samuel 10:5 ; 2 Kings 3:15-16 ) and rhythmic dance, though the “prophetic frenzy” was brought on by the onrush of the Spirit of God (1Samuel 10:6,1 Samuel 10:10 ; 1Samuel 19:20,1 Samuel 19:23 ) or hand of the Lord (2 Kings 3:15 ). Prophetic ecstasy could be accompanied by irrational behavior (1 Samuel 19:24 ; perhaps 1 Samuel 21:15 ) leading prophets to be identified with madmen (2 Kings 9:11 ; Jeremiah 29:26 ; Hosea 9:7 ). Efforts to control such prophetic expression (Jeremiah 29:26 ) were regarded as ill-founded (Jeremiah 29:31 ).

In the New Testament Paul's experience of being caught up into the third heaven or paradise (2 Corinthians 12:2-4 ) is an example of an ecstatic experience. Paul twice pleaded ignorance of whether this experience was “in or out of the body.” Paul preferred to boast in his weakness than in such spiritual experiences (2 Corinthians 12:5 ). The gift of speaking in tongues is thought by some to involve an ecstatic state. See Prophecy, Prophets ; Tongues, Gift of.

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Ecstasy'. Holman Bible Dictionary. 1991.

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