Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2020 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming

Twice Born

  • John PahuckiEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-24348-7_717

Categorical term in the psychology of religious experience developed and described by William James in his classic work The Varieties of Religious Experience. The description is obviously rooted in the exchange between Jesus and Nicodemus in the Gospel of John (3:1–21) where Jesus comments that a man must be “born again” in order to enter the Kingdom of God, although James seems to have directly appropriated the term “twice born” from Francis W. Newman’s The Soul; Its Sorrows and its Aspirations(1882). The twice-born type is the counterpart of the firstborn personality, who represents an instance of what James describes as “the religion of healthy-mindedness.” These individuals are characterized by a shallow optimism in regard to religious belief and, in extreme cases, an almost pathological aversion to the reality of suffering and evil. In contradistinction to this type, the twice born has passed through the experience of what James describes as “the sick soul,” where the...

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  1. James, W. (1982). The varieties of religious experience. New York: Penguin Classics.Google Scholar

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HumanitiesSUNY RocklandSuffernUSA