(Gr. ekstasis, from which the word "ecstasy" is derived) denotes the state of one who is "out of himself." Such were the trances of Peter and Paul, Acts 10:10 ; 11:5 ; 22:17 , ecstasies, "a preternatural, absorbed state of mind preparing for the reception of the vision", (Compare 2 Corinthians 12:1-4 ). In Mark 5:42 and Luke 5:26 the Greek word is rendered "astonishment," "amazement" (Compare Mark 16:8 ; Acts 3:10 ).
(1) In the only passage-- ( Numbers 24:4 Numbers 24:16 ) --in which this word occurs in the English of the Old Testament italics show no corresponding word in Hebrew. In the New Testament we meet with the word three times -- ( Acts 10:10 ; 11:6 ; 22:17 ) The ekstasis (i.e. trance) is the state in which a man has passed out of the usual order of his life, beyond the usual limits of consciousness and volition, being rapt in causes of this state are to be traced commonly to strong religious impressions. Whatever explanation may be given of it, it is true of many, if not of most, of those who have left the stamp of their own character on the religious history of mankind, that they have been liable to pass at times into this abnormal state. The union of intense feeling, strong volition, long-continued thought (the conditions of all wide and lasting influence, aided in many cases by the withdrawal from the lower life of the support which is needed to maintain a healthy equilibrium, appears to have been more than the "earthen vessel" will bear. The words which speak of "an ecstasy of adoration" are often literally true. As in other things, so also here, the phenomena are common to higher and lower, to true and false systems. We may not point to trances and ecstasies as proofs of a true revelation but still less may we think of them as at all inconsistent with it. Thus though we have not the word, we have the thing in the "deep sleep" the "horror of great darkness," that fell on Abraham. ( Genesis 15:12 ) Balaam, as if overcome by the constraining power of a Spirit mightier than his own, "sees the vision of God, falling, but with opened eyes." ( Numbers 24:4 ) Saul, in like manner, when the wild chant of the prophets stirred the old depths of feeling, himself also "prophesied" and "fell down" --most, if not all, of his kingly clothing being thrown off in the ecstasy of the moment --"all that day and all that night." ( 1 Samuel 19:24 ) Something there was in Jeremiah that made men say of him that he was as one that" is mad and maketh himself a prophet." ( Jeremiah 29:26 ) In Ezekiel the phenomena appear in more wonderful and awful forms. ( Ezekiel 3:15 ) As other elements and forms of the prophetic work were revived in "the apostles and prophets" of the New Testament, so also was this. Though different in form, it belongs to the same class of phenomena as the gift of tongues, and is connected with "visions and revelations of the Lord" In some cases, indeed, it is the chosen channel for such revelations. ( Acts 10:11 ; 22:17-21 ) Wisely for the most part did the apostle draw a veil over these more mysterious experiences. ( 2 Corinthians 12:1-4 )
The condition expressed by this word is a mental state in which the person affected is partially or wholly unconscious of objective sensations, but intensely alive to subjective impressions which, however they may be originated, are felt as if they were revelations from without. They may take the form of visual or auditory sensations or else of impressions of taste, smell, heat or cold, and sometimes these conditions precede epileptic seizures constituting what is named the aura epileptica. The word occurs 5 times in the King James Version, twice in the story of Balaam (Numbers 24:4,16), twice in the history of Peter (Acts 10:10; 11:5), and once in that of Paul (Acts 22:17). In the Balaam story the word is of the nature of a gloss rather than a translation, as the Hebrew naphal means simply "to fall down" and is translated accordingly in the Revised Version (British and American). Here Septuagint has en hupno, "in sleep" (see SLEEP, DEEP). In Peter's vision on the housetop at Joppa he saw the sail (othone) descending from heaven, and heard a voice. Paul's trance was also one of both sight and sound. The vision on the Damascus road (Acts 9:3-9) and that recorded in 2 Corinthians 12:2-4 were also cases of trance, as were the prophetic ecstasies of Saul, Daniel and Elisha, and the condition of John in which he says that he was "in the Spirit" (Revelation 1:10).
The border line between trance and dream is indefinite:
the former occurs while one is, in a sense, awake; the latter takes place in the passage from sleep to wakefulness. The dream as well as the vision were supposed of old to be channels of revelation (Job 33:15). In Shakespearean English, "trance" means a dream (Taming of the Shrew, I, i, 182), or simply a bewilderment (Lucrece, 1595).
In the phenomena of hypnotic suggestion, sometimes affecting a number of persons simultaneously we have conditions closely allied to trance, and doubtless some of the well-authenticated phantom appearances are similar subjective projections from the mind affecting the visual and auditory centers of the brain.
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