Dreams, interpretations and scientific evidence

Question 204, from Ben

What was the ancient Jewish viewpoint of dreams and their interpretations? How ought we read Biblical passages referencing dreams in light of this and in light of Modern Scientific Understanding?

There are several accounts in both the Old and New Testament of people receiving premonitions and warnings ‘in dreams’, with the idea that God revealed truth to people through their dreams. Some examples include Joseph of Technicolor Dreamcoat fame, the prophet Samuel, Daniel, Joseph the adoptive father of Jesus, and even people like the unnamed wife of Pilate (Matthew chapter 27).

In the Bible, dreams are regarded as a way that God communicates. For example,they are part of the prophetic vision of the fully consummated world in the book of Joel – where young men will see visions and old men will dream dreams of God (Joel chapter 2, verse 28). (more…)