The Female Mystic: Great Women Thinkers of the Middle Ages

Overview

The Middle Ages saw a flourishing of mysticism that was astonishing for its richness and distinctiveness. The medieval period was unlike any other period of Christianity in producing people who frequently claimed visions of Christ and Mary, uttered prophecies, gave voice to ecstatic experiences, recited poems and songs said to emanate directly from God and changed their ways of life as a result of these special revelations. Many recipients of these alleged divine gifts were women. Yet the female contribution to ...

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Overview

The Middle Ages saw a flourishing of mysticism that was astonishing for its richness and distinctiveness. The medieval period was unlike any other period of Christianity in producing people who frequently claimed visions of Christ and Mary, uttered prophecies, gave voice to ecstatic experiences, recited poems and songs said to emanate directly from God and changed their ways of life as a result of these special revelations. Many recipients of these alleged divine gifts were women. Yet the female contribution to western Europe's intellectual and religious development is still not well understood. Popular or lay religion has been overshadowed by academic theology, which was predominantly the theology of men. This timely book rectifies the neglect by examining a number of women whose lives exemplify traditions which were central to medieval theology but whose contributions have tended to be dismissed as "merely spiritual" by today's scholars. In their different ways, visionaries like Richeldis de Faverches (founder of the Holy House at Walsingham, or "England's Nazareth"), the learned Hildegard of Bingen, Hadewijch of Brabant (exemplary voice of the Beguine tradition of love mysticism), charismatic traveller and pilgrim Margery Kempe and anchoress Julian of Norwich all challenged traditional male scholastic theology. Designed for the use of undergraduate student and general reader alike, this attractive survey provides an introduction to thirteen remarkable women and sets their ideas in context.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Andrea Janelle Dickens appeals to the mystic in every reader with her inviting and informative treatments of a dozen medieval women. She proclaims them 'exemplary rather than extraordinary,' suggesting, contra their times, that gender is no boundary to holiness. For the widely known (Teresa of Avila, Julian of Norwich, and Hildegard of Bingen) as well as the less studied (Angela of Foligno, Richeldis of Faverches, and Mechtilde of Hackeborn) matters of love, location, authority, pilgrimage, and anti-clericalism are common themes. This readable introduction is the perfect primer for the religious studies or gender studies classroom and has ample scholarly apparatus to encourage further study."--Mary E Hunt, Co-director, Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER), Silver Spring, Maryland

"The Female Mystic will serve as an excellent introductory textbook to the life, works and thought of twelve leading women mystics, from 11th Century Richeldis of Faverches to 16th Century Teresa of Avila. The discussion throughout is balanced, informed and clear. The author has both an eye for detail and an admirable capacity to sketch an insightful overview of each figure against the background of her own historical period and within her own social contexts. In these pages the mystical texts emerge as distinctively female, though open-endedly so, and as a vital communication of the rich, multi-faceted world of medieval Europe. The Female Mystic will open up new horizons for any reader who wishes to come closer to these extraordinary texts and their authors."-- Oliver Davies, Professor of Christian Doctrine, King's College London

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Andrea Janelle Dickens is Assistant Professor of Ancient and Medieval Church History at United Theological Seminary in Trotwood, Ohio. She has written many essays and articles on medieval theology and spirituality, and is also the author of The I.B.Tauris History of Monasticism: The Western Tradition (forthcoming).

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Table of Contents

* Introduction
• Richeldis de Faverches
• Hildegard of Bingen
• Christina the Astonishing
• Hadewijch of Brabant
• Mechtilde of Magdeburg
• Mechtilde of Hackeborn
• Angelina Foligno
• Marguerite Porete
• Julian of Norwich
• Catherine of Siena
• Margery Kempe
• Theresa of Avila
• Conclusion
• Glossary
• Bibliography
• Index

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