Julian of Norwich, Theologian

Overview

For centuries readers have comfortably accepted Julian of Norwich as simply a mystic. In this astute book, Denys Turner offers a new interpretation of Julian and the significance of her work. Turner argues that this fourteenth-century thinker's sophisticated approach to theological questions places her legitimately within the pantheon of other great medieval theologians, including Thomas Aquinas, Bernard of Clairvaux, and Bonaventure.

Julian wrote but one work in two versions, a...

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Julian of Norwich, Theologian

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Overview

For centuries readers have comfortably accepted Julian of Norwich as simply a mystic. In this astute book, Denys Turner offers a new interpretation of Julian and the significance of her work. Turner argues that this fourteenth-century thinker's sophisticated approach to theological questions places her legitimately within the pantheon of other great medieval theologians, including Thomas Aquinas, Bernard of Clairvaux, and Bonaventure.

Julian wrote but one work in two versions, a Short Text recording the series of visions of Jesus Christ she experienced while suffering a near-fatal illness, and a much expanded Long Text exploring the theological meaning of the "showings" some twenty years later. Turner addresses the apparent conflict between the two sources of Julian's theology: on the one hand, her personal revelation of God's omnipotent love, and on the other, the Church's teachings on and her own witnessing of evil in the world that deserves punishment, even eternal punishment. Offering a fresh and elegant account of Julian's response to this conflict—one that reveals its nuances, systematic character, and originality—this book marks a new stage in the century-long rediscovery of one of the English language's greatest theological thinkers.

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Editorial Reviews

Books and Culture - John Wilson
"This is the best book I have seen on Julian, and one of the most energizing ventures in theology in the last several years."—John Wilson, Books and Culture
Books and Culture - John Wilson
"This is the best book I have seen on Julian, and one of the most energizing ventures in theology in the last several years."—John Wilson, Books and Culture
America - Joan M. Nuth
"The author writes with erudition, theological precision and flashes of humor. This is an enlightening book that makes an important and impressive addition to Julian scholarship."—Joan M. Nuth, America
Commonweal - Brian Davies
“The best theological exposition of Julian to appear so far....It shows why her thinking is still of value and how one might critically engage with it.”—Brian Davies, Commonweal
Englewood Review of Books - Alex Joyner

"Turner is such a good, clear writer and the theological themes he picks up from Julian are so rich and central to the Christian life, that I think many readers will be able to read this book fruitfully and even with joy. He succeeds completely in what he sets out to do and it is not too much to say that this book can be transformative, not only for Julian's place within the history of Christian thought, but for readers searching for life-giving resources for contemporary Christian living."—Alex Joyner, Englewood Review of Books
Englewood Review of Books
Turner is such a good, clear writer and the theological themes he picks up from Julian are so rich and central to the Christian life, that I think many readers will be able to read this book fruitfully and even with joy. He succeeds completely in what he sets out to do and it is not too much to say that this book can be transformative, not only for Julian's place within the history of Christian thought, but for readers searching for life-giving resources for contemporary Christian living.—Alex Joyner, Englewood Review of Books

— Alex Joyner

Books and Culture
This is the best book I have seen on Julian, and one of the most energizing ventures in theology in the last several years.—John Wilson, Books and Culture

— John Wilson

America
The author writes with erudition, theological precision and flashes of humor. This is an enlightening book that makes an important and impressive addition to Julian scholarship.—Joan M. Nuth, America

— Joan M. Nuth

Commonweal
The best theological exposition of Julian to appear so far....It shows why her thinking is still of value and how one might critically engage with it.—Brian Davies, Commonweal

— Brian Davies

Books & Culture
This is the best book I have seen on Julian, and one of the most energizing ventures in theology in the last several years.—John Wilson, Books and Culture

— John Wilson

Library Journal
Turner (historical theology, Yale Divinity Sch.; Faith, Reason and the Existence of God) sets out to argue that 14th-century English mystic Julian of Norwich not only was witness to divine visions but interpreted those visions in a theologically sophisticated manner, and this put her in the same category as Thomas Aquinas and Bernard of Clairvaux. Turner focuses on the contradictions within Julian's visions, or "shewings," and how Julian made sense of them, e.g., by asserting that sin has no "substance" and is "nought" to God in spite of her empirical knowledge that sin and evil do indeed exist and have tangible consequences. Turner systematically explains terms that Julian uses, such as "behovely" ("fitting"), essential to understanding Julian's insights. Elsewhere, Turner lays out then rules against arguments that could be used to question Julian's orthodoxy. Readers are left with a fresh interpretation of both Julian's shewings and of sin, redemption, and God's love for humanity. VERDICT This fascinating and quietly powerful academic work assumes that the reader is already familiar with the writings of Julian of Norwich. Recommended for serious college and university students and their professors as well as theologians who focus on this era.—Jennifer Stout, Cumberland Univ. Lib., Lebanon, TN
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300192551
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 6/30/2013
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 709,509
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Denys Turner is Horace Tracy Pitkin Professor of Historical Theology, Yale University. He lives in New Haven, CT, and in Birmingham, UK.

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Table of Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xxi

A Note on Julian's Text xxv

Part 1 Providence and Sin

1 Julian the Theologian 3

2 Clearing the Conceptual Space 32

3 Two Stories of Sin 68

Part 2 Sin and Salvation

4 The Lord and the Servant 103

5 Prayer and Providence 135

6 Substance and Sensuality 167

Conclusion: Julian's Soteriology 205

Notes 219

Index 255

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