The Cambridge Companion to Christian Mysticism is a multi-authored interdisciplinary guide to the study of Christian mysticism, with an emphasis on the third through the seventeenth centuries. The book is thematically organized in terms of the central contexts, practices, and concepts associated with the mystical life in early, medieval, and early modern Christianity. Written by leading authorities and younger scholars from a range of disciplines, the volume both provides a clear introduction to the Christian mystical life and articulates a bold new approach to the study of mysticism. The book looks beyond the term "mysticism," which was an early modern invention, to explore the ways in the ancient terms "mystic" and "mystical" were used in the Christian tradition: What kinds of practices, modes of life, and experiences were described as "mystical"? What understanding of Christianity and of the life of Christian perfection is articulated through mystical interpretations of scripture, mystical contemplation, mystical vision, mystical theology, or mystical union? What practices and experiences provided the framework within which one could describe mystical phenomena? And what topics are at the forefront of the contemporary study of Christian mystical practice and experience?
About the Author
Patricia Z. Beckman teaches in the Department of Religion and the Great Conversation program at St Olaf College. Her research and writing explore medieval women's mystical teaching and practice, especially Mechthild of Magdeburg's. She serves on the Council of the American Society of Church History and has worked as senior fellow for the Ford Foundation Difficult Dialogues project. She is an advocate for the public understanding, discussion and debate of all things religious and historical.
Table of ContentsIntroduction Amy Hollywood and Patricia Z. Beckman; Part I. Contexts: 1. Early monasticism Douglas Burton-Christie; 2. Song, experience, and the book in Benedictine monasticism Amy Hollywood; 3. New religious movements in medieval western Europe Walter Simons; 4. Early modern reformations Edward Howells; Part II. Key Terms: 5. Apophatic and cataphatic theology Andrew Louth; 6. Lectio divina E. Ann Matter; 7. Meditatio/meditation Thomas Bestul; 8. Oratio/prayer Rachel Fulton Brown; 9. Visio/vision Veerle Fraeters; 10. Raptus/rapture Dyan Elliott; 11. Unio mystica/mystical union Bernard McGinn; 12. Actio et contemplatio/action and contemplation Charlotte Radler; Part III. Contemporary Questions: 13. Latin and the vernaculars Barbara Newman; 14. Transmission Sara S. Poor; 15. Writing Charles M. Stang; 16. The body and its senses Patricia Dailey; 17. Mysticism and visuality Jeffrey Hamburger; 18. Emotions Fiona Somerset; 19. Authority Mary Frohlich; 20. Gender Alison Weber; 21. Sexuality Constance Furey; 22. Time and memory Patricia Dailey.