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This review is from: The Darkness of God: Negativity in Christian Mysticism (Negativity in Western Christian Mysticism) (Paperback)
This profound study of some of the most widely read medieval Christian 'mystical' authors is at once an historical expose and philosophical argument in its own right. Professor Turner, formerly of Bristol, Birmingham and Cambridge, and now of Yale University, offers the bold argument that the medieval Christian mystics did not, as is commonly thought, conceive their 'mysticism' in inward looking, experientialist terms but rather sought to emphasise the mysteriousness and 'spiritual' nature of existence as a whole - especially the everyday.
In our age of privatised spirituality, where mysteries are conventionally thought to unveil themselves in the context of sustained contemplation or meditation, the writings of the medieval Christian mystics are accepted as natural forerunners. Professor Turner counters not only that our modern appropriation of these writers is historically suspect in that it does not obviously do justice to their original motivations, but that the vision of 'spirituality' as a privatised and internalised phenomenon which we assume them to have held was something the Christian mystics actually sought to critique! In my opinion, his argument carries a great deal of weight and it is to the author's credit that he expresses himself very eruditely and eloquently throughout - never becoming polemical, and remaining aware of the sophisticated nature of his material and of the meticulousness his arguments require, but always being trenchant and clear.
This book is a must read text for those whose religious or 'spiritual' lives have been touched in some way by any of the medieval Christian mystics - especially Denys the Areopagite, Augustine, John of the Cross, and Meister Eckhart - as well as for those who wish to explore further the nature of 'spirituality' and 'mysticism' in the Christian tradition. It is, I should add, not a text to be recommended for the uninitiated but for educated laypeople, students, and academics.
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