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Brides in the Desert: The Spirituality of the Beguines (Traditions of Christian spirituality series)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 4.1 out of 5 stars 3 reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece and surprisingly relevant today 26 Jan. 2016
By BlueDaisy - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am moved and impressed with this book. The author is a scholar of Medieval literature, particularly women's literature of the period, as individuals began writing in vernacular languages instead of Church Latin. As a result, the experiences and concepts expressed by the Beguines are fresh, infused with emotion and imagery, and give a unique perspective into the lives and ideas of religious women in those societies. The book is highly readable and discreetly footnoted for those who wish to study the author's sources further. I have read Simon's Cities of Ladies and Swan's The Wisdom of the Beguines, too, and each presents a different and useful perspective on this movement.

For an explanation of the motives for the practical and heartfelt responses made by these remarkable women to social conditions and attitudes of the period, Brides in the Desert is a masterpiece.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Women of the Wilderness 17 Oct. 2005
By luna luz - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great details of this 12th century womens movement and its significance, to the Catholic Church and to all people called by spirituality today. Beguines led a religious life that was flexible with one foot in both worlds. The mystics that arose out of the movement were unparalleled (Hadewijch of the Brabant, Mechtild of Magdeburg, Beatriz of Nazareth et al.). Their lives still speak volumes in the beguinages (cities of peace) that are kept alive throughout Belgium and Amsterdam. Their main contributions to the Catholic church were devotion to the Sacred Heart, devotion to the Eucharist and frequent recpetion via institution of the feast of Corpus Christi, the pieta which was a statue originating among the beautiful Flemish artwork found in their awesomely beautiful (church) chapels. The women worked for the poor and lived simple lives (w/o the vow of poverty) and were free to leave at any time. In their spirituality they developed negative theology (finding God where he is "not"), emphasis on the divine origin of the soul and other gnostic aspects that do not cross the fine line from an interactive God into a manipulated God. Marguerite Porete excepted. The vernacular books they wrote were influential among more famous male mystics (Eckhart & Ruysbeck) & are as relevant today as they were then. Great women, great achievements with a tradition that is still alive (...)."Church suppression" was temporary and limited; did not take effect in countries who valued their holy women.
5.0 out of 5 stars Meet Some Fascinating Women 11 May 2017
By Susan Pitchford - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book was my first exposure to the Beguines and I've been a huge fan of them ever since. Murk-Jansen does an exceptionally good job of "pitching" the book: those who are well acquainted with the Beguines will enjoy it, but it's fully accessible to newcomers to this movement. There are brief bios of the most prominent figures in the heydey of the Beguines, plenty of excerpts from their writings, and a fascinating analysis of the images that appear frequently in those writings. We learn the historical and institutional context in which the Beguines first appeared, briefly flourished and then went into decline. In short, this is the book I would recommend for anyone seeking a quick and readable introduction. Though I'm also partial to Laura Swan's book The Wisdom of the Beguines, which goes into more depth and would also make a nice introduction or perhaps a deeper follow-up to Murk-Jansen's book. Might as well buy them both!
10 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lacks Academic Validity 30 Nov. 2007
By Kimberly Shephard - Published on
Format: Paperback
As a scholar of the beguines, I have become very familiar with the historiography on them. This book is not well researched and it lacks the sophistication necessary to give a satisfactory account of this group of women.

If you want something more informative, try Walter Simons' City of Ladies or Amy Hollywood's books.
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