Essential Writings of Christian Mysticism (Modern Library) Paperback – 28 Dec 2006
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No one is better equipped than Bernard McGinn to provide a thorough and balanced guide to this vast literature….This is an anthology which deserves to be read not only by those who study Christian history and theology, but by believers who long to deepen their own lives of prayer and service. --Anglican Theological
No-one is better equipped than Professor McGinn to provide a thorough and balanced guide to this vast literature. A first-class selection, by a first-class scholar. --Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury
An unusually clear and insightful exposition of major texts selected by one of the greatest scholars in the field of Christian mysticism, based on his vast erudition and uniquely sensitive interpretation. Like his other books, this one too is destined to become a classic. --Professor Moshe Idel, Hebrew University, Jerusalem
About the Author
Bernard McGinn is the Naomi Shenstone Donnelly Professor Emeritus at the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. His books include Meister Eckhart: Teacher and Preacher; Meister Eckhart: The Essential Sermons; Antichrist; and the Presence of God multivolume history of Western Christian mysticism. He lives in Chicago.
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Selections are from ancient, medieval, modern, and contemporary mystics, and from western as well as orthodox traditions. Fathers of the Desert, the Beguines, Simone Weil, Thomas Merton, Hugh of St. Victor, Symeon, Macarius, Eckhart, John of the Cross, Bernard of Clairvaux: these and many other Christian mystics are excerpted in sections that cover topics such as Biblical Interpretation, Asceticism and Purgation, Inner and Outer Practices, Trinity, Christ, Vision, Deification, and Love and Knowledge. McGinn even concludes with a section that focuses on the social/moral relevance of Christian mysticism, which would be nicely complemented by a reading of Dorothee Soelle's The Silent Cry: Mysticism and Resistance.
McGinn's book is bound to be the definitive collection for years to come. Highly, highly recommended--and highly welcome.
Paperback has 559 pages. Includes: Contents of 3 Parts and 15 Sections, Preface, Introduction with a note on the translations, Bibliography with earliest citation "Studies of English Mystics" 1906, and a page About The Editor. The three Parts are entitled: Foundations of Mystical Practice (Origen of Alexandria c.180 to Madame Guyon c.1648), Aspects of Mystical Consciousness, Implications of the Mystical Life.
The longest section is on aspects of mystical consciousness. Some remarkable sections there include Mechthild of Magdeburg on the Trinity ("I am an overflowing spring that no one can block"), and Julian of Norwich's love (`he also showed a little thing, the size of a hazel-nut in the palm on my hand. ... it is all that is made. ... It lasts and will last for ever because God loves it". The anonymous 14th century "beat upon that thick cloud of unknowing with the dart of your loving desire". There are some remarkable manifestations of the mystic life as St. Francis's stigmata, or Benedict seeing the bishop of Capua carried to heaven in a fiery sphere on angels. Perhaps my favorite quite is Meister Eckhart "The eye in which I see God is the same eye in which God sees me." Perhaps the chapter on distress and dereliction may be the most puzzling, but consoling.
The final section on implications of mysticism discusses the "dialectical relationship between the mystical and institution", between the orthodox and the edge of heresy, even Meister Eckhart was condemned. A result of contact with God, is a transformed life, and the final chapter discusses relation of contemplation and action. If your enemy is hungry. feed him Romans 12:20. The final election is Thomas Merton who in his last decade became involved in many public debates
Throughout the book, McGinn's concise writing introduces both the concepts as well as brief biographical material about the author. McGinn provides a wide selection of text, and picks the best English translation available, and if not is available, translates it himself. He does not stick to accepted Roman Catholic texts, and there are examples of Quietism, the Lutheran Johann Arndnt, Hesychast tradition in the Christian East, the poet William Blake ("to see the world in a grain of sand"), and the Quaker George Fox. Although writing about mystics is difficult, what we cannot know we can grasp, this book provides a good introduction.
I have found it an invaluable resource, authoritative and easy to use.
I will be buying ther books from Bernard McGinn!!!