Department of Religion
Religious Studies 329: Christian Mysticism
Office Hours T-TH 1-:230 and MW 2:10- 3:00 PM and by appointment
I. Course Aims: This course explores the evolution and development of the Christian spiritual mystical traditions and prayer practices from the origins of Christianity to the present day. How does mysticism differ from Christian spirituality? It analyzes mysticism’s origins in philosophical traditions based upon neoplatonic theories as well as the ecstatic practices of early Christians. One goal of the course is to problematize the term "mysticism" and trace its linguistic and philosophical development through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Questions we will be asking include: Is mysticism a solitary or a communal experience? Do mystics who engage in somatic practices (such as copious weeping, bleeding, or fasting) represent a "less pure" variant of mysticism than those who prefer solitary contemplation? Do mystical practices change to reflect new societal values, such as the Protestant Reformation and the Pentecostal movements of today? Is mystical spirituality different for men and women? We will also explore the influence of mystical traditions in "mainstream" Christian spirituality.
|Merriam Webster Online Dictionary||Ten Commandments for Essay Writing|
|Taize chant: Bless the Lord||Twenty Rules Not to Follow|
|The Bible Unbound||The Academic Study of Religion|
|Augustine on the Web||Glossary of Mystical Terms|
|LBIS and E-Res|
Jantzen, Grace. Power, Gender, and Christian Mysticism. Cambridge University Press: 1995
Julian of Norwich: Showings . Paulist Press: 1978
Chadwick, Henry, trans., St. Augustine: Confessions. Oxford World Classics: 2008
Zum Brunn, E., and Épiney-Burgard, G., Women Mystics in Europe. Paragon House: 1988
--Other texts as noted on E-Res and Web Links
Recommended: full text available on Course Reserve and excerpts available on E-Res:
Bernard of Clairvaux: Selected Writings (trans. By G.R. Evans). Paulist Press: 1987
The Cloud of Unknowing and Other Works. Penguin: 1978
The Shakers, ed. Robley Whitson (Paulist Press, 1983)
Jacob Boehme, The Way to Christ , translated by Peter Erb (Paulist Press, 1978)
Pietists: Selected Writings , edited by Peter Erb (Paulist Press, 1983)
Happold, F.C., Mysticism: A Study and an Anthology
Meister Eckhart, The Essential Sermons, trans. Edmund Colledge and Bernard McGinn
Origen: An Exhortation to Martyrdom, etc., trans. Rowan Greer
III Course Requirements
Because critical reading of the primary texts is so important, there will be weekly writing assignments of about 2 typed pages based upon the reading for that week. In the Christian mystical tradition (stemming from monastic practice), reading is viewed as a meditative activity that leads to deeper understanding. These papers will serve as the basis for discussions. Active participation in discussions is a critical component of this class. That being said, you should not come to class if you are sick, especially if you are coughing or sneezing. In that case please email your weekly paper along with questions and comments you would ask in the discussion. Weekly papers cannot be turned in late.
Midterm and final exam questions will be given in advance. Both exams will be take-home and will be due as noted in the syllabus. Both exams must be typed and double-spaced.
The term paper is an opportunity for you to pursue a topic in greater detail than class time allows. It will give you the chance to read, analyze, and write clearly about a particular mystic or topic that interests you. Each student is expected to choose a particular aspect of Christian mysticism that they would like to learn more about. You are not expected to do outside research, but to read and analyze more of a particular mystic's writings in greater depth than class time allows. Topics are due March 22 (10 points). The preliminary draft is due April 17 (40 points). Final draft is due April 26 (50 points). All deadlines are final.
PART I: ORIGINS
Handout: The Roman Empire, 1- 300 C.E.
Reading: Happold, Mysticism, introduction (E-Res), pages 18-34
January 18: Judaism, mystery religions, Christianity; Ways of Knowings
Reading: Jantzen, Power, Gender, and Christian Mysticism, pages 1-18
Week 2: January 21 nd 23: Greek Intellectual Thought: Plato and Plotinus
Reading: Plotinus excerpts:
Jantzen, Power, Gender, and Christian Mysticism, pages 26-58
January 25 : Origen
Reading: Origen, Introduction to The Song of Songs (E-Res)
Jantzen, Power, Gender, and Christian Mysticism, 59-85
Jantzen, Power, Gender, and Christian Mysticism, 85-95
February 1 : Orthodoxy takes shape: Constantine and monasticism; Augustine
Reading: Chadwick, The Confessions of St. Augustine, book 1
Week 4: February 4,6,8: Augustine and the Pseudo-Dionysius Augustine
Reading: Pusey, The Confessions of St. Augustine, books 7-10, 12
Readings: Pseudo-Dionysius, The Mystical Theology
Jantzen, Power, Gender, and Christian Mysticism, 95-109
PART II: MEDIEVAL MYSTICISM: MYSTICISM OF THE HEART
Week 5: February 11,13, 15: Twelfth-Century Stabilization
Feb. 11 and 13 : The Twelfth Century Stabilization; Hildegard of Bingen and Bernard of Clairvaux
Reading: Women Mystics, "Hildegard of Bingen"Jantzen, Power, Gender, and Christian Mysticism,157-188
Bernard of Clairvaux, On Loving God
February 15 : Bernard of Clairvaux and Beatrice of Nazareth
Reading: Bernard of Clairvaux, On Loving God, and Sermons (P/Class)
Reading: Jantzen, Power, Gender, and Christian Mysticism, 123-133
Reading: Women Mystics, "Beatrice of Nazareth"
Week 6: February 18,20, 22: New Kinds of Piety
Feb. 18 : Waldensians, Cathari, Franciscans
Feb. 20 : Hadewijch of Antwerp and the Beguines
Reading: Women Mystics, "Hadewijch of Antwerp"
Feb. 22: Marguerite Porete
Reading: Women Mystics, "Marguerite Porete"
MIDTERM HANDED OUT IN CLASS PART III:
MEDIEVAL MYSTICISM: INTERIOR MYSTICISMS
Week 7: Feb. 25, 27, March 1: Meister Eckhart
Feb. 25 and 27 : Meister Eckhart
Reading: Meister Eckhart, selections (E-Res)
March 1: Eckhart, Hadewijch, and Porete
Midterm due March 1
Week 8: March 18, 20, 22: English mystics
March 18: the Cloud of Unknowing
March 20 and 22: Julian of Norwich
Reading: Julian, Revelations of Divine Love
PAPER TOPICS DUE IN CLASS.
PART IV: MYSTICISM AND THE PROTESTANT REFORMATION
Week 9: March 25, 27, 29: The Protestant Reformation
March 25 , 27, 29: Anabaptists and Pietists
Reading: Jantzen, chapter 8 and 146-159
Early Anabaptist Spirituality (E-Res): Hans Hut, Essence of True Baptism, 77-81; Leonard Schiemer, Three Kinds of Grace, 83-97; Peter Walpot, True Yieldedness, 167-171
The Pietists: Selected Writings (E-Res)August Francke, Foretaste of Eternal Life, 149-158; The Pietists: Selected Writings (E-Res)August Francke, Foretaste of Eternal Life, 149-158; Philip Spener, Pia Desideria, 31-37; Gottfried Arnold, Mystery of the Divine Sophia, 219-226; Count von Zinzendorf, Thoughts for the Learned, 291-295, and Concerning Saving Faith, 304-324
Week 10: April 1, 3, 5: Teresa of Avila; Greek Orthodox MysticismThe First Mansion, chapter 1; The Second Mansion; The Seventh Mansion, chapters 1-3
Week 11: April 8, 10, 12: Jacob Boehme
Readings: Jacob Boehme, The Way to Christ (E-Res): A Little Prayer, 56-62; The Fifth Treatise, 163-170; The Seventh Treatise, 194-226
Jacob Boehme, The Way to Christ:Book 3, "Of Regeneration", chapters 2, 3 and 4Book 4, "Of the Supersensual Life", Dialogues 1 and 2
Week 12: April 15, 17, 19: New kinds of spirituality, 18th and 19th centuries: Shakers, Quakers, and Pentecostalists
PRELIMINARY PAPER DRAFT DUE APRIL 15 IN CLASS.
Readings: "Let Your Words Be Few" (E-Res)
George Fox, Autobiography
The Shakers (E-Res)
Week 13: April 22,24, 26: Pentecostalism continued and Christian Nature Mysticism
April 22: Film: Raise the Dead
PAPER DUE APRIL 26 in class.
April 22, 24: Christian Nature Mysticism
Richard Jefferies, The Story of My Heart
Thomas Traherne, Centuries of Meditation
BRING READINGS/VIDEO/WEBSITES FOR NEXT WEEK.
Week 14: April 29, May 1 and 3 : Re-Thinking Mystic Ways Today
Reading: Jantzen, chapter 9Mama Lola (E-Res)
FINAL EXAM QUESTIONS WILL BE HANDED OUT MAY 3.
FINAL EXAM IS DUE TUESDAY, MAY 7 BY 9 A.M. HAND IN AT MY OFFICE (ASCENSION 11).