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Mystics of the Christian tradition. (Reviews).

Mystics of the Christian Tradition. Steven Fanning. Routledge. [pounds sterling]45.00. 279 pages. ISBN 0-415-22467-5. Mystics seek to know God while stressing 'the inability of human reasoning to know the incomprehensible deity'. Knowledge comes not through reason but through 'experience' or 'intuition' of God and mystics have been part of Christianity from the beginning, from Pseudo-Macarius to Thomas Merton. All religions have their own mystics and even Mohammed claimed a divine union with God while traipsing about the desert.

The author argues that Christianity was in origin a mystical religion but in time two forms emerged: the major (non-mystical, more rational, credal and with an emphasis on hierarchical authority) and minor (mystics aiming at a direct reception of the Holy Spirit). This volume, however, is a 'wieldy one-volume introduction to two millennia of Christian mystics'. The shortness of the book means that the author proceeds in a stately but well-timed pace. There is an introduction about mysticism in the Graeco-Roman world and in the early days of Chrisitanity. From then we move to the Eastern Church, the Western Church in the Middle Ages, Europe in the early modern period with an emphasis on the Reformation and the growth of mysticism in Spain and France and, in the final chapter, post-Reformation mystics in England and America. There is also a glossary, 'timeline' and bibliography.
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Publication:Contemporary Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Dec 1, 2001
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