The Cambridge Companion to Christian Mysticism is a multi-authored interdisciplinary guide to the study of Christian mysticism, with an emphasis on the third through the seventeenth centuries. The book is thematically organized in terms of the central contexts, practices and concepts associated with the mystical life in early, medieval and early modern Christianity. This book looks beyond the term 'mysticism', which was an early modern invention, to explore the ways in which the ancient terms 'mystic' and 'mystical' were used in the Christian tradition: what kinds of practices, modes of life and experiences were described as 'mystical'? What understanding of Christianity and of the life of Christian perfection is articulated through mystical interpretations of scripture, mystical contemplation, mystical vision, mystical theology or mystical union? This volume both provides a clear introduction to the Christian mystical life and articulates a bold new approach to the study of mysticism.
Amy Hollywood is Elizabeth H. Monrad Professor of Christian Studies at Harvard Divinity School. She is the author of The Soul as Virgin Wife: Mechthild of Magdeburg, Marguerite Porete, and Meister Eckhart (1995); Sensible Ecstasy: Mysticism, Sexual Difference, and the Demands of History (2002) and Acute Melancholia and Other Essays (forthcoming). She has written widely on topics medieval and modern and is currently engaged in a historical, philosophical and theological exploration of enthusiasm in the modern West. She is also the editor of the Gender, Theory and Religions series for Columbia University Press and on the editorial board for the University of Chicago Press's Religion and Postmodernity series. Patricia Z. Beckman teaches in the Department of Religion and the Great Conversation program at St Olaf College. Her research and writing explore medieval women's mystical teaching and practice, especially Mechthild of Magdeburg's. She serves on the Council of the American Society of Church History and has worked as senior fellow for the Ford Foundation Difficult Dialogues project. She is an advocate for the public understanding, discussion and debate of all things religious and historical.