Spirituality and Mysticism: A Global View

Article excerpt

Spirituality and Mysticism: A Global View. By James A.Wiseman. [Theology in Global Perspective Series.] (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books. 2006. Pp. xiv, 242. $20.00 paperback.)

The author of this book is a Benedictine monk of St. Anselm's Abbey in Washington, D.C., and a long-time professor of theology at The Catholic University of America. It is part of the "Theology in Global Perspective Series" (Peter C. Phan, General Editor).This series emphasizes the interconnectedness among all people and nations and thus has a strong ecumenical, intercultural, and interreligious thrust. This volume seeks to present the topic of spirituality and mysticism in that global context.This broad context and the constraints in length dictated by the series itself understandably force the author to be highly selective in his treatment of Christian spirituality. He meets this challenge in a creative manner.

The first two chapters present various introductory material dealing with the meaning of spirituality and mysticism, as well as various aspects of biblical spirituality. Although the author clearly summarizes a great deal of information on these topics from various contemporary sources, these two chapters may seem somewhat overloaded with introductory material.

The following five chapters are devoted to a chronological treatment of selected persons and themes from the history of Christian spirituality from the second to the sixteenth century. Individual chapters are devoted to the martyrs and other witnesses in the Early Church (chap. 3); the beginnings of the monastic movement (chap. 4); the Patristic era (chap. 5); the spiritual renewal in the medieval West and East (c. 6); and Reformation Spirituality, Protestant and Catholic (chap. 7). Many of the familiar figures and movements from these centuries are treated, but mindful of the global perspective of this book, the author takes care to broaden the investigation and be inclusive of other traditions. There are sections, for example, devoted to such figures as Saint Ephrem from the Syriac spiritual tradition, Pachomius, the Coptic monastic founder, and Dhuoda a ninth-century Frankish laywoman. …