Christian Mysticism in the Elizabethan Age: With Its Background in Mystical Methodology

Christian Mysticism in the Elizabethan Age: With Its Background in Mystical Methodology

Christian Mysticism in the Elizabethan Age: With Its Background in Mystical Methodology

Christian Mysticism in the Elizabethan Age: With Its Background in Mystical Methodology

Excerpt

The field covered by this study of Christian mysticism in the Elizabethan Age is practically uncharted and uncultivated. This period has been looked upon as contributing little to the development of mystical literature, notwithstanding the reasonable inference that mystical writing could not have ended suddenly with the death of Rolle's followers in the fourteenth century, or have begun abruptly later with Crashaw in the Jacobean period. Religious writing in the Elizabethan era was not wholly given over to theological polemic and mere pious hymnology. That the tradition of Christian mysticism is reflected in this period with perhaps as clear force and emphasis as in any other will appear in the following pages.

To obviate the danger of constructing merely subjective standards for analysis and evaluation of individual works of mystical writers, I have strictly adhered to the traditional methodology of the mystics themselves--those who were considered as such by contemporaries and subsequent writers of mystical tracts and treatises. Although Christian mysticism especially of late has many well-informed critics and authorities, it has few historians. Accordingly Part I of this work brings together for the first time in brief compass, an historical analysis of the specific method of Christian mysticism from its beginnings in Plato to its golden age in the late medieval period. This is the necessary background for Elizabethan mysticism and, indeed, for the mysticism of any period.

Because it is the modern way to analyze mysticism chiefly in its so-called higher stages, it was necessary to point out the no less important preliminary ways or stages of the mystical life as they are reflected in mystical literature. Modern Christian mysticism owes much to the psychological acuteness of two sixteenth century Spanish mystics, St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, in expressing the higher and more complex intimacies of the divine union. Their terminology has now become classical. Yet mystics had for centuries exemplified the same basic principles and had experienced the same inner de-

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.