Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Christliche Mystik Im Abendland: Ihre Geschichte Von Den Anfangen Bis Zum Ende Des Mittelalters

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Christliche Mystik Im Abendland: Ihre Geschichte Von Den Anfangen Bis Zum Ende Des Mittelalters

Article excerpt

Peter Dinzelbacher, Christliche Mystik im Abendland: Ihre Geschichte von den Anfangen bis zum Ende des Mittelalters (Paderborn [etc.]: Ferdinand Schoningh, 1994) 463 pp ISBN 3-506-72016-3. DM 78. The first volumes of two important surveys of Western mysticism have appeared in recent times, one in German by Kurt Ruh, and the other by the American scholar Bernard McGinn. Christliche Mystik im Abendland has the advantage over both that, while it necessarily leaves much out, it is, as a single volume, markedly more manageable in size.

Christliche Mystik im Abendland is well researched and skilfully written, as we have learned to expect from Peter Dinzelbacher. It also reflects the strengths of his oeuvre1/re as a whole, showing an encyclopaedic knowledge of medieval women's religious experience, and with careful attention being paid to the concept of mentality in his analysis. Nevertheless, it shows some of the drawbacks of the purely 'historical' approach. In the first place, it seems methodologically naive to predicate historical analysis upon the existence of religion vecu, which stands in opposition to theory. The thrust of contemporary philosophical thinking is the exact opposite, namely that theory qua speech codetermines experience; language and conceptuality do not so much reflect reality as generate it. This is the debate that Katz and others have been pursuing, and they proceed from a general problem of epistemology, although this takes on acute form in mysticism with its extreme cognitional liminality. …

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