REL 3432: Roots of Western Mysticism Course Page


 Resources for REL 3432: Roots of Western Mysticism

  • The two most basic resources for this course are the Roots of Western Mysticism Resources page and the Who’s Who in the History of Mysticism page.
  • On using the internet for research, please read this page.
  • Tips on reading mystical writings are here.

Readings and Resources


  • CM: Nelstrop et al, Christian Mysticism
  • JN: Julian of Norwich, Showings
  • JC: John of the Cross, Selected Writings
  • GMW: Karen Campbell, ed., German Mystical Writings




Presenters (by Group)



1 Aug. 22 Introduction; Theories and History of Mysticism Experience.
  • CM: Introduction
  • Some Accounts of Mystical Experience
  • Mystical Experience Registry
    • Mystical Experiences of Famous People
    • Mystical Experiences of Regular People
2 Aug. 29 Early Mysticism; Greece and Jerusalem; Plotinus.
  • CM: 1
  • Parmenides, On Nature.
  • Plato, Phaedrus excerpt.
  • Plato, Cave Allegory.
  • Plotinus, Enneads: On Beauty (html, pdf), On The Good or the One (html, pdf)
3 Sept. 12 Early Christian Theology: The Roots of Catholic and Orthodox Mysticism. Augustine, Cappadocians, (Pseudo-) Dionysius, John Scotus Eriugena.
  • CM: 2, 3, 5
  • Augustine, Confessions (html, pdf), On the Trinity (html, pdf)
  • Dionysus, The Mystical Theology.
4 Sept. 19

Early Medieval Mysticism: Monasticism, Hildegard of Bingen.
  • CM 7, 8
  • GMW Hildegard
5 Sept. 26


Love Mysticism: Bernard of Clairvaux, Mechthild of Magdeburg.
  • CM 4
  • GMW Mechthild
  • Bernard of Clairvaux
6 Oct. 3
Guest: Ken Hanson, Judaic Studies
The Roots of Esoteric Traditions; Jewish Mysticism; Gnosticism.
  • Kabbalah – Jewish Virtual Library
  • Merkabah Texts
  • Jewish Mysticism,
  • What is a Gnostic?
  • The Gnostic World View
7 Oct. 10


Medieval English Mysticism I: Julian of Norwich.
  • CM 9
  • JN 173-247
8 Oct. 17


Medieval English Mysticism II: Julian of Norwich.
  • JN 248-343
9 Oct. 24


Speculative Mysticism: Meister Eckhart I
  • CM 10
  • GMW Eckhart: “Talks of Instruction”, “About Disinterest”, Sermons 1, 3, 4
10 Oct. 31


Speculative Mysticism: Meister Eckhart II
  • CM 11
  • GMW Eckhart: Rest of Sermons, Granum Sinapis
11 Nov. 7


The Roots of Protestant Mysticism: Eckhart, Seuse, Tauler, Theologica Germanica, Martin Luther.
  • CM 12
  • GMW Seuse, Tauler, Theological Germanica
12 Nov. 14


The Beginnings of Modern Mysticism: Jacob Boehme, Silesius, Nicholas of Cusa
  • GMW Boehme
  • Boehme, Mysterium Magnum excerpt,
  • Boehme, Signature Rerum excerpt.
  • Boehme, Mysterium Pansophicum
13 Nov. 21


Spanish Mysticism: Theresa of Avila, John of the Cross.
  • JC Dark Night of the Soul.
14 Nov. 28 Mysticism after early modernism; Epilogue; Review
  • Why Studying Mysticism is a Really Bad Idea.
15 Dec. 5 Final Exam


Course Handouts, Lecture Notes, etc.

  • Philosophical Questions About Mysticism — good essay topics in here
  • Why Studying Mysticism is a Really Bad Idea

Useful Pages for All Courses

  • The Fine (But Important) Print (html, pdf) – General instructions and standards for all courses.
  • General Comments on Grading
  • What is a Scholarly Source?
  • How to Read a Textbook
  • How to Choose a Paper Topic
  • How to Lead a Seminar
  • How to Work with Wikis
  • How to Write a Prospectus
  • How to Write an Annotated Bibliography


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