This clear and comprehensive anthology, culled from the vast corpus of Christian mystical literature by the renowned theologian and historian Bernard McGinn, presents nearly one hundred selections, from the writings of Origen of Alexandria in the third century to the work of twentieth-century mystics such as Thomas Merton.
Uniquely organized by subject rather than by author, The Essential Writings of Christian Mysticism explores how human life is transformed through the search for direct contact with God. Part one examines the preparation for encountering God through biblical interpretation and prayer; the second part focuses on the mystics’ actual encounters with God; and part three addresses the implications of the mystical life, showing how mystics have been received over time, and how they practice their faith through private contemplation and public actions.
In addition to his illuminating Introduction, Bernard McGinn provides accessible headnotes for each section, as well as numerous biographical sketches and a selected bibliography.
Praise for The Essential Writings of Christian Mysticism
“No one is better equipped than Bernard McGinn to provide a thorough and balanced guide to this vast literature….This is an anthology which deserves to be read not only by those who study Christian history and theology, but by believers who long to deepen their own lives of prayer and service.” -- Anglican Theological Review
“Bernard McGinn, a preeminent historian and interpreter of the Christian mystical tradition, has edited this fine collection of mystical writings, organizing them thematically....McGinn offers helpful introductions to each thematic section, author and entry, as well as a brief critical bibliography on mysticism. Published in the Modern Library Classic series, this is a great value.” – Christian Century
"No-one is better equipped than Professor McGinn to provide a thorough and balanced guide to this vast literature. A first-class selection, by a first-class scholar." -- Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury
“This accessible anthology by the scholarly world’s leading historian of the Western Christian mystical tradition easily outstrips all others in its comprehensiveness, the aptness of its selection of texts, and in the intelligent manner of its organization.” -- Denys Turner, Horace Tracy Pitkin Professor of Historical Theology, Yale Divinity School
"An immensely rich anthology, assembled and introduced by our foremost student of mysticism. Both the scholar and the disciple will find God’s plenty here." -- Barbara Newman, Professor of English, Religion, and Classics, John Evans Professor of Latin, Northwestern University
"An unusually clear and insightful exposition of major texts selected by one of the greatest scholars in the field of Christian mysticism, based on his vast erudition and uniquely sensitive interpretation. Like his other books, this one too is destined to become a classic.” -- Professor Moshe Idel, Hebrew University, Jerusalem
About the Author
Bernard McGinn is the Naomi Shenstone Donnelly Professor Emeritus at the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. His books include Meister Eckhart: Teacher and Preacher; Meister Eckhart: The Essential Sermons; Antichrist; and the Presence of God multivolume history of Western Christian mysticism. He lives in Chicago.