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Mystics Paperback – December 19, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (December 19, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195300394
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195300390
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 5.9 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #282,333 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


"In an era of growing interest in mysticism the need for introductions that are clear and accessible without sacrificing scholarly rigor and depth of understanding is great. Few books meet this exacting standard, but William Harmless's Mystics proves that the balance between outreach and analysis is not an impossible task. Harmless's Mystics, based on years of classroom experience in teaching mysticism, is a model for a concise and thoughtful approach to this intriguing, but difficult, topic. It will be necessary reading for all those who wish to explore the message of the mystics." --Bernard McGinn, Emeritus Professor at the Divinity School of the University of Chicago and author of The Presence of God: A History of Western Christian Mysticism


"Harmless has provided a deep and readable history and commentary on the mystics he has chosen. His judicious selection ofpersons and texts, joined by his insightful discussions, make for a text indispensable to any graduate course on the history of spirituality."--Religion


"Developed for classroom use (where it would likely be the highlight of the course), Harmless's book deserves readership by anyone seeking entry into a study of mystics and why they matter." --Theological Studies


"Mystics is firmly rooted in the best scholarship, but it is also pitched low enough for readers new to the subject. Teachers will find that it makes an excellent itnroductory text. Perhaps the highest recommendation I can give this book is to say that I intend to assign it to my own students." --Commonweal


"This book opens up a new area of study for specialists in the history and language of the Nordic countries, offering a tantalizing range of insights that invite further investigation." --peculum


About the Author

William Harmless, S.J., is Professor of Theology at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. He has been a member of the Society of Jesus since 1978 and specializes in the history and theology of early Christianity. He is the author of Augustine and the Catechumenate and Desert Christians: An Introduction to the Literature of Early Monasticism.

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Customer Reviews

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His choice of mystics and topics makes the book a great read.
Digna
"For Rahner," writes Harmless, "mystics matter because they are paradigms of the human condition. They make clear a God who reveals God's self" (p. 268).
Kerry Walters
His love for early Church history is contagious and drew me into a deeper sense of the founding fathers and the Saints.
James Labadie

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Kerry Walters VINE VOICE on January 1, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've been teaching college-level courses on mysticism for a lot of years, and I've used lots of different secondary commentaries to try to help students (and myself!) better appreciate the writings of the mystics we read. But I've never quite been satisfied with any of them.

Now, Jesuit scholar William Harmless (what a wonderful name!) has published a book on mysticism (which he modestly calls an introduction) that overwhelms me with its insight and method. Harmless adopts what he calls a case study approach. Instead of talking in general terms about mysticism and then illustrating the general analysis with specific references to individual mystics--an enterprise that has obvious procrustean dangers--he prefers to focus on individual mystics, fulling exploring their biographies and historical contexts as well as their writings, and letting the case studies guide the general discussion. His concern not to "impose some predefined, extrinsic framework" (p. 225) on the mystics he explores--Merton, Bernard of Clairvaux, Hildegard of Bingen, Eckhart, Evagrius Ponticus, Rumi, and Dogen--really does invite the reader to experience the richness of their words and experiences, rather than too quickly tucking them into neat conceptual pigeonholes.

Harmless' final chapter, in which he explores the question of how best to define mysticism, is the single best short analysis I've ever read.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By D. Niedringhausz on August 12, 2008
Format: Paperback
If I could give this book 6 stars I would. The author's gift for explaining important, though complex issues of concern for the dozen mystics discussed is amazing. Although the majority of the chapters are devoted to Christian mystics, I was genuinely impressed by the non-judgmental, thoroughly objective handling of Zen Buddhist and Islamic (Rumi) mystics. This work is truly a delight to read and will give the desire to explore the lives and works of lesser known souls who devoted themselves to finding an ultimate reality.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Didaskalex VINE VOICE on September 1, 2008
Format: Paperback
"Uncontrolled, the hunger and thirst after God may become an obstacle, cutting off the soul from what it desires. If a man would travel far along the mystic road, he must learn to desire God intensely but in stillness, passively and yet with all his heart and mind and strength." Aldous Huxley

Revival of Mysticism:
Why are writings by Thomas Merton and Matthew Fox so popular today? Why did Dr. Inge, late dean of St. Paul's (known as the Gloomy Dean) profoundly interested in Mysticism but not liturgy, writing "Christian Mysticism,' and supporting Evelyn Underhill? He was an advocate of 'Personal Religion'.
Recently, a mystical sister said, "... our connection with our souls, our missions on earth as souls, and our experiences of God within our souls are the most important parts of life. ... So, we are not satisfied with the ideas about soul, God, or spirituality. Instead of just thinking about interesting spiritual concepts, we seek, find, and develop the deepest experiences of soul, light, and God."

Mysticism is not Theosophy!
J. D. Buck gave, in June 1897 Theosophy Magazine, a distinctive definition, "Mysticism is not Theosophy, though there are certain elements common to both, and the two terms have been often applied by different writers to the same individual. No history of either Theosophy or Mysticism would be complete that left out any prominent mystic or theosophist. ... Mysticism has more often been emotional, than philosophical, and hence is strongly characterized by religious devotion. Tauler was a typical mystic and it is said of him that in his sermons he was often so wrought up by his emotions, and the idea of union with God, that he could no longer speak or stand, and was carried out fainting.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By James Labadie on August 3, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was a student of Fr. Harmless in the early 90s while in formation for ordination to the Diaconate. His love for early Church history is contagious and drew me into a deeper sense of the founding fathers and the Saints. I would also recommend his study of Augustine "Augustine and the Catechumenate". I have just begun to delve into the material in this study, but am enjoying the easy reading, coupled with a depth of information. Thanks Fr. H for another great work!
Deacon Jim Labadie
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