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Silent Music: The Life, Work, and Thought of St. John of the Cross Paperback – March 22, 2004

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 174 pages
  • Publisher: Eerdmans Publishing Company (March 22, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802824951
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802824950
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,433,676 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Herrera, a professor emeritus of philosophy at Seton Hall University, examines the mystical writings of the 16th-century Spanish Saint John of the Cross. This is an academic study that draws upon (and argues with) the findings of other scholars of mysticism and assumes a working knowledge of the field. It will be appreciated by readers who are already at least somewhat familiar with Saint John’s writings. The mystic, Herrera clarifies, is not "a dreamer or a self-inflated psychopath," but one who conducts a "hard-nosed appraisal of the human condition" and prescribes "some type of moral or spiritual purification to rectify its failings." As a mystic, St. John of the Cross embodied those characteristics, seeking not just to lose himself in union with the Beloved but to stipulate the conditions by which others might follow the same rigorous path. After several introductory chapters (on mysticism, 16th-century Spain and John’s life), Herrera carefully analyzes some of the saint’s writing and poetry.
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From Booklist

Of his own commentaries, St. John of the Cross said that "the difference between poem and commentary is that between the living and the painted." Readers are well advised to keep that difference in mind as they approach Herrera's book. For his poetry, it is best to go straight to St. John, and, for painting of much the same time and place, to El Greco. For those who prefer to approach new territory with a guidebook, however, Herrera offers verbal painting of a sort that might make the poet-saint's world less strange. This includes a brief introduction to mysticism; an equally brief description of the setting in which St. John wrote; and a short biography, followed by commentary and commentary on commentary. The straightforward reading of St. John's major poems may prove useful to those encountering him for the first time, and the theological background Herrera provides will give nontheologians some idea of the issues. Bibliography and notes direct the interested to more extended treatments. Steven Schroeder
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Hank on April 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
There are a number of very good books on Saint John of the Cross, including Fire Within by Thomas Dubay. The work under consideration is not well written and presents comparisons of the Saint to philosophers totally outside the historical and philosophical framework of his teaching. Toward the end of the book, the author actually begins to take a negative attitude toward his subject on both the style of his writing and what he mis-perceives as antiquated ideas. Avoid this book and go for more revealing and well developed works such as the Dubay book previously mentioned.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Parker Benchley VINE VOICE on April 19, 2004
Format: Paperback
St. John of the Cross, along with his mentor, St. Teresa of Avila, is regarded by many as the greatest mystic produced by the Catholic Church. His writings are timeless, touching the same strings of the 20th century soul as they did the 16th or 19th century soul. However, unlike St. Teresa, who seems to be in the throes of a serious revival, little is known of this fascinating thinker beyond his published writings. Robert Herrera performs a worthy service for all those interested in the Spanish mystic. Herrera provides the reader with a solid look into his life and times, finishing up with an analysis of his writings. For those who have not yet gotten around to reading St. John, this is a useful introduction. For those familiar with the Saint's writings, this slim volume is a valuable companion.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While reading any work related to "St. John Of The Cross" cannot, by definition, be considered "lite" reading, this book was completely unintelligible. The author assumes that one would have immense, intricate and all encompassing knowledge of the 15th/16th century religious and political realities that were were ever-present during the time of St. John of the Cross's life.

His never ending references to subject matter unrelated to the essence of St. Johns message, created an impossible to follow reading experience that left one feeling inadequate and frustrated in trying to glean some spiritual insight from St. Johns's life.

However, this book led me to purchase the book "The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross" translated by Kavanough and Rodriguez, which has been an exceptional experience in learning about the beloved St. John and his writings.
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