The Fourfold Sense of Scripture in Christian Mysticism

Ewert Cousins

in Mysticism and Sacred Scripture

Published in print December 2000 | ISBN: 9780195097030
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199848805 | DOI:
The Fourfold Sense of Scripture in Christian Mysticism

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This chapter explores several aspects of the relationship between mysticism and scripture in Christianity, focusing chiefly on the patristic and medieval periods. It begins with an exposition of the patristic worldview derived from scripture, since the early fathers of the church saw scripture as providing an all-encompassing environment. In such a context, it is not surprising to find that they identified theology with scripture. Such an understanding of scripture differs sharply from the perceptions of later periods. In this context, the chapter gives examples of how the patristic and medieval writers explored the mystical dimensions of this all-encompassing worldview. It focuses on the emergence of the fourfold sense of scripture, beginning with the literal level and moving into the three mystical levels. To bring this to its completion, the five spiritual senses of the soul are examined, which are activated as one progresses in the spiritual journey and which are often awakened by reading scripture.

Keywords: Christianity; mysticism; scripture; soul; spiritual senses; spiritual journey

Chapter.  10880 words. 

Subjects: East Asian Religions

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