Ramon Llull

(c. 1233—1315)

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missionary and philosopher. He was born in Majorca, then recently recovered from Islamic rule, and educated as a knight. At the age of 30 he had a vision of Christ crucified; thenceforth he devoted himself to the conversion of Islam. For nine years he remained in Majorca studying Arabic and Christian thought. In a vision on Mt Randa (c.1274) the form in which he was to set out his ideas was revealed to him; he worked this out in his ‘Art of Finding Truth’. From 1287 he travelled widely, seeking support for his plans. His one practical success was the decree of the Council of Vienne (1311–12) establishing studia of oriental languages in five universities.

In his writing Llull elaborated an approach by which he sought the conversion of Islam and of the Jews by rational argument, without recourse to the authority of Scripture. He tried to relate ‘all forms of knowledge … to the manifestations of God's “Dignities” [i.e. Divine Attributes] in the universe, taking for its point of departure the monotheistic vision common to Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, and their acceptance of a broadly Neoplatonic exemplarist world-picture’ (R. D. F. Pring-Mill). His conception of the mystic life centres in the contemplation of the Divine perfections which is achieved by the purification of memory, understanding, and will, and results in action for the greater glory of God.

Subjects: Christianity.

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