Medieval Mysticism

Niklaus Largier

in The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Emotion

Published in print December 2007 | ISBN: 9780195170214
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780199892150 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

Medieval Mysticism

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An overview of the significance of emotions in mysticism during the medieval period would not be complete without an account of two other paradigms of affective arousal, namely, the suffering of Christ and the sacrifice of martyrdom. A mysticism of the passion of Christ, and of martyrdom as an imitation of the passion of Christ, emerged already in the early times of the church. In many ways, monastic asceticism follows this pattern, emphasizing acts of self-mortification, of spiritual martyrdom, and of mystical death, often invoking a psychomachy that includes the investment of the passions as well. The metamorphosis of the passions is based on practices that include the reading of the scriptures and mystical contemplation, but also liturgy and prayer. The practice of memory through reading, liturgy, and prayer that is at the center of the Christian life is for the most part also a practice of emotional stimulation. This article examines medieval mysticism, memory and prayer, spiritual sensation and emotion, negative theology and affective mysticism, and the link between the passion of Christ and the history of emotions.

Keywords: Christ; medieval period; mysticism; suffering; martyrdom; passion; prayer; monastic asceticism; memory; spiritual sensation

Article.  7905 words. 

Subjects: Sociology of Religion

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