Caves, Clouds and Mountains: The Apophatic Tradition

Annmarie Hughes

in Islam, Christianity and the Mystic Journey

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780748640829
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653263 | DOI:
Caves, Clouds and Mountains: The Apophatic Tradition

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This chapter discusses the meaning of caves, clouds, and mountains in the apophatic tradition of Islam and Christianity. The first section discusses the Qur'anic cave which represents the locus of revelation, safety, and Divine protection. In this section, the focus is on the ‘physical cave’ and the ‘textual cave’ which embrace and disclose the ‘hero’ or the vessel of revelation. The second section discusses a different kind of ‘unknowing’. It focuses on the interpretation of clouds and its way to perfection. The third section discusses the mountains and their resonance in the Islamic and Christian mythical tradition. In mythical traditions, mountains are seen as places of divine revelation and symbols of the ascent to divinity.

Keywords: caves; clouds; mountains; apophatic tradition; Qur'anic cave; revelation; physical cave; textual cave; divinity

Chapter.  18876 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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