Chapter

Introduction

in Believe Not Every Spirit

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2007 | ISBN: 9780226762821
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226762951 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226762951.003.0001
Introduction

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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This book is about bodies and souls and the ways early modern people understood the relations between them as much as it is a book about the relations between the divine and the demonic. It is also a book about three quests for truth in early modern Europe: the truth of the encounter with the divine; the truth of interior movements within the soul; and the truth of somatic signs in the body. It argues that possession by spirits, be they divine or diabolic, became a major hermeneutic challenge in the period between 1400 and 1700. In their attempts to scrutinize, discern, and make sense of demonic possessions, individual men and women, as well as different Catholic institutions, developed new explanatory frameworks for the relations between the demonic and the divine, the body and the soul, interiority and exteriority, and the natural and the supernatural. The book explores the triad of demonic possession, (female) mysticism, and discernment of spirits as three interrelated expressions of the spiritual climate of early modern Europe.

Keywords: body; soul; divine; exteriority; demonic possessions; spirits; somatic signs; Europe; supernatural; mysticism

Chapter.  4277 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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