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An in-depth examination of the work of this important medieval woman mystic.
This first book-length study of Marguerite Porete's important mystical text, TheMirror of Simple Souls, examines Porete's esoteric and optimistic doctrine of annihilation--the complete transformative union of the soul into God--in its philosophical and historical contexts. Porete was burned at the stake as a relapsed heretic in 1310. Her theological treatise survived the flames, but it circulated anonymously or under male pseudonyms until 1946, and her message endures as testament to a distinctive form of medieval spirituality.
Robinson begins by focusing on traditional speculations regarding the origin, nature, limitations, and destiny of humankind. She then examines Porete's work in its more immediate historical and literary contexts, focusing on the ways in which Porete conceptualizes and expresses her radical doctrine of annihilation through contemporary metaphors of lineage and nobility.
"Porete's work is crucial to the study of late medieval mysticism and Christian women's spirituality. Not only is this the only book-length study of Porete's work, but it will set a very high standard not easily surpassed." -- Amy Hollywood, author of The Soul As Virgin Wife: Mechthild of Magdeburg, Marguerite Porete, and Meister Eckhart
"Porete's work is really the first time that annihilation and nobility, as a mystical motif, is found within a Christian milieu instead of a Sufi one. Eckhart and Kierkegaard kept coming to mind as I read about Porete's strong affirmation of the status of the individual soul in relation to God, an Eckhartian theme that is nevertheless expressed in a paradoxical language suggestive of Kierkegaard. This book will stimulate further thought and research besides making an important intellectual contribution and adding to our knowledge base." -- Thomas Mether, University of South Carolina-Columbia
Joanne Maguire Robinson is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Table of Contents
1. NOBILITY AS HISTORICAL REALITY AND THEOLOGICAL MOTIF
Reconstructing the Medieval Nobility
Hrotsvit of Gandersheim: The Beauty of High Birth
Hildegard of Bingen: Elitism Upheld
Bernard of Clairvaux: Egalitarianism Upheld Le Roman de la Rose: The Nobility of Virtue
Hadewijch of Brabant: The Soul's Noble Image and Likeness
2.THE BEGUINE CLERGERESSE AND HER MIRROR
Neither Lowly Writer Nor Lowly Reader
The Text of The Mirror of Simple Souls The Seven-Stage Path to Annihilation
Taking Leave of the Virtues and Possessing All
3. GOD, THE SOUL, AND NO-THINGNESS
God as Trinitarian Ground and Creator
The Roots of a Theological Anthropology
Creation and Fall of Humanity
Fall(s) and Return(s)
4. NOBILITY AND ANNIHILATION
The Three Beautiful Considerations
Annihilation: The Soul Without a Why
Traditional Mystical Metaphors
Nobility, Lineage, and Annihilation
A Simple Noble Soul?