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Revelations of Divine Love

Author(s)
Published
27/08/1998

Publisher writes

One of the first woman authors, Julian of Norwich produced in "Revelations of Divine Love" a remarkable work of revelatory insight, that stands alongside "The Cloud of Unknowing" and "Piers Plowman" as a classic of Medieval religious literature. This "Penguin Classics" edition is translated from Middle English by Elizabeth Spearing, with an introduction and notes by A.C. Spearing.

After fervently praying for a greater understanding of Christ's passion, Julian of Norwich, a fourteenth-century anchorite and mystic, experienced a series of divine revelations. Through these 'showings', Christ's sufferings were revealed to her with extraordinary intensity, but she also received assurance of God's unwavering love for man and his infinite capacity for forgiveness. Written in a vigorous English vernacular, the Revelations are one of the most original works of medieval mysticism and have had a lasting influence on Christian thought.

This edition of the Revelations contains both the short text, which is mainly an account of the 'showings' themselves and Julian's initial interpretation of their meaning, and the long text, completed some twenty years later, which moves from vision to a daringly speculative theology. Elizabeth Spearing's translation preserves Julian's directness of expression and the rich complexity of her thought. An introduction, notes and appendices help to place the works in context for modern readers.

Author Information

Julian of Norwich, (introduction by A. C. Spearing), (translated by Elizabeth Spearing)

Julian of Norwich (c. 1342 after 1416) was the first woman writer in English. Nothing is known of her background or even her real name, simply that she believed she was a messenger to all Christians because of her 'showings' from God. A.C. Spearing and Elizabeth Spearing have published numerous books and articles on medieval literature.

Judges' and contributors' comments

Cally Hammond: The first book on the list a) not written in Latin but in the vernacular, b) to have found a relatively recent prominence, and c) not written by a canonized saint of the Church. For putting love, and relationship, at the heart of Christianity, and the forgiveness of God above his judgment, and the motherliness of God above his authority, she is rightly revered.

Jenny Monds: The Revelations of Julian of Norwich is such a well-loved work that it deserves its place high on the list.

Mark Oakley: The first woman to be published in English but the only woman in this top 10 … Beautifully intimate images abound here to recall us to the fact that with God love is not only the first word but the last.

Stephen Cottrell: Apart from the Scriptures the most dog-eared and thumbed book on my shelves is Julian of Norwich. I keep being drawn back to her revelations of love to remind me that I am loved and that love is the meaning of the gospel. Again, apart from Scripture, is there another books which is so ancient and so contemporary.

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