One of the first woman authors, Julian of Norwich produced in Revelations of Divine Love a remarkable work of revelatory insight, that stands alongsideThe Cloud of Unknowing and Piers Plowman as a classic of Medieval religious literatureAfter 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


10 thoughts on “Revelations of Divine Love

  1. rachel rachel says:

    And I saw quite certainly in this and in everything that God loved us before he made us and his love has never diminished and never shall And all of his works were done in this love and in this love he has made everything for our profit and in this love our life is everlasting I don t know what sort of criteria one should use to rate this book, so I m not going to attempt it I approached it from the perspective of an agnostic leaning towards atheist, and I came out of my reading experienc And I saw quite certainly in this and in everything that God loved us before he made us and his love has never diminished and never shall And all of his works were done in this love and in this love he has made everything for our profit and in this love our life is everlasting I don t know what sort of criteria one should use to rate this book, so I m not going to attempt it I approached it from the perspective of an agnostic leaning towards atheist, and I came out of my reading experience realizing that the reason I was so unshakably stuck in this position, unable to even consider the possibility of personal belief, is because I was looking at faith in the wrong way The conservative God of the political right wing and the forced church attendance of my childhood were never going to have any spiritual impact on me But a God of love, discovered on my own terms, could and would Thinking of God as existing not in epistemological terms but in spiritual terms in human manifestations of love family, friends, and the man Jesus had a powerful effect So many times, Julian would mention that sin and times of suffering only exist to help bring the sufferer into the fold of God s love, which is stronger and outlasts all suffering It has been a miserable year for me and I picked this book up not understanding why I did As I read it, I felt my anxiety relax this while standing in the bookstore on a browse trip, even before the realization that a part of me might be susceptible to actual, genuine belief.I still believe that faith or lack of faith is a highly personal feeling, so it is not something I plan to talk about too much beyond this review But I will say that personally, I didn t realize how much of an impact this book and 22 in particular had on me For although the dear humanity of Christ could only suffer once, his goodness makes him always ready to do so again he would do it every day if it were possible and if he said that for love of me he would make new heavens and a new earth, it would be but little in comparison, for he could do this every day if he so wished, without any hardship but to offer to die for love of me so often that the number of times passes human comprehension, that is the most glorious present that our Lord God could make to a man s soul, it seems to me.Until I went to church willingly this morning for the first time in years, just to see if it felt differently, and it was so moving to be there after internalizing all of these things maybe even believing them for once in a rare while that I almost cried.Time will tell if this reaction stands Being naturally skeptical, I m sort of inclined to chalk up these new feelings to Julian s hypnotically lovely prose rather than any real faith But again, as I type this and think about the book, my usually tense body is calm So I don t know


  2. Jan-Maat Jan-Maat says:

    From about four in the morning until nine on the eighth of May 1373, Julian of Norwich, then thirty years old, sick and believing herself to be near to death, had a series of visions of Christ After this she had a vision of the Devil he had tile red skin, dark freckles, red hair, white teeth and smelt terrible view spoiler thank goodness, my skin isn t exactly tile red in colour hide spoiler before seeing Christ again that night and then the Devil again who upon departing left only his From about four in the morning until nine on the eighth of May 1373, Julian of Norwich, then thirty years old, sick and believing herself to be near to death, had a series of visions of Christ After this she had a vision of the Devil he had tile red skin, dark freckles, red hair, white teeth and smelt terrible view spoiler thank goodness, my skin isn t exactly tile red in colour hide spoiler before seeing Christ again that night and then the Devil again who upon departing left only his awful stink behind him It then took her between fifteen years and twenty years, less three months, to come to an understanding of the meaning of the visions that she experienced At some point she then presumably dictated the book that we can read today.Julian s visions as spiritual literature don t seem to have been particularly well known in the middle ages It survives in one manuscript of a short version and three manuscripts of a long version, the oldest of which dates from the fifteenth century However Julian as a person who had visions was well enough known in her own lifetime for Margery Kempe view spoiler Margery s spiritual practise was very different to Julian s hide spoiler to seek her out and visit her The book s wide availability today probably reflects its very domestic spirituality, its joyful message, and its almost complete lack of personal or contemporary detail while might serve to alienate and distance a reader Julian is associated with Norwich In the fourteenth century this was one of England s largest towns She lived there at a time of on going war with France and occasional outbreaks of the plague, but none of this intrudes on what she has to say We don t know if she was married, or a mother, owned land or practised a craft or even where she was born The whole narrative is at once completely personal, focused on her experience of seeing Christ, and yet at the same time striped of all personal details to the point that she is not just an everywoman but in effect an anybody, my reading of The Hollow Crown to give me some context beforehand turned out to be of no advantage except for showing how disconnected Julian s story appears on a casual reading to be from her cultural and social surroundings view spoiler details though like her description of the Devil and perhaps some of the imagery might put her in a specific cultural context if one was familiar enough with the iconography and varieties of spiritual practise in fourteenth century eastern England hide spoiler.There are a couple of partial exceptions to this timelessness in the 170 odd pages of this printed edition, such as an extended metaphor of Christ and Adam as master and servant and a single reference to saint John of Beverley who is the only British saint she mentions view spoiler it is tantalising that she mentions a Yorkshire saint rather than one from East Anglia like St.Edmund for instance, and not a saint with a supra regional cult hide spoiler Apart from that, the personal and social context has been almost entirely stripped away to give us Julian and her sense of revelation The text plunges us straight into her visions This produces a curious, intense effect that is also imprecise, disembodied and abstract For most of the book we are apparently with her while she has a series of visions from the moment that a Priest, called to her bedside, holds up a crucifix and she begins to see it bleeding At the same time she is not just narrating what she saw but telling us what she understood those visions to mean even though that understanding was only reached many years after the initial experience This very literary choice on her part creates immediacy for the reader, but is entirely artificial Looking back on reading it it is not even always entirely clear, as with the vision of being under the sea and seeing the stones there all covered with green moss, what she saw on that morning of the 8th of May and what she saw at some later date Clearly that kind of a distinction was not what she aimed to achieve While towards the end of the work she saysThis place is a prison, and this life a penancep.200 andWe are nothing but sin and wretchednessp.201 this runs counter to the force of her experience which was of overwhelming faith in God in the person of Jesus and his love Jesus is father and mother and brother for her She has a nice description of Christ as a mother watching their child stumble as they learn to walk, or in a slightlybloody image the wound in Christ s side from the crucifixion allows the Christian to enter into God, which is likened to the intimacy and love of a mother breast feeding her child view spoiler as far as I know imagery of Jesus as a mother is unusual in any period,typical of the time is the image of Christ on the cross hide spoiler The two spiritual sicknesses that Julian feels are important are sloth or impatience in the form of making heavy weather of hardship and suffering and despair Against this she experiences God comforting her by telling her you shall not be overcome.Faith is at the centre of her experience at one point In my foolish way I had often wondered why the foreseeing wisdom of God could not have prevented the beginning of sin, for then, thought I, all would have have been well p.103 The answer is of course that Sin was necessary and she feels the problem that Ivan raises in The Brothers Karamazovwe see deeds done that are so evil, and injuries inflicted that are so great, that it seems to us quite impossible that any good can come of themp.109 The answer again is faith That everything will be clear in Heaven Since Julian s emphasis is on the compassion and love of God, her experience is of a joyful message God in Julian s vision is not angry and wrathful, but loving.Although she was an Anchorite view spoiler a form of devotion for those who lacked the head for heights to become Stylites with the permission of the ecclesiastical authorities an anchorite lived in a cell generally attached to a church in which case the cell would have a window on to the church so the Anchorite could participate in Church services without having to leave their cell Sometimes the anchorite would be walled into the cell, which would then have a window to the outside world for vitals to be passed in and waste products to be passed out, as well as for people to consult the Anchorite to tap into their spiritual power hide spoiler , Julian s spirituality as revealed in this book is entirely domestic It does not require monastic retreat, pilgrimage, good works or even a hair shirt It is something that can apparently be lived in any circumstances by anybody This is a revelation of the power of faith in giving a person confidence and joy in their life It isof a piece with later forms of Christian spiritual life, Luther s salvation by faith alone comes to mind, and is a long way from the angry saints of an earlier age always out to punish those who were insufficiently respectful towards them, or the need to flee the world for a desert place to suffer for salvation of the desert fathers or even the Cistercians who could not bare to set up one of their monasteries within hearing of the bells of another monastery By contrast here Christ and the Devil come to Julian while she is in bed It could hardly behomely There are some particularly striking moments Julian seeing all that God has created as a tiny thing, the size of a hazelnut, in Jesus hand Later the soul located in her heart is by contrast as large as an eternal kingdom and ruled over by Christ, while Christ s thirst to have everyman inside himself is so great that God is continuously drinking, drawing all in.I wouldn t recommend this particular edition which is a translation into modern English, I d look out for a version with the original text and a translation on the facing page if there is such a thing The introduction didn t strike me as helpful with it s discussion of her heresy without any attempt to put Julian in her religious context Also my second hand copy, sold for six shillings in 1966, split in two while I was reading it, there s no life in these short lived paper books compared with a decent work in vellum


  3. Ines Ines says:

    This reading was really special, at first i was curious and I decided to read this book because I really liked the cover only, found it in my father s bookshelves I had no precise reason for a book with such a unique subject, as can be the mystical revelations of the Saints.Instead, the revelations and commented words are very smooth, so the reading is likable and never verbose.The contemplation of the Beatitude of our Lord Jesus Christ all the theme on which the revelations relate, and t This reading was really special, at first i was curious and I decided to read this book because I really liked the cover only, found it in my father s bookshelves I had no precise reason for a book with such a unique subject, as can be the mystical revelations of the Saints.Instead, the revelations and commented words are very smooth, so the reading is likable and never verbose.The contemplation of the Beatitude of our Lord Jesus Christ all the theme on which the revelations relate, and the grace that faith can give, when in every circumstance, even the most adverse, is a sign that everything is for a greater good The Passion and death of Christ, others are not to defeat the nowadays material condition of our life Death will not be the last word on us, but a sign of a total belonging of man to his creator, who, by dying for us, has given to us an eternal salvation.For a not believer these words can only seem a blasphemy or a shame, for those who see in Christ, the eternal salvation of our living, are a sign of a total love of our miserable and sinful condition of life In the mystery we will find eternal salvation.Questa lettura stata veramente particolare, primo, ho deciso di leggere questo libro unicamente perch mi piaceva moltissimo la copertina, scovato nella libreria di mio padre non avevo un preciso motivo per un libro con un argomento cos unico, come lo possono essere le rivelazioni mistiche dei Santi.Invece le rivelazioni e le parole commentate sono molto scorrevoli, quindi la lettura risulta piacevole e mai prolissa.La contemplazione della Beatitudine di nostro signore Ges Cristo , tutto qui il tema su cui vertono le rivelazioni, e la grazia che la Fede pu dare, quando in ogni circostanza, anche la pi avversa, segno che tutto per un bene pi grande La Passione e la morte del Cristo, altri non sono per sconfiggere il qui ed ora materiale del nostro vivere La morte non sar l ultima parola su di noi, ma segno di una appartenenza totale dell uomo al suo creatore, che ndo per noi ci ha donato una salvezza eterna.Per un non credente queste parole possono solo sembrare una bestemmia o una vergogna, per chi vede nel Cristo, la salvezza eterna del nostro vivere, sono segno di un a totale della nostra condizione misera e peccatrice di vita Nel mistero troveremo la salvezza eterna


  4. David Sarkies David Sarkies says:

    Visions of a Medieval Mystic28 January 2012 I discovered this book when my Bible College lecturer mentioned it and then proceeded to mock it for the rest of the lecture Once the lecture had finished I went straight to the library, located it, and borrowed it, and I must admit that I quite enjoyed it it was a much easier read than An Imitation of Christ Basically the book is about a series of 16 visions that a female recluse had in the 1300s and her interpretation of these visions The story Visions of a Medieval Mystic28 January 2012 I discovered this book when my Bible College lecturer mentioned it and then proceeded to mock it for the rest of the lecture Once the lecture had finished I went straight to the library, located it, and borrowed it, and I must admit that I quite enjoyed it it was a much easier read than An Imitation of Christ Basically the book is about a series of 16 visions that a female recluse had in the 1300s and her interpretation of these visions The story goes that Julian of Norwich wanted to have a revelation from God and then one day fell extremely ill, and while she was ill she had a series of 16 visions in which she learnt about God s loving nature It is not the most theologically sound book that I have read, and there are a few areas that I simply don t agree with, namely that God s love is incompatible with his being angry, and that because of God s love, sin does not matter as much, but it does delve deeply into grace and is a book in which God s love that is demonstrated through his death upon the cross is explored deeply What stands out the most about this book is how Julian breaks through the gender barrier, for at the time theology is very much a male dominated discipline, and though things have changed, Julian was writing in the 14th century, and it further appears that she was not as well versed in the scriptures as others probably where Yet for a book to have lasted for so long from a time when a recluse woman who had visions and then taught from them and was not burnt as a witch is impressive There are a couple of things I ve noticed about her teachings if that is what you wish to call it Firstly, everything occurs in threes Okay, she has 16 visions, but as she describes these visions, she always describes them in triplets, which reflects the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit The second thing is how she explores the feminine nature or what she sees as the feminine nature of God, and she generally expresses that Jesus is the mother, however that is something that I don t necessarily see as entirely supportive simply because my reading of the scripture indicates that God is male, and if there is any feminine aspect to God then it is the church That does not necessarily mean that God does not have feminine characteristics, but it is not something that I have any desire to speculate on at this time


  5. Quirkyreader Quirkyreader says:

    This was a moving testimony by a woman in great pain who used her faith to get through it.


  6. Saralyn Saralyn says:

    The first book known to have been written by a woman in the English language Julian is loved by feminist theologians and Catholic conservatives alike Out of her mystical visions of Christ, comes an exploration of the feminine aspects of God, the problem of evil and suffering, and God s love for humanity Most known for the phrase all shall be well , but I also love Love was His meaning I love this book.


  7. Stephanie Ricker Stephanie Ricker says:

    Medieval Lit sometimes you are so cool, and other times you make me want to stab my eyes out with a quill pen.Julian of Norwich falls into the category of written dream vision, of which there seems to have been jillions in the middle ages Nobody just had regular dreams, oh no they had religiously significant dreams that must be recorded for all to read about and for professors today to torture their students with Thanks, Julian Thanks a bunch.In all seriousness, I appreciate her sincerity a Medieval Lit sometimes you are so cool, and other times you make me want to stab my eyes out with a quill pen.Julian of Norwich falls into the category of written dream vision, of which there seems to have been jillions in the middle ages Nobody just had regular dreams, oh no they had religiously significant dreams that must be recorded for all to read about and for professors today to torture their students with Thanks, Julian Thanks a bunch.In all seriousness, I appreciate her sincerity and obvious depth of belief Julian was an anchoritess, meaning she chose to be walled into a small cell attached to a church to have the time and peace to contemplate her visions and write them down Pretty serious jazz Her images and discussion of God as mother are theologically sound, even if she does carry them a little too far kinda vampiric with the whole drinking the blood of Christ thing I also liked the line All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well Apparently T.S Eliot did too, because he put it in his poetry So I guess you re not all bad, Julianbut I just can t bring myself to like most dream visions I ll stick to the Dream of the Rood, at least that s in Old English


  8. booklady booklady says:

    Julian likes lists So do I At another time in my life, her writings might have sounded like an old time sermon The recording I listened to read by Pam Ward and produced by Hovel Audio did use many quaint unfamiliar expressions And yet, I found myself compelled to love Julian s Gracious Lord , so I might be able to claim as she did, Our courteous Lord endlessly beholds us in this work, rejoicing And we please him best by wisely and truly believing these things, and by rejoicing with him Julian likes lists So do I At another time in my life, her writings might have sounded like an old time sermon The recording I listened to read by Pam Ward and produced by Hovel Audio did use many quaint unfamiliar expressions And yet, I found myself compelled to love Julian s Gracious Lord , so I might be able to claim as she did, Our courteous Lord endlessly beholds us in this work, rejoicing And we please him best by wisely and truly believing these things, and by rejoicing with him and in him For as truly as we shall be in the bliss of God without end, praising and thanking him, so truly we have been in the foresight of God, loved and known in his endless purpose from time without beginning In this unbegun love he made us and in the same love he keeps us and never allows us to be hurt in a way by which our bliss might be lost Therefore when the last day is called and we are all brought up above, then we shall clearly see in God the secret things which are hidden from us now Then shall no one be stirred to say in any way Lord, if it had been so, then it would have been well But rather, we shall all say with one voice Lord, may you be blessed for it is so, and it is well and now see we truly that all things are done as you ordained before anything was made Set this aside for some reason guess I had too many other books started Picking it up again Listening to it as well as reading it One of the first e books I downloaded to my new Kindle Fire Looked through a number of versions of the this classic work and this was the one which looked the best hope it is


  9. Gary Beauregard Bottomley Gary Beauregard Bottomley says:

    A fourteenth century mystic s guide for the human experience written with a spiritual coherence that surpasses any other modern day book of divine appreciation I stumbled onto this book when I noticed that Sister Julianne from Call the Midwife had this book as one of her few possessions That would have been time appropriate since this book very well would have been known in 1961 or before and would had made a good companion for an Anglican nun The series also made notice of the movie Whist A fourteenth century mystic s guide for the human experience written with a spiritual coherence that surpasses any other modern day book of divine appreciation I stumbled onto this book when I noticed that Sister Julianne from Call the Midwife had this book as one of her few possessions That would have been time appropriate since this book very well would have been known in 1961 or before and would had made a good companion for an Anglican nun The series also made notice of the movie Whistle Down the Wind , a movie I never heard of, and we ended up watching it from an archive.org version


  10. Catherine Catherine says:

    I have never read anything like this I love it I will be meditating on it for a long time.