God as Mother in Julian of Norwich's Revelations of Divine Love

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God as Mother in Julian of Norwich's Revelations of Divine Love

Post by Samanthajane on Thu Aug 23, 2018 7:11 pm

In his introduction to the Paraclete Press edition of Julian of Norwich’s Revelations of Divine Love, Father John-Julian writes:

“Julian’s unapologetic treatment of Christ as Mother is, without doubt, the finest and most sophisticated treatment of that subject in all of Christian literature. It is only our contemporary ignorance of the classical Christian mystics and theologians, however, that leads us to think of this as a “new idea” for Julian—it is a venerable tradition supported by Adam of Perseigne, Aelred, Albert the Great... and Holy Scripture itself. It is not, therefore, surprising, that Julian should present this idea as unexceptional—not as some devastatingly radical concept. And we do a great injustice to Mother Julian if we assign to her even the faintest “feminist” motivations or intentions in the declaration of Christ’s Motherhood.” (xi-xii)
In light of this, it is the intention of this essay to examine the theological tradition of Christ as Mother, its conventions, and its phenomenology, in order to establish to what extent Julian of Norwich’s representations of Christ as mother differ or agree with the predominant features of this tradition. Having established this, then, this essay will also discuss whether Julian’s version of this tradition can be read and understood using feminist theories - particularly feminist theories surrounding gender roles and binaries - and whether or not it would be anachronistic to do so.

Main texts:

John-Julian, J (ed.) Revelations of Divine Love. Paraclete Press: 2011.

Healy-Varley, Margaret. “Wounds Shall Be Worships: Anselm in Julian of Norwich's Revelation of Love,” The Journal of English and Germanic Philology, vol. 115, no. 2, 2016. pp. 186-212.

Caspar, Ruth. "’All Shall Be Well’: Prototypical Symbols of Hope,” Journal of the History of Ideas, vol. 42, no. 1, 198. pp. 139-150.

Pagels, Elaine H. “What Became of God the Mother? Conflicting Images of God in Early Christianity.” Signs, vol. 2, no. 2, 1976, pp. 293–303.

Jost, Jean E. “Reconstructing a Medieval Feminine Aesthetic.” Christianity and Literature, vol. 47, no. 2, 1998, pp. 229–239.

Samanthajane

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