In the western Christian tradition, the mystic was seen as having direct access to God, and therefore great authority. In this study, Dr Jantzen discusses how men of power defined and controlled who should count as a mystic, and thus who would have power: women were pointedly excluded. This makes her book of special interest to those in gender studies and medieval history. Its main argument, however, is philosophical. Because the mystical has gone through many social constructions, the modern philosophical assumption that mysticism is essentially about intense subjective experiences is misguided. This view is historically inaccurate, and perpetuates the same gendered struggle for authority which characterises the history of western christendom. This book is the first on the subject to take issues of gender seriously, and to use these as a point of entry for a deconstructive approach to Christian mysticism.
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