Julian of Norwich, Theologian

Denys Turner

View Inside Price: $25.00


June 28, 2013
288 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
ISBN: 9780300192551
Paper

Also Available in:
Cloth
e-book

For centuries readers have comfortably accepted Julian of Norwich as simply a mystic. In this astute book, Denys Turner offers a new interpretation of Julian and the significance of her work. Turner argues that this fourteenth-century thinker's sophisticated approach to theological questions places her legitimately within the pantheon of other great medieval theologians, including Thomas Aquinas, Bernard of Clairvaux, and Bonaventure.

Julian wrote but one work in two versions, a Short Text recording the series of visions of Jesus Christ she experienced while suffering a near-fatal illness, and a much expanded Long Text exploring the theological meaning of the "showings" some twenty years later. Turner addresses the apparent conflict between the two sources of Julian's theology: on the one hand, her personal revelation of God's omnipotent love, and on the other, the Church's teachings on and her own witnessing of evil in the world that deserves punishment, even eternal punishment. Offering a fresh and elegant account of Julian's response to this conflict—one that reveals its nuances, systematic character, and originality—this book marks a new stage in the century-long rediscovery of one of the English language's greatest theological thinkers.

Denys Turner is Horace Tracy Pitkin Professor of Historical Theology, Yale University. He lives in New Haven, CT, and in Birmingham, UK.

"This is the best book I have seen on Julian, and one of the most energizing ventures in theology in the last several years."—John Wilson, Books and Culture

"The author writes with erudition, theological precision and flashes of humor. This is an enlightening book that makes an important and impressive addition to Julian scholarship."—Joan M. Nuth, America

“The best theological exposition of Julian to appear so far....It shows why her thinking is still of value and how one might critically engage with it.”—Brian Davies, Commonweal

“I of course knew Dame Julian as a remarkable spiritual writer but I never thought of her as a theologian. But now Denys Turner has completely overturned this narrow conception of spiritual writing by demonstrating persuasively in this lucid and innovative study, that she belongs with the finest of the medieval theologians.”—Fr. Fergus Kerr OP FRSE Honorary Fellow in the School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh

“I of course knew Dame Julian as a remarkable spiritual writer but I never thought of her as a theologian. But now Denys Turner has completely overturned this narrow conception of spiritual writing by demonstrating persuasively in this lucid and innovative study, that she belongs with the finest of the medieval theologians.”—Fr. Fergus Kerr OP FRSE Honorary Fellow in the School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh

“An exhilarating read. Piercing, sensitive, lucid - an indispensible guide to Julian's Revelation of Love. Denys Turner distils his exceptional knowledge of medieval theology to provide a clear background for the student: he illuminates Julian through comparisons with Augustine, Aquinas, Bernard, and, strikingly, Dante, while also continuing her enquiry into the fundamental mysteries of the divine.”—Elisabeth Dutton, Professor of English, Worcester College, Oxford University

 “… the single best investigation of the core issue in the theology of Julian of Norwich. No other work on Julian approaches this analysis in completeness or in subtlety of exposition…Anyone interested in Julian as a thinker will want to buy this book.”—Bernard McGinn, Professor Emeritus in the Divinity School, University of Chicago

“This book, the first attempt to consider Julian of Norwich's theology systematically by a leading theologian, marks a new stage in the century-long rediscovery of one of England's greatest theological thinkers and one of the English language's great prose stylists. Self-aware, lucidly written, and passionately argued, it will be of wide interest. An important achievement.”—Nicholas Watson, Professor of English, Harvard University

“Enlightening and essential reading.”—The Bookseller (Religion Preview)

“Masterful . . . Great theology, well considered and well-told.”—Alex Joyner, Englewood Review of Books

“Masterful . . . Great theology, well considered and well-told.”—Alex Joyner, Englewood Review of Books

"Fascinating and quietly powerful. . . . Recommended for serious college and university students and their professors as well as theologians who focus on this era."—Jennifer Stout, Library Journal

“…..a groundbreaking book about Julian the theologian….a bold and utterly compelling case that her works warrant a place in the higher echelons of rigorous, systematic theology…..Perhaps the greatest achievement of this book is that it will encourage us all to read or re-read Julian’s masterpiece.”—Jonathan Wright, Catholic Herald

"Turner is such a good, clear writer and the theological themes he picks up from Julian are so rich and central to the Christian life, that I think many readers will be able to read this book fruitfully and even with joy. He succeeds completely in what he sets out to do and it is not too much to say that this book can be transformative, not only for Julian's place within the history of Christian thought, but for readers searching for life-giving resources for contemporary Christian living."—Alex Joyner, Englewood Review of Books

"Turner's perceptive engagement with Julian's theology is deployed with great art to difficult areas of debate… What he demonstrates time and again is a scrupulousness that is able to distinguish between paradox and incoherence, but he also has the rarer skill among theologians to communicate subtle technicalities with exceptional clarity."—Brutus Green, Theology

"Turner does a great service in showing that the best mystical writing, among which Julian’s must take a high place, is always concerned with the raising of both heart and mind to God."—Stefan D. Reynolds, Journal of Theological Studies

"[This book's] value to anyone with an interest in Julian's writings, vernacular theology, or late-medieval theology in general cannot be overestimated. This book resonates with the best in [Turner's] theology: thorough but lucid, intellectually impressive but accessible, deeply humane, and often beautiful to read."—Margaret Healy-Varley, Catholic Historical Review

Listed as one of the Best Books (of the first half) of 2011 by the Englewood Review of Books
Thomas Aquinas
A Portrait

Denys Turner

View details