Four Authors You Need to Know

Just as it’s so important to have a good commentary on the Bible to enhance your enjoyment of (and spiritual nurture by) scripture, so it’s also important to supplement your reading of the great mystics with scholarly books that provide insight into the theological and cultural backstories that inform the essential mystical writings of the Christian tradition. With this in mind, here are four authors that I think every student of mysticism ought to know: their writings provide a wealth of information that will make your energize and illuminate your experience of reading the writings of the mystics themselves.

As is all too often the case, some of the books by these wonderful authors are already out of print, but, or often have used copies available (let me get on my favorite soapbox again: if you are interested in reading the mystics or reading books about mysticism, buy the books! The more that books by and about the mystics sell, they will stay in print longer and more new ones will get published. But if we don’t buy these books, they’ll disappear).

Julian of Norwich
John Cassian's Three Renunciations
Hildegard's Mystical Trinity
The Feast of Saint Hildegard


  1. I’ve wanted to get Turner’s Darkness of God for years now; I’m sure its out of print, but it’d still be a good gesture. I want to read his treatment of the via negativa, and I just love that cover. Gorgeous. Very goth.

  2. Yes, it’s a very beautiful book. The paperback is still in print. Just follow this link:

  3. Your blog has given me so many wonderful books to add to my reading list (hopefully I’ll soon get around to looking into some of them.) Perhaps you’ve written about this elsewhere, but on this post you say it’s important to have a good Bible commentary, so I’m wondering: do you have any recommendations in particular?

    Right now I’m attempting a reading of the Old Testament and I’m particularly interested in commentary that is true to the Jewish roots of the text. Somehow Christian interpretations of the Old Testament (in my limited experience) seem to be… diluted… and I’m looking for something that brings to life the depth of these books. But any Biblical commentary you might recommend would be helpful.

  4. I’m really not sure about a specifically Jewish commentary. Almost from the beginning, Christianity has re-interpreted the Hebrew scriptures for its own end. I think your best bet there would be to find a bookstore that caters to the Jewish community, and see what they would recommend.

    Meanwhile, as for Christian sources, much depends on whether you want a more Catholic, liberal Protestant, or Evangelical commentary. Even within those broad categories, some texts will be more conservative than others, so that’s an issue. I personally use The Oxford Bible Commentary and the The New Jerome Bible Commentary, for scholarly single-volume Protestant and Catholic commentaries, respectively.

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