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Mystical Tradition Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
Mystical Tradition: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
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Mystical experiences and practices-including dramatic visions, direct communication with the divine, intense spiritual quests, and hermetic lifestyles-are commonly associated with Eastern cultures. They are thought to be far removed from the monotheistic traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

But consider the following:

Many of the most important figures in the Jewish Bible had experiences that can be interpreted as mystical, including Moses's conversation with God as the burning bush and Ezekiel's vision of the heavenly throne-chariot.
Jesus Christ, as a figure believed to be the incarnation of God, can be seen as representing the ultimate goal of mystical thought, the unification of human with divine.
The Islamic prophet Muhammad is believed to have experienced the call of God directly through the angel Gabriel, and throughout his life he reported incidents of mystical encounters, including the divine revelation of the Qur'an, the sacred text of Islam.

In these examples, we encounter a surprising truth: that each of the great three Abrahamic religious traditions-those religions that trace their origins back to the patriarch Abraham-holds the seeds for deep mystical contemplation. But what do most of us know about these mystics and the tradition they sustained?

In Mystical Tradition: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, you explore this spiritual, literary, and intellectual heritage in these great faiths as it unfolds over three millennia. In 36 enlightening, thought-provoking lectures, award-winning Professor Luke Timothy Johnson of Emory University offers nearly unprecedented access to these seldom studied traditions.

What Is Mysticism?

But what do we mean when we speak of Western mysticism? As Professor Johnson shows, there is no single or simple definition of mysticism. In some traditions, it is rooted in intellectual discipline. In others, it's based in devotion to prayer and fasting. In still others, it's defined by ecstatic experience-a glimpse of the divine given as a gift from above.

Just consider these diverse instances of mysticism:

The writings of Jewish Kabbalah mystic Rabbi Abulafia, whose work includes practical directions for the achievement of religious ecstasy
The practice of hesychasm, through which medieval Christians recited the "Jesus prayer" to invite divine revelation
The theological texts of Jalal ad-Din Rumi, a Muslim scholar who explored the mystical implications of love through breathtaking poetry

Mystical Tradition introduces you to the many faces of mysticism, from renowned scholars to simple people striving for personal enlightenment, throughout the centuries. You also contemplate questions about the nature of mysticism itself: How are we to understand mysticism-as literally true, as poetically true, or as a delusion? What is the future of mysticism? As it becomes detached and popularized apart from its religious faiths, can mystical observances retain their original character?

The course also offers a thought-provoking perspective on the nature of human spirituality. As Professor Johnson demonstrates, mystical strains of thought have permeated and influenced these three great religions for centuries, despite opposition from-and, in some cases, persecution by-the mainstream religious community. As you come to see, this persistence in the face of persecution reflects something about human nature: the need to pursue ultimate knowledge and union with a transcendent power.

A Unique Opportunity

For most students, this is a unique opportunity. Many of the sources Professor Johnson draws on are unavailable to general readers. Some of them have only recently been translated into English. Professor Johnson's course offers a first-time glimpse into this tradition.

A noted religious scholar and former Benedictine monk, Professor Johnson offers an intriguing, enlightening look into these seldom studied traditions and illuminates the rich and complex relationship between mystical contemplation and the Western traditions of faith.

But perhaps most importantly, he invites you to join him as you ponder a new way to understand faith, religion, and the essence of humanity. Explore with Professor Johnson the intriguing and enriching insights that await you in Mystical Tradition: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.


01-A Way into the Mystic Ways of the West
02-Family Resemblances and Differences
03-Biblical Roots of Western Mysticism
04-Mysticism in Early Judaism
05-Merkabah Mysticism
06-Hasidim of Medieval Germany
07-Beginnings of Kabbalah
08-Mature Kabbalah-Zohar
09-Isaac Luria and Safed Spirituality
10-Sabbatai Zevi and Messianic Mysticism
11-The Ba'al Shem Tov and the New Hasidism
12-Mysticism in Contemporary Judaism
13-Mystical Elements in the New Testament
14-Gnostic Christianity
15-Spirituality of the Desert
16-Shaping Christian Mysticism in the East
17-Eastern Monks and the Hesychastic Tradition
18-Mysticism of Western Monasticism
19-Medieval Female Mystics
20-Mendicants as Mystics
21-English Mystics of the 14th Century
22-15th- and 16th-Century Spanish Mystics
23-Mysticism among Protestant Reformers
24-Mystical Expressions in Protestantism
25-20th-Century Mystics
26-Muhammad the Prophet as Mystic
27-House of Islam
28-The Mystical Sect-Shi'a
29-Appearance of Sufism
30-Early Sufi Masters
31-Limits of Mysticism-Al-Ghazzali
32-Two Masters, Two Streams
33-Sufism in 12th-14th Century North Africa
34-Sufi Saints of Persia and India
35-The Continuing Sufi Tradition
36-Mysticism in the West Today

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Tags: Mystical, Tradition, Judaism, Christianity

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