Visions of a medieval mystic

Revelations of Divine Love - Julian of Norwich, Clifton Wolters

I discovered this book when my Bible College lecturer mentioned it and then proceeded to mock it for the rest of the lecture. Once the lecture had finished I went straight to the library, located it, and borrowed it, and I must admit that I quite enjoyed it (it was a much easier read than An Imitation of Christ. Basically the book is about a series of 16 visions that a female recluse had in the 1300s and her interpretation of these visions.


The story goes that Julian of Norwich wanted to have a revelation from God and then one day fell extremely ill, and while she was ill she had a series of 16 visions in which she learnt about God's loving nature. It is not the most theologically sound book that I have read, and there are a few areas that I simply don't agree with, namely that God's love is incompatible with his being angry, and that because of God's love, sin does not matter as much, but it does delve deeply into grace and is a book in which God's love that is demonstrated through his death upon the cross is explored deeply.


What stands out the most about this book is how Julian breaks through the gender barrier, for at the time theology is very much a male dominated discipline, and though things have changed, Julian was writing in the 14th century, and it further appears that she was not as well versed in the scriptures as others probably where. Yet for a book to have lasted for so long from a time when a recluse woman who had visions and then taught from them and was not burnt as a witch is impressive.


There are a couple of things I've noticed about her teachings (if that is what you wish to call it). Firstly, everything occurs in threes. Okay, she has 16 visions, but as she describes these visions, she always describes them in triplets, which reflects the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. The second thing is how she explores the feminine nature (or what she sees as the feminine nature) of God, and she generally expresses that Jesus is the mother, however that is something that I don't necessarily see as entirely supportive simply because my reading of the scripture indicates that God is male, and if there is any feminine aspect to God then it is the church. That does not necessarily mean that God does not have feminine characteristics, but it is not something that I have any desire to speculate on at this time.