Selected Books from Stanford Article on Mysticism

Originally from here.

UPDATE: 3/20/22

I’ve removed anything related to Zen, Hinduism, Islam, or non-Christian mysticism that I could. Those books in bold I would consider as more important to the study of evangelical, Christian, or Biblical mysticism in the charismatic or Pentecostal sense. The academic study of mysticism is also plagued by the likes of William James and his descendants: atheistic philosophers and scientists taking upon themselves the ancient role of Catholic theologians, in their analysis of the mystical experiences of Christian saints. I’ve tried to filter such skeptical literature out of this list (overly relying on “credulity” or gullibility, or schizophrenia, as a way to atheistically explain away spiritual experiences: reminds me of B. B. Warfield by the way), but it probably hasn’t been perfect. So be on guard against that as well. The study of “comparative religions” in state universities is mainly to blame for this. This list isn’t really the best. The most faith-based authors in this list would probably be John Baillie, Rufus Jones, Rudolf Otto, and Teresa of Avila. A far better list would be at the bottom of the Catholic Encyclopedia article on “Mystical Theology”:

Alston, William, 1991, Perceiving God, The Epistemology of Religious Experience, Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Bagger, Matthew C., 1999, Religious Experience, Justification, and History, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Baillie, John, 1939, Our Knowledge of God, London: Oxford University Press. Church of Scotland minister.

Beer, Frances, 1993, Women and Mystical Experience in the Middle Ages, Woodbridge: Boydell Press.

Borchert, Bruno, 1994, Mysticism, Its History and Challenge, York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser. The history of mysticisms: both Christian and non-Christian.

Brunn, Emilie Zum and Epiney-Burgard, Georgette, 1989, Women Mystics in Medieval Europe,. Sheila Hughes (trans.), New York: Paragon House.

Caciola, Nancy, 2003, Discerning Spirits, Divine and Demonic Possession in the Middle Ages, Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

d’Aquili, Eugene and Newberg, Andrew, 1999, The Mystical Mind: Probing the Biology of Religious Experience, Minneapolis: Fortress Press. Considers Christian mystics, non-Christian mystics, and neuroscience–the effect of spiritual activity on the brain.

Furlong, Monica, 2013, Visions & Longings, Medieval Women Mystics, Boston: Shambhala Publications. I’m not a fan of the publisher, but there are some real prophetesses in here.

James, William, 1958, The Varieties of Religious Experience, New York: Mentor Books. Valuable for its historical influence and examination of Christian mystics, but is skeptical of Christian spiritual experiences.

Jones, Rufus M., 1909, Studies in Mystical Religion, London: Macmillan. Classic work on Christian mysticism by a Quaker scholar. Read with caution though: could be some universalism in there.

Katz, Steven T., 1978, Mysticism and Philosophical Analysis, Steven T. Katz (ed.), New York: Oxford University Press, 22–74. Kind of like Underhill: a thorough analysis of both Christian and non-Christian mysticisms.

Louth, Andrew, 2012, “Apophatic and Cataphatic Theology,” in A. Hollywood and Patricia Z. Beckman (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Christian Mysticism, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Otto, Rudolf, 1957, The Idea of the Holy, Second Edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Influenced A. W. Tozer’s The Knowledge of the Holy. Could be universalist though. Lutheran theologian.

Pike, Nelson, 1992, Mystic Union: An Essay in the Phenomenology of Mysticism, Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Teresian mysticism, etc examined.

Teresa of Avila, The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila, translated with an introduction by J.M. Cohen, New York: Penguin Books, 1957.

Turner, Denys, 1996, The Darkness of God: Negativity in Christian Mysticism, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Underhill, Evelyn, 1945, Mysticism, A study in the Nature and Development of Man’s Spiritual Consciousness, London: Methuen. I recommend with reservation. Not as important as Augustin Poulain’s Graces of Interior Prayer is to me, but still a very thorough study. However, she borrows from unorthodox mystics quite often. Not recommended for someone unfamiliar with Puritan or Wesleyan theology.

Wulff, David M., 2000, “Mystical Experience,” in Varieties of Anomalous Experience: Examining the Scientific Evidence, Etzel Cardena, Steven Jay Lynn, and Stanley Krippner (eds.), Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association, 397–440. The level of skepticism in this book is unknown. It does take a comparative religions approach, but seems to be open to the view that some people actually can have prophetic or mystical experiences and not be crazy.

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