Research question 5. Love Mysticism


(a) Christianity. What difference does it make to a longing for a union of love with the divine if that union retains the infinite difference between God and humanity (e.g. St. John of the Cross, Bernard of Clairvaux) or if the difference is overcome (e.g. Beguine mysticism; Eckhardt; or, in a more nuanced way, Julian of Norwich)?
What kind of religious consciousness is developed when erotic desire is perceived as either a stage towards love of God (Cistercian and Victorine traditions; Walter Hilton; Christian Neo-Platonists such as Marsilio Ficino) or as indistinguishable from spiritual love when directed towards God (e.g. Margery Kempe; Hadewijch, Rupert of Deutz)?

(b) Islam. In what ways does the Sufi or ‘Irfan’ tradition of love still have an effect upon religious consciousness in the modern world?
Is this effect due more to religious poetry (eg works by Rumi, Hafez, Junus Emre, Ibn Al-Farid ) than to theology (as in e.g. Al-Ghazali)?
In what ways are ‘love stories’ from the Qur’an treated differently in the narrative of poetry compared with theological commentary on the Qur’an (tafsir)?
Can Sufi treatments of love as the bond of all living things contribute to a modern scientific perspective on the organic wholeness of the cosmos?

(c) Judaism. How does the mystical tradition of celestial love as portrayed in the Kabbalah, especially The Zohar, as love of hokmah (wisdom – female) and binot (understanding – male) in God, or the love of God for Shekinah, shape the idea of human love for God and love between man and woman?
How influential are these ideas today for the Jewish religious consciousness and for Jewish imaginative literature?

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