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Jan van Ruusbroec, Mystical Theologian of the Trinity

Jan van Ruusbroec, Mystical Theologian of the Trinity

Rik Van Nieuwenhove

Jan van Ruusbroec (1293—1381), a Flemish mystical theologian, was one of the most original Trinitarian thinkers in the medieval West. Yet, his works–written in Middle-Dutch–have remained relatively unknown. In this book, Rik Van Nieuwenhove presents the first major study in English of Ruusbroec’s thought. Van Nieuwenhove explores in detail Ruusbroec’s theology of the Trinity, his anthropology, Christology, and his understanding of union with God.

Van Nieuwenhove’s study reveals that Ruusbroec, while incorporating aspects of the rich theological and spiritual tradition that preceded him, wrote at the beginning of a modern age in which mystical theology changed radically in nature. Ruusbroec claimed that the divine Persons are subject to an eternal dynamic of procession or out-going from the Father, on the one hand, and returning to the shared divine essence, on the other. The human person is called to participate in this continuous ebbing and flowing by leading a life that combines contemplation and charitable activity. Ruusbroec argued that mysticism should be interpreted in terms of a transformation of the human person rather than in terms of an immediate experience of God.

Jan van Ruusbroec, Mystical Theologian of the Trinity is an innovative, original study of one of late medieval theology’s undiscovered treasures. Written in clear, accessible language, this new interpretation of Ruusbroec’s theology will appeal to all those interested in mysticism, medieval theology, and the doctrine of the Trinity.

ISBN: 978-0-268-03261-6
264 pages
Publication Year: 2003

Rik Van Nieuwenhove is a lecturer in theology at the School of Hebrew, Biblical, and Theological Studies, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland.

“Rik van Nieuwenhove’s book on Ruusbroec’s theology is perfectly timed . . . Now we have a sure and illuminating guide to these texts which we can read in an excellent critical edition . . . This book is already an excellent introduction to Ruusbroec’s thought. It will no doubt become a standard introduction to the Flemish mystic’s theology.” — Sixteenth Century Journal

“Van Nieuwenhove argues that the Jamesian interpretation of Ruusbroec’s mysticism, a consequence of the modern focus on mystical experience, has led to a disregard for Ruusbroec’s mystical theology, which, according to the author, is centered in his Trinitarian theology. . . . Van Nieuwenhove has provided us with a valuable counterbalance to the phenomenological interpretation of Ruusbroec’s mysticism that dominates Ruusbroec studies at present. His work must be read by all who are interested in Ruusbroec’s thought and late-medieval mysticism in general.” — Speculum

“This is a book that is essential reading for all interested in theology and spirituality. It makes a convincing historical case for questioning modern assumptions and conceptualizations of mystical experience. . . . the author has done excellent work in providing the theological backdrop that made such Trinitarian mystical experiences possible.” — Calvin Theological Journal

“This book makes a significant contribution . . . Van Nieuwenhove offers a rich exposition of fourteenth-century Flemish mystic Jan van Ruusbroec’s theology. [It] should accomplish the author’s stated intent of making Ruusbroec known to a wider audience.” — Religious Studies Review

“With this book Nieuwenhove merits reference as the finest interpreter of Ruusbroec at the present time. Excellent notes, bibliography, and index. This book is likely to become the definitive study of Ruusbroec.” — Choice

“While Ruusbroec’s mystical theology is complex and difficult to understand, the author has succeeded in writing about it in a clear manner. . . . Highly recommended for anyone interested in mysticism and in a more specific way in Ruusbroec’s mystical theology.” — Catholic Library World

“. . . A comprehensive yet highly readable study of the theology of Ruusbroec. Van Nieuwenhove has given us a . . . provocative and stimulating introduction to this man’s thought.” — Theology Today

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Jan van Ruusbroec, Mystical Theologian of the Trinity

Rik Van Nieuwenhove

 Jan van Ruusbroec, Mystical Theologian of the Trinity
Cloth Edition
Paper Edition

Jan van Ruusbroec (1293—1381), a Flemish mystical theologian, was one of the most original Trinitarian thinkers in the medieval West. Yet, his works–written in Middle-Dutch–have remained relatively unknown. In this book, Rik Van Nieuwenhove presents the first major study in English of Ruusbroec’s thought. Van Nieuwenhove explores in detail Ruusbroec’s theology of the Trinity, his anthropology, Christology, and his understanding of union with God.

Van Nieuwenhove’s study reveals that Ruusbroec, while incorporating aspects of the rich theological and spiritual tradition that preceded him, wrote at the beginning of a modern age in which mystical theology changed radically in nature. Ruusbroec claimed that the divine Persons are subject to an eternal dynamic of procession or out-going from the Father, on the one hand, and returning to the shared divine essence, on the other. The human person is called to participate in this continuous ebbing and flowing by leading a life that combines contemplation and charitable activity. Ruusbroec argued that mysticism should be interpreted in terms of a transformation of the human person rather than in terms of an immediate experience of God.

Jan van Ruusbroec, Mystical Theologian of the Trinity is an innovative, original study of one of late medieval theology’s undiscovered treasures. Written in clear, accessible language, this new interpretation of Ruusbroec’s theology will appeal to all those interested in mysticism, medieval theology, and the doctrine of the Trinity.

ISBN: 978-0-268-03261-6

264 pages

“Rik van Nieuwenhove’s book on Ruusbroec’s theology is perfectly timed . . . Now we have a sure and illuminating guide to these texts which we can read in an excellent critical edition . . . This book is already an excellent introduction to Ruusbroec’s thought. It will no doubt become a standard introduction to the Flemish mystic’s theology.” — Sixteenth Century Journal

“Van Nieuwenhove argues that the Jamesian interpretation of Ruusbroec’s mysticism, a consequence of the modern focus on mystical experience, has led to a disregard for Ruusbroec’s mystical theology, which, according to the author, is centered in his Trinitarian theology. . . . Van Nieuwenhove has provided us with a valuable counterbalance to the phenomenological interpretation of Ruusbroec’s mysticism that dominates Ruusbroec studies at present. His work must be read by all who are interested in Ruusbroec’s thought and late-medieval mysticism in general.” — Speculum

“This is a book that is essential reading for all interested in theology and spirituality. It makes a convincing historical case for questioning modern assumptions and conceptualizations of mystical experience. . . . the author has done excellent work in providing the theological backdrop that made such Trinitarian mystical experiences possible.” — Calvin Theological Journal

“This book makes a significant contribution . . . Van Nieuwenhove offers a rich exposition of fourteenth-century Flemish mystic Jan van Ruusbroec’s theology. [It] should accomplish the author’s stated intent of making Ruusbroec known to a wider audience.” — Religious Studies Review

“With this book Nieuwenhove merits reference as the finest interpreter of Ruusbroec at the present time. Excellent notes, bibliography, and index. This book is likely to become the definitive study of Ruusbroec.” — Choice

“While Ruusbroec’s mystical theology is complex and difficult to understand, the author has succeeded in writing about it in a clear manner. . . . Highly recommended for anyone interested in mysticism and in a more specific way in Ruusbroec’s mystical theology.” — Catholic Library World

“. . . A comprehensive yet highly readable study of the theology of Ruusbroec. Van Nieuwenhove has given us a . . . provocative and stimulating introduction to this man’s thought.” — Theology Today

Studies in Spirituality and Theology