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Title: The Reification of Rolle's Mysticism
Author(s): BOENIG, Robert
Journal: Studies in Spirituality
Volume: 12    Date: 2000   
Pages: 217-226
DOI: 10.2143/SIS.12.0.505322

Abstract :
Modern critical reactions to Richard Rolle's affective mysticism have been mixed. Particularly troubling to some is his tendency to define his mystical experiences in terms of sense perceptions. He seems to insist on literal heat, sweetness, and song as signs of ecstatic experience, while other mystics insist that such experience is radically ineffable. An analysis of Rolle's use of music helps to explain his tendency to describe things that others dare not verbalize. Though he insists on a literal heat attending his mysticism, he strongly disassociates the song he experiences from literal music. This contradiction, however, is merely apparent because mystical theology derived from Pseudo-Dionysius posits both a via negativa and via positiva: language applied to God simultaneously affirms and denies. Rolle's use of both affirmation and denial indicates that his mysticism is rooted in Pseudo-Dionysius, a truth often unappreciated by contemporary critics.

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