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date: 05 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

To grasp the legitimacy of cataphatic mystical theology, it is important to move beyond medieval binaries of power, gender, and literacy. Instead, cataphasis and visionary mysticism should be re-examined as practices of active spatial projection, navigation, and annotation. Historical instances from pre-modern Christianity and modern space theories suggest various ways to reconceive mystical theologies as fundamentally spatial, even geometrical, phenomena. This model is applied to Hildegard of Bingen’s major works, Scivias and Liber divinorum operum. In both texts, Hildegard’s images construct complex spaces of enclosure, from Mary’s womb to the cosmic egg to God’s unfathomable Wisdom. But where her images remain static allegories in the earlier work, in the later they manifest greater mobility and depth, demanding a more spatialized hermeneutics. The example of Hildegard’s visionary mysticism suggests that space is a useful category for understanding the nature of cataphasis and the limits of apophasis today.

Keywords: Hildegard of Bingen, mysticism, space, visions, via negativa, apophatic, geometry, Nicholas of Cusa, sphere, image

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