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Julian of Norwich and the Mystical Body Politic of Christ Julian of Norwich and the Mystical Body Politic of Christ

Frederick Christian Bauerschmidt

Narrated by Capt. Kevin F. Spalding USNR-Ret

Available from Audible

Book published by University of Notre Dame Press

In May 1373, the English mystic Julian of Norwich was healed of a serious illness after experiencing a series of visions of the Blessed Virgin and of Christ’s suffering. Her account, A Revelation of Love, is considered one of the most remarkable documents of medieval religious experience.

In Julian of Norwich and the Mystical Body Politic of Christ, Frederick Bauerschmidt provides a close and historically sensitive reading of Julian’s Revelation of Love that addresses the relationship between our understanding of God and our vision of human community. By locating Julian’s images of Christ’s body within the context of late medieval debates over the nature and extent of divine power, Bauerschmidt argues that Julian presents an alternative account of divine power in which the crucified body of Christ becomes the locus and shape of divine omnipotence.

For Julian, divine power serves as the norm of all human exercise of power, rendering the possibility of the “mystical body politic of Christ” as the exemplary form of human community. In this reading, the theological is irreducibly political and the political is irreducibly theological. As such, Bauerschmidt shows Julian to be both a theologian of the first rank and one who “imagines the political.”

Frederick Christian Bauerschmidt is Professor of Theology at Loyola University Maryland and a permanent deacon of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, assigned to Corpus Christi parish. He holds a BA from the University of the South (1984), an MAR from Yale Divinity School (1989) and a PhD from Duke University (1996). He has worked in a seafood processing plant in Alaska, hitchhiked from British Columbia to east Tennessee, and once slept under a bridge in Germany. In more recent years he has led a quite life.


“With astonishing lucidity, Bauerschmidt proves himself to be a most delicate reader of Julian at the same time as he draws, always with relevance, on a range of powerful contemporary theorists to facilitate our understanding of the scope, depth, and contemporary force of Julian’s mystical and political theology.”

—David Aers, James B. Duke Professor of English and Director of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Duke University

“Much recent writing on the medieval ‘mystical’ traditions seems either to take a thin slice of concepts through the complex matrix of historical context, or else to offer historical focus at the expense of contemporary relevance. Bauerschmidt’s Julian of Norwich and the Mystical Body Politic of Christ is a remarkable achievement of synthesis between a theologico-political analysis of distinct contemporary relevance and historical faithfulness to Julian’s own fourteenth century world.”

—Denys Turner, H.G. Wood Professor of Theology at the University of Birmingham, England

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University Press Audiobooks