Saturday, February 11, 2023

Book Review: An Explorer's Guide to Julian of Norwich

About the Book:

IVP Readers' Choice Award
Publishers Weekly Starred Review (Available here).

"All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well."

Julian of Norwich's Revelations of Divine Love is truly an astounding work: an inspired example of Christian mysticism, a unique contribution to Christian theology, the first book in English known to have been written by a woman.

But it can also be a daunting work. Veronica Mary Rolf, who has been studying Julian's text for decades, serves as a trustworthy guide for readers willing to take up and read Julian's work.

Rolf not only sets Julian's life and text in its fourteenth-century context, but she also sheds light on each of Julian's sixteen revelations. She then digs deeper into Julian's theological themes, including her innovative mystical theology of the "motherhood of God," and she offers a chapter on developing a retreat based on Julian's work. Throughout, Rolf takes a deeply contemplative approach to Julian, illuminating our understanding of this extraordinary woman, her enduring work, and the revelation that "all shall be well."

Books in the Explorer's Guide series are accessible guidebooks for those studying the great Christian texts and theologians from church history, helping readers explore the context in which these texts were written and navigate the rich yet complex terrain of Christian theology.

Read an excerpt from An Explorer’s Guide to Julian of Norwich by Veronica Mary Rolf on the publisher's website.

My Thoughts:

My evangelical upbringing taught me stories of Biblical saints and modern missionaries but avoided the Catholic saints. When I discovered Julian of Norwich, I immediately wanted to learn more about Julian and her Revelations of Divine Love. An Explorer’s Guide to Julian of Norwich by Veronica Mary Rolf proved to be an excellent introduction that examined Julian’s life, culture, spiritual experiences, and written texts.

I devoured Part One of An Explorer’s Guide to Julian of Norwich. This section contained plenty of research, including citations, and carried my interest without seeming overloaded. However, Part Two holds the shining star of the book: Chapter 6 - A Guided Tour of Julian’s Revelations. Here, I found myself captivated by Julian’s experiences, but reading slowly as her intense visions and deep explanations called for careful consideration.  Most (but not all) of Julian’s conclusions fit within the Protestant belief system, and God’s immense love for his children threads through each vision. Although the author’s explication of the Revelations of Divine Love filled most of the chapter, Rolf frequently used quotes from Julian’s texts which included some of Julian’s Middle English spelling.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading An Explorer’s Guide to Julian of Norwich by Veronica Mary Rolf and I hope to soon read this author’s translation of Julian’s Revelations of Divine Love. I learned much from this book: Julian’s biography, historical details, and spiritual insights. Five stars!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a copy of this book by the author or publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.

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