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Mystical Tradition: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
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Taught By Professor Luke Timothy Johnson, Ph.D., Yale University,
New Releases Emory University Course No. 6130

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Recommendations 36 lectures, 30 minutes/lecture

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Religion & Theology 3.7 out of 5
Philosophy & Intellectual History 8 of 14 (57%) customers w ould recommend the
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Better Living Mystical experiences and practicesincluding dramatic visions,
Professional direct communication with the divine, intense spiritual quests, and
hermetic lifestylesare commonly associated with Eastern cultures
Course Lecture Titles
High School
and thought to be far removed from the monotheistic traditions of 36 Lectures
View All Courses Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. 30 minutes / lecture

But consider the following: 1. A Way into the Mystic Ways of


the West (info)
Many of the most important figures in the Jewish Bible had
Find a Course 2. Family Resemblances and
experiences that can be interpreted as mystical, including
Keyword or Course # Differences (info)
Moses's conversation with God as the burning bush, Joseph's
3. The Biblical Roots of Western
prophetic dreams, and Ezekiel's vision of the heavenly throne-
Mysticism (info)
chariot. 4. Mysticism in Early Judaism
LEARN MORE ABOUT Jesus Christ, as a figure believed to be the incarnation of God,
(info)
The Great Courses can be seen as representing the ultimate goal of mystical
5. Merkabah Mysticism (info)
What are The Great Courses? thought, the unification of human with divine.
6. The Hasidim of Medieval
About Our Sales The Islamic prophet Muhammad is believed to have experienced
Germany (info)
Lifetime Guarantee the call of God directly through the angel Gabriel, and throughout
7. The Beginnings of Kabbalah
his life he reported incidents of mystical encounters, including
Recommendations (info)
the divine revelation of the Qur'an, the sacred text of Islam. 8. Mature KabbalahZohar
In these examples, we encounter a surprising truth: that each of the (info)
great three Abrahamic religious traditionsthose religions that trace 9. Isaac Luria and Safed
"Pure intellectual their origins back to the patriarch Abrahamholds the seeds for Spirituality (info)
stimulation that can be deep mystical contemplation. Over the course of centuries and even 10. Sabbatai Zevi and Messianic
Mysticism (info)
popped into the [audio millennia, mystics in all three traditions have written of their
experiences in the quest for God. But what do most of us know 11. The Ba'al Shem Tov and the
or video player] New Hasidism (info)
about these mystics and the tradition they sustained?
anytime." 12. Mysticism in Contemporary
In Mystical Tradition: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, you explore Judaism (info)
HARVARD MAGAZINE
this spiritual, literary, and intellectual heritage in these great faiths of 13. Mystical Elements in the New
More Testimonials the West as it unfolds over three millennia. In 36 enlightening, Testament (info)
thought-provoking lectures, award-winning Professor Luke Timothy 14. Gnostic Christianity (info)
Johnson of Emory University offers nearly unprecedented access to 15. The Spirituality of the Desert
these seldom-studied traditions. Through poetry, diaries, (info)
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philosophical writings, and histories, you gain a fresh perspective 16. Shaping Christian Mysticism
Be notified of special promotions
and new releases (privacy policy) on the great Abrahamic religious faiths that will deepen your in the East (info)
understanding and appreciation of these important traditions. 17. Eastern Monks and the
Your email address
Hesychastic Tradition (info)
A Rare Glimpse into the Heart of Religious Experience
18. The Mysticism of Western
Monasticism (info)
Professor Johnson provides you with a perspective on the
19. Medieval Female Mystics
Abrahamic religions that is surprising and enlightening. Students of
(info)
religion rarely get the chance to examine the entire scope of
20. Mendicants as Mystics (info)
mysticism in the West in a single course. By laying the mystical
21. English Mystics of the 14th
traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam side by side, Professor
Century (info)
Johnson offers a unique opportunity to compare and contrast the
22. 15th- and 16th-Century
many forms of religious experience in the West.
Spanish Mystics (info)
What emerges is a picture of Western mysticism as diverse, 23. Mysticism among Protestant
multifaceted, and ever-developing. Starting with the most ancient Reformers (info)
texts of the Hebrew Bible, Professor Johnson traces the 24. Mystical Expressions in
emergence, growth, and persistence of mystical thought in many Protestantism (info)
25. 20th-Century Mystics (info)
countries and in many ages. Bringing together the disciplines of 25. 20th-Century Mystics (info)
philosophy, history, literature, and religious studies, Mystical 26. Muhammad the Prophet as
Tradition: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam offers a nuanced and Mystic (info)
insightful examination of Western spiritualityone that contributes 27. The House of Islam (info)
not only to a fuller understanding of our religious traditions, but to 28. The Mystical SectShi'a (info)
our shared culture and history as well. 29. The Appearance of Sufism
(info)
As you examine the mystical experience, you see how, again and 30. Early Sufi Masters (info)
again, Western mystics have sought the answers to a few 31. The Limits of MysticismAl-
fundamental questions: What is the nature of reality? What is the Ghazzali (info)
relationship between humankind and the divine? Can human 32. Two Masters, Two Streams
beings ever attain full knowledge of creation? (info)
33. Sufism in 12th14th Century
What Is Mysticism?
North Africa (info)
34. Sufi Saints of Persia and India
But what do we mean when we speak of Western mysticism? What
(info)
forms does mysticism take in the three Abrahamic faiths, and what
35. The Continuing Sufi Tradition
sorts of rewards and information does it provide?
(info)
As Professor Johnson shows, there is no single or simple definition 36. Mysticism in the West Today
of mysticism. In some traditions, it is rooted in intellectual discipline (info)
the exploration of philosophical inquiries into the nature of reality
through scholarship and debate. In others, it's based in devotion to
prayer and fasting as a way to discipline the body and soul to focus wholly on God.
In still others, it's defined by ecstatic experiencea glimpse of the divine given as a
gift from above that cannot be controlled or even fully described by the mystic.

Just consider these diverse instances of mysticism, which represent the different
styles and methods of mystical practice:

The writings of Jewish Kabbalah mystic Rabbi Abulafia, whose work includes
practical directions for the achievement of religious ecstasy
The practice of hesychasm, through which medieval Christians used the
repetition of the "Jesus prayer" to evoke a stillness in body and soul and invite
divine revelation
The theological texts of Jalal ad-Din Rumi, a Muslim scholar who explored the
mystical implications of love through breathtaking poetry

What these diverse traditions share is an intense desire to experience the divine. In
some cases, this highly individual quest aligns with the shared practices of the faith
as when Christian monks in medieval monasteries used prayer and
contemplation to enhance their spiritual lives. In others, mystics find themselves in
tension with the dominant traditionas seen in the case of the Islamic Sufi mystics,
whose asceticism developed in opposition to the tenets of the faith as practiced by
the larger community.

But what all these traditions share is a commitment to the pursuit of knowledge of
God as the heart of religious experience and the very core of what it means to be
human.

Memorable Lives, Lyrical Utterances

Mystical Tradition introduces you to the many faces of mysticism, from renowned
scholars to simple people striving for personal enlightenment, throughout the
centuries.

Along the way, you encounter the fascinating stories of mysticsboth famous and
obscurewhose quest for knowledge resonates today:

The 11th-century Sufi mystic al-Ghazzali, whose spiritual crisis led him to
abandon a successful university career to pursue a life of asceticism and
contemplation.
Teresa of vila, one of three female doctors of the Roman Catholic Church,
whose harrowing and mystical vision of hell led her to found a more rigorous
form of monastic life.
Abraham Isaac Kook, a 20th-century rabbi whose work forged a fascinating
connection between the scientific theory of evolution and Kabbalah

You also hear about the less renowned, everyday people who followed the mystical
tradition through daily devotions and community life, from Jewish Hasidic
communities that arose in the 18th century to the 16th-century Anabaptists, whose
attempts to live a newly reformed, mystically focused form of Protestant Christianity
led to their persecution.

These lives emerge from the writings they left behindtouching personal diaries,
historical accounts of visions and revelations, theological commentaries, and lyrical
poems of great beauty. Using firsthand sources, Professor Johnson explores the
various roles writing has played in mysticism and provides memorable, moving
examples of the great literature produced by this vast spiritual tradition, including
such famed pieces as St. Francis of Assisi's "Canticle of Brother Sun" and
remarkable excerpts from the wisdom literature of a 9th-century female Sufi mystic.
Contemplate the Nature of Spirituality

You also contemplate questions about the nature of mysticism itself: How are we to
understand mysticismas literally true, as poetically true, or as a delusion? Will
mysticism survive in an increasingly secular world? What is the future of mysticism?
As it becomes detached and popularized apart from its religious faiths, can mystical
observances retain their original character?

The course also offers a thought-provoking perspective on the nature of human


spirituality. As Professor Johnson demonstrates, mystical strains of thought have
permeated and influenced these three great religions for centuries, despite
opposition fromand, in some cases, persecution bythe mainstream religious
community. As you come to see, this persistence in the face of persecution reflects
something about human nature: the need to pursue ultimate knowledge and union
with a transcendent power.

A Unique Opportunity

For most students, this is a unique opportunity. Many of the sources Professor
Johnson draws onfrom ancient Hebrew meditations to medieval Muslim
philosophical texts to early Christian Gnostic writingsare unavailable to general
readers. Some of them have only recently been translated into English. Professor
Johnson's course offers for nonspecialists what in many cases is a first-time
glimpse into this tradition.

A noted religious scholar and former Benedictine monk, Professor Johnson offers
an intriguing, enlightening look into these seldom-studied traditions and illuminates
the rich and complex relationship between mystical contemplation and the Western
traditions of faith. He also helps you understand how these various traditions have
contributed to faith, philosophy, and daily life over the centuries.

But perhaps most important, he invites you to join him as you ponder a new way to
understand faith, religion, and the essence of humanity. Explore with Professor
Johnson the intriguing and enriching insights that await you in Mystical Tradition:
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Should I Buy Audio or Video?

While this course works well in all formats, the DVD version features over 700 visual
elements to enhance your learning experience, including images, maps, and a
wealth of on-screen text taken from each faith's rich body of mystical literature.

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Customer Ratings & Reviews Summary

Average Custom er Rating: 3.7 out of 5


8 of 14 (57%) customers w ould recommend the course to a friend.
Write a Review

Product Reviews Review This Product Choose a sort order

Overall Rating Great Course ever Date: December 12, 2010


Course Content "I find this course very informative and complete, like very much the span of
Professor the presentation. I really would like further courses on mysticism. Specially on
Presentation
christian mysticism.
Course Value Looking forward to see more of these fantastic course "

Viviana Was this review helpful to you? Yes No (Report Inappropriate Review)
(read all my reviews)
Location: Santiago, Chile

Overall Rating
Course Content Not my favorite course Date: October 12, 2010
Professor
Presentation "The idea is interesting, to learn about the mystics and their experiences and
Course Value practices in three major western religions. The professor attempted to do that
and presented some of the information that you would expect in a course
MichaelT named Mystical Traditions.
(read all my reviews)
However, I was overwhelmed by all the names and dates and by the sheer
Location: Long Island, NY
number of the mystics mentioned in the course. I think the course might have
been better if the professor has reviewed fewer practitioners, concentrating
instead on the essence of mysticism, the ways to experiencing it and its
impact on the individual.

I forced myself to listen to the entire course and was glad when it was over."

1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

Was this review helpful to you? Yes No (Report Inappropriate Review)

Overall Rating Nothing to do with Date: June 22, 2010


Course Content mysticism
Professor "This guy thinks that mystics are people who have visions, so the course is a
Presentation
cross cultural history of visions like Ezekiel's wheel. Apparently, taking LSD or
Course Value even getting hit on the head would make you an accomplished mystic.
Enough said."
pathfinder
(read all my reviews)
Location: New York, NY 1 of 14 people found this review helpful.

Was this review helpful to you? Yes No (Report Inappropriate Review)

Overall Rating
Course Content Great Interfaith Course Date: August 30, 2009
Professor
Presentation "This course was very very educational. Luke Timothy Johnson is an extremely
Course Value good communicator and covers this topic with respect and uplifting language
toward all three faiths. He shows the common ground that the three faiths
Artistree share.
(read all my reviews) I found the section on Islam especially interesting in that Sufism, according to
Location: Lake Tomahawk, WI Johnson, is the heart of Islamic law. We in the West could see how Sufism
and Christianity have much in common by listening to Luke Johnson very
intelligent lectures. A very thoughful presentation mysticism in Judaism was
immensely interesting, information that is rarely covered in our lacking
education of religion here in America. This is a course that is essential for all
those who have interfaith friendships with others of differant faiths than there
own, and even for those who have limited contact with these great faith
traditions."

6 of 6 people found this review helpful.

Was this review helpful to you? Yes No (Report Inappropriate Review)

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