‘Just because I am a woman, must I therefore believe that I must not tell you about the goodness of God?’
Coming from a society where women were barred from serious writing and teaching, Julian, a fourteenth-century mystic and anchoress in the great medieval city of Norwich, nevertheless used the English vernacular of the day to describe an extraordinary series of "showings" that she received from God. After fervently praying for a greater understanding of Christ’s passion, she experienced a series of divine revelations. Through these ‘showings’, Christ’s sufferings were revealed to her with extraordinary intensity, but she also received assurance of God’s unwavering love for man and his infinite capacity for forgiveness. Through her experiences, she identifies the female nature of Christ's suffering, the motherhood of God, and, using images from domestic daily life, emphasizes the homeliness of God's love.
Written in a vigorous English vernacular, the Revelations
are one of the most original works of medieval mysticism and have had a lasting influence on Christian thought. This new translation from the Middle English, which includes both the long and the short versions of her Revelations, preserves all the directness of expression and the rich complexity of her thoughts, offering a work that stands alongside The Cloud of Unknowing and Langland's Piers Plowman. The short text is mainly an account of the ‘showings’ themselves and Julian’s initial interpretation of their meaning, and the long text, completed some twenty years later, moves from vision to a daringly speculative theology. Elizabeth Spearing’s translation preserves Julian’s directness of expression and the rich complexity of her thought. An introduction, notes and appendices help to place the works in context for modern readers.