cover image An Explorer’s Guide to Julian of Norwich

An Explorer’s Guide to Julian of Norwich

Veronica Mary Rolf. IVP Academic, $18 trade paper (170p) ISBN 978-0-8308-5088-4

In this exquisite book, scholar of medieval studies Rolf (Julian’s Gospel) introduces medieval mystic and Christian theologian Julian of Norwich in all her astonishing brightness. The quote “all shall be well” is popular on bracelets and inspirational cards, but rarely given the context intended by its original author, Julian. Mary argues that Julian’s 16 mystical revelations (or “shewings”) from Christ should be studied alongside Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales—not least because she was the first woman to write a book (let alone a spiritual autobiography) in the English language. Rolf guides readers through the English Peasant Revolts, the Hundred Years’ War, the Great Papal Schism, and the Great Plague’s destruction of one-third of human life on Earth to establish the political and ecological collapse in which Julian prays and writes. She makes her case for why Julian was probably the daughter of a cloth merchant, educated in the public system of the time, and likely a mother and wife whose husband and child had died. Julian’s remarkable visions with Christ as mother, birthing his children, and the intricate cosmos revealed to her as a “common hazelnut” carry explosive spiritual power. Rolf plumbs Julian’s spiritual audacity in this must-read for those interested in medieval Christianity and literature. (June)