Publication details [#9368]

Roman, Christopher M. 2004. The spiritual family: Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe's domestic metaphors. Tasculoosa, Ala.. 295 pp.


This dissertation examines the ways in which medieval mystics attempt to orient themselves to God through metaphorically organizing the spaces of anchorhold, bedroom, and pilgrimage. In this work, I have examined one type of mystical metaphor, the familial metaphor. By using the familial relationship as a referent for their metaphors, mystics speak of the ways in which they understand God's motherhood, fatherhood, childhood, brotherhood, sisterhood and spousehood. In the same way, these mystics indicate the spiritual possibilities of family relationships. Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe use metaphorical discourse that creates familial relationships between themselves, God, their community, and ultimately, their readers. For these mystics interested in seeing God in the everyday, the divine and secular cannot be separated. God and Jesus can be mother and father, and therefore, through the metaphorical dimensions of mothers and fathers, the mystics give these divine acts a certain human form. In order to employ such metaphor, the figurative language must be understood as referring to some thing, some act that is recognizable, familiar. In this way, Margery and Julian see the human fitting into the divine image in terms of human capabilities, in this case, the human capability to create, to nurture, to guide, and to love. Not only are God and Jesus understood in terms of the positive acts of humanity, but the mystics give those positive acts, in this case acts connected to parenting, a spiritual awareness. (Christopher Roman)