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The Cloud of Unknowing (1957)

by Anonymous

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,302810,943 (3.98)37
Written in the 14th century, this text is an invitation to enter into a place of spiritual darkness, a place where the individual assiduously works at loving and contemplative relationships with God.
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» See also 37 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
The latter half of the fourteenth century was a turbulent period; The Great Plague had just swept through England, decimating the population; the 100 Year War with France was drawing to its bitter end: social unrest was endemic; the Church was further and further divorced from its people. Against this background The Cloud of Unknowing was written. It’s a powerful message of God’s unconditional love in the face of despair is as relevant today as it was 500years ago ( )
  ExeterQuakers | Jul 27, 2020 |
The Cloud of Unknowing draws on the mystical tradition of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite and Christian Neoplatonism, which focuses on the via negativa road to discovering God as a pure entity, beyond any capacity of mental conception and so without any definitive image or form. This tradition has reputedly inspired generations of mystical searchers from John Scotus Erigena, through Book of Taliesin, Nicholas of Cusa and St. John of the Cross to Teilhard de Chardin.
1 vote WandsworthFriends | Jun 13, 2018 |
It feels like cheating reading this book in contemporary English when it is not a work in translation. But the older edition was opaque to me and this was easier to rap my head around. This is a simple and influential description of mysticism from thirteenth Century England. It is anonymous. The author is orthodox but his Bible reading is a little shoddy in places. His understanding of mysticism and contemplation is more significant (he was likely a monk).

I liked the humble and practical tone of this book. Some helpful stuff on managing distractions in prayer. I also found a more positive place for scripture and Jesus than I thought it would have before reading it. Of course there is a cloud of unknowing, and a neo-platonic cloud of forgetfulness which necessitates our pressing past the world of sense to a pristine encounter with the God that is beyond description, but the author also commends dwelling on the words and life of Jesus and the Bible's description of God as love. That being said, this is not my favorite treatment of mysticism. ( )
4 vote Jamichuk | May 22, 2017 |
This is a spiritual experience for people completely devoted to Christ.
  lschmitt | Aug 8, 2011 |
The Cloud of Unknowing is for three types of people: those whose prayer life is lacking, those whose humility is lacking, and those who need both. As I am in the third group, these words were a scalpel painfully cutting into my soul to return my life to God’s original purpose. Surprisingly accessible, this book can be not only recommended to Christian laity, a non-Christian who wants to explore traditional spirituality would find this a welcome manual as the monk’s tone and vocabulary are plain—exactly what one would expect from a soul dedicated to finding God’s love through humbling himself. The sovereignty and love of God are front and center, betraying the Protestant view that pre-Reformation Christianity was focused on meaningless rituals and lost a focus on God’s love—love is front and center here. To the reformers’ point, however, priesthood of all believers is not on the radar as Christians are sharply divided into active and contemplative vocations, one clearly seen as superior to the other.
(Note: I read Bernard Bangley's 2006 modernization) ( )
1 vote ebnelson | May 19, 2010 |
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» Add other authors (31 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anonymousprimary authorall editionscalculated
Brinton, Howard H.Forewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Radice, BettyEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Underhill, EvelynEditor & Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Walsh, JamesEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wolters, CliftonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This is a book of contemplation called THE CLOUD OF UNKNOWING in which a soul is united with God.
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SPIRITUAL FRIEND IN GOD, understand well that I find by general observation four degrees and forms of Christian living.
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This is the single and unabridged work The cloud of unknowing. Please do not combine with abridgments or editions that include other works.
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Written in the 14th century, this text is an invitation to enter into a place of spiritual darkness, a place where the individual assiduously works at loving and contemplative relationships with God.

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