My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I know very little about her, though I've heard her referenced before, and read snippets from her revelations over the years. So it was a pleasure to read the recently released 240 page softback, "An Explorer's Guide to Julian of Norwich" penned by Veronica Mary Rolf. This little volume is all about Julian of Norwich and is ideal for the delver and dabbler alike.
"An Explorer's Guide to Julian of Norwich" is exactly what the title declares. The first part of the book goes into the history and context of Julian of Norwich, chronicling both her life and her sitz im leben (setting in life). It is easily digestible, giving enough of Julian's situation to help the reader appreciate where she was, what was her moment in history, and how the text we have today came to us. The first part of the book ends with a glossary of the Middle English words Julian used, which I referenced several times while reading the second section.
The last two-thirds of the book is primarily dedicated to Julian's sixteen "revelations"as they appear in her longer text. The author gives the reader a sequential synopsis of each revelation, where significant portions of the text are quoted, and then Rolf interjects her explanatory comments. In the author's explanatory notes it was difficult at times to tell if she was reading Julian of Norwich correctly, or not. The universalistic leanings, the idea that there is no wrath in God, and the motherhood of Christ are just a few of the subjects that left me wondering if Rolf had accurately picked up Julian's meanings, or had interjected her own. The only way to find out would be to delve into the full longer text on my own. The book ends with a summary of themes and an example of how to use the book in a retreat setting.
In the end, the explorer gains an appreciative idea of what Julian of Norwich wrote. And for one who has never picked up her revelations, or looked into her life, it was quite helpful. I'm not sure I could use the book in a retreat, but it does lend itself to helping Julian-novices like myself become interested and mildly informed. I recommend the book.
Thanks to IVP Academic for sending me a free copy of the book used for this review. All comments are mine without demands or diktats by the publisher.
You may obtain a copy of the book here: "An Explorer's Guide to Julian of Norwich"
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