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"I Wish To Be Nothing": The Role Of Self-Denial In The Mystical Theology Of Anna Maria Van Schurman

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Chapter Summary

The call of Christ to his disciples, as relayed in the Synoptic Gospels, has wielded enormous power throughout the history of Christianity. From martyrdoms to rigorous forms of asceticism, the injunction to deny the self has generated a host of interpretations, both theoretical and practical. The power of this appeal to self-denial is especially evident in the writings of Anna Maria van Schurman, the “star of Utrecht” in seventeenth-century. According to van Schulman, an inflow of grace was required to contemplate God “in a holy fashion”. The context of her words is essential. “I wish to be nothing, to own nothing or to do nothing other than that which He always shows through His workings to be His will”. She desires to be nothing “other than” that which God shows to be his will.

Keywords: Anna Maria Van Schurman; asceticism; grace; holy fashion; self-denial; seventeenth-century; synoptic gospels



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