Julian of Norwich

The plan:

To read and reflect on Julian of Norwich’s Revelations of Divine Love for the insight that it gives on the nature of sin, on human agency, and on the person of Christ. We will also consider Julian in light of other major theologians of the high Middle Ages, such as St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Bonaventure.


Weekly, 1 hour and 15 minutes.


On or around January 13.

Meeting times:

Wednesdays: most likely evenings, but adjustable based on the group’s desires.

Amount of reading:

20 pages or so (plenty for a week; Julian is deep stuff!)

What this text is:

On what she believed to be her deathbed in 1373 Julian of Norwich, eventually a well-known anchoress living in East Anglia, received a series of visions, or what she calls “showings.” She wrote down the substance of these and recovered from her illness, but over the next several decades she continued to revise and reflect on what she had been shown. In the process, Julian – the first woman writer in English – proved herself one of the most perceptive interpreters and theologians of the period.

Struggling to reconcile her visions with what she has been taught, Julian explores fundamental theological questions. What does it mean, for instance, that, as God tells her, “All shall be well”? Or that sin is “behovely” [that is, “fitting,” “useful,” or even “necessary”]? How precisely does Christ’s death lead to the salvation of mankind? And who, indeed, shall be saved? Julian thinks about these questions not through dialectical argument but rather by a sequence of elusive images that invite us to take up her practice of interpretation in our own time.

In addition to Julian’s Revelations of Divine Love, as the text is called, we will read some related short works that shed light on Julian’s thinking. The precise selection will depend on student interest and will be determined in conversation with the instructor.


The group will run approximately 12 sessions, enough for a complete reading of Julian’s “long text” and the occasional supporting pieces mentioned above. For fullest impact, join us for the entire journey; but, as with other groups, participants are welcome to come and go at their discretion.

And a special note on pricing!

Whereas most spring-semester groups run January to June, this one will end in April when its 12 sessions are up; that makes it the length of most fall-semester groups. Participants who elect to pay for the whole semester at once should therefore use the fall-semester pricing ($150 for the term).