Despite the considerable diversity of belief and practice within global Quakerism, one characteristic that links all these diverse expressions is an emphasis on the experience of a direct inward relationship with God in spirit, albeit interpreted in very different ways. Such an experiential focus on divine intimacy inevitably raises a question about the relationship between Quaker spirituality and mysticism. This has been a controversial issue, in part because, in his influential work undertaken during the early twentieth century, Rufus Jones defined Quaker mysticism in a way that characterized both the Quietist and Evangelical forms of Quakerism as unfortunate deviations from what he understood to be the true Quaker way, rooted in the vision of the earliest Friends. In this rich, wide-ranging, and enlightening collection, ably introduced and edited by Jon R. Kershner, the mystical dimension of Quakerism is given sustained attention. By identifying the mystical influences on the faith and practice of Friends across time, and exploring specific examples of Quaker mystics within their context and in comparative terms, the scholarship in this important volume seeks to challenge, build upon, and modify Jones’ definition of Quaker mysticism. The collection is aimed primarily at a scholarly audience. However, because of the accessible style adopted by the contributors, the volume will also appeal to those with a more general interest in mysticism and Quakerism. The book is affordable in its paperback version, and should find a place within the libraries of Friends’ meeting houses and churches. Each chapter includes detailed and informative end notes, accompanied by an extensive book list, and the index is concise but fit for purpose. Kershner’s introduction, and the concluding chapter written by Thomas Cattoi, helpfully set the scene for what is to follow, point to the significance of the material covered, and begin to hint at possible themes for further research.
"Review of Quakers and Mysticism: Comparative and Syncretic Approaches to Spirituality, Edited by John R. Kershner (Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, 2019),"
Quaker Religious Thought: Vol. 136, Article 9.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.georgefox.edu/qrt/vol136/iss1/9