Meditation in Judaism, Christianity and Islam Cultural Histories

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2013-12-19
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
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Meditative practices have flourished in widely different parts of Eurasia, yet historical research on such practices is limited. Research to date has focused on contexts rather than actual practices, and within individual traditions.

For the first time in one volume, the meditative practices of the three traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are examined. They are viewed in a global perspective, considering both generic and historical connections to practices in other traditions, particularly in India and East Asia. Their cultural and historical peculiarities are examined, comparing them both to each other and to Asian forms of meditation.

The book builds on a notion of meditation as self-administered techniques for inner transformation, a definition which focuses on transformative practice rather than notions of meditative states and
mystical experiences. It proposes ways of studying meditative practice historically, and concludes with an essay on the modern scientific interest in meditation.

Author Biography

Halvor Eifring is a Professor in the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages, University of Oslo, Norway.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Western Traditions of Meditation
Part I: Judais
2. Ancient Hebrew
Recitative Meditation
3. Mystics Without Minds? Body and Soul in Merkavah Mysticism
4. Meditative Prayer in Cordovero
5. Spiritual Friendship as Contemplative Practice in Hasidism
Part II: Christianity
6. Mélete in Early Christian Ascetic Texts
7. Practice of the Jesus Prayer in Early Christian Monasticism and the Matrix of Philosophical Meditation
8. Meditation in East Syrian Mysticism
9. Tracking the 'Pathless-Path of Prayer': Is There Meditation Method in Mesiter Eckhart?
10. Teresa of Avila's Evolving Practices of 'Representing' Christ in Prayer
11. Painting in the Mind: the Early Jesuit Development of Ekphrastic Meditation as Exemplifed by
Louis Richeome's 'Peinture Spirituelle'
12. Byzantine Vocal (Aniconic) Meditative Practices and Visualizing Salvation
Part III: Islam
13. Textual Instructions of the Practice of Dhikr in the Early Kubrawiya
14. Movement and Stillness: The Practice of Sufi Dhikr in Fourteenth-Century Central Asia
Part IV: Modern Science
15. The Natural Science of Meditation - A 'Black Box' Perspective?

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