12th-century Hildegard of Bingen, abbess, theologian, herbalist, visionary, poet, and musician, was a woman, in light of her privileged background, thoroughly aware of cultural structures. Yet, led by an exploration of the otherness of her God, she became a self enmeshed with a world quite apart from those expectations. Being a receiver of visions set her outside medieval disciplinary norms in theology, but also fueled an inspiration for music as worship. The paper explores her unique synaesthetic vision and voice exemplified in the rhapsodic melodic lines, rhetorical devices, and dramatic characters in the miracle play Ordo Virtutum.
The paper suggests that in order to make sense of the presentation of God in the two biblical paraphrases of MS Cotton Nero A.x one ought to read them dialectically – as two dialogic voices whose interplay communicates a particular vision of God and humankind’s knowledge of His actions. Bringing together earlier readings and methodologies as well as suggesting new leads and interpretations, the presentation aims to outline the various strategies used by the poet in ‘figuring the unfigurable’. The paper will also explore the tension between Thomistic and Augustinian readings of the poems in this context.
Every attempt to grasp the Other tends to compromise its radical alterity. Medieval apophatic traditions operative, e.g. in Augustine, Dionysius the Areopagite, Thomas Aquinas, Meister Eckart etc., try to deal with this dilemma and both speak about and address a transcendent Other, God, without claiming to capture its essence in human (philosophical, theological) and therefore finite categories. Emmanuel Levinas, whose approach shares this concern, does not, however, indicate any influence by medieval apophatic traditions, but by Judaism and phenomenology. My contribution shows striking convergences between Levinas and medieval apophatic traditions, which can be traced back to (neo)platonic elements informing the linguistic strategies of otherwise completely disparate approaches.