On the Lived Theology Reading List: The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila

The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila: A Biography, by Carlos EireA Biography

The original book entitled The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila is an autobiography of sorts, a confession written for inquisitors by a nun whose raptures and mystical claims had aroused suspicion. In it, St. Teresa details one of the most remarkable accounts ever written of the human encounter with the divine.

In The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila: A Biography, Carlos Eire tells the story of this incomparable spiritual masterpiece, examining its composition and reception in the sixteenth century, the various ways its mystical teachings have been interpreted and reinterpreted across time, and its enduring influence in our own secular age. The book has had a profound impact on Christian spirituality for five centuries, and has also been read as a feminist manifesto, a literary work, and even as a secular text. But as Eire demonstrates, Teresa’s confession is at its core a cry from the heart to God and an audacious portrayal of mystical theology as a search for love.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“Carlos Eire analyzes Teresa of Avila’s Life and chronicles its reception from the late sixteenth century to the present with profound erudition, insight, and conviction. His carefully documented survey of trends in editing, translation, and artistic production makes a significant contribution to the history of the book and readership, as well as women’s writing, spirituality, and the Catholic intellectual tradition.”—Jodi Bilinkoff, author of The Avila of Saint Teresa: Religious Reform in a Sixteenth-Century City

“Carlos Eire leads readers expertly and learnedly through the composition of the Life and its fortunes over the centuries. Not only does he slice, dice, and classify with the skill of a medieval theologian, he does so with the wit of a philosophe and with an unusually sensitive understanding of the mystical Teresa. I loved this book even more than I expected I would.”—Craig Harline, author of A World Ablaze: The Rise of Martin Luther and the Birth of the Reformation

“Eire has an uncanny ability to write scholarly work in an engaging and accessible style. He knows how to get to the heart of the matter. This is the story of a mystic and her book but also a story of how reactions to extreme religious experiences have changed—and been deployed—over centuries.”—Alison Weber, author of Teresa of Avila and the Rhetoric of Femininity

For more information on the publication, click here.

Carlos Eire is a professor of history and religious studies at Yale University in 1996. He specializes in the social, intellectual, religious and cultural history of late medieval and early modern Europe.

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