A History of Mysticism

By Richard H. Jones

Subjects: Mysticism, Comparative Religion, History Of Religion
Hardcover : 9781438497150, 524 pages, April 2024

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Table of contents


1. Mysticism and Mystical Experiences

2. The Prehistory of Mysticism

3. Mysticism in Classical Greek Philosophy

4. Jewish Mysticism

5. Christian Mysticism

6. Islamic Mysticism

7. Hindu Mysticism

8. Indian and Tibetan Buddhist Mysticism

9. Chinese Mysticism

10. Mysticism in the West Today

Appendix: Correcting Some Misunderstandings about Mysticism
References and Further Reading

A history of the world’s mystical traditions.


This book offers a historical overview of mysticism in the world's major religious traditions. Beginning with a chapter on the nature of mystical experiences, A History of Mysticism then turns to a discussion of mysticism's prehistory in shamanism and the early use of psychedelics. The possible role of mystical experiences among early Greek philosophers (including Socrates and Plato) is subsequently addressed, followed by chapters on mysticism in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, and a variety of present-day iterations, including New Age mysticism, secular mysticism, and the scientific study of mystical experiences. An appendix covering popular misunderstandings of mystical experiences and mysticism is also included. Written in a clear, accessible style, this book is suitable for students of religion and philosophy as well as general readers interested in mysticism and the world's variety of mystical traditions.

Richard H. Jones is an independent scholar and researcher. His previous books include An Introduction to the Study of Mysticism and Philosophy of Mysticism: Raids on the Ineffable, both published by SUNY Press.


"This is a very useful, comprehensive, introductory study of mystical experience across the world. Jones has covered all the major mystical traditions in a style that is clear and readable for undergraduates and other beginning students of this subject." — Steven T. Katz, Boston University