Teresa of Avila's Theological Reading of History: From her Second Conversion to the Foundation of St. Joseph's, Avila

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    The chapter argues that Teresa of Avila provides a critical treatment of several connected issues: the relation of history and theology, of nature and grace, and of human activity in relation to the divine initiative. These questions arise first in Teresa’s response to what she regards as the direct intervention of God in ecstatic states which disorientate her. Her autobiography or Life can be read as an attempt to reconcile such interventions with the ordinary progress of human living, making a critical approach to these questions. Over time, Teresa develops her theoretical understanding, reaching a mature view only in her later Interior Castle. But the relation of human activity and divine intervention, once recognised in this work, can be seen taking shape in the narrative of the Life (if not in Teresa’s early treatment of union), and it enables us to tease out the careful relation between the divine and human partners that Teresa develops in moving, in the Life, from ecstatic states to her fully human work of reform. This is the period from her second conversion to the foundation of St. Joseph’s in Avila, which lies at the heart of the narrative. The divine and human elements are found to be both carefully distinguished and united in her treatment, revealing critical resources for understanding these focal questions of Christian enquiry.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationSt Teresa of Avila: Her Life and Writings
    EditorsTerence O'Reilly, Colin Thompson, Lesley Twomey
    Place of PublicationCambridge
    PublisherModern Humanities Research Association
    Number of pages10
    ISBN (Print)9781781885017
    Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Publication series

    NameStudies in Hispanic and Lusophone Cultures
    PublisherLegenda (Modern Humanities Research Association)


    • Teresa of Avila, history, theology, life, ecstasy, spirituality, mysticism

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