Tag Archives: James Cunningham

‘The last revelation that shall be putt in print’: mystics and prophets in Scotland

What does this crystal-ball have in common with this collection of books?…

crystal ball






… both have been described as ‘mystic’.

Spiritual writing, like we see here in Waterstones, was, until the 1960s, commonly referred to as ‘mystical theology’, while Meg’s ability to prophesy from the stars has earned the Sun great profits.

It was not always the case that mystics were so kind on prophets. This post examines one example of how the mystic’s claims to divine inspiration and the prophet’s claim to receive divine communication came into conflict. This happened in 1709, when several mystics in Scotland converted to a group of prophets who had first emerged on London’s streets three years earlier.

This is quite a long post, reflecting its origins in a paper delivered to friends and colleagues at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, when I was myself in a rather ecstatic state since sitting my viva the previous day on no sleep. I’ve used it, despite (or because of…) the bad night, as I think it is still one of my best pieces. Even if my ideas have changed a bit in the time since, I still think this is a good introduction to people with no idea about early modern mysticism and prophecy. Continue reading