The Privileging of Visio over Vox in the Mystical Experiences of Hildegard of Bingen and Joan of Arc
Even though medieval women mystics have enjoyed increased attention in recent scholarly discussion, a topic that still has not been tackled is the possible difference between seeing a vision and hearing a voice during a mystical experience and the ramifications of this difference in the context of medieval text production and in the status of mystics as authors. When a mystic relates a mystical experience, she inevitably creates a text and becomes an author. In the Christian Middle Ages, medieval text creation hinged on authority and authorization, as an imitation of the creative power of God, the Master Author and the Logos (Word) itself, and thus has religious consequences for an aspiring author. Bernard McGinn points to this logocentrality of medieval writing: “Jesus the preacher of the message became Jesus the preached message and soon Jesus the written message, as elements of his preaching and the stories about him, especially the account of his sacrificial death and rising, were fixed in written form” .
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Mystics Quarterly, vol. 23, no. 3 (September 1997), pp. 137-167.