Review Of "Knowing God By Experience: The Spiritual Senses In The Theology Of William Of Auxerre" By B. T. Coolman

Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date


Published In



William of Auxerre (c.1145-1231) is usually treated as a transitional figure between the early scholasticism of Peter Lombard and Thomas Aquinas. An original thinker, combining certain Augustinian epistemological themes with Aristotle's notion of scientific knowledge, William deserves more extended treatment than he has been given. Coolman (Duke Divinity School) has written the first full-fledged study of William in English. Its organizing principle is William's treatment of the experience of God as similar to the experiences provided by the five bodily senses. This analogy is at least as old as Origen, but it found increased resonance in medieval monastic spirituality. A distinctive element of William's theology is its emphasis on a progression from cognition to perception and finally to its goal, sense-like experience of God. In spite of the many references to William in the next generation, his was a road not taken. This first-rate study will be of greatest interest to scholars in medieval theology, philosophy, and spirituality. Its usefulness will be enhanced by a more-than-introductory knowledge of medieval thought. Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students and faculty/researchers.


This work is freely available courtesy of Choice Reviews. The review has been reproduced in full in the abstract field.

This document is currently not available here.