Scripture and Mystical Transformation


  • Celia Kourie Department of Christian Spirituality, UNISA, South Africa


Mystical Transformation, Contemporary scriptural studies, Mystery of existence, Transegoic consciousness, psycho-spiritual maturation


Contemporary scriptural studies are characterized by a major paradigm shift from a mechanistic to a holistic paradigm, enabling the text to come to life as transformative and lifechanging, and thus contributing to the rediscovery of the text as dynamic medium rather than static object. In particular, a mystical hermeneutic of scripture is one in which a direct experience of God, or Ultimate Reality, or the One is the end result. Such an understanding of scripture allows the many layers of meaning to come to the fore, and witnesses to the lifegiving power of the text. It provides a door or window, as it were, between different dimensions of consciousness. Myths enable the mystical reality to be expressed in poetic form. They spring from the depths of the psyche where the ultimate Mystery of existence is encountered; they are the product of the creative imagination and attempt in some measure to portray primordial truth. Mythological imagery witnesses to the deep-rooted desire expressed in all religious traditions to restore the undivided consciousness and unity of being, which is the central facet of mysticism. Utilising a mystical and kenotic reading of the Beatitudes, in Matthew 5, based on the Peshitta, we see that the ‘happy ones’ are utterly dependent on God. Deeply humble, they have nothing of their own; everything is gift, and therefore there is no room for pride. The death of the subjectively experienced and anxiety-generated ‘self’ effects a greater Self. There is so to speak, a shifting of mental gears in which the truth of the indwelling Christ is realised as a source of power, peace and joy. Transegoic consciousness is the result of this mystical transformation, in which psycho-spiritual maturation results in selfless service of the other.


Abe, M 1997. Zen and Comparative Studies. London: Macmillan Press.

Assagioli, R 1993. Psychosynthesis: A Manual of Principles and Techniques. London: Aquarian/Thorsons.

Assagioli, R 1994. The Act of Will: A Guide to Self-actualisation through Psychosynthesis. London: Aquarian/Thorsons.

Blount, B 1997. Righteousness from the inside: the transformative spirituality of the sermon on the mount, in Fowl, SE (ed), The Theological Interpretation of Scripture. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.

Bowe, B 2003. Biblical Foundations of Spirituality. Touching a Finger to the Flame. Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

Coupe, L 1997. Myth. London: Routledge.

Douglas-Klotz N 1990. Prayers of the Cosmos. Meditations on the Aramaic words of Jesus. San Francisco: Harper and Row Publishers.

Douglas-Klotz, N 1995. Desert Wisdom. The Middle Eastern tradition - from the Goddess to the Sufis. London: Thorsons.

Goldstein, J 1987. Paths of Awareness (Theravada), in Walker, S (ed), Speaking of Silence. New York: Paulist Press.

Griffiths, B 1982. The Marriage of East and West. London: Collins.

Jantzen G 1995. Power, Gender and Christian mysticism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kourie CET 1995. New Testament Scholarship on the threshold of the Third millennium. Religion and Theology 2 (2) 171-178.

Lapide, P 1986. The Sermon on the Mount. New York: Orbis Books.

Lischer, R 1997. The Sermon on the Mount as radical pastoral care, in Fowl S E (ed), The Theological Interpretation of Scripture. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.

Mostert, JP 1986. How are we doing without myths? Religion in Southern Africa 7 2 39-49.

McGinn, B 2008. Mystical Consciousness: A Modest Proposal. Spiritus 8 (1) 44-63.

Pannikar, R 1979. Myth, Faith, and Hermeneutics. New York: Paulist Press.

Perrin, D 2005. Mysticism, in Holder, A (ed) The Blackwell Companion to Christian Spirituality. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Prabhu, J 1996. The Intercultural Challenge of Raimon Pannikar. New York: Orbis books.

Smart, N 1997. Dimensions of the Sacred. London: Fontana Press.

Stace, W 1960. The Teaching of the Mystics. New York: New American Library.

Stevenson, D 1972. Communicating Biblical Myths and Legends. Religious Life 41 (4) 536-542.

Ueda, S 1989. The Zen Buddhist experience of the truly beautiful. Eastern Buddhist 22 1-36.

Vaught, C 1986. The Sermon on the Mount. New York: State University of New York Press.

Waaijman, K 2002. Spirituality. Forms, Foundations, Methods. Leuven: Peeters.

Washburn, M 1995. The Ego and the Dynamic Ground. New York: State University of New York Press

Weber J & Vahlkampf J 1993. The Depth of humility. Commentaries on the Gnostic and Buddhist concept of humility. Delhi: Eastern Book Corporation.

Wilber, K 1999. The Collected Works of Ken Wilber. Vol One: The Spectrum of Consciousness, No Boundary, Selected Essays. Boston: Shambhala.

Williams, J 1978. Yeshua Buddha. An Interpretation of New Testament theology as a meaningful myth. London: The Theosophical Publishing House.