A Schema for Studying the Revelations

Today we have access to millions of books, and millions of people—both men and women—write them, but this was not the case in Julian's day. It is difficult for us truly to appreciate her book without understanding this. Whether it was dictated at several sittings or written slowly and carefully by her own hand, it stands as an astounding testament both to the spiritual maturity that was able to integrate and dispense such wisdom and experience, as well as to the intellectual capacity to organize and recall it.

Julian's work is also unique among a similar group of contemporary and near-contemporary women who wrote books—Gertrude of Helfta, Mechtilde of Magdeburg, Brigit of Sweden, Margery Kempe of Lynn, Angela of Foligno, even Catherine of Siena—in that no other book of visions has the same tenor, or speaks to our age with such necessity and power as this collection of visions and subsequent reflections “showed to a devout lady that is recluse at Norwich.”

The Revelations are staggeringly rich. How does one approach them? What is the best way to go about exploring and understanding them?

Books about the Revelations are a very recent phenomenon. The majority of writings about the Revelations since the 19th century have been academic papers; Julian didn’t get her own book-length study until 1958, and the next didn’t come for another ten years. While papers still outperform books, today there seems to be no end of books, primarily weighted on the introductory and academic ends of the scale.

Books of daily reflections have their place, and meditated upon consistently, will always yield new insight, but due to their piecemeal nature can hardly scratch the surface of what the Revelations have to offer. On the other hand, academic offerings are not necessarily geared to the end for which Julian wrote her Revelations. Each kind of book is valuable in a different way.

For those interested in learning more about the Revelations, we suggest the following 5-level schema of reading, with various options according to one’s preference, from basic introductions to intensive study. This is only a small sampling of the many books available.

Begin where you are most comfortable, and above all, read in tandem with the Revelations themselves. No matter how much you read and pray, there is always more to learn.



Introducing Julian, Woman of Norwich
Elizabeth Ruth Obbard
1995 A gentle beginner's introduction to Julian, with excerpts. 130pp

In Search of Julian of Norwich
Sheila Upjohn
1989 A winning short introduction for wit and erudition. 96pp

Love is His Meaning: The Impact of Julian of Norwich
Ed. John Skinner
2013 An introduction to reading the Showings. 145pp

Praying with Julian of Norwich
Gloria Durka
1989 Meditations on excerpts of the Showings. 107pp

Homely Love: Prayers & Reflections using the words of Julian of Norwich
Penny Roker
2006 A “retreat in a book” with excerpts of Julian’s Showings. 110pp

Julian of Norwich: A Very Brief History
Janina Ramirez
2017 A scholarly, accessible, and comprehensive introduction to Julian and her texts. 97pp


Love's Trinity: A Companion to Julian of Norwich
Frederick Roden
2009 A perceptive modern commentary on the Revelations. 336pp

Sin Shall Be A Glory
John Michael Mountney
1992 A good popular examination of "sin is behovabil.” 104pp

The Drawing of this Love        
Robert Fruehwirth      
2016 Reflections on the Showings. 159pp

The Explorer’s Guide to Julian of Norwich
Veronica Rolf
2018 A comprehensive “exploration” of Julian and the Showings. 220pp

With Pity Not With Blame: The Spirituality of Julian of Norwich & the Cloud of Unknowing
Robert Llewelyn
1994 A popular introduction to Julian’s thought. 149pp

Laughing at the Devil: Seeing the World with Julian of Norwich
Amy Laura Hall
2018 A modern reflection on Julian, her world, her text, and the value of her perspective to us today. 124pp


Julian of Norwich: Mystic & Theologian
Grace Jantzen
2000 A thorough study, looking carefully at several aspects of Julian and her texts. 230pp

Julian's Way: A Practical Commentary on Julian of Norwich.
Ritamary Bradley
1992 Discusses Julian's work by selected themes. 231pp

The Thirst of God: Contemplating God’s Love with Three Women Mystics    
Wendy Farley
2015 A feminist examination of Julian and her theology. 169pp

At the Foot of the Cross with Julian of Norwich
Emma Pennington
2020 The relation of the Showings to scripture, examined intensively, with questions. 157pp

Anchorhold: Corresponding with Revelations of Divine Love
Kirsten Pinto Gfroerer
2021 Intensive reflections on the Showings written as letters to Julian the teacher. 197pp

Julian of Norwich: Theologian
Denys Turner
2011 An accessible short examination of Julian as theologian. 262pp


The Writings of Julian of Norwich (Middle English)
Eds. Nicholas Watson & Jacqueline Jenkins
2006 Hybrid annotated text of the Showings with introductory essays. 474pp

Julian of Norwich's Showings: From Vision to Book
Denise Baker
1994 The development of Julian's theology as traditionally viewed. 215pp

Julian of Norwich: In God’s Sight, Her Theology in Context               
Philip Sheldrake
2019 A short, dense survey of Julian’s theology as traditionally viewed. 175pp

Lo How I Love Thee: Divine Love in Julian of Norwich
Brendan (Brant) Pelphrey
2012 Particularly studies Julian’s deep similarities to Eastern Orthodox spirituality. 542pp

Julian of Norwich: Apostle of Pain      
Richard Norton
2019 An academic examination of Julian as a writer addressing the experience of pain. 107pp

Julian of Norwich’s Legacy: Medieval Mysticism & Post-Medieval Reception
Ed. Sarah Salih & Denise Baker
2009 Essays on how Julian has been received and viewed since her popularization. 217pp


God’s ‘Kinde’ Love: Julian of Norwich’s Vernacular Theology of Grace
Julia A. Lamm
2019 An examination of Julian’s greater emphasis on grace in the Long Text and the formation of her theology of grace and mercy. 410pp

Julian of Norwich: Autobiography and Theology
Christopher Abbot
1999 Julian as a writer who must derive her authority from experience, and the theology that results. 197pp

Gifted Origins to Graced Fulfilment: The Soteriology of Julian of Norwich
Kerrie Hide
2001 An examination of Julian’s theology of salvation. 233pp

A Companion to Julian of Norwich     
Ed. Liz Herbert McAvoy
2008 Academic essays on aspects of Julian’s Showings. 249pp

Julian of Norwich: The Influence of Late Medieval Devotional Compilations
Elizabeth Dutton
2008 Julian’s Showings in the context of her devotional milieu. 189pp

Religious Experience & Interpretation: Memory as a Path to Knowledge of God in Julian of Norwich’s Showings
Wai Man Yuen
2003 Julian’s Showings in the light of Augustine’s theory of memory. 242pp