ATS3611 - Imagining God: The mystic quest in Judaism, Christianity and Islam - 2019

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Organisational Unit

Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation

Chief examiner(s)

Professor Constant Mews


Professor Constant Mews
Dr Nathan Wolski

Not offered in 2019


Twelve credit points of second-year Arts units.




The unit explores the ways God is imagined in a variety of religious and mystical traditions, focusing on Christian mysticism (early and medieval), classical Sufism (Islam), mystical currents within Judaism (rabbinic and Kabbalistic), as well as the transformations of mysticism in the post-enlightenment and secular world. It will consider how mystical literature and teaching relates to religious practice, its social/political function within any religion, and the extent to which it may challenge religious authority, while also drawing its discourse from a religious tradition. There will be opportunity to consider mysticism outside as well as within monotheist tradition. It thus raises questions about the nature of mysticism in its various forms, and its relationship to both rational and poetic thought.


Upon completion of this unit, students will be expected to:

  1. Demonstrate awareness of the major theoretical issues relating to mystical literature within a variety of religious traditions.
  2. Demonstrate awareness of the developments of mystical teaching in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, with particular attention to mysticism in medieval Christianity, Sufism, and Kabbalah in Judaism.
  3. Show understanding of the relationship between mystical literature and the religious tradition from which it emanates.
  4. Consider the historical context in which mystical teaching has emerged, and what social and political function it may play within a religious tradition.
  5. Demonstrate awareness of the major theoretical debates raised by the phenomenon of mysticism, and the question of whether or not it involves experiences common to different religious traditions.


Within semester assessment: 70% + Exam: 30%

Workload requirements

Minimum total expected workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours per semester typically comprising a mixture of scheduled learning activities and independent study. A unit requires on average three/four hours of scheduled activities per week. Scheduled activities may include a combination of teacher directed learning, peer directed learning and online engagement.

See also Unit timetable information

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study