Publication Date

Fall 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




John Bernhardt


Bingen, Hildegard, Mystic

Subject Areas

Religion; History


Hildegard of Bingen has a storied past and, as such, has been called many things. Among these are Sybil of the Rhine, Doctor of the Church, and mystic. This last title has given some pause, most notably Caroline Walker Bynum and Barbara Newman, who deny her the title in their preface and introduction to Hildegard's flagship work, Scivias. Scholars such as these fail to analyze Hildegard and her works on their own merits, instead comparing her to other female mystics rather than mystics in general. Although Hildegard does not experience the physical union that is the hallmark of the false construct of `feminine mysticism,' she does not embrace union as the theme of Scivias. When analyzing Hildegard's work with a clear definition of mysticism at hand, one can confidently declare her a mystic.