In Heiko Oberman’s excellent book, The Dawn of the Reformation, he has an interesting chapter on Luther called, “Simul Gemitus et Raptus: Luther and Mysticism.” Below are a few passages that caught my attention, and are worth sharing.
“In the particular case of Luther, I believe that a consensus can be reached among scholars in the field that it is highly precarious to separate the mystical tissue from the living organism of Luther’s spirituality. The tissue of mysticism cannot be treated as one aspect of Luther’s theology, such as his relation to certain historical events, men, or movements […] but it is part and parcel of his overall understanding of the Gospel itself and therefore pervades his understanding of faith, justification, hermeneutics, ecclesiology, and pneumatology” (p. 127).
“In the case of Pseudo-Dionysius we have the very positive statement by Luther in 1514 that the via negativa is the most perfect. ‘Hence, we find with Dionysius often the word “hyper”, because one should transcend all thought and enter darkness’ (Schol. To Ps. 64(65):2 [W A 3,372.13-27; early 1514]). Luther seizes here an aspect of the theology of Dionysius which in the Disputation Against Scholastic Theology in 1517 will be formulated as ‘the whole of Aristotle relates to theology as shadow to light’ (W A 1,226, 26; Cl. 5,9.29-31). […] It is the ‘hyper’ element which Luther approves and by no means the anagogical facere quod in se est of man which would bypass God’s revelation in Christ. In 1514 it is already clear that ‘darkness,’ – tenebrae, umbra, or caligoi –shares in the double meaning of abscondere and absconditus; not only apart from faith is God obscured in our speculations, but even in faith the faithful live ‘in umbraculo, in God’s protective custody, as friends of God on earth” (pp. 131-32).