Spanish Mystics & Reformers

Spanish Mystics & Reformers:

(IST 3111; 4 Credits; HI-Depth Course)

(RLGN 4505; 4 Credits; Joint Doctoral Program Elective Course)

Fall Term 2019: Monday September 9th to Friday November 15th

On-Campus Class Sessions:

Wednesday Oct. 9th, 1-5 PM; and Thursday Oct. 10th, 8 AM-Noon.  Classroom: Bartlett

Instructor: Albert Hernández, Ph.D.


Course Description/Synopsis:

Early modern Spain witnessed the emergence of Catholic and Protestant individuals whose timeless works and popular appeal in subsequent centuries rested largely upon the practice of "contemplation in action." This course examines the historical context and works of such mystics and reformers as Teresa of Ávila, John of the Cross, Ignatius of Loyola, Juan de Valdés, Constantino Ponce de la Fuente, Cipriano de Valera, Casiodoro de Reina, Antonio del Corro, and others. It also explores the influence of Islam and Judaism on these sixteenth century religious movements, as well as modern Spain's subsequent rejection of this pluralistic legacy as the young nation-state sought to define its new national identity and consolidate power across Europe and its vast colonial territories in the Western Hemisphere.

Overview And Objectives

(1) Students will develop systematic research skills related to the religious history of the period covered in this course, and to the broader outlines of the history of Christianity.

(2) Students will develop an understanding of the similarities and differences which shaped the Protestant Reformation and the Roman Catholic Reformation movements in the historical and literary contexts of  sixteenth century Spain as well as in the contexts of Spanish colonialism in the Western Hemisphere regions of Latin America and the Southwestern U.S. 

(3) Students will learn about the contemplative prayer practices of the historical figures covered in the course, and about the mystical theologies of the visionary writers covered in the course.

(4) Students will cultivate critical skills for analyzing primary source documents dealing with religious pluralism and the treatment of persons identified with the conversomorisco, and/or marrano sectors of Spanish society during the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries. 

(5) Students will develop an understanding of the role of historical revisionism, literary canon, national identity and the adoption of a national language in the formation of modern nation-states’ economies of power, as well as definitions of difference across categories of race, gender, class, and religious affiliation.  

DEGREE LEARNING GOALS in HISTORY (For all I.S.T. Master’s Degree Programs)

Historical Development and Expressions of Religious Traditions (HI): Demonstrate awareness of religious traditions as historically-situated movements that interacted and changed in relationship to their surrounding cultures and subcultures over time, resulting in various expressions located within and influenced by social structures and institutions, ideologies, historical events, ethnicity and gender, and cultural worldviews.

Required Course Textbooks and Readings:

Teresa of Avila, The Interior Castle (1588).  [Any edition or format is OK for our purposes in this course, --with the exception of the Mirabai Starr translation, which makes too many incorrect word usages and translations against the original Spanish text. The translations by E. Allison Peers (see: Interior Castle. Dover Thrift Editions, 2007) and Kieran Kavanaugh (see: The Interior Castle: Study Edition. I.C.S. Publications, 2010) are each considered the very best translations for college-level student readers and scholarly researchers alike].

Bernard McGinn, Mysticism in the Golden Age of Spain, 1500-1650. Volume VI, Part 2 of the series, The Presence of God: A History of Western Christian Mysticism. Crossroad Publishing Company, 2017. [ISBN: 978-0-8245-0090-0].

Additional required readings, from primary and secondary sources, will be made available to students under the "Files" tab of our Canvas course site, and will be listed on the "Course Summary" section of the syllabus for each respective week of the course with full author, title, and page number information as well as any relevant external links from each source or for each excerpt.

Suggested Additional Reading: ---(Optional Texts/Purchase Not Required)---

Brian A. Catlos, Kingdoms of Faith: A New History of Islamic Spain. Basic Books/Hachette Books, 2018.

Robert Goodwin, Spain, the Centre of the World, 1519-1682. Bloomsbury Press, 2015.

Kevin Madigan, Medieval Christianity: A New History . Yale University Press, 2015.

Carlos Eire, Reformations: The Early Modern World, 1450-1650. Yale University Press, 2016.

William Meninger, Saint John of the Cross for Beginners. Lantern Books, 2014.


Accessing and Regularly Checking the Canvas Course Site:

Guidelines for Class/Group Discussions:

Mandatory Attendance:

Writing Lab:

Grammar and organization are important for all written assignments.  Additional help is available from the Iliff Writing Lab (Links to an external site.) , which is available for students of any level who need help beginning an assignment, organizing thoughts, or reviewing a final draft.

Academic Integrity and Core Values:

All students are expected to abide by Iliff’s statement on Academic Integrity , as published in the Masters Student Handbook (Links to an external site. ) , or the Joint PhD Statement on Academic Honesty, as published in the Joint PhD Student Handbook (Links to an external site.) , as appropriate.  All participants in this class are expected to be familiar with Iliff’s Core Values (Links to an external site.) .

Incomplete Grades:

Additional Policies & Services:

For information about A.D.A. Accommodations , or for information about additional Iliff School of Theology "Policies & Services" go to this tab/section of our Canvas course page or go there by clicking on this Link.



All students will participate in and complete each of the required on-line class discussions/open forums scheduled throughout the course about different topics/themes selected by the instructor. In order to earn full-credit on each of the Group Discussion/Open Forum Assignments, each student must log-on and post responses two separate times to each discussion topic/theme by the respective deadline. Posting a late initial response to the week's discussion topic will result in a point deduction for that week's Group Discussion/Open Forum assignment.  

Students will be expected to have read the assigned textbook sections, and the assigned primary or secondary source readings for each respective discussion topic/theme, and to have viewed the week’s recorded video lecture(s) before participating in the respective class discussion assignment posted on Canvas. For further details see the Guidelines for Class/Group Discussion under the "Course Procedures & Expectations" section of the syllabus.


In addition to the mandatory attendance requirement at the on-campus/residential portions of the course on Wednesday October 9th and on Thursday October 10th, 2019, students will receive 10 percent of their final grade for Class Participation during the class lectures, discussions, and activities held on-campus.  Effective Class Participation during these two on-campus/residential class sessions means that each student will come to class prepared for reflective, positive discussion with peers and with the instructor by having read all of the assigned materials, and by being fully engaged in the seminar setting of the class.

MID-TERM ASSIGNMENT - Brief Proposal of Final Research or Final Reflection Paper: 10% of Course Grade.

Each student will write a minimum 2-page double-spaced summative proposal of her/his final Reflection Paper or Final Research Paper.

State your proposed paper’s thesis and/or topic then provide a summary of what you plan to work on, and explain why you chose this particular topic/theme. You must also provide a preliminary bibliography (BBL) of your proposed topic/theme. Four to eight primary or secondary sources from books, articles, and reputable websites is fine for this “preliminary” BBL.  (The instructor will provide a sample Research Proposal on Canvas for students who wish to view the format of this assignment). 

DUE DATE: Week Seven on Friday October 25th. 2019 by 11:59 PM (CMT), and submitted to the instructor thru Canvas submission in Word format. (no PDF documents please).   

***More details forthcoming after the start of the Fall Term*** 


Each student will write a final paper of no more than seven to ten pages in length on a topic of her/his choosing covered in this history course.  ***More details forthcoming after the start of the Fall Term***

These final papers may take the form of a Reflection Paper providing a summary or synopsis of your chosen topic followed by theological and historical reflection on the topic/theme, and its relevancy to your area of ministerial, professional, or academic interest. In other words, a reflective essay on some aspect of mysticism, reformism/revitalization, or the context of early-modern Spanish religious history.  On the other hand, you may prefer to write a more traditional Research Paper on a topic/theme of your choosing with a historical and theological focus on a topic/theme covered during the course.

DUE DATE: Wednesday November 20th, 2019 by 11:59 PM (CMT) and submitted to the instructor thru Canvas in Word format (no PDF document submissions). 


Sep 11, 2019WedWelcome Message and Course Overview Videosdue by 05:59AM
Sep 14, 2019SatWeek One - Intro to the Religious and Political History of Late-Medieval and Early-Modern Spain (ca. Mid-1200's to ca. Early-1600's)due by 05:59AM
Sep 19, 2019ThuWeek Two - What is Christian Mysticism and What is Christian Reformism? Also Group Discussion/Open Forum #-1 Due This Week.due by 05:59AM
Sep 22, 2019SunWeek Two: Group Discussion on the Doctrine/Concept of the "Imago Dei" and its Relationship to Human Dignity and Social Justice Concerns due by 05:59AM
Sep 23, 2019MonWeek Two Discussion: ---Continued---due by 05:59AM
Sep 28, 2019SatWeek Three: Alumbradismo and Mystical Heresy in Early-Modern Spaindue by 05:59AM
Oct 03, 2019ThuWeek Four: The Lutheran Reformation & The Spread of Protestantism across Early-Modern Spain. Also Group Discussion/Open Forum #-2 Due This Week. due by 05:59AM
Oct 06, 2019SunWeek Four: Group Discussion/Open Forum #-2--Reflecting on the Historic Tensions Between Religious Experience and Religious Authoritydue by 05:59AM
Oct 07, 2019MonWeek Four Discussion: ---Continued---due by 05:59AM
Oct 10, 2019ThuWeek Five: On-Campus Class Sessions - Wednesday October 9, 2019: 1 PM-5 PM, and Thursday October 10, 2019; 8 AM-Noon. Classroom Location: Bartlettdue by 07:00PM
Oct 19, 2019SatWeek Six: Overview and Summary of Group Discussion/Open Forum #-3: Reflecting with Teresa of Avila on "The Interior Castle." due by 05:59AM
Oct 20, 2019SunWeek Six: Group Discussion/Open Forum #-3: Reflecting with Teresa of Avila on "The Interior Castle."due by 05:59AM
Oct 21, 2019MonWeek Six Discussion: ---Continued---due by 05:59AM
Oct 24, 2019ThuWeek Seven: Ignatius of Loyola and the Founding of the Jesuits. Also Due this Week on Friday October 25th, 2019: Mid-Term Assignment----Your Proposal for either a Final Research Paper or a Final Reflection Paper (Value: 10 points of Final Grade). due by 05:59AM
Oct 26, 2019SatMid-Term Assignment----Final Paper Proposals Due by this Friday October 25th, 2019 at 11:59 PM (CMT)due by 05:59AM
Nov 02, 2019SatWeek Eight: John of the Cross as Mystic Poet and Christian Reformer due by 05:59AM
Nov 07, 2019ThuWeek Nine: Juan de Valdés, Spanish Protestantism, and Restoring the Divine Image in the Human Heart. Also Group Discussion/Open Forum #-4 Due This Week by Friday Nov. 8th, 2019.due by 06:59AM
Nov 09, 2019SatWeek Nine: Group Discussion/Open Forum #-4: What Have We Learned?due by 06:59AM
Nov 11, 2019MonWeek Nine Discussion: --Continued--due by 06:59AM
Nov 21, 2019ThuWeek Ten: No New Content, nor Required Readings, nor Group Discussion Assignments Due This Week. Focus instead on your Final Research Paper or on your Final Reflection Paper. due by 06:59AM