Spanish Mystics & Reformers

Spanish Mystics & Reformers - Spring Term 2021

Iliff Course #: IST 3111

DU/JDP Course #: RLGN 4505

4 Credits; HI-Depth Course/Advanced Masters & PhD Level Seminar


Start Date: Monday March 22nd, 2021

End Date:   Friday May 28th, 2021

Instructor: Prof. Albert Hernández, Ph.D.


Office Hours:--- By appointment on Zoom or on mobile-call.

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.

Required Textbooks & Readings:

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, 2019. [Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8245-01723].

Teresa of Avila, The Interior Castle (1588).

It is strongly recommended students obtain a copy of the international English translation and study-edition of this classic mystical text officially authorized by the Institute for Carmelite Studies: Kieran Kavanaugh and Otilio Rodriguez, The Interior Castle: Study Edition. Second Edition. Washington, DC: I.C.S. Publications, December 2020.  [ISBN: 978-1-939272-805].  If the Second Edition is sold out on, students can also order/read the First Edition of the book, or consider ordering the Second Edition of the book directly from the I.C.S. Publications website.

NOTE-WELL: Please DO NOT use any translations of St. Teresa's or St. John's works in this course by Mirabai Starr, who makes far too many incorrect translations, word usage errors, and incorrect interpretations of the original Spanish texts. The excellent translation by E. Allison Peers (see: Interior Castle. Dover Thrift Editions, 2007), and the excellent Kavanaugh and Rodriguez translation listed above (available in both First Edition and Second Edition paperback versions) are considered the very best English translations available for college-level student readers and scholarly researchers alike.  Students proficient in reading Spanish, especially Iliff/DU J.D.P. doctoral students, may want to read St. Teresa's and St. John's works in Spanish as well as in English.

Cristóbal Serrán-Pagán y Fuentes, Saint John of the Cross: His Prophetic Mysticism in the Historical Context of Sixteenth-Century Spain. Washington, DC: Pacem in Terris Press, 2018. [Paperback ISBN: 978-0999608-876].

Additional Required Readings---- From primary and secondary sources, 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 internet-based links and internal Canvas file-links for each respective 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.

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.

Overview, Objectives, and Learning Goals:

(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 as well as the deep conviction many of these figures shared about faith-in-action or about social activism in the contexts of their time and place.   

(4) Students will cultivate critical skills for analyzing primary source documents dealing with religious pluralism and the treatment of persons identified with the converso, morisco, 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 & JDP Doctoral Courses)

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.

Evaluation, Required Assignments, and Grading Procedures 


Students will participate in and complete FOUR separate on-line class discussions/open forums on different topics/themes selected by the instructor during the course.

Each one of the four or five class discussions/open forums will be worth 7 to 10 points for a total of 40% of the Final Grade in this course.   

In order to earn full-credit on each of the Group Discussion Assignments, each student must log-on and post responses two separate times to each group discussion topic/theme by the respective deadlines.

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. Be sure that your first posting arrives in a timely manner so as not to hold-up or delay the discussion forum for the rest of the class. 

Please remember to log back in to the Group Discussion/Open Forum to post your second required response to the respective week's theme or topic, and to extend the conversation by engaging your classmates before moving on to next week's course topics and reading materials.

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 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.

Reminder about Spring Term 2021 - Easter Recess:  Iliff's annual Easter Recess will be at the end of Week Two, during which time the school will be closed in observance of Good Friday on April 2nd, 2021, and will remain closed thru Easter Sunday on April 4th, 2021.  Thus our Week 2 Group Discussion/Open Forum assignment deadline has been moved to Monday April 5th by 11:59 pm (MST).   


"Spanish Mystics & Reformers" (IST 3111; RLGN 4505) meets "live" on Zoom during the following Spring Term 2021 dates and times:

Tuesday Week Three---April 6th---6 pm to 7:15 pm (MST)

Tuesday Week Five--April 20th---6 pm to 7:15 pm (MST)

Tuesday Week Eight--May 11th---6 pm to 7:15 pm (MST)  

Student attendance in these three synchronous class sessions is required, and participation in all three sessions accounts for 15% of the Final Grade. 

MID-TERM ASSIGNMENT - Brief Proposal of Final Research Paper or Final Reflection Paper: 15%

Each student will write a minimum 2-page double-spaced summative proposal of her/his/their 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 sample Research Proposals on Canvas for students who wish to view the format of this assignment). 

DUE DATE: End of Week Six on Sunday May 2nd, 2021 by 11:59 PM (MST), and submitted to the instructor thru Canvas in Word format. (No PDF format documents please).   


Each student will write a Final Research Paper or a Final Reflection Paper of no more than 8 to 12 pages in length on a topic of her/his/their choosing covered in this history course as outlined in the students' Mid-Term Research Proposal assignment. **Details forthcoming after the start of the term**

Note-Well: Doctoral students may submit papers of up to 15 pages in length, BUT  if you exceed this length Prof. Hernández will STOP READING on page 15 and your final grade on this assignment will be negatively impacted.  

Note-Well: Students who are graduating this June 2021, must submit their Final Assignment, and complete any pending class work, at least one week prior to the rest of the class. (Due Date: T.B.A. right here asap). 

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 areas 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: T.B.A.  (No PDF format documents please). 

Course Procedures and Expectations:

Accessing and Regularly Checking our Canvas Course Site:

NOTE-WELL : Synchronous Class Meetings During Weeks 3, 5, and 8

"Spanish Mystics & Reformers" (IST 3111; RLGN 4505) meets "live" on Zoom during the following Spring Term 2021 dates and times:

Tuesday Week Three--April 6th---6 pm to 7:15 pm (MST)

Tuesday Week Five---April 20th---6 pm to 7:15 pm (MST)

Tuesday Week Eight--May 11th---6 pm to 7:15 pm (MST)

Student attendance in these three synchronous class sessions is required, and participation in all three sessions accounts for 15% of the Final Grade in this course.
Easter Recess: Iliff's annual Easter Recess this spring term will be at the end of Week Two, during which time the school will be closed in observance of Good Friday on April 2nd, 2021, and will remain closed thru Easter Sunday on April 4th, 2021.  Thus our Week 2 group discussion/open forum assignment deadline has been moved to Monday April 5th by 11:59 pm (MST).

Guidelines for Online Group Discussions/Open Forums:

Writing Lab:

Grammar and organization are important for all written assignments.  Additional help is available from the Iliff Writing Lab . , 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 Policies & Statement on Academic Integrity as published in the Masters Student Handbook , or the D.U. & I.S.T. Joint Doctoral Program's Statement on Academic Honesty, as published in the Joint PhD Student Handbook and as appropriate.  All participants in this class are expected to be familiar with Iliff’s Core Values.

Incomplete Grades:

Incomplete Grade petitions will be granted only in the case of documented and verifiable medical circumstances or other personal or family related emergencies. In the event a student requires this option, the final grade for the course will be assigned as a "Pass" (P) or "Fail" (F) grade.

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.

Mar 24, 2021WedWelcome Message, Course Overview, & The Historian's Craft of "Re-Constructing" the Pastdue by 05:59AM
Mar 27, 2021SatWEEK ONE - Intro to the Religious, Cultural and Political Histories of Late-Medieval and Early-Modern Spain (ca. Late-1200's to Early-1600's)due by 05:59AM
Apr 02, 2021FriWEEK TWO - What is Christian Mysticism and What is Christian Reformism?due by 05:59AM
Apr 06, 2021TueWEEK TWO: Group Discussion/Open Forum #1 - The "Imago Dei" Doctrine/Concept & its Relationship to Human Dignity, Mysticism, & the History of Justicedue by 05:59AM
Apr 10, 2021SatWEEK THREE: Alumbradismo, Heresy, and Persecution in Early-Modern Spaindue by 05:59AM
Apr 16, 2021FriWEEK FOUR: The Lutheran Reformation & The Spread of Protestantism in Early-Modern Spain. due by 05:59AM
Apr 19, 2021MonWEEK FOUR: Group Discussion/Open Forum #-2--Reflecting on Historic Tensions Between Religious Experience & Religious Authoritydue by 05:59AM
Apr 24, 2021SatWEEK FIVE: Teresa of Ávila's Religious Career & Spiritual Writings in the Context of Sixteenth Century Spaindue by 05:59AM
May 02, 2021SunWEEK SIX: Group Discussion/Open Forum #3--Further Reflections & Discussion about Teresa's "Interior Castle"due by 05:59AM
May 03, 2021MonWEEK SIX: Mid-Term Assignment----Final Paper Proposals Due this Weekend by Sunday May 2nd, 2021 (MST)due by 05:59AM
May 07, 2021FriWEEK SEVEN: Mysticism as Service & Reformism: Ignatius of Loyola and the Founding of the Jesuitsdue by 05:59AM
May 15, 2021SatWEEK EIGHT: John of the Cross as Mystic Poet and Christian Reformerdue by 05:59AM
May 21, 2021FriWEEK NINE: Juan de Valdés, Spanish Protestantism, and Restoring the Divine Image in the Human Heartdue by 05:59AM
May 21, 2021FriWEEK NINE: Assigning Points for Attendance & Participation in Zoom Meetingsdue by 05:59AM
May 22, 2021SatWEEK NINE: Group Discussion/Open Forum #-4: What Have We Learned about Ignatius of Loyola, John of the Cross, and Juan de Valdés?due by 05:59AM
Jun 02, 2021WedWEEK 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 05:59AM
Jun 02, 2021WedWEEK TEN: Submitting Final Reflection Papers or Final Research Papers and Details about Deadlinesdue by 05:59AM