Christian Platonism

Rediscovering Ancient Wisdom

Rudolph Otto on the mysterium tremendum

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Ottos Mysterium Tremendum

Otto has reached the heart of the matter. He pins down this sort of experience for dissection in terms of a Latin phrase, mysterium tremendum. He presents the tremendum component of the numinous that is being experienced as comprising three elements: awfulness inspiring awe, a sort of profound unease, overpoweringness that which, among other things, inspires a feeling of humility, energy creating an impression of immense vigour.

The mysterium component in its turn has two elements, which Otto discusses at considerable length. Firstly, the numinous is experienced as wholly other. It is something truly amazing, as being totally outside our normal experience. Secondly, here is the element of fascination, which causes the subject of the experience of the numinous to be caught up in it, to be enraptured.

From John C Durham, Understanding the Sacred


Written by John Uebersax

January 26, 2009 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Mysticism

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