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I. Flemish Text

Werken van Jan van Ruusbroec. Ed. J. David. 6 vols. (Maetschappy der Vlaemsche Bibliophilen). (Gent, 1858-68.)

This edition, based on the MSS. preserved at Brussels and Ghent, and the foundation of all the best translations, is now rare. It may be consulted at the British Museum.

A re-issue of the Flemish text is now in progress; the first volume being Jan van Ruysbroeck, Van den VII. Trappen (i.e. The Seven Degrees of Love) met Geert Groote’s latijnsche Vertaling. Ed. Dom. Ph. Müller (Brussels, 1911).

II. Translations

A. Latin

The chief works of Ruysbroeck were early translated into Latin, some during their author’s lifetime, and widely circulated in this form. Three of these early translations were printed in the sixteenth century: the De Ornatu Spiritualium Nuptiarum of Jordaens, at Paris, in 1512; and the De Septem Scalæ Divini Amoris Gradibus of Gerard 188 Groot, together with the De Perfectione Filiorum Dei (i.e. The Sparkling Stone), at Bologna, in 1538.

The standard Latin translation, however—indispensable to all students of Ruysbroeck—is the great work of the Carthusian monk, Laurentius Surius: D. Joannis Rusbrochii Opera Omnia (Cologne, 1552).

This was reprinted in 1609 (the best edition), and again in 1692. It contains all Ruysbroeck’s authentic works, and some that are doubtful; in a translation singularly faithful to the sense of the original, though it fails to reproduce the rugged sublimity, the sudden lapses into crude and homely metaphor, so characteristic of his style.

B. English

The Book of the Twelve Béguines (the first sixteen chapters only). Translated from the Flemish, by John Francis (London, 1913).

A useful translation of one of Ruysbroeck’s most difficult treatises.

C. French

Œuvres de Ruysbroeck l’Admirable. Traduction du Flamand par les Bénédictins de Saint Paul de Wisques.

Vol. I.: Le Miroir du Salut Éternel; Les Sept Clôtures; Les Sept Degrés de l’Êchelle d’Amour Spirituel (Brussels, 1912, in progress).

This edition, when completed, will form the standard text of Ruysbroeck for those unable to read Flemish. The translation is admirably 189 lucid, and a short but adequate introduction is prefixed to each work.

L’Ornement des Noces Spirituelles. Traduit du Flamand par Maurice Maeterlinck (Brussels, 1900).

This celebrated book, still more its beautiful though unreliable introduction, is chiefly responsible for the modern interest in Ruysbroeck. The translation, exquisite as French prose, over-emphasises the esoteric element in his teaching. Those unable to read Flemish should check it by Lambert’s German text (see below).

Vie de Rusbroch suivie de son Traité des Sept Degrés de l’Amour. Traduction littérale du Texte Flamand-Latin, par R. Chamonal (Paris, 1909). Traité du Royaume des Amants de Dieu. Traduit par R. Chamonal (Paris, 1911). De la Vraie Contemplation (i.e. The Twelve Béguines). Traduit par R. Chamonal. 3 vols. (Paris, 1912).

These are the first volumes of a proposed complete translation; which is, however, far from literal, and replaces the rough vigour of the original by the insipid language of conventional French piety.

Livre des XII. Béguines ou de la Vraie Contemplation (first sixteen chapters only). Traduit du Flamand, avec Introduction, par L’Abbé P. Cuylits (Brussels, 1909).

This also contains a French version of the Vita of Pomerius. The translator is specially successful in rendering the peculiar quality of Ruysbroeck’s verse; but the statements in his introduction must be accepted with reserve.


D. German

Drei Schriften des Mystikers Johann van Ruysbroeck, aus dem Vlämischen übersetzt von Franz A. Lambert (Leipzig, 1902).

A vigorous and accurate translation of The Adornment of the Spiritual Marriage, The Sparkling Stone and The Book of Supreme Truth.

Ruysbroeck translates better into German than into any other language; and this volume is strongly recommended to all who can read that tongue.

III. Selections

Rusbrock l’Admirable: Œuvres Choisies. Traduit par E. Hello (Paris, 1902).

A series of short passages, paraphrased (not translated) from the Latin of Surius. There are two English versions of this unsatisfactory book, the second being the best:

Reflections from the Mirror of a Mystic. Translated by Earle Baillie (London, 1905).
Flowers of a Mystic Garden. Translated by C. E. S. (London, 1912).

Life, Light, and Love: Selections from the German Mystics. By the Very Rev. W. R. Inge, D.D., Dean of St. Paul’s (London, 1905).

Contains an abridged version of The Adornment of the Spiritual Marriage.


Biography and Criticism

(A Selection)

Auger, A.De Doctrina et Meritis Joannis van Ruysbroeck (Louvain, 1892).

Engelhardt, J. G. von.Richard von St. Victor und J. Ruysbroeck (Erlangen, 1838).

Useful for tracing the correspondences between the Victorines and Ruysbroeck.

Maeterlinck, Maurice.Ruysbroeck and the Mystics. Translated by Jane Stoddart (London, 1908).

An English version of the Introduction to L’Ornement des Noces Spirituelles, above-mentioned; with many fine passages translated from Ruysbroeck’s other works.

Pomerius, H.De Origine Monasterii Viridisvallis una cum Vitis Joannis Rusbrochii.

Printed in Analecta Bollandiana, vol. iv. (Brussels, 1885). The chief authority for all biographical facts.

Scully, Dom Vincent.A Mediæval Mystic (London, 1910).

A biographical account, founded on Pomerius, with a short analysis of Ruysbroeck’s works. Popular and uncritical.

Vreese, Dr. W. L. de.Jean de Ruysbroeck (Biographie Nationale de Belgique, vol. xx.) (Brussels, 1907).

An important and authoritative article with 192 analysis of all Ruysbroeck’s works and full bibliography.

——Bijdragen tot de Kennis van het Leven en de Werken van Jan van Ruusbroec (Gent, 1896).

Contains Gerard Naghel’s sketch of Ruysbroeck’s life, with other useful material.

——De Handschriften van Jan van Ruusbroec’s Werken. 2 vols. (Gent, 1900).

An important and scholarly study of the manuscript sources by the greatest living authority.

Notices of Ruysbroeck will be found in the following works:—

Auger, A.Étude sur les Mystiques des Pays Bas au Moyen Age (Académie Royale de Belgique, vol. xlvi., 1892).

Fleming, W. K.Mysticism in Christianity (London, 1913).

Inge, Very Rev. W. R., D.D., Dean of St. Paul’s.—Christian Mysticism (London, 1899).

Jones, Dr. Rufus M.Studies in Mystical Religion (London, 1909).

Applications of his doctrine to the spiritual life in:—

Baker, Venerable Augustin.—Holy Wisdom; or Directions for the Prayer of Contemplation (London, 1908).

Blosius, F. V.Book of Spiritual Instruction (London, 1900); A Mirror for Monks (London, 1901); Comfort for the Faint-hearted (London, 1903); Sanctuary of the Faithful Soul (London, 1905).

Denis the Carthusian.Opera Omnia (Monstrolii, 1896), in progress.


Petersen, Gerlac.The Fiery Soliloquy with God (London, 1872).

Poulain, Aug., S.J.The Graces of Interior Prayer (London, 1910).

Underhill, E.Mysticism, 5th ed. (London, 1914).


Much light is thrown on Ruysbroeck’s doctrine by a study of the authors who influenced him; especially:

St. Augustine; Migne, P.L., xxvii.-xlvii.; Eng. Trans., edited by M. Dods (Edinburgh, 1876).

Dionysius the Areopagite; Migne, P.G., iii., iv.; Eng. Trans., by Parker (Oxford, 1897).

Hugh and Richard of St. Victor; Migne, P.L., clxxv.-clxxvii. and cxcvi.

St. Bernard; Migne, P.L., clxxxii.-clxxxv.; Eng. Trans., by Eales (London, 1889-96).

St. Thomas Aquinas; Opera (Romæ, 1882-1906); Eng. Trans., by the Dominican Fathers (in progress).

St. Bonaventura; Opera (Paris, 1864-71).

Meister Eckhart; Schriften und Predigten (Leipzig, 1903).

Suso; Schriften, ed. Denifle (Munich, 1876). Eng. Trans., Life, ed. by W. R. Inge (London, 1913); Book of Eternal Wisdom (London, 1910).

Tauler, Predigten (Prague, 1872); Eng. Trans., Twenty-five Sermons, trans. by Winkworth (London, 1906); The Inner Way, edited by A. W. Hutton (London, 1909).


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