Prayer, our participation in the triune life of God : an analytical interpretation of the theology of The Cloud of Unknowing
By most accounts, six centuries have come and gone since an undisclosed author penned the classic work on contemplative prayer which we have come to know as The Cloud of Unknowing. Although many things have changed since that time, it was still possible for a theologian of our own age to declare the Cloud's author, 'the most subtle and incisive, as well as the most original, spiritual writer in the English Language.' In this thesis, the author comes to conclude that a unique perspective on the dogma of prayer may be found in a critical survey of the theology of prayer found in The Cloud of Unknowing. The project begins by re-examining the critical questions of dating and authorship---giving special attention to new material the author has been able to glean concerning the continuing influence of the Cloud. Next he surveys the Cloud 's sources---looking at the Bible, in particular, as the English author's most influential source. Before going on to evaluate more critically the Cloud's docrine of prayer, the author presents a glossary of the various technical and theological terms the author employs. After this the reader may find a discussion of the problem of theological method in interpreting the Cloud. Then, following the outline suggested by the Nicene creed, this study structurally formulates the theological perspectives we may deduce that the Cloud's author held. It was then necessary for the study to offer an honest appraisal of the possible weakness inherent in: Neoplatonic apophaticism, absorptionism, quietism, gnosticism, irrationality, sectarianism, subjectivism, and indifference to social concern. Yet all the while the study retains a sympathetic climate of deep appreciation for the Cloud.