John Arblaster (Bonheiden, 1985) is part-time lecturer in the history of spirituality in the Low Countries at the Ruusbroec Institute. He also works part-time as a research associate of the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, KU Leuven.
In December 2016, he obtained a double doctorate in literature (University of Antwerp) and theology (KU Leuven). His doctoral research concerned the literary articulations of and theological developments in the doctrine of deification in a number of mystical authors from the medieval Low Countries, with a particular focus on the works of William of Saint-Thierry, the anonymous poet known as Pseudo-Hadewijch, Beatrice of Nazareth, Marguerite Porete, and John of Ruusbroec.
He is currently conducting the first literary and theological analysis of the complete oeuvre of Jan van Leeuwen (c. 1300-1378), a layperson of the lowest social class who was the cook at the Priory of Groenendaal and who wrote twenty-two mystical prose treatises in Middle Dutch.
His research methodology is located at the intersection of literary studies and theology, with a primary emphasis on metaphor studies, intertextuality, and interlingual networks of ‘critical' reception, as well as content-related themes such as mystical anthropology and pneumatology. While he mainly conducts research into mystics from the Low Countries, he also has a particular interest in other medieval mystical and devotional authors (e.g. John of Fécamp, Hildegard of Bingen, Elizabeth of Schönau, Hugh and Richard of Saint-Victor, Jacopone da Todi, Johannes Tauler, Walter Hilton and Julian of Norwich), as well as in the 'mystical culture' of the Devotio Moderna (especially Thomas a Kempis and Erasmus).
With Louise Nelstrop (Oxford University/Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology, Cambridge) and Simon Podmore (Liverpool Hope University) he coordinates the Mystical Theology Network, an extensive international network of researchers engaged with mystical literature from a wide variety of perspectives. Don't hesitate to contact him with any questions about the network or its annual conferences.
Starting in the summer of 2020 he is also organizing the annual Jesuit Heritage Summer School. The theme of the inaugural edition (7-11 September 2020) is Art and Architecture.
* “The Image and Likeness of God,” in: Eddie Howells and Mark McIntosh (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Mystical Theology (OUP, forthcoming).
* “‘Flowing from the Wild Sea and Back to the Sea’: Water Metaphors and Mystical Union in the Late Medieval Low Countries’, The Journal of Religion 98 (2018), 169-191.
* John Arblaster & Paul Verdeyen, “The Reciprocity of Spiritual Love in William of Saint-Thierry and Hadewijch,” International Journal of Philosophy and Theology 78 (2017), 39-54.
* John Arblaster & Rob Faesen (eds.) Mystical Anthropology: Authors from the Low Countries (Abingdon: Routledge, 2017).
* John Arblaster & Rob Faesen (eds.), A Companion to John of Ruusbroec (Leiden: Brill, 2014).