Meister Eckhart (c.1260-c.1328)

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ECKHART (generally called Meister Eckart), but a part of him; and - here enters the easy the most remarkable of the German mystics of the transition from Eckart’s pantheistic speculations fourteenth century, was probably born at Strass- to his ascetic morals - the true object of human burg, 1260, and died, probably on a journey to Avignon, 1329. He belonged to the Dominican order, and was prior of Erfurt towards the close of the thirteenth century. In 1302 he taught in the College of St. Jacques in Paris, and took the degree of licentiatus theologiæ. In 1303 he was appointed provincial of his order for Saxony, and in 1307 vicar-general for Bohemia. In 1308 he again taught in Paris, and in 1316 he settled at Strassburg as vicar for the grand-master of his order. There he became acquainted with the Brethren of the Free Spirit; and when, some time after, he was removed to Francfort as prior of the Dominican monastery, the extraordinary character of his preaching aroused suspicion, and he was accused, before the grand-master Hervé (at that moment present at Metz), of entertaining connections with suspicious persons. An investigation was instituted, and Eckart was acquitted. Archbishop Henry of Cologne, however, the implacable enemy of the Beghards, had formed an opinion of his own about Eckart; and in 1325 very heavy accusations against him were laid before the chapter of the order assembled in Venice. Nicholas of Strassburg, as papal nuntius et minister, was charged with the investigation; and, as he himself belonged to the mystical school of theology, he found nothing to blame in Eckart. But Henry would not suffer himself to be robbed of his prey in this way. He accused both Eckart and his protector, Nicholas, of heresy; and a regular process was instituted before an episcopal court of inquisition. Both Eckart and Nicholas protested against the competency of the court, and appealed to the Pope; but they were, nevertheless, both of them condemned. On Feb. 13, 1329, Eckart read from the pulpit of the cloister-chapel in Cologne a solemn declaration, in which he protested his willingness to recant any error into which he might have fallen. Immediately after, he set out for Avignon; but when the papal decision was given, in the bull of March 27, 1329, he had died. The bull, however, treated the case with great leniency. On account of the declaration he had made at Cologne, Eckart was evidently considered as one who, before death, had returned to the bosom of the Church. The bull condemned seventeen propositions of his, and pointed out eleven more as suspicious. But, in spite of this condemnation, his pupils still clung to him with great reverence and love. When Heinrich Suso wrote his autobiography, in 1360, he spoke of Eckart as the "holy master;" and his sermons were frequently copied in the monasteries of Germany, Switzerland, Tyrol, and Bohemia. In 1430 the papal condemnation was repeated; but in 1440 Nicholas of Cusa, nevertheless, mentions Eckart’s works as one of the sources of his system. A collected edition of his works was given by Franz Pfeiffer, Leipzig, 1857.

What startles the reader in Eckart’s writings is his strongly pronounced though mystic pantheism, often expressed with singular power. God is not the highest being, he says, for he is the only being. Outside of God there is nothing but illusion and deception. In its true existence every creature is not only a revelation of God, but a part of him; and - here enters the easy transition from Eckart’s pantheistic speculations to his ascetic morals - the true object of human life must consequently be to strip it of all illusions and deceptions, and return into the one great being, God.

C. Schmidt, "Eckhart," Philip Schaff, ed., A Religious Encyclopaedia or Dictionary of Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal, and Practical Theology, 3rd edn, Vol. 2. Toronto, New York & London: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1894. pp.688-689.

Primary Sources

Book or monograph Eckhart: Selected WritingsMeister Eckhart, Selected Writings. Penguin USA, 1995. Pbk. ISBN: 0140433430. pp.336.
Book or monograph Meister EckhartEdmund Colledge & Bernard McGinn, Meister Eckhart: The Essential Sermons, Commentaries, Treatises, and Defense. Classics of Western Spirituality. New York: Paulist Press, 1982. Pbk. ISBN: 0809123703. pp.366.
On-line Resource Light, Life, and Love (Christian Classics Ethereal Library)
Book or monograph Meister Eckhart: Teacher and PreacherBernard McGinn, Frank Tobin & Elvira Borgstadt, Meister Eckhart: Teacher and Preacher. Classics of Western Spirituality. New York: Paulist Press, 1987. Pbk. ISBN: 0809128276. pp.420.
Book or monograph Edmund & McGinn Bernard Colledge & Bernard McGinn, eds. Selected Latin and German Works. London: SPCK, 1982. Pbk. ISBN: 0281038481.
Book or monograph Works of Meister EckhartF. Franz Pfeiffer, Works of Meister Eckhart. R A Kessinger Publishing Co., 1940. Hbk. ISBN: 156459274X. pp.728.

Secondary Sources

Book or monograph Jeanne Ancelet-Hustache, Master Eckhart and the Rhineland Mystics. New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1957. pp.190.
Book or monograph James Midgley Clark, The Great German Mystics: Eckhart, Tauler, Suso. Russell & Russell Publishers, 1970. ISBN: 0846213516.
Article in Journal or Book Winfried Corduan, "A Hair's Breadth From Pantheism: Meister Eckhart's God-Centered Spirituality," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 37.2 (1994): 263-274.
Book or monograph Davies: Meister Eckhart: Mystical TheologianOliver Davies, Meister Eckhart: Mystical Theologian. London: SPCK, 1991. Pbk. ISBN: 0281045208. pp.274.
Article in Journal or Book Michael Demkovich, "Meister Eckhart on Justice and True Obedience," Louvain Studies 18.2 (1993): 131-144.
Article in Journal or Book Blake R. Heffner, "Meister Eckhart and a Millennium with Mary and Martha," Lutheran Quarterly 5.2 (1991): 171-185.
Book or monograph Dom Sylvester Houedard, Commentaries on Meister Eckhart Sermons. Beshara Publications, 2000. Pbk. ISBN: 0904975258.
Book or monograph C F Kelley, Meister Eckhart on Divine Knowledge. Yale University Press, 1977. Hbk. ISBN: 0300020988. pp.285.
Article in Journal or Book Niklaus Largier, "Recent Works on Meister Eckhart: Positions, Problems, New Perspectives, 1990-1997," Recherches de Theol et Phil Medievales 65.1 (1998): 147-167.
Article in Journal or Book David E. Linge, "Mysticism, Poverty and Reason in the Thought of Meister Eckhart," Journal of American Academy of Religion 46.4 (1978): 465-488.
Article in Journal or Book John Loeschen, "The God Who Becomes: Eckhart on Divine Relativity," Thomist 35.3 (1971): 405-422.
Article in Journal or Book Bernard McGinn, "The God Beyond God: Theology and Mysticism in the Thought of Meister Eckhart," Journal of Religion 61.1 (1981): 1-19.
Book or monograph Bernard McGinn, Frank Tobin & Elvira Borgstadt, eds., Meister Eckhart: Teacher and Preacher. London: SPCK, 1987. Pbk. ISBN: 0281042780.
Book or monograph McGinn: The Mystical Thought of Meister EckhartBernard McGinn, The Mystical Thought of Meister Eckhart : The Man from Whom God Hid Nothing. The Edward Cadbury Lectures, 2000-2001. Herder & Herder, 2001. Hbk. ISBN: 0824519140. pp.320.
Article in Journal or Book Joseph Politella, "Meister Eckhart and Eastern Wisdom," Philosophy East and West 15.2 (1965): 117-133.
Article in Journal or Book Michael Sells, "Emanation and Mysticism in the Writings of Meister Eckhart," Listening 29.3 (1994): 174-185.
Article in Journal or Book Robert S. Stoudt, "Meister Eckhart and the 'Eternal Birth': The Heart of the Preacher," Thomist 50.2 (1986): 238-259.
Article in Journal or Book Cornelius Williams, "Meister Eckhart: the Man and His message," Theology Digest 36.3 (1989): 221-226.
Article in Journal or Book Richard Woods, "Meister Eckhart and the Neoplatonic Heritage: The Thinker's Way of God," Thomist 54.4 (1990): 609-639.

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