Meister Eckhart, the Essential Sermons, Commentaries, Treatises, and Defense

By Edmund Colledge; Bernard McGinn et al. | Go to book overview

More typical of the mature Eckhart is the work known as the Book "Benedictus," which really consists of two related treatises, the Book of Divine Consolation, 24 and the sermon entitled " Of the Nobleman." 25 The Book of Divine Consolation belongs to a genre well known in the Middle Ages, the message of consolation sent to someone in time of need. Later references tell us that the recipient was Queen Agnes of Hungary (c. 1280-1364); the hour of need in which it was sent may well have been 1308, when her father, Albert of Hapsburg, was murdered. Loosely divided into three sections, the work is a remarkable summary of the most difficult and speculative aspects of the Meister's teaching, and tells us much about the Queen's intelligence and spiritual maturity. Closely connected with this text in the manuscripts, and also indubitably authentic because of its appearance in the Defense, is the long sermon "Of the Nobleman," a vernacular summary of the stages of the return of the noble, good, or just person to God.

The final vernacular treatise admitted as authentic by Quint is that entitled On Detachment, a clear and well-organized presentation of one of the most distinctive themes of Eckhart's message. 26 Although it was not a part of the trial documents and doubts have been expressed about its authenticity by previous scholars, its profundity of tone and true Eckhartian style have convinced Quint and most modern investigators that it is one of the finest products of the Meister's pen.

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