Meister Eckhart's reputation as one of the key figures in the history of Western mysticism can scarcely be questioned. Since the revival of interest in his writings in the early nineteenth century, a broad stream of editions, studies, and interpretations has contributed to his growing fame. But as in his own day, so too in ours, Eckhart remains a difficult and controversial writer. Propositions from the works of this master of theology and high official in the Dominican order were posthumously condemned on March 27, 1329, by Pope John XXII, though this apparently did little to hinder the considerable influence that he continued to have on the piety of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The modern revival of Eckhart has presented even more contradictory evaluations. The daring aspects of the Meister's thought, especially as revealed in his vernacular works, have provided considerable excuse for those who have stressed his radicalism. At different times Eckhart has been viewed as a pantheist, a forerunner of the Reformation, a prophet of German national religion, a Zen master in disguise, and a proto-Marxist. While serious scholars reject such extreme interpretations, these exaggerated views do serve to indicate that Meister Eckhart was and is a daring and difficult thinker, a man who escapes any easy categorization, and frequently a scandal to the timid and conventional. From the end of the last century, other scholars, relying chiefly on the Latin works, have stressed the more traditional aspects of the Meister's thought, especially its deep roots in medieval scholastic theology. These roots, as well as Eckhart's unwavering loyalty to the Church, must never be forgotten, but they should not lead us into seeing Eckhart as just another conventional scholastic thinker.
The present volume is designed to provide a general introduction to the integral Eckhart. Unlike earlier English translations, it gives equal representation to selections from both the technical Latin works