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

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

1. HISTORICAL DATA

A. LIFE

Eckhart's baptismal or religious name seems to have been John, but it would be pedantic to give him any appellation other than the "Meister" by which he was known to his own order and to the public, in his lifetime and thereafter. He earned this title of honor in the first instance through the teaching appointment that he gained in the University of Paris, where he attracted notice by the contentious role he played in current theological controversies, which, some of his sermons show, 1 were still fresh in his mind years afterward. He was born about the year 1260. In the Middle Ages, unless a birth were to be that of, say, some future king, there is seldom any exact contemporary record of its date and place; in Eckhart's case, we can only deduce the approximate year from later events in his life that can be dated. He is said to have been born in a village in Thuringia called Hochheim, either that near Erfurt or another of the same name near Gotha. The first is his more probable birthplace, since it was in Erfurt that he was admitted as a novice into the convent of the Dominican friars. 2 The story, still commonly accepted and repeated, that he was of noble or knightly birth is a fiction that originated in a misinterpretation of archives of the period. 3 In his first years he would have received the usual rudimentary education in Latin grammar and in the liberal arts; thereafter he seems to have been sent for higher studies to the Dominicans' institute in their monastery at Cologne, where he may have known Albert the Great, who ended his career by living and perhaps by teaching there until his death in 1280. If so, this could have been Eckhart's first contact with anyone who had known Thomas Aquinas except by repute. Albert had taught Thomas too, and shortly before his death, when the University of Paris organized an attack on Thomas's

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Meister Eckhart, the Essential Sermons, Commentaries, Treatises, and Defense
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Classics of Western Spirituality *
  • The Classics of Western Spirituality a Library of the Great Spiritual Masters *
  • Meister Eckhart - The Essential Sermons, Commentaries, Treatises, and Defense *
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xi
  • Foreword xvii
  • Introduction *
  • Key to Abbreviations *
  • 1. Historical Data 5
  • 2. Theological Summary 24
  • 3. a Note on Eckhart's Works and the Present Selections 62
  • Part One Latin Works 68
  • 1. Documents Relating to Eckhart's Condemnation *
  • 2. Selections from the Commentaries on Genesis 82
  • 3. Selections from the Commentary on John 122
  • Part Two German Works *
  • 1. Selected Sermons *
  • 2. Treatises 209
  • Notes 294
  • Bibliography 349
  • Index to Preface, Introduction and Notes 354
  • Index to Text 360
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