Eckhart Von Hochheim

meister Eckhart) (c.1260-1327. German mystic. Born in Hochheim near Gotha, he entered the Dominican Order and was prior in Erfurt before becoming vicar of Thuringia. In 1300 he went to Paris, where he graduated in theology. He was made provincial of Saxony, and in 1307 vicar general of Bohemia. The next period of his life is obscure, but he probably spent part of this time in Strasbourg and Cologne. In 1326 he was accused of heresy, tried by the archbishop of Cologne, and convicted. He appealed to Rome, where some of his teachings were judged heretical by John XXII in 1329, two years after his death. He was noted as a preacher; many of his sermons were delivered in convents of nuns.

Eckhart's German writings were classified by Franz Pfeiffer (1857) into 110 sermons, 18 tracts, and 60 Sprüche (brief notices). Since that time other pieces have been found and the authenticity of some of the earlier ones disputed. Questions of higher and lower criticism of the corpus of his works remain. For instance, his “tracts” are probably portions of sermons. His Latin writings are largely expositions of some of the OT books. His writings reveal him as a Scholastic* and as a mystic.

His principles have been interpreted variously. It was said he was pantheistic, but this charge is generally discounted. That he was influenced greatly by Thomism and Neoplatonism can be asserted with considerable confidence. He differentiated between God and the Godhead, and this caused discussion. In man he found a divine remnant which he called Funck or Füncklein or Füncklein der Seele. His incarnation theology makes Christ in the first instance the focal point of mankind and also its Redeemer. In his ethical teaching he reached a lofty plane. His followers included Henry Suso* and John Tauler.*

O. Karrer, Meister Eckhart (1926); J.M. Clark, Meister Eckhart, An Introduction to the Study of His Works (1957); J.M. Clark and J.V. Skinner, Meister Eckhart, Selected Treatises and Sermons (1958).