| Max-Weber-Kolleg, SPF Religion. Gesellschaft. Weltbeziehung., Forschung

Meister Eckhart research project on his Christian ancient sources successfully completed

"Teaching and Preaching with Patristic Auctoritates, Meister Eckhart, Bridge Builder between France and Germany, Past and Present" is the title of a research project in which - supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the French Agence National de Recherche - a German-French team led by Professor Marie-Anne Vannier and Professor Markus Vinzent (Max-Weber-Kolleg of the University of Erfurt) has been working since 2018. Now it is finished - time for a short review...

Die Kuratorin Prof. DDr. Jutta Vinzent stellt die Arbeit „Thron der Weisen“ der Künstlerin Petra Lange vor.
"Throne of the Wise" by artist Petra Lange

The aim of the project was to systematically discover Meister Eckhart's ancient Christian sources, which, in the absence of an index, had previously been accessible only in part through the isolated references in the critical edition (Kohlhammer) of his Latin and German works. The French-German cooperation that had already been practiced before proved its worth. Based on the ten volumes of the critical edition, the aim was to make accessible as many patristic sources as possible, to specify their use, and to identify focal points in terms of content. In the process, the participating scholars made unexpected discoveries:

The indexing of the Christian ancient sources in Eckhart's work now makes it possible for the first time to take an in-depth look at the reception processes of these sources in one of the most important theological-philosophical speculative thinkers and at the same time popular preachers. Beyond the purely quantitative access possibility, a field of comparative research now opens up, in which a distinction can be made between reception processes in Latin-Scholastic doctrinal literature and homiletics versus those we have in Middle High German sermon and tract literature. One of the important and certainly surprising results of the now completed research project is that Meister Eckhart drew not only from Augustine and the Latin-Western tradition, but also intensively took note of the Greek-Eastern patristic literature.

Another, perhaps even more significant result is that in the course of studying the works of Meister Eckhart, the research team came across 79 previously undiscovered Middle High German sermons by him, which, however, could only be sifted in a first attempt to search for the patristic sources. For the compiled index, which will soon be published by Peeters in Leuven, these as yet unpublished Eckhart texts were also taken into account, thus complementing the beginning of the author index of Eckhart's works, which will be published by Kohlhammer in 2021-2022.

Perspectives for further research in an international context

Above all, the aforementioned 79 Eckhart sermons that have not yet been critically edited and translated must be made known to the public, also internationally, made accessible, and also made available digitally. This is to be part of a larger long-term research project, which will be located at the three sites Freiburg, Augsburg and Erfurt and within which the entire Middle High German sermonic works of Eckhart and his immediate environment will be offered on a digital work surface. This will enable the in-depth future research of these texts in a contemporary form.

The project has not only produced a number of important scholarly publications, but the results of the project have also been presented to the general public and will remain accessible to them in the future. An important component of the knowledge transfer to the public, were event formats, which by means of contemporary Arts served the mediation and the engagement with Meister Eckhart in the "today", especially in a pre- and post-Covid era. In 2019, for example, an artists' symposium and competition was held in Behringen, which produced ten sculptures on Eckhart's theme of "Working and Leaving." Some of them have since been installed along a Meister Eckhart bicycle path together with the tourism authority of the Free State of Thuringia, which both adorns Eckhart's home and enables an artistic and contemporary examination of his message. The aim here is, among other things, to bring Eckhart research out of an academic circle and, in the spirit of Eckhart, to offer it to people "on the street" and translate it for them.

In addition, results from the research project are visible in various online formats, including:

Markus Vinzent, head of the Meister-Eckhart-Research Unit at the Max-Weber-Kolleg of the University of Erfurt sums up: "We are proud to have brought this project to a successful conclusion and look forward to the new challenges it has brought for further research. Above all, we are grateful to our sponsors - the DFG, the ANR and the University of Erfurt with its excellent infrastructure, e.g. the 'Bibliotheca Amploniana' - and to our French colleagues for their cooperation and support."

A number of important scientific publications have been produced as part of the project:
  • Loris Sturlese/Markus Vinzent, Meister Eckhart. The German Works. II 56 Homilies for the Liturgical Year. 2. De sanctis, Eckhart: Texts and Studies (Leuven: Peeters, 2020), pp. 778.
  • Loris Sturlese/Markus Vinzent, Meister Eckhart. The German Works. I 64 Homilies for the Liturgical Year. 1. de tempore, Eckhart: Texts and Studies (Leuven: Peeters, 2019), pp. 872.
  • 'The Self-location of Meister Eckhart', in Nadia Bray, Diana Di Segni, Fiorella Retucci, Elisa Rubino (eds.), Centres and Peripheries in the History of Philosophical Thought. Essays in Honour of Loris Sturlese, Rencontres des Philosophy Médiévale, 24 (Turnhout, 2021), 293-301.
  • 'Jean Damascène, ou l'apport des pères grecs pour l'interprétation eckhartienne de l'évangile de Jean', in Marie-Anne Vannier (ed.), Maître Eckhart, lecteur des pères grecs, Mystiques Chrétiens d'Orient et d'Occident (Paris: Beauchesne, 2020), 145-159. 'Johannes Damascenus, Eckhart's Bridge to the Interpretation of John by the Eastern Fathers', in Marie-Anne Vannier (ed.), Maître Eckhart, lecteur des pères grecs, Mystiques Chrétiens d'Orient et d'Occident 6 (Paris: Beauchesne, 2020), 160-176.
  • 'Eckhart's reading of Augustine's "Confessions"', in Marie-Anne Vannier (ed.), Maître Eckhart, lecteur des Pères Latins, Mystiques Chrétiens d'Orient et d'Occident 5 (Paris: Beauchesne, 2020), 49-62.
  • 'Monism and dividualism in Meister Eckhart', in Martin Fuchs a.o. (eds.), Religious Individualization. Historical Dimensions and Comparative Perspectives, 2 vols. (Berlin and Boston, 2019), I 363-82.
  • Die deutschen und lateinischen Werke, Die lateinischen Werke: Index Eckhardianus [Meister Eckhart und seine Quellen]; 6, [Teilbd. 3]: [Autoren I - II], published by Loris Sturlese, Stuttgart 2021-2022.

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