Université d'Erfurt


Dr. Christopher Wojtulewicz

Gast-Post-Doktorand am Max-Weber-Kolleg
von September bis Dezember 2013 und von Februar bis April 2014


Jacobus de Aesculo. Theological Quodlibeta, and Meister Eckhart at the Parisian University in the early 14th century

Contextualisation is key to this research project, which seeks to understand more clearly the intellectual relationships between Meister Eckhart and his interlocutors in the first two decades of the 14th century. Working through texts in the Amploniana, and alongside the research group in Erfurt during this stay is the focus of my time at the Max Weber Center. Jacobus de Aesculo is one of the masters who taught contemporaneously with Meister Eckhart at the University of Paris, but is also present in his theological questions in manuscripts and manuscript collections alongside those of Eckhart (most notably in the Vatican Library and in the Amploniana). In contextualising Eckhart within the early 14th century university environment, in order to better understand Eckhart’s role in intellectual life in Paris, Erfurt and other important places of his career, but most specifically before, during and after his second regency (1311-1313), the project seeks to explore the individualistic and nuanced thought of the illustrious Dominican, not as an individual, separated from his social, cultural and intellectual roots, but as a key figure in the history of the development of philosophy and theology, connected to, and a part of, the development of the social, cultural and intellectual contexts in which he worked. In this sense the project brings to light a new ‚portrait‘ of Meister Eckhart, previously unseen. It also advances significantly knowledge of medieval European education, education methods, the production of texts, and the transmission of knowledge in this time of great intellectual activity.

Any significant study of the works of Jacobus de Aesculo has yet to be undertaken, and certainly his relationship to Meister Eckhart has yet to be explored. It is clear, however, from looking at the theological quodlibeta that we know to be authored by Jacobus, that a relationship exists between these two. Both mas-ters are concerned with understanding the nature of God’s power; but their convergence is not solely intellectual – both were influenced by the trial of Marguerite Porete (which Jacobus was involved with) and both had relations with suspect movements in their respective orders: the Franciscan Spirituals in the case of Jacobus, and the Beguines and Beghards with Eckhart. The project’s interest in Jacobus in particular stems from being able to pose questions such as: what were the questions that the Franciscan Jacobus and the Dominican Eckhart shared in common? How do their individualities shape their (unique?) answers? In what ways did their ideas interact? And what sort of networks existed, intellectually, between the religious orders in Paris? These foci develop our understanding of this crucial period in the history of philosophy and theology, and enable us to think critically about the contextualisation of these and other important thinkers in the history of ideas.

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