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Metaphysics and Identity in Meister Eckhart’s Theology

SMITH, DANIEL,GEORGE,WILLIAM (2014) Metaphysics and Identity in Meister Eckhart’s Theology. Masters thesis, Durham University.



Meister Eckhart’s theology is indisputably controversial and the Papal Bull in agro dominico demonstrates the concern that the church had in Eckhart’s own time. Several scholars however, notably Bernard McGinn and Frank Tobin, have presented a more orthodox reading of Eckhart’s theology that reveals his commitment to the church and to Christian doctrine. It is unusual therefore that scholars continue to view Eckhart’s teaching on the ground and the soul’s ‘indistinct’ union with the Godhead or essence, as the pinnacle of his theology. These themes are undoubtedly a major part of Eckhart’s unique contribution to Christian thought, as McGinn and Tobin have pointed out. However, they are most often cited by scholars who focus primarily upon the German sermons and tractates, often at the expense of the Latin commentaries and sermons and also at the expense of other equally significant features of Eckhart’s theology.
This thesis questions the emphasis placed upon Eckhart’s teaching on the soul’s ‘indistinct’ union with the Godhead or essence and upon the essence itself. Drawing on the Latin and German works, it will demonstrate that Eckhart is deeply trinitarian and show that he views the Trinity and essence in a way that does not prioritise one over the other. Only once we recognise this non-hierarchical metaphysics can we also understand how Eckhart conceives of the soul’s existence and identity which, this thesis will show, is not absorbed or lost through the soul’s union with God, but perfected and fulfilled. The soul’s identity and indeed, all distinction – everything that exists – is properly understood, therefore, only in terms of the freedom and grace that defines God’s own identity in eternity; as a Trinity of persons whose distinction is not in terms of their separateness from one another, but in terms of their relations to each other.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Keywords:Meister Eckhart Metaphysics Identity Trinity Essence
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2014
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:03 Dec 2014 14:44

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