Meister Eckhart was a thirteenth-century Dominican mystic who became famous as a teacher, thinker, and preacher. His brilliant career, which included a chair of theology at the University of Paris and several important posts within his order, ended tragically when he was tried and convicted of heresy.
In Meister Eckhart Frank Tobin presents an overview of Eckhart's thought and language and of the relationship between the two. Tobin finds Eckhart's thinking unusual in its insistence that neither the division nor the union between God and creation had been expressed adequately. Moreover, Eckhart was radical in uncompromisingly applying metaphysics to a study of human spiritual progress and insisting that all ethical value derives from the "interior" work of the soul rather than its expression in "exterior" work.
The originality of Eckhart's thought is nowhere more evident than in his interpretations of the Bible. His sermons and treatises are distinguished from others by his ability to uncover unexpected and intellectually stimulating, and at times breathtaking, meaning of a speculative or mystical nature in what often seemed to be straightforward and even drab biblical passages. Part of this originality stemmed from Eckhart's attitude toward exegesis and his theory of language, both of which centered on the difficulty of expressing speculation on the infinite through finite and limited language. As a result of this attitude, Eckhart became a master of the startling paradox.
Through an analysis of Eckhart's linguistic strategies, Tobin shows that the Dominican's use of language follows with remarkable consistency from his view of language. He shows also that an understanding of Eckhart's style gives invaluable insight into his thought.
Tobin compares Eckhart's ideas with those of Thomas Aquinas to help clarify both Eckhart's originality and his place in the scholastic tradition.
Meister Eckhart: Thought and Language will be of value to scholars interested in medieval studies, church history, philosophy, intellectual history, and medieval German language and literature.