Master John Eckhart
ca 1260 - 14.04.1327
A brief biography.
Meister (Master) Johann Eckhart -also spelled Eckard, Eccard -, was born about 1260 at Hochheim, near Gotha. He made his philosophical and theological studies in the Dominican Order. After a period of teaching he was made, in 1298, prior of the Dominican priory at Erfurt and vicar-provincial of Thuringia. Two years later he began to lecture at Paris, where in 1302 his order gave him the degree of Master of Sacred Theology. In the following year he was elected provincial of the province of Saxony, to which office he was re-elected in 1307, when he was also appointed vicar-General of Bohemia and charged to reform its priories. His term of office having expired in 1311, he again took a professorial chair at Paris, whence he went in 1314 to teach at Strasbourg. After three years he was made prior at Frankfort. He finally returned to the schools in 1320, when he was made first professor of his order at Köln, where he remained until his death, ca 14th April 1327.
Eckhart's activity was also displayed in the pulpit, of which he was an illustrious ornament, and in his writings in the form of treatises and sayings. His favourite themes are the Divine essence, the relations between God and man, the faculties, gifts, and operations of the human soul, the return of all created things to God.
He is held by all to have been the father of German mysticism. To Tauler and Suso he gave not only ideas but also a clear, simple style, possessing a heartiness like that of his own. Although he frequently quotes from the writings of the Pseudo-Areopagite and of John Scotus Eriugena, in his mysticism he follows more closely the teaching of Hugh of St.Victor.
At the General chapter of the order, held at Venezia in 1325, some of the German brethren meant that Eckhart's dispersed a dangerous doctrine. Nicholas of Strasburg, O.P. having been ordered by Pope John XXII to make investigation, declared in the following year that the works of Eckhart were orthodox.
In January, 1327, Archbishop Heinrich of Köln undertook an independent inquiry, whereupon Eckhart and Father Nicholas appealed to Roma against his action and authority in the matter. But the next month, from the pulpit of the Dominican church in Köln, Eckhart repudiated the unorthodox sense in which some of his utterances could be interpreted, retracted all possible errors, and submitted to the Holy See. This profession of faith, repudiation of error, and submission to the Holy See were declared by Pope John XXII in the Bull "Dolentes referimus" (27 March, 1329), by which the pontiff condemned seventeen of Eckhart's propositions as heretical, and eleven as ill-sounding, rash, and suspected of heresy (Denzinger, Enchiridion, no. 428 sqq.; Hartzheim, Conc. Germ., IV, 631).
Eckhart died at Köln, ca 14th April 1327.
Text on postmark:700 Jahre Meister Eckhart, um 1260-1327.
Theologe, Mystiker, Philosoph. Eckhart was prior in the priory
of Erfurt, 1298-1300. He died in Köln ca 14th April 1327.
Germany 2003. Postmark Erfurt 28.06.2003.
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