The Mystical Thought of Meister Eckhart

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The Mystical Thought of Meister Eckhart

The Man from Whom God Hid Nothing

In this widely acclaimed work, Bernard McGinn, the preeminent Eckhart scholar, delves into Eckhart’s complex and profound theology and penetrates layers of controversy to reveal the originality and brilliance of the medieval mystic’s radical message.

"Perhaps no mystic in the history of Christianity has been more influential and more controversial than the Dominican Meister Eckhart. Few, if any mystics have been as challenging to modern readers and as resistant to agreed-upon interpretation."

So begins McGinn's much lauded introduction to the intriguing preacher and philosopher. After 40 years of researching, translating, and writing about Meister Eckhart, McGinn brings a particularly fine-tuned sensibility to the discussion of the work of the great mystic.

McGinn shares the details that are known about Eckhart's life and considers the problems involved in interpreting his work. He points toward a characterization of Eckhart's theology as a mysticism of the ground or "grunt" and discusses how this term communicates a central tenet of Eckhart's thinking.  The author's sensitivity to Eckhart's terms and language, and breadth of knowledge about his subject make this work an especially accessible and invigorating introduction to the Dominican master.

Reviews and endorsements

"The fruit of 50 years of studying Eckhart, Bernard McGinn’s volume reviews and synthesizes the oddly diverse views of Eckhart promoted by recent scholarship. Where some scholars have dismissed Eckhart’s German sermons in favor of more scholastic but drier Latin works, others have emphasized his evocative mystical homilies to the detriment of his technical treatises in philosophy and theology.

The book deftly combines the picture of a prophet of a remote God who can, strictly speaking, only be talked about in the mystifying terminology of radical negation and darkness with the portrait of an electrifying preacher who considered himself the messenger of Christ whom anyone could find deep within one’s own soul. M[cGinn] argues that there is a profound unity to Eckhart’s project that ought not be divided any more than reason should be separated from faith or thought from practice.

The central idea that permits such unification that other Eckhart commentators have taken as divergent is the notion of ‘ground’ (Grunt) as an explosive master metaphor. It recurs in both Eckhart’s homiletic and scholastic texts as a way to explain where the human soul encounters the divine and where the “boiling” love of the Holy Trinity can be discovered in the flow of being that makes up the created world. M[cGinn] shows Eckhart’s love of paradox and of startling phrases as a vehicle for attempting to express truths of Christian orthodoxy in the unusual language of Neoplatonism.

Eckhart’s stormy relations with the Church and with his own Dominican Order are taken as symptomatic of the difficulties of seeking firm ground on one’s personal faith in God amid the controversy that flowed from frequent misunderstanding about what Eckhart was struggling to articulate in new ways."
Joseph W. Koterski, S.J. Fordham University, New York


“This gem of a volume will doubtless become the classical presentation of a man most scholars believe to be the greatest medieval Western mystic.”


“An unparalleled resource for studying Eckhart.”
Religious Studies Review


“This study will surely take its place as the best comprehensive introduction in English to this renowned mystical preacher and teacher.”


"Eckhart's theology of mysticism is relevant for contemplatives today, who experience 'unknowing' in which God is beyond our images and concepts and yet not in conflict with truth, be it theological or scientific. Since those who insisted on taking a purely literal interpretation often misunderstood Meister Eckhart's analogical writing and preaching, he was often attacked as a heretic. McGinn helps us to better understand Eckhart's approach, which was to shock the reader and break through the shell of literalism. With nearly one hundred pages of notes, this insightful study of Eckhart's work is especially helpful to those already familiar with Meister Eckhart's writings."  
—Miriam Tjader,
Spirituality and Life

“This breakthrough study sets a new and dramatically higher standard for Eckhart scholarship.”
Donald F. Duclow, author of Meister Eckhart on the Book of Wisdom


“A wonderful book on one of the most original thinkers of medieval Europe.”
Niklaus Largier, editor, Meister Eckhart Werke


“Without doubt this will long stand as the best general introduction to Eckhart’s thought in any language.”
Oliver Davies, The Eckhart Review


“A new benchmark for work on Eckhart.”
Frank Tobin, author of Meister Eckhart: Thought and Language

Paperback / 320 pages
Dimensions: 6 1/8 x 9 1/4