Unspoken Word: Negative Theology in Meister Eckhart's German Sermons

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"The sermons of Meister Eckhart have long attracted readers with their daring ideas and brilliant use of language. In The Unspoken Word, Bruce Milem examines four sermons to show that Eckhart's distinctive way of speaking reflects his theological views, especially his commitment as a negative theologian to the absolute ineffability of God. As a preacher, Eckhart faced the challenge of talking about something that cannot be grasped in language. Instead of providing straightforward statements of doctrine or instructions about mystical experience,
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Overview

"The sermons of Meister Eckhart have long attracted readers with their daring ideas and brilliant use of language. In The Unspoken Word, Bruce Milem examines four sermons to show that Eckhart's distinctive way of speaking reflects his theological views, especially his commitment as a negative theologian to the absolute ineffability of God. As a preacher, Eckhart faced the challenge of talking about something that cannot be grasped in language. Instead of providing straightforward statements of doctrine or instructions about mystical experience, Eckhart's sermons use paradox, wordplay, and imagery to engage his readers dialectically and bring them to a new perspective on themselves in relation to God. This perspective treats God as being both distinct and indistinct from ordinary things, including the soul. Knowing God is a process of coming to acknowledge one's own contingency as a created thing in time, which exists only because it receives its being from God in every moment. For Eckhart, Christian practice is not intended to achieve eternal salvation or ecstatic union with the divine. Rather, it confesses and proclaims the soul's recognition of its ontological dependence on God. Eckhart expresses this perspective through complex verbal images that attempt to disclose something of God while emphasizing their own inevitable shortcomings." The four sermons studied in this volume are among his most well known, for they display in a remarkably compressed fashion the main themes of Eckhart's thinking, and they provide leading examples of the rhetorical flair that made him famous as a preacher. From them, and Bruce Milem's illuminating commentary, readers will gain important insight into Eckhart's whole activity as a preacher and theologian.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813210193
  • Publisher: Catholic University of America Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2004
  • Pages: 201
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
1 Reading Eckhart's German Sermons 1
2 Suffering God: Sermon 52 22
3 Time, Eternity, and Images in Sermon 2 50
4 Eckhart's Understanding of the Image: Sermon 16B 86
5 "God and I we are one in this work": Sermon 6 112
6 Eckhart's Preaching 143
References 181
Index 189
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