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Meister Eckhart and Jan Van Ruusbroec: A Comparison

    • Published online: 01 September 1998

Jan Van Ruusbroec (1293–1381), the most important spiritual writer of the Low Countries, is often associated (with or without some qualifications) with the tradition of the Rhineland Mystics, of which Meister Eckhart (c. 1260–1327) is the most prominent exponent.For instance O. Davies, The Rhineland Mystics: An anthology (London: SPCK, 1989); O. Davies, God Within: The mystical Tradition of Northern Europe (London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1988). L. Cognet, Introduction aux mystiques rhéno- flamands (Paris: Desclée, 1968). To date however, an in-depth study of the influence of Meister Eckhart’s main doctrinal positions on Ruusbroec’s thought has not been published.Colledge and J. C. Marler, “‘Poverty of the Will’: Ruusbroec, Eckhart and The Mirror of Simple Souls,” Jan Van Ruusbroec: The Sources, Content and Sequels of His Mysticism, ed. P. Mommaers and N. De Paepe (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 1984), p. 14–47 is a possible exception, although the article focuses primarily on the influence of Marguerite Porete on Eckhart and Ruusbroec and only secondarily on the relation between Eckhart and Ruusbroec. In this paper I want to compare their central ideas concerning the relation between God and his creation (in particular man). More specifically, I hope to make clear that the vocabulary they occasionally share (Birth of the Son in the soul, the spark of the soul, the ground of the soul, the soul as Image, and so on) actually veils two very different theologies.

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Medieval Philosophy and Theology
  • ISSN: 1057-0608
  • EISSN: 1475-4525
  • URL: /core/journals/medieval-philosophy-and-theology
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