From Eckhart to Ruusbroec

A Critical Inheritance of Mystical Themes in the Fourteenth Century

Satoshi Kikuchi

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The mystical relationship between Meister Eckhart and Jan van Ruusbroec.

In this thorough textual, historical, and doctrinal study the author seeks to clarify the relationship between two prominent mystics of the fourteenth century: Meister Eckhart, the German Dominican, and Jan van Ruusbroec, the Brabantine Augustinian. Special attention is paid to Ruusbroec’s criticism of mystical tenets circulating in Brabant at that time which were both textually and doctrinally related to Eckhart’s condemned propositions in the papal bull ‘In agro dominico’. This fact implies that Ruusbroec was confronted with the impact of the condemnation of Eckhart’s doctrines on the people in Brabant. Situating Ruusbroec’s life and works within the aftermath of Eckhart’s arrival, the author elucidates Ruusbroec’s position regarding the relevant mystical themes in the later Middle Ages, and follows a process of critical inheritance of mystical tradition from Eckhart to Ruusbroec.

This publication is GPRC-labeled (Guaranteed Peer-Reviewed Content).


Chapter One: Toward the Condemnation of Eckhart’s Doctrines
1. An Overview of the Spiritual Milieu in the Later Middle Ages
Enthusiasm for the direct relationship between God and human
The increase of heretical mysticism
2. The Condemnation of Eckhart’s Doctrines
A brief summary of the inquisitorial process
The content of Eckhart’s condemned doctrines
Chapter Two: The Impact of the Condemnation of Eckhart’s Doctrines in the Fourteenth Century Brabant
1. The Transmission of the News about the Condemnation of Eckhart’s Doctrines
2. The Transmission of Eckhart’s Writings
3. Jan van Leeuwen’s Doctrinal Criticism of Eckhart
(1) “Simple nakedness” beyond the practice of virtues
(2) The renunciation of the divine Persons
(3) Deification into the divine essence and the divine sonship

Chapter Three: Ruusbroec’s Criticism of Mystical Heresies
1. Ruusbroec the Critic 71
2. Key Themes in Ruusbroec’s Criticism of Mystical Heresies and Links to Eckhart’s Condemned Doctrines
(1) Heretical doctrines about the praxis of ecclesiastical life
(2) Heretical doctrines about God and creation
(3) Heretical doctrines about Christology and the mystical union with God 90
Summary of Part One and Connection to Part Two


Chapter Four: Eckhart’s Understanding of the Praxis of Ecclesiastical Life 105
1. Sin and Penitence
2. Interior Disposition toward God
To receive God Himself
Emptiness (ledicheit) and spiritual poverty
3. Exterior Works

Chapter Five: Eckhart’s Understanding of God and Creation
1. Unity and Trinity
The circumincession of the divine Persons
The unity of the nature/essence and the unity of the Father
A teleological view of the Trinity
2. Relation between God and Creatures
Creatures as negation and distinction
Creatures as nothing

Chapter Six: Eckhart’s Understanding of the Mystical Union
1. The Transformation of Essence
2. Union with God through Sonship
Conformity to Christ’s sonship
The “birth of God” doctrine
God’s self-knowing in the soul
3. Christ’s Humanity
Human person and human nature
The significance of Christ’s Incarnation

Summary of Part Two and Connection to Part Three

Chapter Seven: Ruusbroec’s Understanding of the Praxis of Ecclesiastical Life
1. Sin and Penitence
2. The Holy Spirit’s In-working and the Spiritual Poverty
3. Inactivity (ledicheit) in the Essence of God
(1) Participation in the triune God
(2) Likeness to Christ
(3) Inactivity in the created essence and in God’s essence

Chapter Eight: Ruusbroec’s Understanding of God and Creation
1. Unity and Trinity
(1) Relation among the divine Persons
(2) Relation between unity and trinity
2. Relation Between God and Creatures

Chapter Nine: Ruusbroec’s Understanding of the Mystical Union
1. The Essential Unity of the Spirit with God
2. Union with God in Love
3. Christology Pertaining to the Understanding of the Mystical Union
The “birth of God” doctrine
The unique sonship of Christ
The supremacy of Christ’s humanity

Summary of Part Three


List of Textual linkages to Eckhart in Ruusbroec’s Writings
Die geestelike brulocht (The Spiritual Espousals)
Vanden XII beghinen (The Twelve Beguines)
Een spieghel der eeuwigher salicheit (A Mirror of Eternal Blessedness)
Index of names
Index of subjects

Format: Monograph - paperback

Size: 240 × 160 mm

ISBN: 9789058679857

Publication: September 26, 2014

Series: Mediaevalia Lovaniensia - Series 1-Studia 44

Languages: English

Stock item number: 93793

Satoshi Kikuchi is a free research associate of the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies at the KU Leuven.

'In this excellent and engaging study, he has analysed the critical dialogue, focusing on a number of themes that are central to both Eckhart and Ruusbroec's thought, such as the Trinity, creation, Christology, and the ecclesiological dimensions of mystical union. On the basis of primary texts, the reader is able to follow the development of Ruusbroec's critical inheritance of Eckhart. And the aurhor has demonstrated, clearly and with a healthy sense of nuance, the complex and fundamental reflections in both authors.' Rob Faesen, Louvain Studies 39 (2015-16/1) 83-86

  Louvain Studies