Meister Eckhart’s Poverty Sermon

‘Let us pray to God that he might rid us of God,’ said Meister Eckhart famously in his sermon on poverty of spirit. In the following article I discuss the main theological and mystical ideas in this sermon, usually referred to as Sermon 52, and also comment on aspects of Eckhart’s hermeneutical method. I quote extensively from Walshe’s translation from the original Middle High German and have included references for those who are interested.

The ‘sermon on poverty’ epitomizes Meister Eckhart’s thought at its theological and literary zenith. Among the most studied of Eckhart’s vernacular homilies its claims, both ethical and doctrinal, are as radical as anything he wrote, yet, surprisingly, never rated a mention in In Agro Dominico, the papal bull of 1329 that denounced many of his teachings. The conclusion some scholars have drawn is that the text of this sermon had not reached its final formulation until as late as 1326/27 and was presumably not available to Eckhart’s accusers at the time of the trials. The evidence for this, however, is not conclusive, with recent research suggesting a much wider early reception of the text.[1] Either way, the absence of any statement from Sermon 52 among the twenty-eight articles of the bull of condemnation is intriguing, especially given the sermon’s provocative thesis, which is the focus of this present discussion. Continue reading “Meister Eckhart’s Poverty Sermon”