Markus Vinzent's Blog

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

AHRC PhD studentship on Meister Eckhart and the Parisian University

Meister Eckhart and the Parisian University in the Early 14th Century
AHRC PhD studentship on Meister Eckhart and the Parisian University

Applications are invited for an AHRC-funded PhD at Kings College London on a topic related to Meister Eckhart and the Parisian University. This is offered under the AHRC funded Project ‘Meister Eckhart and the Parisian University in the early 14th century’ and located in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at King’s College London. The post will involve reading, editing and commenting on codices of Quaestiones which are held in libraries at Rome, Erfurt, Worcester and elsewhere. The student will be supervised by Professor Markus Vinzent and co-supervised by Professor Oliver Davies.
The Studentship

 ‘One of the most important documents for early fourteenth-century thought is the Sentences commentary and “notebook” of … Prosper of Reggio Emilia … Vat. Lat. 1086. The manuscript contains a remarkable amount of information on and material from theologians active at Paris in the 1310s.’[1]
The project will investigate Cod. Vat. Lat. 1086 which dates from before 1323, containing over 500 Quaestiones (Qu.) with names and opinions of students and masters at Paris University. In addition, there exist several parallel codices in various manuscript collections elsewhere which may need investigation. On this basis, the studentship will focus on a specific topic which will be defined in conversation with the applicant to develop a Phd thesis on a specific aspect to explore Meister Eckhart’s (ca. 1260-1328/9) research environment and culture of the Parisian University in those challenging years between Aristotelianism, Thomism, Neo-Platonism, the Beguine-movement and the impact it had on his prior and posterior career at Erfurt.
These were tumultuous times when in the year 1310 Marguerite Porete was burned at the stake at the Place de Grève after 21 theologians of the University had passed judgement against her book The mirror of simple souls, Philip IV burned fifty-four Templars near Paris,[2] and the condemnation of core statements by Meister Eckhart in 1329. Amongst all the theologians from this period Eckhart, the only one after Thomas Aquinas to hold the chair of theology in Paris for a second time, is still the most widely read (and certainly one of the most controversial) theologians of that time. Amongst his surviving works, Eckhart's Qu. Parisienses are regarded as 'one of the most famous set of texts that’ not only he, but generally ‘medieval thinking has produced'.[3] Until recently, only five of such Qu. were known: three that were dated to his first magisterium in 1302/3, the other two from his second in 1311/2. While Professor Markus Vinzent wrote his Art of Detachment,[4] he re-discovered precisely in the codex under question, Cod. Vat. Lat. 1086, four more Qu. Par. that he thought were authored by Eckhart, texts which had previously been excluded as dubious. Here, the upper part of fol. 222v with the beginning of the first re-discovered Qu.:

Professor Vinzent presented his findings as invited main speaker at the International Medieval Congress Leeds in 2010.[5] As a result, the Eckhart editors (Prof. L. Sturlese and G. Steer) encouraged him to undertake a major research project to check this extraordinary discovery. In the same year, Professor Walter Senner (Angelicum, Rome) found another relatio of an unknown Qu. belonging to Eckhart in a Manuscript in Troyes, which the project aims to compare.
The re-discovered Qu. will be the core of the proposed project, and together with their source, the Cod. Vat. Lat. 1086, studied in detail to embed Eckhart and his Qu. into their codicological, historical and cultural environment: this manuscript is of crucial importance in shedding light on our Master and the broader development of philosophical, theological and juridical teaching in Paris at the beginning 14th century. Prosper's collection contains names and opinions of students, bachelors and masters (regents) of the university and preserves all the documentation which gives detailed insight into the atmosphere of learning of this European cultural centre, unparalleled by any other document. For many of those named by Prosper, this will be a first scholarly study of their bio-bibliography and their thinking.
After preliminary studies,[6] there is need for a thorough study of the manuscript (codicological and content), also in comparison with further manuscripts of similar content (which have not yet been taken into account), for example several important codices which will need to be studied in situ at Erfurt University, others in Venice, at Worcester Cathedral and in the Vatican library.

Eckhart scholarship developed primarily since F. Pfeiffer began to publish Eckhart’s German, and H. Denifle the Latin works. A new step in the critical engagement with the Dominican master was taken both by the Dominican order (who in 1935, also included the four, as they called them, ‘dubious’ questions that we are studying in this project) and by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (1936-ongoing). Almost simultaneously both parties started competing critical editions of the works of Meister Eckhart: a competition that was politically and ideologically driven, and which resulted in the withholding of vital manuscript information by the Nazi-governed German state. After the first few fascicles of the Dominican venture in Italy, their project collapsed, and Josef Quint took over the German project. After intensive preliminary studies, he published the first volumes of Eckhart’s German works in the major critical edition of the Kohlhammer Verlag (Stuttgart), while a team around Josef Koch provided the Latin works. In volume V of the Latin works, Eckhart’s hitherto known and accepted five Qu. Par. had been included, two from Cod. Vat. Lat. 1086, while four more - the so-called ‘dubious’ questions - from the same Manuscript were discarded. Since this time, the critical edition of Eckhart’s Latin works has been completed, and only a few supplementary texts are still to be added (including our newly re-discovered Qu., as the main editor L. Sturlese has indicated to the PI), and the German works are approaching completion. In a recent application to a German funding institution (Bayerische Akademie der Wissen­schaften), the PI has been asked by L. Sturlese (Lecce, Italy) and F. Loehser (Augsburg, Germany) to collaborate in the major revision of the publication of Eckhart’s German and Latin works (a long-term project lasting from 2012 to 2025).
Scholarship on the QQu., especially related to the University of Paris, has been advanced by P.  Glorieux, W.J. Courtenay and a number of other scholars. M. Grabmann researched Eckhart’s Qu. and first discovered the accepted five Qu. Par. (of which two derived from Cod. Vat. Lat. 1086). E. Longpré also drew attention to them. Ever since, they have attracted considerable scholarly interest and are regarded as the ‘most contested chapter of his [Meister Eckhart’s] thinking’.[7]
Scholarship on Eckhart’s German and Latin works is extensive, and there exist several continuously updated bibliographies, two major international Eckhart Societies and several histories of research on Eckhart. One of the gaps in this scholarship however is the re-location of his teaching into the Parisian University. Until today, very little is known about the precise nature of it (see W. Senner in the forthcoming Handbook of Eckhart, Leiden, 2012), in which the PI is involved as academic peer reviewer and reader. More will come to light when the proposed project works through what is contained in Cod. Vat. Lat. 1086.
A. Pelzer’s Catalogue description of the Vatican library, although written 80 years ago, is presently still considered the most important contribution to the study of Vat. lat. 1086. He provides a description of this manuscript, but it needs further examination and subsequent updating concerning scribal and marginal notes. P. Glorieux tried to identify not only the internal order of “reportationes”, but he also tried to assign a date to them. He supposes that Prosper might have prepared this collection from Qu. which ensued during the course of his lectures on the Sententiae as a bachelor (before 1311) and during his regency. Using the chronology of Prosper’s academic career as his basis, Glorieux argued that the ordinary and quodlibetal Qu. in group A were disputed in Paris during the academic year 1311-12. The Qu. in group B, which are grouped according to their authors, “occurred sequentially and pre­served reportations of questions disputed at Paris during the academic years 1312-14”. More recently W. Courtenay has questioned the date proposed by Glorieux; instead, he proposes 1314-15 as the likely timeframe for Prosper’s lectures on the Sententiae. After underlining the problem with the chronology of group A, Courtenay hypothesizes that this collection was assembled be­fore Prosper was sententiarius.[8] Given that nobody has until now, analyzed the content of Cod. Vat. Lat. 1086 in relation to Eckhart’s second Pari­sian magisterium, this research will be of importance in shedding light not only on the authenticity of Eckhart’s Qu., but also on their historical context and indeed on the Parisian University’s theological teaching at that time.

How and where we work: When not working at King’s College London, using photocopies and ultraviolet images of the mentioned manuscripts, we spend several months in research stays at various places where libraries hold important manuscripts (Erfurt, Venice, Rome and elsewhere) to have frequent access to the manuscripts in autopsy.

Eligibility criteria
  • Open to residents of the following countries
    European Union, United Kingdom
  • Applicants must hold a relevant MA/MPhil or a Masters-level advanced research training or equivalent.
  • Applicable subjects
    Medieval Codicology, Medieval Latin, Philosophy, Theology, Classics or another related field

Application details
Applications may be submitted
from
26-Jul-2013 until 15-Aug-2013
Information about the funding
Applications are invited for an AHRC-funded PhD at Kings College London on a topic related to Meister Eckhart and the Parisian University. This is offered under the AHRC funded Project ‘Meister Eckhart and the Parisian University in the early 14th century’ and located in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at King’s College London. The post will involve reading, editing and commenting on codices of Quaestiones which are held in libraries at Rome, Erfurt, Worcester and elsewhere. The student will be supervised by Professor Markus Vinzent and co-supervised by Professor Oliver Davies.
It is a fixed-term appointment for 2 years and 11 months, starting 1st September 2013.
Application procedure
Applicants should submit via email a two-page curriculum vitae, a brief letter outlining their qualification for the studentship, and the names and contact details of two academic referees to Professor Markus Vinzent, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, Kings College London (markus.vinzent@kcl.ac.uk) no later than Friday 15 August 2013.

Interviews are scheduled to be held in London within the following 7 to 100 days. For further information concerning the project, please contact Professor Markus Vinzent before Thursday, 08 August 2013.



[1] W.J. Courtenay, ‘Reflections …’, in: C. Schabel (ed.), Theological Quodlibeta (Leiden, 2009), 345-57, 345.
[2] R. Lerner, in: Marguerite Porete, The Mirror, trans. and intr. By E.L. Babinsky (New York, 1993), 19.
[3] Kurt Flash, Meister Eckhart (Freiburg i. Br., 2010), 113.
[4] Eckhart: Texts and Studies I (Leuven, 2011).
[5]  See JTS 63, 2012.
[6] See W.J. Courtenay (above with further lit.).
[7] W. Schüssler, ‘Gott – Sein oder Denken?’, in: Transzendenz (Paderborn, 1992), 165.
[8] W.J. Courtenay, “Reflections”, in Theological Quodlibeta II (Leiden, 2007), 352.

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