Markus Vinzent's Blog

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Meister Eckhart joking

Working on a new monograph Eckhart's Bible which is based on the finished first fascicle (the Bible-index, created and annotated by Loris Sturlese and me, one of the reasons why over the past weeks I could not post any blog) of the Indices to Meister Eckhart's critical edition (Kohlhammer, Stuttgart) (to be published early 2015), I came across a wonderful joke which shows Eckhart criticising an abbot who had little knowledge of the Old and the New Testament:

... The two corns of the abbot’s mitre represent the two testaments which the abbot should know in his head, while the two lappets that hang down on the shoulders signify the fulfilment of both testaments by following the mandates. A certain person [Eckhart himself, it seems], however, who was asked about the meaning by a certain officer of the kings who saw somebody with little knowledge in both testaments celebrating under a pontifical mitre, answered that the two corns signified, as stated before, the two testaments, but that the lappets of the mitre signified that he knew neither of them, according to that verse from Jer. 12: ‘You are close to their mouth, but far away from their kidneys’.[1]

[1] Eckhart, In Ex. n. 258 (LW II 207,3-11): ‘Quod autem hic dicitur de pectusculo et armo dextro, congruit quod in mitra pontificali duo cornua significant duo testamenta in capite per cognitionem, duae vero dependentiae descendentes ad scapulas significant utriusque testamenti impletionem per mandatorum operationem. Quidam tamen, requisitus a quodam ex regibus, `qui´ cum videret quendam celebrantem sub mitra pontificali parum scientem in utroque testamento, respondit quod duo cornua significabant quidem, ut prius, duo testamenta, dependentiae vero a mitra significabant quod neutra sciebat, secundum illud Ier. 12: 'prope es tu ori eorum, et longe a renibus eorum'’; see Innocentius III, De sacro altaris mysterio I c. 60 (PL 217,796: ‘mitra pontificis scientiam utriusque testamenti significat, nam duo cornua sunt testamenta, duae fimbriae spiritus et littera.’

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