As there seems to be no English translation available of Eckhart's inaugural lecture, his Collatio in Libros Sententiarum of Peter Lombard, held between 14 September and 9 October 1295 in Paris, here text and translation (work in progress):
'Altissimus creavit de terra medicinam', Eccli. 38
The most high created medicine from earth (Jes. Sir. 38:4)
◊1◊ Verba ista pro ingressu Libri sententiarum aptissime assumunt+ur++. Primus siquidem liber loquitur de altissimo; secundus de creatione et creaturis; tertius de terra benedicta, scilicet de humanitate Christi, verbi incarnati; quartus de sacramentis, quae tamquam medicina homini sauciato adhibentur.
◊2◊ Circa primum notandum quod hoc nomen 'altissimus' proprie deo competit. In ipso est siquidem perfectissima altitudo: est enim in divina natura altitudo in se sive secundum se, est etiam in ipsa altitudo respectu creaturae. In ipsa siquidem est altitudo secundum proprietates tam essentiales quam personales, secundum quas personae comparantur ad se ipsas. Et etiam altitudo in ipso secundum quod ab ipso rerum creatarum universitas. Et huic apte congruit sive alludit quod dicit 'altissimus', quia nulli creato competit esse altissimum, Psalmus: 'tu solus altissimus super omnem terram', et Eccli. 1: 'altitudinem caeli' 'quis dimensus est?' Et nota: signanter duo dicit, scilicet 'altitudinem caeli' et 'quis <LW5:018> dimensus +est++?' Est enim in caelo altitudo quaedam, sed dimensa. Est et alia in caelo, sed indimensa. In caelo siquidem stellato est altitudo permaxima, sed tamen dimensa. Unde Alfraganus Differentia XXI dicit quod diameter circuli signorum est centum milium milium et triginta milium milium et septingentorum vginti milium miliariorum. Et Rabbi Moyses l. III c. 15 dicit quod a centro terrae usque ad superficiem circuli signorum inferiorem est iter octo milium annorum et septingentorum fere ad minus, spissitudoque ipsius circuli signorum est iter quattuor milium annorum. Et hoc est quod dicit 'altitudinem caeli'. Ultimi autem caeli mobilis sphaerae altitudo mensurari non potest, ut dicit Rabbi Moyses, eo quod stellis careat. Et hoc est quod <19> dicit: 'quis dimensus est?' quasi dicat: nullus. Sed quamquam altitudo caeli non sit dimensa ab homine, est tamen dimensa in se et in re: superficie enim claudente omne corpus dimensionatur, quiditate terminante omnis creatura limitatur et non ultra in altum corrigitur. Deus autem non sic. Propter hoc convenientissime dicitur: 'tu solus altissimus super omnem terram'.
◊3◊ Est autem deus 'altissimus' in essentia, in permanentia, in potentia, in sapientia, in misericordia sive benevolentia. Propter primum est incommutabilis, propter secundum est interminabilis, propter tertium invincibilis, propter quartum infallibilis, propter quintum exorabilis. De primo Eccli. 1: 'unus est altissimus creator omnium', ubi tria tanguntur circa divinam essentiam, propter quorum unumquodque deus est omniquaque incommutabilis. Tangitur enim ipsius dei simplicitas, sublimitas, diffusivae bonitatis universalis causalitas: simplicitas, <20> quia 'unus', sublimitas, quia 'altissimus', universalis causalitas, quia 'omnium' creator'. Omne enim mutabile habet hoc et hoc, nec est simplex. Manet enim secundum aliquid et variatur secundum aliquid. Item omne mutabile habet aliquid se sublimius, cum »semper agens sit nobilius patiente«. Item omne mutabile habet causam transmutantem sive moventem, et sic in ipso non est universalis causalitas. Est igitur deus incommutabilis omniquaque, quia 'unus' in simplicitate, 'altissimus' in sublimitate, 'creator omnium' in universali causalitate.
◊4◊ De hac eius incommutabilitate dicitur in Psalmo: 'ipsi peribunt, tu autem permanes' etc. Item: 'mutabis eos et mutabuntur; tu autem idem ipse es, et <021> anni tui non deficient'. Boethius: »stabilisque manens das cuncta moveri«. Et illud: 'ego dominus, et non mutor'. Omnis creatura subiacet mutabilitati vel corruptionis vel localis transmutationis vel saltem durationis: corruptionis, ut elementa; <l>ocalis transmutationis, ut corpora caelestia; durationis, ut natura angelica, vel quia ipsorum duratio initium sumpsit, vel quia affectiones eorum et intellectiones secundum Augustinum tempore variantur. Deus autem non sic. Ex quo patet secundum, quia 'altissimus' in permanentia, et sic interminabilis, Psalmus: 'tu autem altissimus in aeternum, domine'; Exodus: 'dominus regnavit in aeternum et ultra'. Et sic patet tertium, quia 'altissimus' in potentia, et sic invincibilis, Psalmus: 'altissimum posuisti refugium tuum'. Item 'altissimus' in sapientia, et sic infallibilis, Apostolus: 'omnia nuda et aperta sunt oculis eius'. Item 'altissimus' in benevolentia, et sic exorabilis, Psalmus: 'quoniam rex <22> spe+rat in domino: et in misericordia altissimi non commovebitur'++. Sic igitur est deus 'altissimus' in se sive
◊5◊ Est et nihilominus, immo multo fortius, 'altissimus' respectu naturae creatae, Psalmus: 'tu solus altissimus super omnem terram; nimis exaltatus es super omnes deos': 'super omnem terram' quantum ad creaturas corporales, 'nimis exaltatus super omnes deos', quantum ad creaturas spirituales. Et de hac duplici altitudine divinae naturae deter+minatur++ in primo libro sententiarum, et secundum hoc sunt duae partes principales primi libri sententiarum: primo enim docetur de deo, ut est 'altissimus' in se, quantum ad proprietates essentiales et personales, usque ad tricesimamquintam distinctionem; secundo de deo, ut est 'altissimus' respectu naturae creatae, prout est principium posse, nosse et velle. De his determinatur a distinctione tricesimaquinta usque ad finem libri.
◊6◊ Secundo tangitur subiectum secundi libri cum dicitur 'creavit'. Agitur enim ibi de creatione et creaturis, Gen. 1: 'in principio creavit deus caelum et terram'. Quod beatus Augustinus exponit dicens: »per caelum et terram spiritualem <23> corporalemque creaturam intelligimus«. Et hoc est quod dicitur in Psalmo: 'ipse dixit et facta sunt' etc. 'Ipse dixit et facta sunt', quantum ad creaturam corporalem, 'ipse mandavit et creata sunt', quantum ad spiritualem. Et secundum hoc liber etiam secundus in duo dividitur. Agitur enim in principio de creatura spirituali angelica, usque ad duodecimam distinctionem, et de creatura corporali deinceps. Creatura autem corporalis est duplex: quaedam corporalis rationalis, quaedam vero corporalis irrationalis. Et secundum hoc illa secunda pars iterum in duo dividitur: primo siquidem agitur de pure corporali, usque ad sextamdecimam distinctionem, secundo de ea quae est corporalis simul et rationalis, ut homo, a sextadecima distinctione deinceps. Et hanc distinctionem duplicem innuit magister sententiarum libro secundo distinctione prima capitulo ultimo de homine.
◊7◊ Tertio tangitur materia tertii libri, cum sequitur: 'de terra'. Haec est illa terra benedicta, de qua scriptum est: 'ut inhabitet gloria in terra nostra', id est in carne nostra. »Caro enim et frater noster est«, de cuius incarnatione et humanitate dicet liber tertius. Haec est enim terra, de qua scriptum est: <24> 'terra nostra dabit fructum suum', scilicet humilitatem et perfectionem. Per 'terram' igitur intelligitur humanitas salvatoris nostri congruentissime ad praesens propter duo, scilicet +passionem et++ actionem. Primum congruit Christo propter eius poenalitatem et humilitatem eximiam, secundum propter virtutum et gratiarum ipsius redundantiam. De primo dicitur ad Phil. 2: 'humiliavit semet ipsum', 'formam servi accipiens', 'factus oboediens usque ad mortem'. Et sic de Christo determinat liber tertius usque ad vicesimamtertiam distinctionem. De secundo Psalmus: 'visitasti terram et inebriasti eam'. Et sic docet de Christo liber tertius a vicesimatertia distinctione usque ad finem eiusdem. Primo enim docet liber ille de incarnatione, passione et morte, quae sunt humilitatis; secundo de virtutibus eius et donis, quae sunt perfectionis et gratiae redundantis.
◊8◊ Ultimo tangitur materia quarti libri, cum additur: 'medicinam'. Sciendum autem quod homo descendens 'ab Ierusalem in Iericho' duplici langore plagatus <25> est, scilicet culpae et poenae. Propter quod signanter Luc. 10 in parabola dicitur pluraliter: 'et plagis impositis abierunt, semivivo relicto'. Et propter hoc duplici indiget medicina, una sanante a culpa, alia liberante a poena. prima est gratia iustificationis, secunda est gloria sive impassibilitas resurrectionis. Prima est gratia sacramentalis, secunda est gloria finalis. Utramque enim istarum medicinarum 'creavit altissimus de terra' illa benedicta, Christo scilicet salvatore nostro, dum sacramenta a latere dormientis in cruce profluxerunt, quibus sanavit culpam, et dum 'reformavit corpus humilitatis nostrae, configuratum corpori claritatis eius', et sic liberavit a poena. Et secundum hoc iterum liber iste quartus in duo dividitur: primo enim determinatur in ipso de sacramentis, quae sunt vasa +gratiae++, usque ad quadragesimamtertiam distinctionem, secundo de statu resurrectionis et gloriae, a quadragesimatertia distinctione usque ad finem libri. Primam medicinam petit psalmista in persona peccatoris, secundam promittit in persona salvatoris; primam insinuat, cum dicit: 'sana animam meam, quia peccavi tibi'; secunda promittebat, cum diceret: 'qui sanat omnes infirmitates tuas' usque inclusive 'renovabitur ut <26> aquilae iuventus tua'. De hac duplici medicina potest intelligi illud quod dicitur Ier. 17: 'sana me domine, et sanabor', quantum ad primum; 'salvum me fac, et salvus ero', quantum ad secundum.
◊9◊ Haec est 'medicina' quam quidem 'creavit altissimus'; de quo Eccli. 38: 'honora medicum propter necessitatem; etenim illum creavit altissimus'. Propter quod dicit beatus Ambrosius in libro De virginitate: »omnia nobis Christus est: si vulnus curare desideras, medicus est. Si febribus aestuas, fons est. Si gravaris iniquitate, iustus est. Si auxilio indiges, virtus est. Si mortem times, vita est. Si caelum desideras, via est. Si tenebras fugis, lux est. Si cibos quaeris, alimentum corpus eius est«. 'Gustate' ergo 'et videte, quoniam suavis est dominus'. Haec est ergo 'medicina', quam 'creavit altissimus de terra'. Quam nobis concedat altissimus, conficiat medicus salvator noster Iesus Christus, qui est benedictus per infinita saeculorum saecula. Amen. Echardus, pro principio. Collatio in libros sententiarum.
◊1◊ These words are most aptly picked up, to introduce the Books on the Sentences. The first Book, namely, speaks about the most high, the second about the creation and the creatures, the third about the blessed earth, i.e. about the humanity of Christ, the Word incarnate, the fourth about the sacraments, which are offered as medicin to the wounded human being.
◊2◊ On the first one, one has to note that this title the most high properly fits God. In himself, namely, he is the most perfect height: because in himself and according to himself is in the divine nature height, and also in itself the height with regards to creature. In itself, therefore, is the height according to both essential and personal properties, according to which the persons compare to each other. And there is height in himself [scil. God], as from him the totality of created things are. And this is congruent or alludes to the word the most heigh, because nothing created can claim to be most heigh, [according to the] Psalm [96:9]: You alone are the most heigh above the entire earth, and Jes. Sir. 1[:2]: The height of the heaven, who has measured it? Also note: He pointed out two things, namely the height of the heaven and who has measured it. There is, namely, a certain height in heaven, but it is measured. Yet, there is another one in heaven, and that is unmeasured. Because there is the heaven of the stars is of maximal height, but it is nevertheless measured. Therefore Alfraganus says in [the Elements of Astronomy], distinction 21, that the diameter of the zodiac measures 130 720 000 miles. And Rabbi Moses [in the Guide of the Perplexed], b[ook] 3 c[hapter] 15 says that from the centre of the earth to the lower cover of the zodiac there is a way of 8700 years, and that the depth of the zodiac itself is a way of 4000 years. And this is what is meant by ‘height of the heaven’. The height, however, of the sphere of the ultimate moveable heaven cannot be measured, as Rabbi Moses says, the one where no stars are. And this is, what is meant by who has measured it, as if he said: nobody. Although the height of the heaven may not be measured by a human being, nevertheless in itself and as a matter of fact, it is measured: through its cover, namely, every body has its dimension, every creature is limited by its determined whatness and is not changed, lifted beyond it. God, however, is not of this kind. Therefore, it is most conveniently said: You alone are the most high above the entire earth [Ps. 96:9].
◊3◊ However, God is the most high in essence, in permanence, in power, in wisdom, in mercy or benevolence. Because of the first, he is unchangeable, because of the second he is without end, because of the third, he is invincible, because of the fourth, he is infallible, because of the fifth, he is implorable. On the first, Jesus Sirach 1[:8 says]: The one is the most high, the creator of all, through which three things are touched upon with regards to divine essence, because of each of which God is unchangeable in every respect. Touched upon are God’s own simplicity, sublimity, universal causality of dispensing goodness: simplicity as the one, sublimity as the most high, universal causality as the creator of all. Everything moveable, namely, has [its] here and there and is not simple. Because it remains because of something and is varied according to something. Hence, everything moveable has something which is more sublime than itself, because ‘the one that acts is more noble than the one that is acted upon’. Furthermore, everything moveable has a cause of transmutation or motion, and thus, in itself it is not the universal causality. Therefore, God is unchangeable in every respect, because he is the one in simplicity, the most high in sublimity, the creator of all in being universal cause.
◊4◊ About that unchangeability of him one reads in the Psalm [101:27-8]: They will perish, but you will remain etc. And: You are going to change them and they will be changed; you, however, you yourself are the same, and you will not lack your years. Boethius [states]: ‘Remaining also stable, you give movement to everything’. And that [verse Mal. 3:6]: I am the Lord and I do not change. Every creature is subject to changeability, corruption, transmutation in space, or at least of duration: of corruption, such as the elements; of transmutation in space, such as the heavenly bodies; of duration, such as angelic nature, either because the duration of them takes a beginning, or because their affections and insights vary in time according to Augustine. God, however, is not of this kind. From this, the second becomes obvious, because the most high [he is] in permanence, and thus without end, [as] the Psalm [91:9 says]: You are the most high in eternity, Lord; [and] Exodus [15:18]: The Lord reigns in eternity and beyond. And thus the third is obvious, because [he is] the most high in power, and thus invincible, [as the] Psalm [90:9 says]: You have placed the most high as your refuge. Moreover, [he is] the most high in wisdom, and thus infallible, [as the] Apostle [Heb. 4:13 says]: Everything is naked and open to his eyes. Moreover, [he is] benevolent, and thus implorable, [as the] Psalm [20:8]: As the king hopes in God and in the mercy of the most high he will not be moved. Such, therefore, is God in himself and according to himself the most high.
◊5◊ He is also, nevertheless, or even more strongly the most high with regards to created nature, [as the] Psalm [96:9]: You are the sole most high above the entire earth; you are utterly exalted above all gods; above the entire earth [is said] with regards to bodily creatures, utterly exalted above all gods with regards to spiritual creatures.
And this double altitude of divine nature [Peter Lombard] determines in the first book of the Sentences, and according to it there are two principle sections of the first book of the Sentences: Namely first, he teaches about God, as he is the most high in himself, with regards to the essential and personal properties, up to the 35th distinction; second, about God, as he is the most high with regards to created nature, just as the principle of can, know and want. These [topics] he determines beginning from distinction 35 to the end of the book.
◊6◊ Second, to touch on the subject of the second book, when it is said created. Namely, here [Lombard] deals with creation and creatures, [according to] Gen. 1[:1]: In the principle, God created heaven and earth which the blessed Augustine explains, saying: ‘by heaven and earth we understand the spiritual and corporeal creature. And this is what is said in Psalm [32:9]: He himself spoke and they happen to be etc. He himself spoke and they happen to be, insofar as the corporeal, he ordered and they have been created, insofar as the spiritual creature is concerned. And according to this book, also the latter one is divided into two topics. As it deals on in the principle up to distinction 12 with the angelic spiritual, and following that about the corporeal creature. The corporeal creature, however, is twofold: a certain rational corporeal one in contrast to a certain irrational corporeal one. And according to that second part, he adds a further twofold division: namely first, he deals with the purely corporeal ones up to distinction 16, second from distinction 16 onwards with those which are simultaneously corporeal and rational such as human being. And this twofold distinction, the Master of the Sentences intimates in book two, the first distinction, in the last chapter On the human being.
◊7◊ Third, to touch on the matter of the third book, when it follows from earth. This is that blessed earth, of which it is written: So that glory may inhabit our earth [Ps. 84:10], i.e. in our flesh. ‘Namely he is our flesh and brother’, the incarnation and humanity of which [the master] speaks about in the third book. Because this is the earth, of which it is written: Our earth gives its fruit [Ps. 84:13], such as humility and perfection. By earth, therefore, we understand most accurately here the humanity of our saviour for two reasons, because of <passion and> action. The first one fits Christ because of his extraordinary taking on punishment and his humility, second because of his virtue and overflowing of his grace.
Of the first it is said in Phil. 2[:8]: He humbled himself, accepting the form of a servant, becoming obedient to death. And thus, [the master] determines Christ in book three up to distinction 23.
Of the second, the Psalm [64:10 says]: You visited the earth and made it drunk. And thus he teaches about Christ in book three from distinction 23 up to the end of it. First, this book namely teaches about incarnation, passion and death which belong to humility; second about his virtue and gifts which belong to perfection and the overflow of grace.
◊8◊ Ultimately, to touch on the matter of book four, when it is added: medicine. One has to know, however that when a man came down from Jerusalem to Jericho he was wounded twice, namely by guilt and reproach. For that reason it is said in the parable by Lk. 10[:30] more clearly in the plural: And once the wounds were inflicted, they went off, having left him half alive. Therefore, he needs a twofold medicine, one that heals from guilt, another that frees from reproach. The first is justifying grace, the second is glory or impassibility of the resurrection. The first is sacramental grace, the second final glory. Both of these medicines, then, the most high created from earth, the blessed one, namely from Christ our saviour, at the time when the sacraments flew forth from the side of the one who had fallen asleep on the cross, through which he healed from guilt, and at the time when he transformed the body of our humility, so that it will be configurated to a body of his clarity [Phil. 3:21], and in this way he liberated from reproach. And accordingly, this fourth book again is divided into two parts: first, namely, up to distinction 43 he determins the sacraments which are vases of grace, second, from distinction 43 to the end of the book, the state of resurrection and glory. The psalmist in the person of sin asks for the first medicine, the second one he promises as saviour; the first one he hints at when he says [Ps. 40:5]: Heal my soul, for I have sinned against you; the he promises when he would say [Ps. 102:3]: He heals all your infirmities up to and including Your youth will be renewed like that of the eagle. This twofold medicine can be understood from that [vers] where it is said in Jer. 17[:14]: Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed with regards to the first; save me and I will be saved with regard to the second.
◊9◊ This is the medicin which, indeed, the most high created; of which Jes. Sir. 38[:1 states]: Give doctor the honor because of necessity, for the most high created him. Therefore, the blessed Ambrose says in the book On Virginity: ‘Christ is everything for us: if you want to be cured from a wound, he is the doctor. If you burn from fever, he is the fountain. If you are burdened by iniquity, he is the just. If you need help, he is the power. If you fear death, he is life. If you wish for heaven, he is the way. If you flee darkness, he is the light. If you look for food, his body is the nourishment’. Therefore, taste and see that the Lord is sweet. This, then, is the medicine which the most high created from earth. What the most high made available to us, may this the doctor, our saviour Jesus Christ bestow on us who is blessed through infinite times of the times. Amen. Eckhart, for the Principio. Collation on the Books of the Sentences.