Markus Vinzent's Blog

Saturday, 12 December 2015

A first glimpse at the newly rediscovered Eckhart Manuscript (Pfeiffer P Giessener Privatsammlung), now Wartburg-Stiftung Ms. 1361-50

To establish the nature of this recently rediscovered Eckhart Manuscript (identified by our colleague Balasz J. Nemes, Freiburg i.Br., it will for the first time presented to the public at a major exhibition at Erfurt, Waidspeicher, opening on 23 January 2016, 7pm), here a first glimpse and interpretation of the first part of the first small opening section which, in the manuscript, follows Psalms and a sermon which still need to be looked at more closely. So after these introductory texts we read the following text, given here in row 2 in Middle High German, followed in row 3 by my own English translation. In row 1 you will read Thomas Aquinas' text to compare with row 2:

Thom. Aqu., S. Th. I q. 105 a. 5 
Wartburg Ms. 1361-50
Translation of Wartburg Ms. 1361-50
Deus non operetur

Deum operari in rebus,
tamen ipsae res

Ad cuius
considerandum est quod, cum sint
 causarum quatuor genera,

non est principium
actionis, sed se habet ut subiectum recipiens actionis effectum.




se habent ut actionis principium,
sed ordine quodam.

Meister thomas vraged
god ein
midwirker si,
allen den dingen
die da wirkend
als so ich etwas wirke of god das werk
in mir wirke. Hie spriched er also,

das god in allen dingen wirke
also das doch dv ding ir eigen werk
[33v] hauend, das in van ir eigener nature zuo behoerd.

Vnd hervmb
das wir dis deste das merken, so svlen wir wissen,
das vier lei

sachen sind.
Dv ein heissed ein materliche sache,
vnd mag
nihd ein anvang sin eins werkes, mer si helded sich als ein lidlichv sache dv einphenglich ist des werkes der wirkenden sache.

Dv ander sache heissed dv leste sache.

Dv dridde heissed dv wirkende sache.

Dv vierde heissed dv foermliche sache, vnd dise drie sache sind alle drie
ein anvang der wirklicheid. Vnd doch nah einer [34r] ordenunge
Meister Thomas asked
God was
all things
that act
so that when I do something, whether God is doing the work in me. To this, then, he [Thomas] says that God is acting in all things, so that nevertheless the thing retain their own work [33v] which belongs to it by its own nature.

And in order
for us
to notice this, we have to know
that there are four things.
The one is called
a material thing,
which may
not be the principle of a work, but behaves
like a suffering thing that receives the
work of
the acting thing.
The other thing is called the last thing.

The third is called the acting thing.

The fourth is called the formal
, and these
three things are all three one principle of reality.
Yet according to an [34r] order.

This first piece with which the text in the Wartburg manuscript opens starts with a reference to Thomas Aquinas. And, indeed, it is not only a reference regarding Thomas’ teaching in a more general sense, but the text begins with a literal translation of a section, taken from Thomas’ Summa Theologia (I q. 105 a. 5). This question of Thomas deals with the broader problem of ‘divine governing or the change of creatures by God’ (De secundo effectu gubernationis divinae qui est mutatio creaturarum). This question Thomas addresses after having answered the prior questions of 1) Can God move immediately the matter to the form? 2) Can He immediately move a body? 3) Can He move the intellect? and 4) Can He move the will?
Despite the fact that we find a literal translation of Thomas’ quote in our text, right from the beginning we also have to note subtle alterations which the translator introduces into his rendering. Already in the question, he intensifies the operating or working of God ‘in all things’ by sharpening it to what he calls a ‘cooperating’ (midwirker si). That our author puts emphasis precisely on this notion can be seen by the first deviation from his pre-text which he explains in more detail: ‘so that when I do something’, one has to ask ‘whether God is doing the work in me’. God’s cooperation, hence, is referred to the individual agent and is raised to the tension, if not emphatic paradox of an agent ‘I’ that is confronted with God as agent. The following bridging introduction of the next portion of the translation (‘To this, then, he [Thomas] says ...’) reveals that the translator is not only conscious of the fact that he had deviated from his source, but also indicates this deviation to his audience or readership, thus, marking out the different levels of source/translation and commentary. This indication highlights from the beginning that we are not dealing with a simple excerpt from Thomas, but with a learned, careful reading, translating and rendering of Thomas with the view of interpreting him in a particular way. The source of this interpretation is quickly found, as the paradox of the agent ‘I’ and God the agent is known from Eckhart and, more importantly, with explicit reference to precisely the passage of Thomas we have quoted and translated here. In his Commentary on John, Eckhart writes:
‘What he says here: The Father who remains in me, he himself does the works [John 14:10], which is the same as what has been said in the first chapter: All things have been done by him, and without him nothing has been done [John 1:3]. The principle without principle, namely, is the Father, which works in everything that is principled or produced. Therefore, it is also said that God works in everything that works, as Thomas teaches p. I q. 1[0]5 a. 5.[1]
According to Eckhart God, the Father, is the agent ‘in everything’, whereby things are understood as acting things. While God is the principle without principle, the things are acting with God acting in them. As authority for his explanation of John 14:10 and John 1:3, he explicitly refers to Thomas’ Summa Theologia, the passage that is been translated in our Wartburg manuscript. Interestingly, the Wartburg manuscript allows us to correct the text of the manuscripts, the critical edition and also of the reference text that the editors of the critical edition are referring to, as Eckhart is not pointing to STh p. I q. 15 a. 5 as given by the manuscripts and the critical edition which was already seen by the editors, hence they point in the apparatus to STh  l q. 15 a. 3 ad 2: deus ... essentia sua est principium operationum aliarum, but to our passage here. In Eckhart’s Commentary we read: Propter quod et deus dicitur operari in omni operante, ut docet  Thomas p. I q. 15 a. 5, which can be found in STh I q. 105 a. 5 as: Videtur quod Deus non operetur in omni operante. Quite obviously, the zero has been dropped in the transmission process of Eckhart’s text, but can now be restored on the basis of the Wartburg manuscript.
The same theological topic recurse in Eckhart, both in his Latin and German works. Early on in his Sermons and Lectures on Jesus Sirach 24 he discusses the working of God in the preacher:
Like a vine. The ‘like’ signifies a relation of similarity. However, in a relation, being oneself is being not oneself; [in a relation] to be for oneself is to be not for oneself, but of another, towards the other and for the other. In the same way the preacher of the word of God who is ‘the power of God and the wisdom of God’ [1Cor. 1:24], should not be or live for himself but for Christ [see 2Cor. 5:15] whom he preaches according to that [verse] Gal. 2[:20]: ‘I live, yet not I, in truth Christ lives in me’. ‘I, yet not I’, and this means: like me or like a vine, it is Christ, like Christ, John 15[:1]: ‘I am the true vine’. Christ [is] the vine, the preacher is ‘like a vine’. And because the work belongs to the one who is, the teaching of Christ’s preacher should not focus on anything else than Christ, so that he can say with John 7[:16]: ‘My teaching is not mine, but of him who sent me’. This is therefore, secondly, what is required from the preacher, sincerity of purpose: ‘like a vine’. [2]
As with God in everything that works, so is Christ the one that lives and works in the preacher who preaches, hence it is Christ teaching in and through the preacher and the preaching of the preacher is not his own, but Christ’s. A little later, in his second lecture on Jesus Sirach, Eckhart adds more philosophically, joining end and principle:
Someone’s work that has its end in something other than God, for this one’s work God is not the principle, because God is both, end and principle. A work is namely not divine, the principle of which is not God. As an image and example of this it is said Jn. 14[:10]: The Father who remains in me, he himself does the works.[3]
Close to what follows in the Wartburg manuscript as further quotation from Thomas with regards the principle of form for matter, Eckhart states in his Commentary on John:
So it is, therefore also with any substantial form that is united to matter which communicates its being to matter and by its own being inhabits matter and by inhabiting communicates its own works to it. And from the outer works shines back that itself inhabits, is at and is in matter, according to that verse [1]Cor. 13: You search for proof of him that Christ speaks in me [2Cor. 13:3].[4]
Also Eckhart’s German works deals with this inbeing of the divine agent in the human agent. Most prominently, we read in his Predigt 31 towards the end about the Godlike soul:
To call a man enlightened as we sometimes do, means little. Where it comes out of it is far better; where it breaks through into the soul and makes her Godlike, divine, as far as may be, and light inwardly. In this interior light she climbs up above herself in the light of God. Now she has come home and is at one with him, there she is a cooperator. Nothing is wrought by creature, unless the Father works alone. The soul shall never stop until she works as powerful as God. Then she works together with the Father all his work: she shall work as one with him, wisely and lovingly. That we have to work together with God, Gold help us. Amen.[5]
Here, Eckhart starts with the idea that the soul, once herself in the light of God, is a fellow-worker, a cooperator with God to end with God being the cooperator of the soul, as he is the one that ‘works alone’. As in the explanatory part of our Wartburg section, therefore, it is God’s doing the work ‘in me’ that my own activity is retained, yet it is interpreted by Eckhart as an activity done by God himself. It is this in-working of soul and God, of acting agents as which he interprets the cooperation between the acting soul and the acting God which makes him interpret the cooperation as a unity, a wise and loving one. This idea of a unity of human and divine agent makes Eckhart even think of his own origin where he was born, a birth that he reflects as a result not only of the sexual unity of his parents, but as one that was such cooperations of human and divine agent:
Many years ago, I was not; not long after that my father and my mother eating meat, bread and cabbage that grew in the garden, from which I became to be human being. In this my father and my mother were unable to cooperate, but God made my body without aid and created my soul after the supreme. Thus I became to own my life.[6]
Although Eckhart seems to deny the cooperation between God and Eckhart’s parents, as God produceds both body and soul after the supreme, it is not without the meal of meat, bread and cabbage (with meat mentioned first, therefore, perhaps not an ordinary, daily, but a festive meal) and what happened after it that Eckhart came to life, and yet he sees both his body and soul as being the product of God, a product, however, which, he asserts, is not simply belonging to the divine realm, but is owned by himself. Ownership and agency, is intertwined, is a unity, the topic which is dealt here in the first text of our Wartburg manuscript.[7] As the discussion comes close to what Eckhart in his Predigt 14 mentions to have been written down in his notebook,[8] whether, what we have here in the Wartburg manuscript may derive from such a booklet.

[1] Eckhart, In Ioh. n. 582 (LW III 509,11-5): quod hic dicitur: 'pater in me manens, ipse facit  opera', ipsum est quod supra primo capitulo dicitur: 'omnia per ipsum facta sunt, et  sine ipso factum est nihil'. »Principium enim sine principio«, pater, operatur in omni principiato  seu producto. Propter quod et deus dicitur operari in omni operante, ut docet  Thomas p. I q. 1[0]5 a. 5.
[2] See Eckhart, In Eccl. n. 4 (LW II 233,1-11): 'Quasi vitis'. Li quasi relationem similitudinis significat. Relationi autem  suum esse est non suum esse; sibi esse est non sibi, sed alterius, ad alterum  et alteri esse. Sic praedicator verbi dei, quod est 'dei virtus et dei sapientia',  non debet sibi esse aut vivere, sed Christo quem praedicat, secundum illud  Gal. 2: 'vivo ego, iam non ego, vivit vero in me Christus'. 'Ego, iam non ego',  et hoc est: ego quasi vel quasi vitis, id est Christus, quasi Christus, Ioh. 15:  'ego sum vitis vera'. Christus vitis, praedicator 'quasi vitis'. Et quia eius est  operari cuius est esse, praedicatoris Christi doctrina non debet quidquam  intendere praeter Christum, ut possit dicere illud Ioh. 7: 'mea doctrina non  est mea, sed eius qui misit me'. Hoc est ergo secundum, quod in praedicatore  requiritur, intentionis sinceritas: 'quasi vitis'.
[3] Eckhart, In Eccl. n. 57 (LW II 286,8-12: ... Cuius enim operis finis est quippiam praeter deum, huius operis deus non est principium, quia deus idem, finis et principium. Opus autem divinum non est, cuius deus  principium non est. In cuius figura et exemplo dicitur Ioh. 14: 'pater in me  manens, ipse facit opera'; see also ibid. n. 66 (LW II 296,1-6); In Sap. nn. 101-2 (LW II 437-440); with reference to the builder see n. 123 (LW II 460,10-461,5); n. 184 (LW II 520,5-521,1); In Ioh. n. 68 (LW III 56,7-14).
[4] Eckhart, In Ioh. n. 156 (LW III 129,8-10): Sic enim etiam se habet de omni  forma substantiali unita materiae, quae esse suum materiae communicat et per  ipsum esse suum materiam inhabitat et inhabitando opera sua illi communicat; et ex operibus extra relucet ipsam inhabitare, adesse et inesse materiae, secundum  illud Cor. 13: 'experimentum quaeritis eius, qui in me loquitur Christus'.
[5] Eckhart, Pr. 31 (DW II 124,5-125,5): Daz man etwenne sprichet: daz ist ein erliuhtet mensche, daz ist kleine. Aber dâ ez ûzbrichet, daz ist verre bezzer und brichet durch in die sêle und machet sie glîch gote und gotvar, als ez mügelich ist, und înerliuhtet sie. In der înerliuhtunge klimmet si über sich in dem götlîchen liehte. Als si nû danne alsô heim kumet und alsô mit im vereinet ist, sô ist si ein mitewürkerin. Kein crêatûre enwürket niht dan der vater, der würket aleine. Diu sêle sol niemer ûfgehœren, si enwerde des werkes als gewaltic als got. Sô würket si mit dem vater alliu sîniu werk; si würket mit im einvalticlîche und wîsliche und minniclîche. Daz wir mit gote also würken müezen, des helfe uns got. Amen. (trans. based on Evans, altered).
[6] Eckhart, Pr. 51 (DW II 474,2-6): Vor manichen jaren do was ich nitt; darnach nit lang, do asß meyn vatter vnnd meyn muter fleisch vnnd brott vnd kraut, das in dem garten wuchß, vnnd dauon bin ich eyn mensch. das selb mochte meyn vatter noch meyn muter nit mitwürcken, sunder gott der machet meyn leychnam on mittel vnnd geschuff meyn sele nach dem aller höchstenn. hie besaß ich meyn leben.
[7] See also Eckhart, Pr. 81 (DW III 395-404); this text may also reveal, why the section on Thomas is followed by the question of the changeability of God.  
[8] Eckhart, Pr. 14 (DW I 237,8).