I am reading this fascinating book about the life and teachings of Meister Eckhart (Eckhart von Hochheim) by a German author named Kurt Flasch. I came across a small section on the “nature of God” and wanted to share it here.
Many know of Meister Eckhart. Wikipedia describes him thusly:
“Eckhart von Hochheim O.P. (circa 1260 – c. 1328), commonly known as Meister Eckhart was a German theologian, philosopher and mystic, born near Gotha, in the Landgraviate of Thuringia in the Holy Roman Empire.
“Eckhart came into prominence during the Avignon Papacy, at a time of increased tensions between monastic orders, diocesan clergy, the Franciscan Order, and Eckhart’s Dominican Order of Preachers. In later life, he was accused of heresy and brought up before the local Franciscan-led Inquisition, and tried as a heretic by Pope John XXII. He seems to have died before his verdict was received.
“He was well known for his work with pious lay groups such as the Friends of God and was succeeded by his more circumspect disciples John Tauler and Henry Suso. Since the 19th century, he has received renewed attention. He has acquired a status as a great mystic within contemporary popular spirituality, as well as considerable interest from scholars situating him within the medieval scholastic and philosophical tradition” (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meister_Eckhart “
This is what I read from Kurt Flasch’s book, Meister Eckhart: Philosopher of Christianity. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2015. pp. 63-64 :
The Nature of God
God is good. He discloses himself without envy according to his nature. He must disclose himself if he wants to be God. Otherwise, he would be denying his essence. God is mind. Which means: he concentrates within himself the multitude of ideal structures and recognizes himself as their unity. He is word, that is, essential disclosure. Secular philosophers, as Augustine confirms, discovered this on the basis of natural reason, and Eckhart finds it also—like Augustine—in the prologue to the Gospel of John. The philosophical knowledge of God shows: God creates the logos, and he is not a rock of motionless being, no anthropomorphically imagined heavenly emperor of immemorial decrees, but the perfect introspection into the abyss of his self. He is thought that comprehends itself through itself, as we read n Aristotle’s Metaphysics… He knows self even in his darkest depths, not through occasional operations or secondary additions, but perpetually and purely through himself. He is fully present. He is mind, and hence indivisible as perfect wholeness. When he is present, then he is wholly present. He does not randomly give something—he gives himself. He produces a nature that is like him. The metaphor of sonship demonstrates this vividly. It marks the result of a philosophical theology that knows: God is mind and his nature is indivisible self-disclosure. These bases of ancient metaphysics and the doctrine of the logos become a Trinitarian philosophy n Eckhart that explains God’s disclosure…, with natural speeches.” This disclosure, for Eckhart, was not a special feature of Christianity, but a feature of man’s traditional philosophical awareness of God as formulated by Hermes Trismegistus, Aristotle, Cicero, and the Greek church fathers, but also by Avicenna, Averroёs and the Liber de causis.
Someone who presents the birth of God as philosophical understanding changes what he is interpreting. If the listeners know that it is true, when they have recognized within themselves the truth of the logos philosophy that Augustine, according to Confessions, Book 7, had found in the Platonic books, then what matters is not dogmatic finesse, not the threefold nature or nomenclature of the divine persons, but only the knowledge of God’s dynamic self-realization in the simple human experience of the self. Then, Eckhart’s listener knows: the divine begetting of the logos in eternity is identical to the birthing of the Godhead in him. Coarse people have to believe it; Eckhart’s students can know it. In this context, the term “birth of God” does not relate to a former event in the past. It is a purely otherworldly process. It is not complete like a traditional birth. Instead, it continuously occurs anew, unceasingly. It is a metaphor for God’s nature, at once constantly in motion and at rest.