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Bull In agro dominico

John XXII

March 27 1329

In which 28 propositions of Meister Eckhart are condemned.

Translated from Meister Eckehart Deutsche Predigten und Traktate transla-


tion by Josef Quint, Diogenes Verlag AG Zürich, 1979, p. 449 .

Preface
John, bishop, servant of the servants of God, of perpetual memory.
In the Lord's eld, whose keeper and laborer we are by divine provision, although
in an undeserved way, We have to exercise spiritual care so diligently and thought-
fully, so that when the enemy sows weeds over the seed of truth on it someplace,
it is smothered when it emerges before it grows as shoots of the pernicious seed, so
that the seed of Catholic truth happily comes up, that of vice having been killed
and the thorns of error having been eradicated.
Wherefore with sorrow We make it known that in these times in the German
Countries, someone by the name of Eckehart, said to be a Doctor and Professor of
Sacred Scripture, belonging to the Dominican Order, wanted to know more than
was necessary, not in according to level-headedness and the guideline of faith, and
while devoting himself to fabrications turned his ear away from the truth. Tempted
by that father of lies, who often changes himself into the angel of light, in order to
spread the gloomy and ugly darkness of sin instead of the light of truth, this mislead
person taught numerous propositions that becloud the faith in many souls that he
gave mostly as sermons to the simple people, but also recorded in writings, keenly
obsequious to produce damaging thistles and poisonous thorn bushes, bringing forth
thorns and weeds in the eld of the Church against the bright shining light of faith.
It has come down to Us from the ocial examination of him made earlier by Our
reverend brother archbishop Henry of Cologne1 and nally from renewed examina-
1 Henry of Virneburg(1244/46-1332) , cf. Michael Sells, Mystical Languages of Unsaying, U. of
Chicago Press, 1994, p. 146. Also here: http://eckhart.de/leben.htm

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tion by the Roman Curia, that from declarations by this Eckehart it is certain that
he taught and wrote twenty-six propositions that contain the following wording:

Propositions
1. Once asked why God did not create the world sooner, he then answered and
still does so that God could not create the world sooner and cannot do anything
before it is. Therefore, as soon as God is does he also create the world.
2. Similarly it can be stated that the world has existed from eternity.
3. Similarly: Once and at the same time as God was and brought forth his eternal
Son, equally to him as entirely equal God, then also did he create the world.
4. Similarly: In every work also in evil and the pain of punishment, as well as
in the pain of guilt there is revealed and ows forth abundantly at the same
time God's magnicence.
5. Similarly: He who defames someone praises God during the sin of defamation
and the more he defames and the more he sins thus the more he praises God.
6. Similarly: He who defames God himself, praises God.
7. Similarly: He who asks for this or that, asks for something evil in an ill-
disposed manner, asking for the denial of the good and God's own denial and
he asks that God him denies.
8. God is honored in those who do not pursue anything, neither honor nor ad-
vantage, neither inner revelation nor saintliness, nor reward, nor the Kingdom
of Heaven itself, but who distance themselves from all these things, as well as
from all that is theirs.
9. I have recently thought about whether I want to accept or desire something
from God: I want to consider that seriously: In what I want to receive from
God I am UNDER him or among his possessions like a servant or a laborer,
while he is like a Lord in the giving, yet so it will not be with us in eternal
life.
10. We are completely reformed into God and changed into him; in a similar
manner as in the blessed sacrament the bread is changed into the body of
Christ: so I am changed into him that he himself produces me as his own
being, the same as he, not as something similar to him; it is true by the living
God that there is no distinction.

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11. Everything that God the Father has given his only begotten Son in his human
nature he has also given to me: I am not left out in anything, neither in
holiness nor in unity, he has given me everything that he has given him.
12. Everything that sacred scripture says of Christ that is also completely brought
to truth in every good and godly person.
13. Everything that is proper to divine nature is also proper to the just and godly
person; thus such a person does everything that God does and has created
heaven and earth together with God, brings forth the eternal word and God
does not know what to do without such a person.
14. The good person must adapt her will so to God's will that she wills everything
that God wills: now since God in a certain sense wills that I have sinned, so
also do I not want that I have committed no sins, and such is true penance.
15. When a person has comitted a thousand mortal sins and were in her right
mind, she would not wish that she had not comitted them.
16. God does not expressly command external works.
17. External works are actually not good and godly and God actually does not
work through them and does not command them.
18. Let us not fructify external works which do not make us good, but inner works
instead, which the Father, being in us, does and works.
19. God loves the soul, not external works.
20. The good person is God's only begotten Son.
21. The noble person is every only begotten Son of God that the Father has
begotten in eternity.
22. The Father begets me as his only Son and as the selfsame Son. What God
does is one: that is why he begets me as his Son without distinction.
23. God is in every way and in every consideration only one, so that no multiplicity
is found in him, neither in his intelligence nor outside of it; namely he who
sees duality or distinction does not see God because God is one, outside and
beyond all multiplicity and is not conjoined with anything. Therefrom follows:
in God can nothing be distinguished or conceived.
24. Every distinction is foreign to God, as well in nature as in persons. To wit:
his very nature is one and pure unity. Every person is one and pure unity as
is his nature.

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25. When it is written: "Simon, do you love me more than these?" Then what
is meant is: "That is to say, more than these and true and well, but not
perfectly", namely where there is a "rst" or a "second", there is a "more"
and a "less" and there is distinction and order. But in the One there is neither
gradation nor rank. And so who loves God more than her neighbor, loves him
true and well, but not perfectly.
26. All creatures are pure nothing: I don't say that they are insignicant, or
something in someplace, but that they are absolutely nothing.

a There is something in the soul that is uncreated and uncreatable and


when the whole soul is thus, then it is uncreated and uncreatable and
this is 'this' [comprehension - die Vernunft]2 .
b God neither good nor better nor perfect. When I call God good then I
say something absurd, like calling black white.

Postscript
We have presented the above cited propositions in order to be examined by many
Doctors of Sacred Theology and have also examined them carefully Ourselves with
Our brothers. Finally we found both on the basis of reports from these same Doc-
tors as well as based upon Our own examination that the rst fteen of the cited
propositions as well as the two last ones, both in their wording and in their thought
content, contain the error and the evil of heresy; the other eleven that rst
begin with "God does not command, etc." We have found sounding exceedingly evil
and bold and smacking of heresy, but it can be admitted that they have a Catholic
meaning, given many explanations and amendments.
In order that such propositions or their contents not further infect the souls of
the simple people to whom they are preached and can become popular with them
or with others, We expressly condemn and reject the rst fteen cited propositions
and the two last ones on the advice of Our aforementioned brothers as heretical,
the eleven others cited however as evil sounding, bold and smacking of heresy, as
well as all books and shorter writings of this Eckehart which contain one or more of
the cited propositions. When however, someone ventures to steadfastly defend these
propositions, or to agree with them, then We so desire and order that against those
who defend or agree with the rst fteen and the two last propositions legal action
be undertaken as against heretics, and that against those who defend of agree with
2 SaysTon van der Stap in De Weg van Eckhart (Uitgeverij Meinema, Zoetermeer, 2003, p.100)
in his commentary on Predigt 39: "...de ziel...wordt dus door God aangesproken met 'jongeling',
omdat ze als vermogen tot inzicht, als 'verstand' zegt Eckhart, onbevangen is."

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the content of the other eleven propositions legal action be undertaken as against
those suspected of heresy.
Further We wish to make it known to all who were preached or taught the cited
propositions, as well as to all others who know about them, that as is determined
from a public and signed document, the so-called Eckehart at the end of his life,
professing the Catholic faith, withdrew and also rejected the twenty-six propositions
that he admitted to have preached, as well as everything else written, taught or
preached by him, that in the minds of the faithful was able to engender a meaning
that is heretical, erroneous and contrary to the true faith, insofar as this meaning is
concerned, and wanted them known as quite and completely withdrawn, as when he
withdraws any other proposition or anything else in particular, since he submitted
himself and all his writings and discourse to Ourselves and the ruling of the Apostolic
See.
Given at Avignon on the 27th of March 1329, the thirteenth year of Our Pontif-
icate3

3 John XXII, Jacques Duèze(1249-1334), reigned 1316-1334.