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Kierkegaard’s reception of German vernacular mysticism: Johann Tauler’s sermon on the feast of the exaltation of the Cross and Practice in Christianity

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Becker-Lindenthal, H  ORCID logo


The role of the image in the third part of Practice in Christianity suggests that Kierkegaard was in-spired by Meister Eckhart’s and Johann Tauler’s account of detachment (Entbildung). I argue that Kierkegaard was not only indirectly influenced by Tauler through the works of the Pietistic writers, but also directly inspired by Tauler’s sermons. Particularly striking are similarities to a sermon that was included in the Tauler edition owned by Kierkegaard: the second sermon on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. A comparison of the texts shows how both Tauler and Kierkegaard criticize the mental images their contemporaries hold of Jesus Christ. Both stress the importance of existential kenosis, which they describe as Entbildung of the intellect and the will, and which is an essential part of follow-ing Christ in his abasement. Furthermore, they analyse inadequate attempts to imitate Christ in a simi-lar manner. Even though Kierkegaard and Tauler differ with regard to the ontological implications of Entbildung, the ethical implications are the same: one should not retreat from the world, but rather turn to it with a selfless attitude.



Anti-Climacus, Bildung, detachment, dying-to, image, imitatio Christi, kenosis, Meister Eckhart

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International Journal of Philosophy and Theology

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Informa UK Limited
Isaac Newton Trust (17.08(a))
Leverhulme Trust (ECF-2017-002)
Leverhulme Trust, Isaac Newton Trust