The Godhead as a theological foundation of interreligious dialogue; drawn from the writings of Meister Eckhart and Raimundo Panikkar

Beverly Jean Lanzetta, Fordham University


Interreligious dialogue has emerged in the last twenty-five years as a unique response to the global situation. The dissertation focuses on the spiritual dimensions of dialogue, and proposes an interreligious foundation based on Meister Eckhart's desert of the Godhead and on Raimundo Panikkar's speculative work in cross-cultural spiritual hermeneutics. Part One of the dissertation deals with the historical background of dialogue, and investigates the early field of comparative religion, and the theocentric and Christocentric approaches. Further the spirituality of dialogue is explored with reference to the writings of Teilhard de Chardin, Ewert H. Cousins, Leonard Swidler, and others; and the author presents and critiques the contributions of Wilfred Cantwell Smith and Seyyed Hossein Nasr. Next, a detailed study of Raimundo Panikkar's speculative cosmotheandrism is considered in light of the overall dialogic project. In this study, the author attempts to uncover both the historical developments in scholarship which have contributed to the current dialogic atmosphere and the underlying assumptions, questions, and concerns of the interreligious theologian. In order to explore these issues, the author considers the main methodological, epistemological, and hermeneutical approaches currently being discussed in interreligious scholarship. In Part Two, these various approaches to dialogue are seen in light of the mystical theology of Meister Eckhart. Here the dissertation looks toward a theological foundation of dialogue in Meister Eckhart's theme of the God beyond God. Particular attention is given to his notion of the desert of the Godhead, the dynamism of reality, and the oneness beyond distinction as important contributions to interreligious scholarship. The author investigates the ramifications of Eckhart's mysticism to interreligious dialogue and how his doctrine of God can be fruitfully applied to the interreligious question. Finally, the author presents a speculative foundation for dialogue based on a multidimensional notion of Ultimate Reality.

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Recommended Citation

Lanzetta, Beverly Jean, "The Godhead as a theological foundation of interreligious dialogue; drawn from the writings of Meister Eckhart and Raimundo Panikkar" (1988). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8818463.