My Secret Is Mine

The title of My Secret Is Mine is a translation of secretum meum mihi (Isaiah 24:16), quoted in Bernard of Clairvaux, De gradibus humilitatis et superbiae. He reminds of a constant in the history of religion, namely, the belief that the planet Earth and all life on it owe its origins to the loving union of a cosmic or divine couple. This unio also embraces and includes human beings, as demonstrated by Meister Eckhart and many other mystics: Want ze glîcher wîse als ein ê ist ân entwesen zwischen frouwen unde man, alsô sol ein ê sîn zwischen iuwern sêlen unde got ("For just as a marriage is without end between women and men, there should be a marriage between your souls and God"). In this erotic constellation, the human soul is characterized as the female partner. The mystical literature of the Middle Ages is full of sexual metaphors and gender concepts of this kind.

The book investigates the function of this erotic discourse about God and his creatures, above all, the mystical interaction between humans and God. Moreover, the author looks into the implications of such metaphors, which have consequences that are both indispensable, yet risky. Speech about the eternal is forcibly adapted into the historical dimensions of the social order and of the relationships between the sexes on earth. Categories such as temporality and, with it, the transitory nature of the course of a relationship (as well as the inherent and historically conditioned structures of power that inform it) become embedded in mystical discourse and can hardly be eliminated from it.

Table of Contents

Bibliography of Primary Sources

My Secret Is Mine. Studies on Religion and Eros in the German Middle Ages

VIII & 297 pages; 19 figures
ISBN 978-90-429-0871-0
Leuven / Louvain: Peeters 2000 (Studies in Spirituality Supplements 4)


"Kellers Arbeit ist ein wichtiger Beitrag zu einem der bedeutendsten Kapitel der europäischen Mystik und zugleich zum noch immer nicht ausreichend erforschten Bereich der mittelalterlichen (und frühneuzeitlichen) Vorstellungen zu Erotik, Sexualität und Ehe, wie sie in der abendländischen fiktionalen und gebrauchsbezogenen Literatur instrumentalisiert sind." (M. Dallapiazza)

"Keller's rich study not only introduces a range of intriguing and little-known German texts to the Anglophone reader, but contributes persuasively to our understanding of the ancient "hermeneutic tightrope act" [263] that balances an all-too-earthly, historically conditioned gender hierarchy against the dream of a timeless, suprasexual marriage with God." (B. Newman)


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