Saint Bonaventure

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Reply Thu 18 Dec, 2008 02:12 pm
Saint Bonaventure was the 8th minister general of the Fransiscan order, born 1221 and died 1274. He was a student of Alexander of Hales and a Scholastic, and over his life he followed in the footsteps of his master in creating a more perfect synthesis of the Platonist philosophy and the Christian theology. He often used to boast that there is nothing in his writings which is not in St. Augustine's.

Yet, if St. Bonaventure was an incredible thinker and writer, the intellectualism of his Platonist training is in every "set off" so to speak by the simplicity of his ardent love for the poor Assisi, and his desire to follow in his footsteps. In St. Francis of Assisi he finds an almost perfect imitation of Christ's life, especially in the way in which his suffering and austerity of life was consummated. As Christ was crucified, so was St. Francis in a mystical way crucified with Christ. Gazing upon the image of the six winged seraph, and between the wings of the seraph the image of the Crucified, St. Francis received the Holy Stigmata.

In fine, it is in St. Bonaventure's works that we find a perfect synthesis of Platonist Idealism and Catholic piety.

Here is the list of his works:

Christus Unus Omnium Magister (Christ the One Teacher of All)
Commentaria in Quatuor Libros Sententiarium (Commentaries for the Four Books of Sentences)
Commentarius in Primum Librum Sententiarium Petri Lombardi (Commentary of the First Book of Sentences of Peter Lombard)
Itinerarium Mentis in Deum (Journey of the Mind into God)
De Mysterio Trinitatis (About the Mystery of the Trinity)
De Reductione Artium ad Theologiam (About the Reduction of the Arts to Theology)
Collationes de Septem Donis Spiritus Sanctis (Collations about the Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost)
Legenda Minor (Vitae Sancti Francisci) (The Minor Account (of the Life of St. Francis))
Legenda Maior (Vitae Sancti Francisci) (The Major Account (of the Life of St. Francis))
Commentarius De Evangelio Sancti Lucae (I'm not sure if this is the Latin name...I only saw the English name, and I am guessing that this is what it would look like in Latin) (Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke)
De Septem Itineribus Aeternitatis (About the Seven Journeys of Eternity)
Quaestiones Disputatae De Scientia Christi (Disputed Questions about the Knowledge of Christ)
Lignum Vitae (Tree of Life)

There may be others which I am missing. You can find a bunch of links (though only a few of them are in English, if any) here.

The Itinerarium Mentis in Deum is in many ways his Summa, and is one of the finest (and most concise) works in the history of Western Philosophy.

I have yet to find an English translation of the De Reductione, so I'll probably give y'all a translation (I translated most of the above Latin titles into English myself) of the work later.

For now, the Latin is here.

For any of you who are interested in reading that you probably won't find on the net (well...2 of 3 of the works contained in this book I have yet to find a good translation online), I encourage you all to buy this book.

Key themes of St. Bonaventure's philosophy:

1. God as Exemplar
2. Divine Illumination theory of knowledge
3. The Incarnation of Christ as "bridging the gap," so to speak between God and Man

Enjoy, everyone. :bigsmile:
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2009 08:23 am
I don't know much about him but when I saw his name I did recall that he's also one of the biggest names in medieval semiotics.

As usual Stanford's Encyclopedia of Philosophy provides a great summary.

Saint Bonaventure (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

His semiotics forms an integral part of the Itinerarium Mentis in Deum (Journey of the Mind into God). Fascinating stuff.

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