Weight of Love: Affect, Ecstasy, and Union in the Theology of Bonaventure

Weight of Love: Affect, Ecstasy, and Union in the Theology of Bonaventure

Weight of Love: Affect, Ecstasy, and Union in the Theology of Bonaventure

Weight of Love: Affect, Ecstasy, and Union in the Theology of Bonaventure

Synopsis

Supplementing theological interpretation with historical, literary, and philosophical perspectives, The Weight of Love analyzes the nature and role of affectivity in medieval Christian devotion through an original interpretation of the writings of the Franciscan theologian Bonaventure. Itintervenes in two crucial developments in medieval Christian thought and practice: the renewal of interest in the corpus of Dionysius the Areopagite in thirteenth-century Paris and the proliferation of new forms of affective meditation focused on the passion of Christ in the later Middle Ages.Through the exemplary life and death of Francis of Assisi, Robert Glenn Davis examines how Bonaventure traces a mystical itinerary culminating in the meditant's full participation in Christ's crucifixion. For Bonaventure, Davis asserts, this death represents the becoming-body of the soul, theconsummation and transformation of desire into the crucified body of Christ.In conversation with the contemporary historiography of emotions and critical theories of affect, The Weight of Love contributes to scholarship on medieval devotional literature by urging and offering a more sustained engagement with the theological and philosophical elaborations of affectus. Italso contributes to debates around the "affective turn" in the humanities by placing it within this important historical context, challenging modern categories of affect and emotion.

Excerpt

“Take a corpse, and place it where you like. You will see that it puts up no resistance to motion, nor does it grumble about its position, or complain when it is put aside. If it is propped up on a throne, it does not raise its head up, but rather looks down. If it is clothed in purple, it will look twice as pale. This is the truly obedient one, who does not judge why he is moved, and does not care where he is placed.” According to his thirteenth-century hagiographers, the Umbrian saint Francis of Assisi responded with these words to a group of followers asking for spiritual instruction by offering, as an example of true obedience, a dead body (exanime corpus, literally, a body without a soul).

This story, especially in the context of the vitae of St. Francis, illustrates what students of medieval Christianity have long known: The saintly body, in its wonderful and pitiful conformity to Christ’s body, played an exemplary role in the Passion-centered piety of late-medieval Europe. But this curious pedagogical scene, which is found throughout the early Franciscan hagiographical tradition, presents the holy body as something more (or less) than simply a vehicle for cruciform suffering. Why was a dead body a spiritual exemplar? What else were holy bodies capable of . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.