The Works of Bonaventure: Cardinal, Seraphic Doctor, and Saint - Vol. 1

The Works of Bonaventure: Cardinal, Seraphic Doctor, and Saint - Vol. 1

The Works of Bonaventure: Cardinal, Seraphic Doctor, and Saint - Vol. 1

The Works of Bonaventure: Cardinal, Seraphic Doctor, and Saint - Vol. 1

Excerpt

No biographer could trace a picture of St. Bonaventure as true and complete as that which so vividly appears from his own expressive style. But the very abundance of his writings is an obstacle to the understanding of his personality; for where exactly, in the eight massive folio volumes of his Opera Omnia, shall we look for a true portrait of the man and of the saint? This, then, is the excuse for attempting here a broad outline of such a portrait.

By nature, Bonaventure is richly lyrical and alive. Most of his thoughts are expressed in words so warm and rhythmic that they read like poetry, and give the impression of a man constricted by mere prose, a man who is forced to sing. In this, his style significantly differs from the highly intellectual style of Thomas Aquinas.

As a writer, Bonaventure is completely at ease, making the most of an elegant Latin enriched with Scholastic terms without being decadent. His deeply logical mind takes full advantage of the subtle inflections and elaborate constructions allowed by this language; to the extent, indeed, that his organically developed periods are often difficult to render in English.

As a philosopher, Bonaventure explicitly follows the Augustinian tradition, based on Plato's notion of innate ideas. Thus, he accepts St. Anselm's ontological argument as a proof of God's existence; he seeks God rather by intuition than by reasoning; he follows the way of mysticism much more than that of philosophy proper. In this, again, he widely differs from Aquinas.

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