Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Disegni Dei Tempi. Il "Liber Figurarum" E la Teologia Figurativa Di Gioacchino Da Fiore

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Disegni Dei Tempi. Il "Liber Figurarum" E la Teologia Figurativa Di Gioacchino Da Fiore

Article excerpt

Disegni dei tempi. Il "Liber Figurarum" e la teologia figurativa di Gioacchino da Fiore. By Marco Rainini. [Opere di Gioacchino da Fiore, Testi e strumenti, 18.] (Rome: Viella. 2006. Pp. xvi, 333. euro35 paperback.)

In 1936 Monsignor Leone Tondelli discovered a peculiar book of illuminations in a closet in the seminary at Reggio Emilia, and in 1942, Fritz Saxl drew attention to a similar manuscript in Corpus Christi College, Oxford.These two manuscripts, as well as a third discovered in Dresden, were identified with the Liber Figurarum (LF) attributed to Joachim of Fiore in some thirteenthcentury sources. In 1953 Tondelli and two Oxford medievalists, Marjorie Reeves and Beatrice Hirsch-Reich, collaborated on a facsimile edition, transcription, and study of the LF, and in 1972 the latter two produced an impressive monograph on The Figurae of Joachim of Fiore. As Reeves said, "It is not too much to say that the discovery of the Liber Figurarum has initiated a new phase in Joachimist studies" (p. vi).

Scholarship on the three manuscripts, as well as the numerous other figurae connected with Joachim, both those in the margins of his written works and shorter collections of pictures, has not stood still. In the past fifteen years numerous essays have been devoted to the collection and to many of the individual figurae. Greater precision about the events of Joachim's life and the development and dating of his writings, especially as found in Gian Luca Potesta's Il tempo dell'Apocalisse. Vita di Giacchino da Fiore (2004), also invites a reconsideration of this central element in Joachim's thought. Marco Rainini has profited from the new scholarship to produce a reevaluation of the LF that pays respect to the pioneering work of Reeves and Hirsch-Reich, but that differs from their views in important ways.

Rainini locates Joachim's use of figurae to express his difficult teachings within the perspective of twelfth-century interest in "visual exegesis," or "figurative theology," such as that found in Hugh of St. Victor (Chapter 1). His efforts to uncover sources for Joachim's images have the effect of revealing the Calabrian abbot to be less of a bizarre and marginal figure than was imagined in the past, but someone well read and aware of many contemporary and traditional theological resources, as well a person in intimate contact with the papal curia. …

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