THE TREE OF LIFE AND THE HOLY CROSS
Franciscan Spirituality in the Trecento and the Quattrocento
CHRISTIANITY, LIKE JUDAISM, is a "religion of the book," in which the normative spiritual experiences of the group are recorded and transmitted through sacred texts. In this chapter, Rab Hatfield studies the influence of key literary images, derived from the Old and New Testaments and elaborated by later writers, in shaping the spirituality of another of the important preaching orders, the Franciscans. Professor Hatfield's careful analysis of the Franciscan iconography of the Tree of Life in Florence and Arezzo suggests the degree to which pictorial images were tied to biblical, hagiographical, and interpretive texts, and the creative freedom with which artists used texts. His reconstruction of a major theme of Franciscan mysticism as illustrated in painting makes clear that interpenetration of Scripture, Church tradition, monastic usage, and visual imagery characteristic of late medieval and Renaissance Christian life.
RAB HATFIELD teaches the history of art at Syracuse University's Study Center in Florence. His publications include an essay on the Florentine lay confraternity dedicated to the Magi, the Compagnia de' Magi, and a book-length study of Sandro Botticelli Adoration of the Magi in the Uffizi Gallery ( 1976).