An Hexaëmeral Reading of Bonaventure's Breviloquium
This dissertation examines the structure of Bonaventure’s Breviloquium, a brief synthesis of theology produced in 1257 at the end of his tenure as Master at the University of Paris. Previous studies of this text have complicated its structure by emphasizing a distinction in genre between the prologue and the “body,” and by reading the “body” either in terms of the Platonic scheme of procession and return, or in terms of origin, procession, and return, which is a scheme supplied by Bonaventure himself. While attending to Bonaventure’s unique theology of the Trinity and Christ as medium, these studies have overlooked significant resources in Bonaventure’s use of the six days of creation and the seventh day of rest which can help further illumine the structure of the Breviloquium. Indeed, from the resources that are available today, it appears that Bonaventure drew material and inspiration from commentaries on Genesis 1–2:4a, and synthesized them with his own distinctive theological program. This at least seems to be the case from the evidence in the critical edition of Bonaventure’s works and from a comparison of the structure and content of the Breviloquium and those commentaries. This synthesis, as this dissertation argues, becomes particularly important in the relationship that Bonaventure draws between God’s operations in creation, restoration, and perfection and the division of the Hexaëmeron into creation, distinction, and adornment, formulated at least by Bede the Venerable and transmitted by theologians like Hugh of St. Victor. This study argues that this relationship helps to clarify the structure of the text and, moreover, offers to resolve the problem of the prologue’s relation to the body by appeal to the structure of the Hexaëmeron, as Bonaventure understands it.
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