Encyclopedia of Medieval Philosophy

Living Edition
| Editors: Henrik Lagerlund


  • Matthew J. Pereira
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-024-1151-5_91-2


Bonaventure O.F.M. (c. 1217–July 15, 1274) was a quintessential theologian of the thirteenth century and highly respected church leader, first serving as the Minister General of the Franciscan Order, then, he was named the Cardinal-bishop of Albano. In his ardent search for wisdom (sapientia), Bonaventure blended classical theologians (e.g., Augustine), ancient philosophers (e.g., Aristotle), and mysticism (e.g., Desert Fathers) within an indelible scholastic framework throughout his diverse range of writings that included theological treatises, many sermons, exegetical contributions, teachings on the mystical and spiritual life, numerous letters, and the authoritative biography on Francis of Assisi. Formed by classical Augustinianism, Bonaventure had privileged faith and theology over reason and philosophy albeit these two poles of enquiry coalesced within his impassioned pursuit of knowledge, beauty, and truth, wherever it was to be discovered. Bonaventure was at once a traditional and original thinker, steeped in theology (e.g., Augustinianism, Pseudo-Dionysian) and philosophy (e.g., Aristotle, Neoplatonism), both from the received teachings of Late Antiquity and the translated texts of the res novae, thereby engendering a blended and textured approach of faith seeking understanding. Among his contributions, Bonaventure was the first theologian to critically reinterpret Anselm of Canterbury’s (1033–1109) celebrated ontological argument. In one of his significant writings, Disputed Questions on the Mystery of the Trinity, Bonaventure provided a compelling argument for the existence of God whereby he concluded that there are three ways (or proofs) toward the existence of God, which were correlated with the soul, being, and truth or goodness. When the three ways have been explicated and understood, Bonaventure taught that the faithful seeker would arrive at the indubitable truth of God. In addition to many contributions in the fields of theology, philosophy, and mysticism, Bonaventure was heavily involved, both as leader of the Franciscans and as a cardinal in the Church, in the efforts at reconciliation during the divisive and contentious thirteenth century. Bonaventure was convinced that all truth, beauty, and wisdom was from God, which liberated him to place classical theology in conversation with emergent philosophical models of enquiry in order to encourage reflection upon the life of faith and reason that leads to the mystical ascent to God.

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Primary Sources

    Latin Editions of Bonaventure

    1. Bonaventure. (1882–1902). Doctoris seraphici S. Bonaventurae opera omnia: vols I – IV, Commentaria in quator libros sententiarum; vol V, Opuscula varia theologica; vol VI, Commentarius in Sacrum Scripturam; vol VII, Commentarius in evangelium. S. Lucae; vol VIII, Opuscula varia ad theologicam mysticam et res Ordiniis Fratrum minorum spectantia; vol IX, Sermones de tempore, de sanctis, de B. Virgine Maria et de diversis; vol X, Operum omnium complementum, ed. The Fathers of the Collegium S. Bonaventure. Ex typographia Collegii S. Bonaventure, Ad Claras Aquas (Quaracchi).Google Scholar
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    English Translations of Bonaventure

    1. Bonaventure. (1946). Breviloquium (trans: Nemmers E.E.). St. Louis: Herder.Google Scholar
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Secondary Sources


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    Journal Articles

    1. Bougerol, J. G. (1974). Dossier pour l’étude des rapports entre Bonaventure et Aristote. Archives d’histoire doctrinale et littéraire du moyen age, 31, 135–222.Google Scholar
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    4. Hughes, K. L. (2013). Bonaventure Contra Mundum? The Catholic theological tradition revisited. Theological Studies, 74, 372–398.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Edited Volumes

    1. Hammond, J. M., Wayne Hellman, J. A., & Goff, J. (2013). A companion to Bonaventure. Boston: Brill.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Theological StudiesLoyola Marymount UniversityLos AngelesUSA