St. Bonaventure's "Collationes in Hexaemeron" and the Joachite controversy

Christopher Colt Anderson, Marquette University


This dissertation addresses questions concerning the relationship between Bonaventure's Collationes in Hexaemeron and the Franciscan Joachite movement. The Joachite Franciscans based their vision of the Order's mission on the apocalyptic prophecies of Joachim of Fiore. Joachim had divided history into three ages corresponding to the three persons of the Trinity. He claimed that the rise of scholasticism was a sign that the age of the Son was about to end and predicted two new orders of preaching monks who would usher in the age of the Holy Spirit. Since Joseph Ratzinger published his seminal work on Bonaventure's theology of history in 1959, there has been an increasing awareness of the impact the Joachite movement had on the formation of Bonaventure's work and thought. Many scholars such as Bernard McGinn and Marjorie Reeves have accepted Ratzinger's claim that Bonaventure was incorporating elements of Joachite theology into the Collationes. However, others such as Henri de Lubac and Herbert Grundmann have argued that the Collationes represent a rejection of anything which can be identified as Joachite theology. In the course of this dissertation, I demonstrate that Bonaventure is attacking Joachite theology in the Collationes. There are several reasons for making this claim. First, it is unlikely that he would appeal to positions which, in the early part of his career, were used by the opponents of the Friars Minor to bring the entire Order under suspicion of heresy. Second, Bonaventure uses the symbols and the proof-texts of Joachim and his 13th century Franciscan disciples to argue for the importance of scholastic education and for the stability of the hierarchical disposition given to the church by Christ. Third, he bases his understanding of the church's need to adapt itself to new historical situations on the sacramental nature of the ecclesiastical hierarchy instead of appealing to Joachim's prophecies and the exegetical methods that undergirded them. The Collationes reveal a understanding of the ecclesiastical hierarchy which both affirms the stability of the church's sacramental disposition and its mission to be a sign of the times.

Recommended Citation

Anderson, Christopher Colt, "St. Bonaventure's "Collationes in Hexaemeron" and the Joachite controversy" (1998). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI9842426.