Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

James H. Robb

Second Advisor

Patrick Coffey

Third Advisor

Harry R. Klocker

Fourth Advisor

Beatrice H. Zedler

Fifth Advisor

Roland J. Teske


Statement of Purpose

The central issue examined in this dissertation is the status of the divine illumination theory between 1285 and 1300. The Franciscan Master St. Bonaventure, one of the foremost proponents of the divine illumination theory in the thirteenth century, dies in 1274. At the beginning of the fourteenth century, John Duns Scotus, also a Franciscan, rejects illumination doctrine. Therefore, between 1274 and 1308, which marks the death of Scotus, a doctrine traditionally associated with the Augustinianism of the Franciscan School is called into serious question by some members of this religious order, and they reject it.

The writings of three representative Franciscans from this period--Peter of Trabes, Richard of Middleton, and William of Ware--are examined in order to uncover their reasons for dropping the illumination doctrine.

Further, since illumination is considered by many to be a central Augustinian doctrine, to abandon this theory might indicate a basic shift away from Franciscan Augustinianism. Five issues which can be viewed as corollary to illumination are additionally studied in the writings of each of these three Franciscans. These corollaries include: (a) the relation between esse and essence in a creature; (b) the plurality of substantial forms in man; (c) the intellective soul as immediate form of the body; (d) the active/passive aspects of human knowing, including the agent and possible intellect distinction; and (e) the identification of the divine ideas with the divine essence. Is a shift away from the traditional Franciscan School's positions on these issues evidenced along with rejection of illumination?

Finally, an attempt is made to highlight some points of similarity between each of our three authors' treatments of illumination; points of contact are also suggested between them, Peter John Olivi (d. 1298), Henry of Ghent (taught at Paris between 1276 and 1292)--two of their contemporaries/predecessors-- and Duns Scotus, their most famous and immediate successor.



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