Date of Award
Dissertation - Restricted
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
The topic of this study is affectus in St. Bonaventure's description of the soul's journey into God. St. Bonaventure (ca. 1217-1274), professor at the University of Paris and later General of the Franciscan Order, was a staunch defender of the Neoplatonic/Augustinian tradition, and also a participant in the more scientific, scholastic world which was discovering anew the works of Aristotle. Some questions addressed in this dissertation include: How does St. Bonaventure view affectus in the -psychology of the human person and in the spiritual life? What role
does it play? Is it valued? How does it relate to other components? How does St. Bonaventure express this. aspect of the spiritual life? The aim in this research is to provide historical and textual data in order to come to a more precise and complete understanding of the role of affectus as it is found in St. Bonaventure's description of the soul's journey into God.
The nature of this study suggested the use of various methodologies. Background material includes a review of the pertinent literature, a survey of the historical context, and a summary of St. Bonaventure's theological system as it relates to mysticism (Ch. 1). Following is an examination of St. Bonaventure' s understanding of ht.man psychology (Ch. 2). Then a word study in which thirty terms related to affectus are traced through four documents~-the Itinerarium mentis in Deum, the De Triplici Via and two homilies (Ch. 3). Fourth is an evaluation of the sources on which St. Bonaventure relied for his understanding and articulation of the affective dimension of the spiritual life (Ch. 4). Lastly, there is an explication de texte of the Itinerarium, St. Bonaventure's masterpiece of the spiritual life.
Affective vocabulary is used by St. Bonaventure in his descriptions of all stages of the spiritual journey, but it becomes predominant at the higher stages where the intellectual is subsumed into the affective, so that only the "heart" remains in the final ecstatic experience of union with God. In spite of the predominance of affect, St. Bonaventure presents an artistic and powerful articulation of the harmony between the intellect and the affections. Desire is central to both the initial and continuing st.ages of the journey. Without it, the mystical way cannot even be undertaken. The affective effects of the. love of God in the soul are many: admiratio, benevolentia, complacentia, delectatio, devotio, oblectatio, sopor. The vocabulary used by St. Bonaventure to describe the affective dimension of the spiritual journey is extremely rich, plentiful and varied, giving a comprehensive description of this aspect of the spiritual life.
This study provides evidence which cautions against seeing the thirteenth century only in terms of the intellectual efforts of the schools. St. Bonaventure's emphasis on experience and his vision of theology as basically a practical, not a speculative science, contribute to his preoccupation with affectivity. The goal of theology and therefore of the Christian life was to transform oneself into a resemblance of the Beloved through love. Medieval persons saw a close connection between words and the realities behind them. This is nowhere more obvious than in the realm .of affectivity as recorded in St. Bonaventure's description of the soul's journey into God.