Bonaventure: Wisdom and Trinitarian Theology

Bonaventure: Wisdom and Trinitarian Theology

JPI 869
3 Credits

While the Angelic Doctor Thomas Aquinas proceeded in his thought and writing according to a more Aristotelian methodological framework, the Seraphic Doctor Bonaventure continued and further developed a contemplative and symbolical (one could say Platonic) way of thinking similar to the Fathers of the Church. His eventual role as the superior of the Franciscan order may have demanded such a style. This symbolical method is evident for example in his Collations on the Hexaemeron, the work of the six days of creation that takes up Scriptural themes and engages with and corrects Joachim of Fiore’s symbolically structured thought. In his most famous spiritual work entitled A Mind’s Itinerary to God, Bonaventure demands from his monastic reader a ruminative reading, thereby highlighting the depth of reflection and the wealth of content we may find in the relatively short treatise, which engages the whole person in the ascent towards God. However, before being the Franciscan Minister General, Bonaventure became a professor at the university of Paris, and studied Trinitarian Theology under Alexander of Hales and others. In his more technical writings, he integrated theology and philosophical thinking through the framework of the transcendentals of the one, the true, and the good. His method takes up and brings to light aspects of the traditional theology of the Greek Fathers, which they were perhaps hesitant to make explicit. In this seminar, we will read several of Bonaventure’s writings, without leaving aside their historical context, and discover how fruitful the dialogue between theology and philosophy can be for Christian life in the Church.

Selected Texts


Jonathan Bieler portrait

Jonathan Bieler

Assistant Professor of Patrology and Systematic Theology

Dr. Bieler received his doctoral degree in theology at the University of Zürich (2017), with a dissertation in Patristics on the coherence of Maximus the Confessor’s thought, which is published by Brill (2019). He taught in the theological faculty at the University of Zürich and assisted the chair of Patristics with teaching and research. In his work, he strives to combine the usage of historical-critical methods with faithfulness to the Church’s living tradition.

Learn More