Truth and Reality: The Wisdom of St Bonaventure

By Douglas Dales

A study of Collations on the Hexaëmeron, the last work of Saint Bonaventure, and one of the most important texts of medieval theology.

ISBN: 9780227177327


This is a thorough study and exposition of the last work for which St Bonaventure was responsible before his death in 1274. The Collations on the Hexaëmeron, also called The Illuminations of the Church comprises lectures that he gave in Paris in 1273 to Franciscan and other students and masters in the university there. They were recorded by two independent witnesses and one version, the definitive one, was prepared for publication and approved by Bonaventure.

This is one of the most interesting, original and important texts of medieval theology and it has been well translated and edited in a new edition. The purpose of this study is to examine the precise context for the approach that Bonaventure took, to place this work as the culmination of his spiritual theology, and to provide the reader with a lucid epitome of the contents of the text, drawing out their significance for theology and prayer in the life of the Church today.

Additional information

Dimensions 234 × 156 mm

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Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

Douglas Dales was from 1984 to 2012 Chaplain of Marlborough College, Wiltshire, and he is now a parish priest in the diocese of Oxford. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and the author of several studies in Anglo-Saxon church history and other areas of theology. Among his books published with James Clarke & Co and The Lutterworth Press are: Way Back to God: The Spiritual Theology of St Bonaventure (2019), Divine Remaking: St Bonaventure and the Gospel of Luke (2017), Alcuin: His Life and Legacy (2012), Alcuin: Theology and Thought (2013), Dunstan: Saint and Statesman (2013), Light to the Isles: Mission and Theology in Celtic and Anglo-Saxon Britain (2010) and Living Through Dying: The Spiritual Experience of Saint Paul (1994).



Part One – The Context
I – Bonaventure and the Bible
2. Wisdom and Love
3. The Mystery of Revelation

II – Bonaventure and the Fathers
4. Augustine
5. The Medieval Fathers
6. Dionysius

III – Bonaventure and the Franciscan Crisis
7. Apostolic Poverty
8. Joachim of Fiore
9. The Use and Abuse of Aristotle

Part Two – Reading the Text
10. The Cornerstone – Collation 1
11. The Path to Wisdom – Collation 2
12. The Word of God – Collation 3
13. Towards Understanding – Collations 4 and 5
14. The Limits of Philosophy – Collations 6 and 7
15. Faith Seeking Understanding – Collations 8 and 9
16. Discerning the Nature of God – Collations 10, 11 and 12
17. Reading Scripture – Collations 13 and 14
18. Patterns in Scripture and History – Collations 15 and 16
19. The Paradise of the Soul – Collations 17 and 18
20. Sapientia Amorosa – Collation 19
21. The Vision of God – Collations 20 and 21
22. The Church and the Soul – Collation 22
23. Image and Likeness – Collation 23

24. The Mirror of St Bonaventure

Biblical Index
Index of Names and Places
Index of Topics


Endorsements and Reviews

This introduction and commentary to St Bonaventure’s Collations comes from one of today’s most important scholars on the 13th century Franciscan friar, scholar and bishop. Dales shows how, heavily dependent on the Church Fathers, the ‘seraphic doctor’ warmed intellectual scholasticism with the humility and poverty of St Francis of Assisi, combining his love of Scripture with a search for divine wisdom. Speaking from a time of natural catastrophe and social unrest much like ours today, Bonaventure invites us to pick up the galaxy of mirrors surrounding us to reflect on ourselves, our world, and our need to hope.
Geoffrey Scott, OSB, Abbot Douai

Dales, like a wise and sympathetic guide, accompanies the reader through the intricacies and insights of Bonaventure’s Collations on the Six Days of Creation, drawing out his profound affinity with insights of the Fathers on whom he builds, and whose synthesis between heart and mind he preserves, and demonstrating, too, his ability to bestride the growing gulf between Greek East and Latin West. We encounter Bonaventure as the Schoolman for our times. The trilogy, as a whole, is an immense achievement, which is enhanced by Dales’ clarity and the grace of his prose.
Andrew Louth, FBA, Professor Emeritus, University of Durham

In introducing Bonaventure’s last work, given as lectures in Paris, then the most dynamic centre for study in Europe, Douglas Dales shows both why students flocked to his lectures and that there is still great attraction in encountering the text of the Bible presented with insights from earlier writers. This is an invaluable work, well worth reading alone or with the previous two volumes.
Benedicta Ward, SLG