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The Pseudo-Bonaventure Meditaciones vite Christi: Opus Integrum

From: Franciscan Studies
Volume 55, 1998
pp. 253-280 | 10.1353/frc.1998.0029

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

THE PSEUDO-BONAVENTURB MEDITACIONES VITE CHRISTI: OPUS INTEGRUM With its May 1997 publication I have provided for researchers the first critical text of the Meditaciones vite Christi (MVC),1 the fourteenth-century Franciscan work attributed in many manuscripts to Saint Bonaventure, but likely the work of John of Caulibus. It is "the first comprehensive biography of Christ containing regular and extensive interpolations of extra-Gospel narration."2 The most widely read Franciscan work after the Fioretti, and a favorite of Thomas More and Ignatius Loyola among others, this Meditaciones, Mooney tells us, gives its readers "an insight into the new world of joy and love, an interest in everything that is small and humble and beautiful;" it speaks of "the ineffable mystery of love that stands revealed in the simple yet sublime lives of Jesus and Mary."3 I would add, it is a meditation done from a family perspective4—a legitimizing of those joys that the spiritual athletes thought they had to give up. In establishing the critical text, I have felt that I'm doing with pencil and computer something of the kind of work the curators have done with the Sistine Chaptel, the Brancacci Chapel, and Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper. I've taken off a Renaissance (Neo-Latin)5 overlay and unearthed a lovely fourteenth-century word-picture. The result is a text that is even more immediate, more charming than what we thought the MVC was, and a number 1M. Stallings-Taney, Ioannis de CauUbus Meditaciones vite Christi olim S. Bonaventura attributae, CCCM 153 (1997). 2James Marrow, " Circumdederunt me canes multi: Christ's Tormentors in Northern European Art of the Late Middle Ages and Early Renaissance," Art Bulletin 59 (1977): 176. 3Cainneach O'Maonaigh (Canisius Mooney), ed. Smaoninte Beatha Chriost (Dublin, 1944): 342. 4So Luigi Cellucci, "Le Meditationes vitae Christi e i poemetti che ne furono ispirati," Archivum Romanicum 22 (1938): 33; and Robert Frank, "Meditationes vitae Christi: The Logistics of Access to Divinity," Hermeneutics and Medieval Culture (1989): 49. 'Humanist (or Neo-Latin) "is defined by its intention of using the Latin language, both in poetry and prose, in strict conformity to ancient Roman principles of composition and rhetoric." Thomas Cooke, ed., The Present State of FourteenthCentury Literature (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1982), 197 and 214. 253 Franciscan Studies, 55 (1998) 254C. MARY STALLINGS-TANEY of questions raised by scholars can now be addressed from the perspective of some new findings. THE TEXT Research on the MVC text leads the investigator by a tortuous path. From 1495 until 1868, the MVC was included in every edition of the Opera of Saint Bonaventure.6 Sbaralea, who was the first to divide the text into a shorter and longer version,7 Bonelli, and the editors of the 1756 Venice edition were among those of the eighteenth-century who doubted the Bonaventuran authorship. Bonelli was the first to ascribe the MVC specifically to John of Caulibus, basing his conclusion on the writings of Bartholomew of Pisa (1385-139O).8 Bartholomew described John of Caulibus as the great and devoted Tuscan preacher who wrote beautiful Gospel meditations; he also cited him as the one who "tractatum meditationis super Evangelia fecit."9 Caulibus, a Franciscan preacher from Tuscany, also used tractatus and meditalio to describe his work (MVC 18.15; 57.65). Since the MVC would be the most noteworthy Franciscan medilaliones super evangelia of this provenance and period, it seems probable that this remarkable text is indeed the work of John of Caulibus. What of the text itself? Öliger traced the 1868 Peltier edition, the text most often cited by scholars today, to the Venice edition of 161 1.10 I have traced it a little further, to the 1596 Vatican edition.11 Since Peltier also refers his readers to the 1495 Strassburg edition,12 I had thought that the Peltier edition could be identified as that of the 1495 Strassburg edition. It cannot, however. I have also eliminated two other editions as the Peltier source: the 1468 editio princeps 6TlIe MVC was omitted from the Quaracchi edition (1882-1901) of the works of St. Bonventure, but it continued to be circulated in separate editions, often...