Introduction
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INTRODUCTION I. Title, occasion, sources. a) Title. The title of this small work of Bonaventure is itself the expression of the life-time project of the Master. It implies the longstanding conviction of the Seraphic Doctor that the ideal for the spiritual-intellectual life is to draw all the varied forms of human knowledge into a unity to serve the human person in the spiritual journey. This project rests on the assumption that all the forms of knowledge as then known are to be related finally to divine revelation which is the highest form of wisdom and is the concern of Scripture or theology. The idea of reduction in Bonaventure's world of thought has both a metaphysical and a cognitive significance. As a metaphysical term, the word has to do with the circle of creation as it emanates from God eventually to return to its point of origin. The idea of the return is expressed in the word reduction which means literally leading back. In its final consummation, creation is led back to its point of origin in God. As a cognitive term, the word refers to the way in which the human subject comes to know and understand the realities of the created order in the light of this metaphysical conviction. But as a human venture, this should not be allowed to become simply a neutral knowledge. Rather, the journey of human cognition is best understood as one dimension of the way in which the human, spiritual journey is involved in creation's return to God. Therefore it has no independent significance. The term arts, as is clear from Bonaventure's text, is here taken in a broader sense and is not limited simply to the liberal arts. In the present case, Bonaventure includes not only the academic disciplines but the so-called mechanical arts as well. As all knowledge is led back to the the deepest wisdom of the Scriptures which is elaborated in the form of theology, the human subject tracing this route is led to the fuller awareness of the mystery of the love from which all has taken its origin. Thus, the journey leads not 2 only to knowledge but finally to loving union with the mystery of creative love from which all things emanate. Theology, as understood here, is difficult to distinguish from Scripture. This can be seen even in the language used by medieval authors. Often, sacra doctrina and theologia are used interchangeably with revelatio or sacra Scriptura. All of these words are used not so much to distinguish particular theological disciplines as to distinguish Christian faith from the teachings of philosophy and other secular sciences. In the prologue to the Breviloquium, for example, Bonaventure describes the content of theology as "the origin, development, and end of sacred SCripture."l We might say that at this point in Western history prior to the emergence of the many distinct, specialized theological disciplines familiar to us, theology was understood to be intimately tied to the Scriptures. At the time of Bonaventure's studies at Paris, one would have first studied the arts. After this, if one wished to study theology, one would have studied the Scriptures. And finally, one would have studied the Sentences of Peter Lombard. At this point, it might be helpful to recall the nature of the Sentences. Simply put, the Sentences amounted to a collection of the views of the Fathers, largely those of Augustine, gathered from commentaries on the Scriptures and other writings. From this we can conclude that, even at this level, theology is virtually inseparable from the Scriptures, even though the text which is the direct concern of the commentator on the Sentences is several steps removed from the actual text of the Scriptures. While one might say that for this period of intellectual history, theology is best understood to be the proper understanding of the Scriptures, there may be considerable difference of opinion as to what is the most appropriate key to unlock that meaning. To lead the arts back to theology means, for Bonaventure, to show the organic connection between all the arts and the central concern of the Scriptures or theology. None of the arts, including philosophy, ought to be allowed to stand as an independent and self-sufficient discipline. All ought to be brought into relation to the highest form of wisdom available to human beings in this life: 1 Brevil., pro!. (V, 201). Introduction 3 namely, theology. Only then will all forms...


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