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175 7 Bonaventure While Albert was finishing his advanced theological studies at the Dominican studium generale in the mid-1240s, Bonaventure of Bagnoregio was just beginning his study of theology in the Franciscan school. His first teachers were Alexander of Hales and John of La Rochelle . After their deaths in 1245, he studied with Eudes Rigaud and William of Melitona. Once he had become a bachelor of theology, Bonaventure began lecturing on Scripture. During his studies to become a master of theology, Bonaventure wrote a commentary on Peter Lombard ’s Sentences. Once he became a master of theology, perhaps in 1254 or 1255, he wrote a series of disputed questions before he was elected Minister General of the Franciscan Order in 1257.1 It is somewhat surprising that Bonaventure omits any sustained discussion of the transfiguration in these scholastic works.Instead,one finds Bonaventure’s theology of Christ’s transfiguration in his scriptural exegesis and in his sermons. Because of this fact, Bonaventure’s theology of the transfiguration is much more spiritual than that of his peers and predecessors. It is more spiritual in the sense that there is practically no interest in the metaphysics of the hypostatic union, nor is there much speculation about the transfiguration’s relation to the glories of heaven. Instead, Bonaventure finds Christ’s transfiguration to be a beautiful theme on which to teach his readers and listeners 1. For more on Bonaventure’s life, works, and theology, see E. Longpré, “Bonaventure,” DS 1768–1843; and Zachary Hayes,“Bonaventure: Mystery of the Triune God,” in The History of Franciscan Theology, edited by Kenan B. Osborne, 39–125 (St. Bonaventure, N.Y.: Franciscan Institute, 1994). The best critical guide to Bonaventure’s works is Balduinus Distelbrink , Bonaventurae scripta, authentica dubia vel spuria critice recensita (Rome: Istituto Storico Cappucini, 1975). 176  Bonaventure about how to advance closer to mystical union with God. This chapter will examine the places where Bonaventure articulates his understanding of the transfiguration and the details he highlights in his teaching about the contemplative ascent toward God. Commentarius in Evangelium S. Lucae Although Bonaventure mentions Christ’s transfiguration in passing in such later works as the Itinerarium mentis Deum,2 the Lignum vitae,3 and the Collationes in Hexaëmeron,4 Bonaventure’s lengthiest sustained treatment of the transfiguration comes from the earliest part of his academic career. Bonaventure does not examine Christ’s transfiguration in his Sentences commentary or in any of his disputed questions . The most exhaustive exegesis of the transfiguration occurs in his early commentary on Luke, which dates roughly from 1248–1250.5 Bonaventure gives the transfiguration a highly spiritual interpretation , which differs markedly from that of Albert and even from that of his Franciscan master, Alexander of Hales. Bonaventure reflects extensively on the relationship between the transfiguration and contemplation in a manner reminiscent of some of the glosses of Hugh of St. Cher and John of La Rochelle (whose own commentary on Luke followed Hugh very closely). Bonaventure clearly relies on Hugh and perhaps John (and their appropriations of previous authors), but he also supplements their interpretations with his own reflections.6 2. See Itinerarium mentis in Deum, in Opera omnia, edited by Pp. Colegii S. Bonaventurae (Quaracchi, Italy: ex Typographia Collegii S. Bonaventurae, 1891), t. 5, 297. 3. See Lignum vitae, in Opera omnia, edited by Pp. Colegii S. Bonaventurae, (Quaracchi, Italy: ex Typographia Collegii S. Bonaventurae, 1898), t. 8, 73–74. 4. See Collationes in Hexaëmeron, in Opera omnia, edited by Pp. Colegii S. Bonaventurae (Quaracchi, Italy: ex Typographia Collegii S. Bonaventurae, 1891), t. 5, 22, 42. 5. See the introduction of Robert J. Karris to his translation of Bonaventure’s Commentary on the Gospel of Luke, edited and translated by Robert J. Karris, 3 vols., vi–l (St. Bonaventure , N.Y.: Franciscan Institute Publications, 2001–2004), vol. 1, viii. 6. For more on Bonaventure’s exegesis, see Robert J. Karris,“St. Bonaventure as Biblical Interpreter: His Methods, Wit, and Wisdom,” Franciscan Studies 60 (2002): 159–208. For more on Bonaventure’s dependence on earlier sources, especially Hugh, see the following articles by Karris,“A Comparison of the Glossa Ordinaria, Hugh of St. Cher, and St. Bonaventure on Luke 8:26–39,” Franciscan Studies 58 (2000): 121–236; “Bonaventure’s Commentary on Luke: Four Case Studies of His Creative Borrowing from Hugh of St. Cher,” Franciscan Bonaventure 177 Before examining the content of Bonaventure’s exegesis of the transfiguration narrative, it is appropriate to mention how...


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