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Franciscan Studies, 60 (2002) 209 ST. BONAVENTURE’S USE OF DISTINCTIONES: HIS INDEPENDENCE OF AND DEPENDENCE ON HUGH OF ST. CHER1 As far as I can determine, St. Bonaventure utilizes thirty-six distinctiones in his Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke. Sixteen are his creation. Twenty he has adapted from the Commentary on St. Luke’s Gospel by Hugh of St. Cher (d. 1263).2 Bonaventure has not seen fit to work with sixteen other distinctiones that Hugh of St. Cher employs.3 I proceed as follows. First, I discuss the meaning and use of medieval distinctiones. Then I analyze three representative unique distinctiones in Bonaventure’s Commentary to take the measure of his artistry and theology. Finally, I probe three representative distinctiones that Bonaventure has in common with Hugh of St. Cher in order to detect the personal characteristics of Bonaventure’s artistry and theology in his adaptations of Hugh of St. Cher’s thought. MEDIEVAL DISTINCTIONES Before giving a formal definition of a distinctio, let me give the example of what Alanus de Insulis (d. 1203) says about denarius: Denarius is a type of coin having the value of ten regular coins in circulation. Thus in the Gospel: Why this waste? For it could have been sold for three hundred denarii (John 12:5). It is said to be everlasting life. Thus in Matthew: Did you not agree with me for a denarius (20:13)? Note that everlasting life is said to come from the tenfold number on account of the fulfillment of the Decalogue. Or from the denarius coin since on it are two sides, namely, the image of the king and his name. Thus too the saints will bear in everlasting life the image of Christ with respect to nature and his likeness with regard to grace. And the saints will have the name of Christ and will be called by Christ’s name. It is said to be Christ’s passion or Christ. Thus in Revelation (6:6): A measure of wheat for a denarius, that is, the sacred Old and New Testaments, which are signified by wheat, are bought with a denarius, that is, by the passion of Christ or by Christ. So it is fitting that the saints are signified by grain, for just as grain is first ground, then formed into pasta, afterwards is cooked in the oven, and finally put on the table, so too the saint is ROBERT J. KARRIS 210 ground by tribulation, cooked by suffering, and finally placed at the table of everlasting happiness. It signifies sin. Thus in the Gospel it is read that one owed five hundred denarii, another fifty. And since they did not have the wherewithal to repay, he forgave each one (Luke 7:41-42). This is to be understood of sin. So the devil is said to be the tax collector, who gave the first parents a denarius together and daily demands it of us.4 In this distinctio I note that first the literal sense is given and bolstered by a reference to John 12:5. Next follows the spiritual meaning of “everlasting life,” which finds support in Matthew 20:13 and various reflections on the natural characteristics of a coin as having two sides. Then the denarius is interpreted to be Christ’s passion or Christ with support being found in Revelation 6:6. Finally, the denarius signifies sin and appeal is made to Luke 7:41-42. It seems that Alanus de Insulis puts the literal sense first and then follows it with the anagogical (everlasting life), allegorical (Christ’s passion), and tropological (sin) senses. Not all distinctiones will be so neat. As we will see, some of Bonaventure’s distinctiones have ten or even twelve components with numerous citations from scripture. Drawing upon the work of Philip S. Moore,5 Richard H. and Mary A. Rouse provide the following expansive definition of a distinctio: “[Moore] includes a lucid description often cited: a distinction provides or ‘distinguishes’ – thus the name – the four senses or levels of meaning (literal, allegorical, anagogic, tropologic) of a term found in the scriptures; and for each meaning it furnishes a scriptural illustration. Moore...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1945-9718
Print ISSN
0080-5459
Pages
pp. 209-251
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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