The Vir Hierarchicus
The purpose of this dissertation is to provide a systematic account of St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio’s doctrine of grace. More particularly, the dissertation argues that a systematic account of this kind can only be provided by attending to that doctrine through his theology of hierarchy, a methodology that derives from the Seraphic Doctor’s own claim in the Legenda Maior that St. Francis was a vir hierarchicus, or a “hierarchical man.” Throughout the course of his theological career, the Seraphic Doctor defines sanctifying grace as a created influentia that “hierarchizes” human beings by purifying, illuminating, and perfecting them from within, thus causing them to become a “similitude” of the Trinity. This dissertation explains what this means and why it matters. Methodologically, the dissertation proceeds in three parts. Part I, “Theological Foundations for Bonaventure’s Doctrine of Grace,” lays the necessary groundwork for the rest of the project in two ways: first, by introducing three historical figures whose work will provide indispensible theological contexts for approaching Bonaventure’s doctrine of grace, namely, Pseudo-Dionysius, Thomas Gallus, and Alexander of Hales; and second, by introducing the Seraphic Doctor’s own theology of hierarchy as he inherited it from these sources. Part II, “Bonaventure’s Doctrine of Grace,” then builds upon these foundations to present a systematic account of that doctrine as it developed in some of his most important works throughout his career as a theologian. Part III, “Theological Implications of Bonaventure’s Doctrine of Grace,” concludes the dissertation by exploring how that doctrine can inform scholarship on Bonaventure’s theological anthropology, Christology, and theology of sanctity, respectively.