Analogy, Spirituality and the Beatific Enjoyment of God
The dissertation explores Bonaventure’s understanding of the doctrine of image and likeness in terms of analogy, spirituality and the beatific enjoyment of God. The concept had a patristic background, and there were two trends in interpreting the concepts of image and likeness: one which distinguished the concepts of image and likeness, and one which identified both. Irenaeus made a distinction between the image and likeness of God, whereas Augustine identified them. The monastic authors such as Bernard of Clairvaux, Hugh of St. Victor, and Richard of St. Victor contributed to develop the doctrine of image and likeness. In this period, monastic theologians constructed the idea that the image is a natural and inseparable endowment from God, while likeness is a supernatural gift. In his De sacramentis, Hugh articulates an important and influential statement: Imago pertinet ad figuram, similitudo ad naturam. Many of the medieval theologians, including Bonaventure, considered Hugh’s concept useful to interpret the distinction between image and likeness. Also, the affective reading of Dionysius by Hugh and Richard inspired Bonaventure to construct the spiritual theology in terms of affective ideology: Assimilation to God is more a matter of love than knowledge. Peter Lombard’s composition of The Book of the Sentences opened the possibility to talk about the image-likeness doctrine in terms of ‘uti’ and ‘frui,’ and of ‘res’ and ‘signa.’ Bonaventure further developed Lombard’s ideas, and he explicitly connected the idea of uti and frui, i.e., fruitio Dei, with the doctrine of image and likeness, i.e., the doctrine of analogy. In the scholastic era, the doctrine of image and likeness of God nuanced a new tone in that the schoolmen discussed the doctrine in terms of causal similarity between Creator and creatures, or of the metaphysics of causation. In this theological atmosphere, Bonaventure now relates visio beatifica to the theological argument of whether there is any convenientia between radically unlike things, such as God and creatures. According to Bonaventure, there is a convenientia between God and human beings in terms of comparatio duorum ad invicem. God as the formal object of the human soul “expressed/imprinted” God’s divine nature in the created order, that is, similitudo expressa. This divine likeness is the efficient cause for the human beings’ aspiration/capacity for God. It is important to notice that Bonaventure’s doctrine of analogy is a ‘theological instrument’ that plays between the doctrine of analogy and the spiritual life. Itinerarium is a fine theological and spiritual treatise that shows how Bonaventure sketches the course of the soul’s journey in terms of the godlikeness in the order of creation: vestige, image and likeness. For Bonaventure, St. Francis, a vir hierarchicus, is an ‘exemplar’ of a person who completes this assimilative/ascending process of the journey into God, and he becomes a ‘divine exemplar’ or a ‘similitudo expressa,’ benefiting others to ascend the ladder into the enjoyment of God. As an angelic person, Francis “descends” to the created order reality and participates in God’s providential care for the well beings of creatures including human beings.