St. Bonaventure’s love of wisdom was intimately related to his love of God—so much so that he is called the “Seraphic Doctor” for the ardor that accompanied his great mind. What does this sort of mind have to say about the history of man, a topic long dear to Christian thinkers, especially owing to the Incarnation and the expectation of the Second Coming?
In this academic treatise, then-Father Ratzinger, a young university professor, delves into the work of the Seraphic Doctor to come to a critical and yet appreciative understanding of the theological meaning of history in his work. Particularly interested in Bonaventure’s Collationes in Hexaemeron, the study sets the saint’s thought against his remote and immediate predecessors, as well as his medieval contemporaries.
While bringing out Bonaventure’s “hope for history,” Ratzinger must collect the spread-out and sometimes enigmatic references to eschatology and time, and, comparing them against Bonaventure’s wider writings, place the saint in the tradition of Christian thought on the subjects. Key to this new theology of time, claims Ratzinger, is Bonaventure’s encounter with the prophecy of Joachim of Fiore—prophecy that threatened to tear the Franciscan Order apart.
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“Certainly Scripture is closed objectively. But its meaning is advancing in a steady growth through history; and this growth is not yet closed. As the physical world contains seeds, so also Scripture contains ‘seeds’; that is, seeds of meaning. And this meaning develops in a constant process of growth in time.” (Page 9)
“Here already the primary significance of the theoriae is realized, that is, a projection into the future; for the call of the Jews into the Church of Christ is yet to be realized. But abstracting from the testimony of Scripture which promises this fact, it can be seen also from the necessary correspondence of the Testaments. It thus becomes apparent that the present time is not a time of perfect fulfillment. ‘This time is not yet here. If it were already here, then the saying of Isaias would be fulfilled: ‘Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, nor shall they learn war anymore’ (Is. 2:4).” (Page 13)
“Up till the present, we have given less attention to the fact that at the very same time the discovery of Pseudo-Dionysius took place, and that the Dionysius-renaissance which arose from this fact was also of great significance for the reformulation of theology.” (Page 87)
“he came back as an outsider to point out the limits of science from the perspective of faith.” (Page 3)
“Finally, in the Hexaemeron we find the final development of this anti-philosophical attitude which here becomes a prophetic anti-Scholasticism in which Franciscan, Joachimite, and Dionysian themes merge. Rational theology is seen to be merely provisional. For the final age which is to come he predicts a theology based only on authority. Here an historical dimension is inserted into the anti-philosophical mentality. For the present, speculative thought—philosophical and theological—is justified. But in the higher state that is to come, this will be transcended and will become superfluous.” (Pages 160–161)
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Joseph Ratzinger is one of the most revered Catholic prelates, scholars, theologians, teachers, and authors of our time. He has spoken on many crucial subjects, including sexual consumerism, roles of men and women today, marriage, the priesthood, and the future of the world. On June 29, 1951, Joseph Ratzinger was ordained to the priesthood in the Cathedral of Freising on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul. He also received his doctorate in theology in 1953 from the University of Munich. Starting in 1959, Ratzinger taught theology at the University of Bonn.
After many years of teaching at several German universities, Ratzinger was appointed by Pope Paul VI as Archbishop of Munich and Freising in March 1977, and was elevated to cardinal in June 1977. In November 1981, Ratzinger was summoned by Pope John Paul II to Rome, where he was named Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, President of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, and President of the International Theological Commission.
On April 19, 2005, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected to be the 265th pope. He took the name Benedict XVI, after St. Benedict of Nursia. As pope, he received worldwide respect and was a spiritual influence to Christians and non-Christians alike. In 2013, he resigned the papacy, becoming the first pope to do so in since the fifteenth century. He retired to a monastery in the Vatican Gardens, where he continues to study and write.