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Bonaventure’s Legenda Major

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Chapter Summary

This chapter argues that the Legenda major's structure holds the interpretive key for understanding Bonaventure's theological interpretation of Francis. It presents the Legenda major's theology of Francis as part of Bonaventure's program of reform by way of imitation of Francis. The Franciscans, like the Dominicans, were engaged in liturgical reforms throughout the 1250s, reforms that tried to avoid spawning variant textual traditions. By presenting the Legenda major within an apocalyptic framework, Bonaventure intentionally responds to the radical apocalypticism threatening the order from two fronts. The Legenda major's intricate structure frames its theological interpretation. It has become standard in modern scholarship to structure the text according to the triple way of purgation, illumination, and perfection, which organizes the Legenda major in three ways: the macro, intermediate, and micro levels. For Bonaventure, admiration is the object of knowledge; imitation is the object of desire. The Legenda major attempts both.

Keywords: apocalypticism; Bonaventure; Dominicans; Franciscans; Legenda major



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