I thought the following selection from St. Bonaventure concerning the importance of scripture might be beneficial and enjoyable to some of the visitors to this blog. We could do well to heed his warnings and advice in our own day. This selection is taken from Conferences on the Hexaemeron which served as a blueprint for the eventual condemnation of Thomas Aquinas in 1277. Obviously the condemnation didn’t hold, but the points are important nonetheless. The only place I’ve been able to find a translation of this work is in a collection entitled: “Philosophy in the Middle Ages: The Christian, Islamic, and Jewish Traditions”, while I commend this collection to you, I would like to have this in its entirety, preferably in a collection of St. Bonaventure’s other works. If anyone knows of such a source, please let me know.



Bonaventure

[T]he disciple of Christ ought first to study Holy Scripture, in which there is no error, just as boys first learn the letters, namely, ABC, afterwards, the syllables, then to read, then what the part and the construction signify, and then they understand…

Thus there is danger in descending to the originals [Church Fathers]; there is more danger in descending to the summas of the masters [scholastics]; but the greatest danger lies in descending to philosophy. This is because the words of the originals are pretty and can be too attractive; but Holy Scripture does not have pretty words like that. Augustine would not take it for good if I should prefer him to Christ because of the beauty of his words, just as Paul reproached those who wished to be baptized in the name of Paul. In the course of study, then, caution must be exercised in descending from careful attention in reading Scripture to the originals. There should be a similar warning about descending to the summas of the masters, for the masters sometimes do not understand the saints, as the Master of the Sentences, great as he was, did not understand Augustine in some places. Whence the summas of the masters are like the introductions of boys to the text of Aristotle. Let the student beware, then, lest he depart from the common way.

[…]

…faith is above reason and is proved only by the authority of Scripture and the divine power, which is manifested in miracles; hence he made the fire which he wished to enter into their presence. For the water of philosophical science is not to be mingled with the wine of Holy Scripture merely so that the wine is transmitted into water, which is indeed a bad sign and contrary to the primitive church, when recently converted clerics such as Dionysius dismissed the books of the philosophers and took up the books of Holy Scripture. But in modern times the wine is changed into water and the bread into stone, just the reverse of the miracles of Christ.