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Yearning in the Dust: Bodily Aesthetics in the Soteriology of St. Bonaventure

DAVIES, RACHEL,ANNEMARIE,ULRIKE,E (2016) Yearning in the Dust: Bodily Aesthetics in the Soteriology of St. Bonaventure. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis seeks to construct a contemporary spirituality of bodily diminishment rooted in Bonaventure’s theological synthesis, particularly his category of the aesthetic, which, the author argues, provides both a lens for understanding the experience of diminishment, and a way of harnessing it constructively in service of the self’s soteriological journey.
Reading Bonaventure’s Trinitarian metaphysics as the framework of his soteriology, this thesis begins by examining key Bonaventurean aesthetic concepts such as fruitfulness, light and proportion before asking how such concepts can illumine the body’s participation in the self’s journey to God—a journey which Bonaventure describes as a primarily noetic or spiritual ascent. Sin is introduced as a “greed” or possessive quality that fractures apart the body-soul self who was called to become whole and “beautiful” through the act of contemplation. This greed, it is shown, has left worldly corporeality (including the human body) abandoned to diminishment and death, an aesthetic harnessed and transfigured by Christ in the paschal mystery. There the “ugliness” of body-soul fragmentation ceases to be terminal, and instead becomes the new face and means of the Christ-formed self's “becoming.” The new aesthetic possibilities opened up to fallen humanity through the paschal mystery are traced throughout Bonaventure’s Major Life of Francis, and particularly the stigmata event, which this thesis reads as a profound revelation of Francis’ own transfigured diminishment.
In addition to the Major Life (Legenda maior), central texts used for this constructive project include Bonaventure’s Collationes in hexaemeron and Lignum vitae. In addition to soteriology and aesthetics, key theological concepts explored include Christology, the Trinity, anthropology, apophaticism, sin, death, glory, virtue and poverty.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Bonaventure, Franciscan, St. Francis, beauty, ugliness, soteriology, aesthetics, anthropology, diminishment, death, suffering, poverty, body
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2016
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:18 Nov 2016 08:46

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