Light and Glory

Light and Glory: The Transfiguration of Christ in Early Franciscan and Dominican Theology

Aaron Canty
Copyright Date: 2011
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  • Book Info
    Light and Glory
    Book Description:

    Light and Glory offers an engaging comparison of the teachings of seven thirteenth-century theologians -- three Franciscans and four Dominicans -- on the subject of the transfiguration of Christ.

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1898-4
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    (pp. 1-5)

    The Christian tradition, from a very early period, recognized in the transfiguration of Jesus an event of inexhaustible doctrinal and spiritual richness. The Fathers of the Church examined the scriptural passages that describe the event from a number of vantage points and highlighted several Christological, soteriological, eschatological, and ascetical themes that emerge. Patristic reflections on the transfiguration were recorded in exegetical works and in doctrinal and spiritual treatises, and they were incorporated into the liturgies of the Early Church.

    Although the Christian tradition in the East gave a more central place to Christ’s transfiguration than the tradition in the West,...

  6. 1 CHRIST’S TRANSFIGURATION The Early Church to the High Middle Ages
    (pp. 6-20)

    This chapter will trace the development of the Church’s understanding of Christ’s transfiguration in the period that extends from the New Testament to the High Middle Ages. It will examine the transfiguration narratives in the synoptic gospels and in 2 Peter, which also contains a passing reference to the transfiguration. Next, it will briefly outline the early Christian and Gnostic interpretations of those passages and the Early Medieval reception and development of those interpretations. The chapter will then prepare for the examination of early Franciscan and Dominican theologies of the transfiguration by discussing the relative absence of the transfiguration and...

    (pp. 21-51)

    There is little information about the life of Hugh of St. Cher before he became a Dominican in 1225 or 1226.¹ At the time he entered the Dominican order, he was a bachelor of theology and probably also a doctor in canon law. Like his own theological mentor, Roland of Cremona, Hugh taught theology at the Dominican studium generale in Paris from 1229 or 1230 to 1236. From the time he became a Dominican until 1244, when he became the first Dominican cardinal, Hugh wrote a commentary on Peter Lombard’s Sentences² and, with the help of students and colleagues, collaborated...

    (pp. 52-74)

    Although Hugh’s postillae addressed a number of points pertaining to the exegesis of the transfiguration narratives and the spiritual implications of the transfiguration, little attention was given to how the transfiguration affected Jesus. Later commentaries by Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas, for instance, address more specific questions such as what the word “transfiguration” signifies and what exactly happened to Jesus during the transfiguration; the disputed question, however, was a scholastic genre ideally suited to asking these sorts of questions. Before 1230 no theologian examined the events of Christ’s life between the Incarnation and passion in this genre. The first...

    (pp. 75-85)

    The first Dominican to take up Christ’s transfiguration in the form of a disputed question was Guerric of St. Quentin, who taught at the University of Paris from 1233 to 1242. Little is known about his life, but he left a number of exegetical and systematic works, most of which remain unedited.¹ Because no commentary on any of the synoptic gospels remains, and because Guerric does not take up Christ’s transfiguration in his quodlibetal questions, Guerric’s theology of the transfiguration can be derived only from one of his disputed questions.² This brief disputed question on Christ’s transfiguration is similar in...

    (pp. 86-135)

    After Guerric’s question on the transfiguration, the next systematic reflection on the transfiguration is John of La Rochelle’s Quaestio de transfiguratione, a question that was inserted into the Summa fratris Alexandri by the original editors of that work, of whom John was one. Almost nothing is known of John’s life before he became a Franciscan master of theology at the University of Paris. He seems to have studied under Alexander of Hales and later occupied the second chair of theology in the Franciscan studium generale. In addition to teaching, John worked closely with Alexander of Hales and other Franciscan theologians...

    (pp. 136-174)

    While Alexander of Hales, Hugh of St. Cher, Guerric of St. Quentin, and John of La Rochelle were teaching at the University of Paris, another friar was teaching as lector in Dominican schools in Cologne, Hildesheim, Freiburg, Regensburg, and Strassburg during the 1230s. After teaching for about ten years, this friar, Albert, was sent to Paris to become a master of theology. Albert studied in Paris from 1241 to 1245. After he completed his studies, he taught in Paris until 1248. During the time in Paris Albert began writing his first summa. One of its treatises, the treatise De resurrectione,...

    (pp. 175-195)

    While Albert was finishing his advanced theological studies at the Dominican studium generale in the mid-1240s, Bonaventure of Bagnoregio was just beginning his study of theology in the Franciscan school. His first teachers were Alexander of Hales and John of La Rochelle. After their deaths in 1245, he studied with Eudes Rigaud and William of Melitona. Once he had become a bachelor of theology, Bonaventure began lecturing on Scripture. During his studies to become a master of theology, Bonaventure wrote a commentary on Peter Lombard’s Sentences. Once he became a master of theology, perhaps in 1254 or 1255, he wrote...

    (pp. 196-244)

    Thomas Aquinas wrote about Christ’s transfiguration in a number of scholastic genres, including the Sentences commentary, biblical commentary, and summa. Interestingly, no extant sermon on the transfiguration remains. Given that Thomas’ discussions of the transfiguration occur in a variety of literary contexts and given the relatively large amount of theological reflection on Christ’s transfiguration, spanning much of his career, Thomas Aquinas provides the fullest account of the transfiguration in the thirteenth century. Thomas has this distinction also because he draws on a wider variety of patristic theology and offers more sophisticated philosophical and theological distinctions than most of his contemporaries...

    (pp. 245-252)

    This study set out to contribute to existing literature in the field of medieval Christology. This examination of the writings of seven mendicant authors attempted to show not only their teachings regarding Christ’s transfiguration, but also where those teachings occurred and how they compared to one another. Researching each author individually has shed light on the Christology, exegesis, and spirituality of the thirteenth century. Examining their reflections on Christ’s transfiguration collectively, as found in several genres of scholastic literature, has allowed their full teaching to emerge. In the case of some authors, such as Alexander of Hales, an examination of...

  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 253-264)
  16. Index of Names
    (pp. 265-266)