Imagination in Bonaventure's Meditations

Michelle Karnes

in Imagination, Meditation, and Cognition in the Middle Ages

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780226425313
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226425337 | DOI:
Imagination in Bonaventure's Meditations

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  • Literary Studies (Early and Medieval)


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This chapter explores pre-Bonaventuran gospel meditations before considering Bonaventure's innovations in the genre. In Bonaventure's writings gospel meditation serves to traverse the distance between Christ's humanity and divinity, a feat it accomplishes in part through imagination. Because Christ functions in the mind to draw understanding out of sense knowledge, the mind that directs itself to Christ uses Christ to proceed from the sensory knowledge of his humanity to the spiritual understanding of his divinity. Imagining Christ's life accordingly takes advantage of the mind's own cognitive resources to draw the meditant closer to God. It is only to be expected that Bonaventure would translate his philosophy into an express devotional program whose own dependence on mental images and imagination can hardly appear accidental in light of Bonaventure's expansive philosophy of mental images.

Keywords: Pre-Bonaventuran gospel; meditations; Bonaventure's innovations; Christ; mental images; divinity; cognitive resources

Chapter.  13949 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Early and Medieval)

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