The Wayfarer's End: Bonaventure and Aquinas on Divine Rewards in Scripture and Sacred Doctrine

by Shawn M. Colberg
Catholic University of America Press, 2020
Cloth: 978-0-8132-3291-1, eISBN: 978-0-8132-3292-8

The Wayfarer’s End follows the human person’s journey to union with God in the theologies of Saint Bonaventure and Saint Thomas Aquinas. It argues that these seminal thinkers of the 13th Century emphasize scriptural notions of divine rewards as ordering principles for the graced movement of human viators to eternal life. Divine rewards emerge as a fundamental category through the study’s emphasis on Thomas and Bonaventure as scriptural commentators and preachers whose work in sacra pagina structures the content of their sacra doctrina. Shawn Colberg places Bonaventure’s and Aquinas’s scriptural, dogmatic, and polemical works into conversation and illumines their mutually edifying depictions of the way to eternal life.

Looking to the journey itself, The Wayfarer’s End demonstrates a nuanced understanding of the roles played by God and human beings in the movement to full beatitude. To that end, it explores the relationships between grace and human nature, the effects of sin on the human person, the vital themes of predestination, conversion, perseverance, and the place of “reward-worthy” human action within the overall movement toward union with God. While St. Bonaventure and St. Thomas both stress the priority of grace and divine action for the journey, the study also illustrates their distinct frameworks for human action, unpacking Bonaventure’s preference for the language of acceptatio versus Thomas’s emphasis on ordinatio. This difference inflects their language of rewards, their exposition of scripture, and the scope of free human action in the movement to union with God.

This study places the two most seminal theologians of the 13th Century into conversation on central and enduring topics of Christian life. Such a comparative study has been sorely lacking in the field of studies on Aquinas and Bonaventure. It offers insight to those interested in high scholastic thought, Franciscan and Dominican understandings of human salvation, and Thomist and Franciscan theology as it pertains to questions of the Reformation, including biblical exegesis on justification and sanctification. Above all, the study appreciates and foregrounds the richness of Bonaventure’s and Aquinas’s vocations: mendicant theologians concerned to share the fruits of contemplation with fellow friars and others seeking the goal of the wayfarer’s end.
The Significance of Reward
Reward Texts
Rewards and Gifts
Bonaventure of Bagnoregio and Thomas Aquinas
Sacra Pagina et Sacra Doctrina
Foundational Themes in Bonaventure and Aquinas
1. Bonaventure and Reward in the Systematic Works
Predestination, Grace, and Reward in the Breviloquium and CS
Grace and Reward in the Itinerarium and Lignum vitae
2. Thomas and Reward in the Systematic Works
Grace, Human Action, and Reward in the Summa theologiae
Gifts and Rewards: Operative and Cooperative Effects of Divine Action
The Possibility of Rewards
Rewards in Other Parts of the ST
3. Bonaventure and Aquinas on Reward in the Scripture Commentaries
Expositing Scripture
Bonaventure: Passages from Luke
Thomas: Passages from Matthew
Bonaventure: Passages from John
Thomas: Passages from John
4. Rewards and Christian Perfection in the Mendicant Controversies
Spiritual Perfection
The Merit of the Mendicant Lifestyle
Reward as Means and Ends
Reward Texts
Absent Themes
5. Bonaventure and Thomas in Relief
Human Agency in the Plan of Human Salvation
Acceptatio versus Ordinatio
The Timing of Divine Rewards
The Nature of Divine Rewards
The Effects of Divine Rewards
Appendix: Aquinas and Reward in the Pauline Commentary
Passages from Romans
Passages from 1 and 2 Corinthians
Passages from Galatians
Passages from Other Pauline Letters
Thomas, Rewards, and Paul
Scripture Index
General Index

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