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Aquinas, Bonaventure, and the Scholastic Culture of Medieval Paris
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Book description

In this volume, Randall B. Smith provides a revisionist account of the scholastic culture that flourished in Paris during the High Middle Ages. Exploring the educational culture that informed the intellectual and mental habits of Thomas Aquinas and Bonaventure, he offers an in-depth study of the prologues and preaching skills of these two masters. Smith reveal the intricate interrelationships between the three duties of the master: lectio (reading), disputatio (debate), and praedicatio (preaching). He also analyzes each of Aquinas and Bonaventure's prologues from their student days to their final works, revealing both their artistry and their instructional character. Written in an engaging style, this book serves as an invaluable resource that will enable scholars and students to read thirteenth-century sermons, prologues, and biblical commentaries with greater understanding and ease.


‘This impressive and captivating study changes our view of medieval scholastic culture in Paris. The preparation of students for the art of preaching is much more important than usually thought of, as it influences the method of the two other magisterial tasks of reading (Scripture) and (per implication) debating.’

Henk Schoot - Thomas Institute of Utrecht, Tilburg University

'Professor Smith's work reflects his longtime friendships with the philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre and the spiritual master Michael Sherwin. With marvelous erudition and characteristically winsome prose, Smith leads the reader into the vibrant world of medieval preaching and prologues - and thus into a range of debates about pedagogy, the nature of Scripture, spirituality and theology, social practices, mystical delight, the liberal arts, and philosophical wisdom. In his hands, Aquinas and Bonaventure come alive.'

Matthew Levering - James N. and Mary D. Perry Jr. Chair of Theology, Mundelein Seminary

'Students and scholars interested in the principia of medieval masters of theology have been forced to hunt for obscure articles and dissertations. Randall Smith has done a wonderful service in placing much information and analysis in one place. But Smith's work goes beyond gathering resources. He capitalizes on the richness of the texts he examines and provides something of a fresh entry point into the world of medieval theology itself, through two of its greatest figures. Hopefully this engaging study will inspire further work on this most important genre.'

Joshua Benson - Catholic University of America

This remarkable volume provides an in-depth comparative analysis of Thomas Aquinas and Bonaventure. On the one hand, the analysis illustrates that the sermo modernus style and principia genre are indispensable in interpreting the individual writings of both medieval masters. On the other hand, their comparison reveals how their systems and instructional intent differs. The careful research and inviting prose makes this book an invaluable resource for all who study the scholastic culture of medieval Paris.

Jay M. Hammond - Saint Louis University

'Smith escorts us into that medieval invention, the university, where we meet Aquinas, ‘logician’, and Bonaventure, ‘poet’. Their sermo modenus style of preaching organized their inception discourses as masters of theology and prologues to their commentaries on scripture. Aquinas is no longer mere theologian, nor pure philosopher, but the premier Christian philosopher-theologian; and Bonaventure the most sophisticated Christian writer after Augustine. So much for the ‘dark ages’.'

R. E. Houser - 2019 recipient of the Aquinas Medal for eminence in philosophy, American Catholic Philosophical Association

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