Read The Journey of the Mind to God by Bonaventure Stephen F. Brown Philotheus Boehner Online


The Hackett edition of this classic of medieval philosophy and mysticism--a plan of pilgrimage for the learned Franciscan wishing to reach the apex of the mystical experience--combines the highly regarded Boehner translation with a new introduction by Stephen Brown focusing on St. Francis as a model of the contemplative life, the meaning of the Itinerarium, its place in BoThe Hackett edition of this classic of medieval philosophy and mysticism--a plan of pilgrimage for the learned Franciscan wishing to reach the apex of the mystical experience--combines the highly regarded Boehner translation with a new introduction by Stephen Brown focusing on St. Francis as a model of the contemplative life, the meaning of the Itinerarium, its place in Bonaventure’s mystical theology, and the plan of the work. Boehner’s Latin Notes, as well as Latin texts from other works of Bonaventure included in the Franciscan Institute Edition, are rendered here in English, making this the edition of choice for the beginning student....

Title : The Journey of the Mind to God
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ISBN : 9780872202009
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 96 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Journey of the Mind to God Reviews

  • Ellie
    2019-03-10 01:41

    This is a short but dense work, full of mysticism and wonder and some philosophy that I found tough going. But the moments of beauty were intense, particularly in the last two chapters. This is a book to meditate upon, to read slowly, in small chunks and sit with. St. Bonaventure carried St. Francis' message to the world, that God can be found all around us, in nature, in ourselves and that having experienced God in these places a person can transcend it all in pure contemplation.Definitely a work I'll be rereading and "working" with.

  • Sengeset
    2019-02-17 17:56

    This small "guidebook" was written in 1259 by St Bonaventure, the then-minister of the Fransiscan order. It describes how the human soul in the christian worldview must ascend through 7 steps to finally come to rest in God. The spirit of the book lets itself summarize in the closing paragraphs:(on how one should conduct life in order to reach God)"If you wish to know how these things may come about, ask grace, not learning; desire, not understanding; the groaning of prayer, not diligence in reading; the Bridegroom [Jesus], not the teacher; God, not man; darkness, not clarity; not light but the fire that wholly inflames and carries one into God through transporting unctions and consuming affections" (Chapter 7, 6)In short, truth or enlightenment is not to be found in human knowledge or exploration, but only through subjection to Gods will. All truth is to be found in spiritual exhaltation and in devotion to climbing out of the body and into the higher realms of the soul. The rest is just phantasmal images distracting from the one true path. The book is an interesting read in so far as one tries to understand the medieval mentality, but the long-winded heavily religious arguments are tedious and confusing, rendering the book difficult to read with little intellectual gain. As an atheist the view that mankind should subject itself to some kind of non-empirical deity that created a sort of "game" for us that we all should play for his delight is abhorrent. It is a tragedy for me that humans for so long avoided intellectual pursuits in favour of religious ecstasy.

  • Scott
    2019-02-21 18:37

    I started on this short book some months ago as part of my on-going effort (begun a few years back) of reading through (at least some of) the philosophical canon (including some books I've read before and some which I have not). But I didn't get this book finished, because I was reading other philosophical works for my class and was otherwise distracted with other goings on in life.This short volume is a good introduction to key ideas in medieval Christian thinking. Bonaventure holds that nature is a mirror reflecting God and that the path to truth is the path of contemplation of the divine. Because the human mind was created by God, it has access to the truth, described as "infallibly, indestructibly, indubitably, irrefragibly, unquestionably, unchangeably, boundlessly, endlessly, indivisibly, and intellectually"--a list of adverbs that makes it clear that there are no skeptical worries for Bonaventure. His language is beautiful, as is his image of reality and human access to it. For example, this description of the attributes of God: "the divine Being is at once primary and last Being, eternal and most present, most simple and greatest or unlimited, all everywhere and yet never bounded, most actual and never moved, most perfect and having nothing superfluous or lacking, and yet immense and infinite without bounds, one to the highest degree and yet all-inclusive as having all things in itself, as total power, total truth, total goodness."Yet, none of this beautiful vision could withstand the modern skeptical questions of Descartes, et al.

  • Mark Adderley
    2019-03-15 20:50

    As the other reviews have noted, this is not an easy book to read. The style is extremely dense. However, a little patience really pays off. And the editors of this translation have done all they can to assist: there's a helpful summary of the book in the introduction, as well as copious notes at the end. Between the two of them, they make the book accessible.St. Bonaventure's idea is that the soul progresses towards God in three steps, each of which can be subdivided, producing six altogether:1. The Created World. In the first step, we recognize God through the created world. In the second step, we realize that God is present in the created world.2. The Mind (i.e., the mind/soul/will). In the third step, we see that the soul is a reflection of God, i.e., it resembles God. In the fourth step, we recognize God's presence in the soul, as we had in the created world in the second step.3. Contemplation of God. In the fifth step, we realize that God is Being itself. In the sixth step, we realize that God is good.The last chapter is a description of the mystical union with God.It's a great book--you can get a lot out of it if you put a lot into it. But there's no hidden meaning. What you see is what you get. It works on a very literal level. There's nothing tricky about it. The ideas are just dense.

  • James Andersen
    2019-03-01 18:38

    This book is a short but profound book, it is one that should not be underestimated by its size either. One will need to most likely re-read this book over a couple more times after the initial reading just to make sure they get all the concepts, reading this with a group may even be better. I also highly recommend reading the footnotes for each chapter, either while reading each chapter or after reading said chapter, because they are vital for understanding in a fuller appreciation what this book is trying to convey. I give this book 5-Stars for its Profoundity and yet also its compactness.

  • Brent McCulley
    2019-02-24 00:38

    Fairly straightforward. Franciscan theologian offers his "steps" to total tranquility and peace, starting from the basic sense perception of the visible world to the last step of transcending being itself, "God beyond God," etc. Pretty much cut out of Pseudo-Dionysius, although he quotes Augustine a few times and St. John of Damascus once. His steps on contemplating the properties of God, namely the Trinity, is straight from Augustine's "De Trinitate."

  • Katie
    2019-03-18 19:45

    Bonaventure: Neither engaging nor original.

  • Carson
    2019-03-19 20:52

    * vii.1 has a good summary of the six steps of ascent * Behold God* Outside oneself through His traces & in His traces * Within oneself by His image and in His image * Above oneself by the divine light shining down upon us and in that light* Good: “Open your eyes therefore, prick up your spiritual ears, open your lips, and apply your heart, that you may see your God in all creatures, may hear Him, praise Him, love and adore Him, magnify and honor Him, lest the whole world rise against you.” (i.15) * This reads like an earlier form of Brother Lawrence, for whom the practice of the presence of God was central. Similarly, Bonaventure wants to see God in everything. Instead of focusing on the mundane activities in life, Bonaventure focuses on creation.

  • Seth Holler
    2019-02-28 22:57

    Oct 2017. I am grateful for this free narration, but the reader is not a professional. The book itself, however, is astounding. I do not understand all of it, but will reread it next year while teaching Dante.

  • Joseph R.
    2019-03-11 22:40

    Saint Bonaventure was a medieval Franciscan theologian. He wrote this brief but dense work inspired by Francis of Assisi, who often focused on seeking peace as a way to God. Bonaventure meditated on this peace and found a way to the mystical contemplation of God. He describes six steps that lead to God.The first step considers the very faint image of God in the "vestiges of the universe." By our human sense powers, we come to a knowledge of the world and perceive the orderliness and abundance in the universe. Bonaventure's idea here isn't how we can see an intelligent design to the universe, but how the rationality and immensity of it is reflective of higher and more perfect things, leading to the highest and most perfect God.The second step looks to that faint image of God in the visible world. How is this different from the first step? Bonaventure explains--in this step we see the universe not as a product of God but as God is present in the universe. After some scientific explanations (which, quite frankly, are no longer valid), he cites Augustine's argument that numbers can be found in all things, and these numbers reflect an order and harmony that leads to God.The third step sees God's image in our natural powers--memory, knowledge, and desire. Memories are made in the present and include the past; memories also give a hint to the future. So memory gives a shadowy reflection of the eternity in which God lives. Knowledge seeks the truth of things, understanding what they are and how they are related to one another. Truth relies on knowing the being of things (which ultimately relies on the Supreme Being) and the relationship they have to each other (which is a shadowy reflection of the Trinitarian community of the Godhead). Desire is always for the good and must focus on the highest good for man, happiness. That happiness can achieve fulfillment if it has the greatest good as its object, the unchanging and infinite good found in the Supreme Being. Our natural intellectual powers are an image of God.While the third step is attained through philosophical reflection, the fourth step sees God's image in the human soul perfected by grace,. This step is attained through the gift of grace. A deeper understanding of our relationship to others and to God comes with the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity. These virtues cannot be acquired through human effort but are a gift from God that we accept. Contemplation of Sacred Scripture reinforces and deepens the impact of grace on the soul.The fifth step looks at God Himself in His essential attributes. Like the third step, this contemplation looks with a more philosophical eye at the primary name of God given to Moses at the burning bush: I am who am. God is Being, pure and simple. Pure being has no potency or division; it cannot be improved or added to. As such, it must be eternal and unchanging. God is one.The sixth step looks at God as the Good, that is, the highest and most perfect good. Such a good must exist (Bonaventure cites Anselm's famous argument) and also be self-diffusive. This supreme self-diffusion is the starting point from which Bonaventure explains the Three Persons of the Trinity and shows how They can be co-equal and distinct. This is the highest level of contemplation, where the mind is illumined most perfectly.Of course, a person's ascent to a mystical understanding of God requires not only the intellectual insights described. Bonaventure says in his prologue that only a prayerful and purified spirit can make this ascent. A life of holiness both in prayer and in act is prerequisite for the journey of the mind to God. He reiterates this dependence on divine power in the final chapter. By contemplating Jesus Christ and relying on the grace He provides us, we are able to come close in this life to the vision that we will have in Heaven.The text, like many medieval writings, is very terse and has some technical language common in medieval philosophy and theology. So reading it isn't the easiest thing but it is very rewarding.

  • Eric
    2019-02-16 21:06

    This is a slim, 99-page book that is so packed with dense writing that it takes three readings just to barely grasp some of the concepts. Saint Bonaventure's (1217-1274) text only takes up a little more than a third of the book, the remainder being introductory information and footnotes. It is those two extra elements that really make this book a worthwhile read, as they allow a modern reader to more deeply comprehend the concepts Bonaventure lays out.This 1993 version of Bonaventure's work is a translation from Latin by Philotheus Boehner that has been edited, as well as given an introduction and explanatory notes, by Stephen F. Brown. Mr. Brown says he chose the Boehner translation because it "stays very close to the Latin and is generally quite readable." I would have to agree with that statement, as some of the other versions of The Journey of the Mind to God (also known as The Itinerarium) available online were not nearly as easy to comprehend.The material Brown provides that truly helps to make Bonaventure's work accessible to a modern audience. Brown tells us from the very beginning that this work will be very different from other texts because 1) Bonaventure uses ample symbolism to represent complex concepts and 2) this is more of a technical university sermon. Brown's text is clear and well-written, and it often uses a simple metaphor or description to illuminate a point, such as these sentences to explain Bonaventure's worldview:[He] never viewed the world in a hard-nosed, factual way. A rose, for him, was always more than a rose. Or, perhaps, we might better say that for Saint Bonaventure a rose, while remaining a rose, tells an attentive viewer a richer story of its reality.Or this text to explain the "illumination theory of knowledge" developed by Augustine and embraced by Bonaventure: [According to the theory], the first thing we know is God, even though we are not aware of this at first. Just as we would not see the colors and shapes of a stained-glass window unless the invisible sun was illuminating them, so we would not see visible things if the invisible God was not illuminating them from within. God, then, is present in things, and if we analyze our sense knowledge, our enjoyment of sense objects, and the judgments we make concerning them, we would come to realize God's invisible presence in them.Bonaventure himself relies on these common images or experiences to elucidate a point as well. The majority of his text, however, is very dense. I mean "dense" in the sense that there is a layering effect to how he has written the work, where concepts are built up over the chapters as Bonaventure rigorously argues out his philosophy. There is also a purposeful use of repetition and contrast, so that one concept might be described six different ways, along with six opposite descriptions, to fully flesh out the complexity of what he is describing.Bonaventure uses a term I had never heard before, but t seems to be popular is religious and philosophical texts: synderesis. Brown's note on the concept states that Bonaventure uses synderesis ".... as the highest power of reason and describes it as the natural gravity of the soul toward the good" Bonaventure also calls it "the unitive" or "loving power." I wasn't too satisfied with that definition, so I took a look at how Philosophy Pages defines it:Immediate, intuitive apprehension of the fundamental principles of morality. For such medieval ethicists as Peter Lombard and Aquinas, synderesis, unlike mere conscience, is both infallible and general.Perhaps not much clearer, but a bit helpful.Overall, it is an excellent book to learn more about Saint Bonaventure and Franciscan religious philosophy. It is also an interesting insight into a deeply religious mind, that allows you to experience some of what made Bonaventure such an ardent believer in God.

  • Alex Kartelias
    2019-02-21 00:54

    One of the greatest Christian philosophers during the middle-ages. The influence on Dante is evident and the way he transitions from the traces of God in The Book of creation, to the First Principle and it's Trinitarian emanations Within, shows his superiority over most philosophers by making a marriage with Plato and Aristotle. One should definitely study both these philosophers to understand this work.It's a shame nobody ever talks about this philosopher, because he contains so many teachings which other philosophers merely discuss one aspect of. From the world and soul as being a ladder or mirror, God's signs/traces in creation, the many Aristotelian categories he makes concerning the modes of theology, the 7 fold condition of creatures, the innate nature of Wisdom, how the trinity dwells in the soul and the cosmos, the 3 categories of philosophy- with each of its own 3 branches-, Jesus as The Tree of Life and the Celestial Jerusalem with the 9 realms of angels/intelligences in The Heart, St. Bonaventure's text is something a soul hungry for God could use exclusively.

  • Jedidiah Tritle
    2019-02-25 18:59

    While this book may be somewhat confusing for those who have never studied Aristotelian/Thomistic metaphysics (as it seems to presuppose at least a basic understanding of Realism), I found it to be a near-perfect application of Thomas's logical inductions (demonstrating the Divine) into the spiritual life. Bonaventure leads the reader from a contemplation of God's "vestiges" in creation to contemplation of God as One (substantially) and Good (metaphysically). Then, finally, he leads the reader beyond the intellect into the realm of affective faith which is solely the result of the Divine in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit, rather than emotivism. This is a classic for a reason, and is well worth the read for any spiritual seekers who aren't quite left-brained enough to be satisfied with purely logical propositions (like myself).

  • Andrew Price
    2019-03-15 21:57

    Published in Latin as Itinerarium Mentis ad Deum, and considered to be one of the masterpieces of medieval philosophy. The work is based on the Tree of Porphyry; logical classification that become more encompassing as they ascend. This work is well-written and translated, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in wither theology or medieval philosophy.

  • Tom Marsan
    2019-03-01 00:38

    I really enjoyed returning to this book. With the help of the Living School's videos and forums, I was able to appreciate the path that could have been, and still can be, had we not focused most of Western Christianity on the works of Aquinas, than the Franciscans. The language and style can be a bit dense, and obscure, but with the right discussion it reveals a nice primer to contemplation.

  • dameolga
    2019-03-16 22:39

    To be fair, I don't think my mind was ready to read something like this. Even Bonaventure stated that a certain amount of study or self discipline was necessary to comprehend the steps leading to God.

  • Alison
    2019-03-09 22:42

    So very smart. The language is pretty complex so you really need a mild prior understanding to grasp alot of the ideas. It would have probably been more informative if I had read the new/or old testament but oh well. Amazing ideas about God and the truth of existence and love and all that jazz.

  • Gnome Books
    2019-02-24 21:44


  • Dean P.
    2019-03-18 18:42

    It would seem that Scholastic philosophy is not my thing. I tried, I really tried, to read and understand, but mostly I just read and shook my head.

  • Patrick May
    2019-02-22 22:50

    LOVED Bonaventure. Would love to check out some more of his works.

  • Ona Kiser
    2019-03-13 21:59

    A bit dense. Ended up reading it again in September. Lovely stuff.

  • Kody Dibble
    2019-03-15 17:48

    Great read...Full of value and thought. A must read for attaining Truth in every area of life.

  • Seth Holler
    2019-02-21 00:05

    Fascinating and difficult.

  • Reed
    2019-02-19 02:03

    Short read. I enjoyed the last couple sections; the first few sections made me cringe a bit.

  • Emerson John Tiu Ng
    2019-03-05 00:51

    ....commentary of St. Bonaventure theology

  • Dan Yingst
    2019-02-28 22:06

    Ever read a book ten eleven times and feel like you're barely scratching the surface?

  • Eleanor
    2019-03-08 01:04

    Excellent look into the Christian mystic tradition.