Appeared in Winter 1999-2000, Vol. XXIV-XXV

In his treatise on the tracing back of the arts to theology, the great Doctor of the Church St. Bonaventure takes as his theme the nature of art and the activity of an artisan. In the course of his discussion he makes this remarkable claim: we shall be able to discern “the eternal generation and Incarnation of the Word, the pattern of human life, and the union of the soul with God” if we meditate prayerfully on “the production, the effect, and the advantage” of any work of art. In this article we will look at each of these aspects of art in order to see more clearly the theological truths the Seraphic Doctor himself discerns in them. Our brief study of this key element in his theology will make manifest the foundations and implications of a doctrine of artistic analogy.

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