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.
"A very interesting volume, and the technical execution in reading Thomas and Bonaventure is excellent. Colberg has mastered the texts of his subject matter and covers the relevant secondary literature very well in the notes."~Kevin Hughes, Villanova University
"Offers a careful and thorough consideration of reward as a vital theological topic intertwined with merit, grace, and freedom in Bonaventure and Thomas Aquinas. Colberg's learned and well-written study will prove an indispensable resource."~Corey Barnes, Oberlin College
""In Crowning Their Merits, You Crown Your Own Gifts"--St Augustine’s brilliant phrase, inserted by the church in the liturgical Preface of Saints, expresses both the absolute primacy of divine grace and the true reality of human participation as a secondary cause in the work of one’s salvation. Colberg’s splendid book presents with clarity how Aquinas and Bonaventure – two saints at the summit of Christian theology – have pursued, each in his own way, this fundamental truth of faith."~Serge-Thomas Bonino, author of Angels and Demons: A Catholic Introduction
"By making two simple but insightful decisions, Shawn Colberg sets our understanding of divine and human agency in medieval theologies of salvation on a new footing. He focuses on the richly biblical concept of ‘reward’ rather than the endlessly contested but biblically marginal notion of ‘merit.’ He delves into the largely neglected biblical commentaries, not just the systematic works, of the two highly influential scholastic theologians he examines. The result is a book that deepens our understanding not only of Bonaventure and Aquinas but of the Christian way of seeing salvation itself."~Bruce Marshall, Southern Methodist University
"Takes the reader on a formidable tour through the theology of grace in Aquinas and Bonaventure... retells the story of the human life as a pilgrimage, a life journey, which is supported by divine guidance, help and rewards. The perspective of 'reward' (rather than merit) offers fresh and stimulating nuances, not only to medieval theology but also to the logbooks of our spiritual journeys. An impassionate book on a challenging topic."~Thomas Prügl, University of Vienna
"This thorough study of Aquinas and Bonaventure on divine rewards illuminates a largely unexplored dimension of medieval soteriology and provides a long overdue comparison of these influential thinkers on questions of divine and human agency. Colberg advances a nuanced argument that Aquinas and Bonaventure offer distinctive yet complementary insights into how God graciously involves the wayfarer in attaining her journey’s end."~Daria Spezzano, Providence College
"Colberg’s achievement is considerable, and this book provides great insight into the theological procedure and accomplishment of these two great high medieval theologians. The decision to focus on ‘reward’ was inspired. There is much in scripture about reward, about God responding appropriately to human act and attitude, and both Bonaventure and Aquinas meditate repeatedly on reward throughout their writings.... That Colberg looks at two, not just one, theologians is similarly inspired. He allows each one to have his say, and each one has much of importance to offer on reward. The book... will be valued by a wide range of readers, not least those concerned with relations among the churches."~Joseph Wawrykow, University of Notre Dame
"Colberg’s book is a must-read for anyone who explores the topics of merit, grace, reward and gift. In this book, depth is combined with an attractive form of communication that patiently explains the complexities of concepts of ongoing discussions. The conduct of reflections based on texts, especially biblical commentaries, which makes this book a valuable support for the developing biblical Thomism, is unquestionably its advantage."~European Journal for the Study of Thomas Aquinas
"Shawn Colberg’s exploration of divine reward in Bonaventure and Aquinas stands out as systematically stimulating and historically well-informed. His rich analysis of these two mendicant thinkers not only renders a valuable service to systematic theologians, but also fills notable gaps in the historical scholarship, especially in Bonaventure studies. Colberg’s book stands out as the most detailed work on divine reward and human merit in Aquinas since Joseph Wawrykow’s monograph, God’s Grace and Human Action: ‘Merit’ in the Theology of Thomas Aquinas (Notre Dame, IN ), and (to my awareness) also constitutes the most thorough historical/systematic study of those themes in Bonaventure available today."~Journal of Ecclesiastical History
"Clearly presented, coherently written, and seeded with ample footnotes and an extensive use of the selected primary and secondary sources, Colberg’s study represents an important milestone in the field of both Thomist and Bonaventurian Studies, and indeed in the history of the doctrines of reward, merit, and scriptural inspiration in general. Even the most educated Bonaventurian and Thomist scholars stand to gain from an attentive reading of this study."~Thomist
"Colberg’s work sheds important light on the biblical nature of Bonaventure’s and Aquinas’ understanding of the role of human agency in salvation."~International Journal of Systematic Theology