Spiraling into God: Bonaventure on Grace, Hierarchy, and Holiness offers a systematic account of the Seraphic Doctor’s doctrine of grace across his speculative-academic, mystical, hagiographical, and pastoral texts. It does so by arguing that an account of this kind can only be provided by also attending to his theology of hierarchy, a methodology derived from Bonaventure’s claim in the Major Legend of St. Francis that Francis of Assisi was a "vir hierarchicus," or hierarchical man. As the book explores in great depth, this appellation relies upon Bonaventure’s reading of a Victorine Dionysian interpreter by the name of Thomas Gallus, whose "angelic anthropology"—or notion of the hierarchical soul—becomes a crucial component within the Seraphic Doctor’s teaching on grace as he interprets the sanctity of St. Francis. Throughout the course of his career, Bonaventure will define sanctifying grace as a created "inflowing" (influentia) that "hierarchizes" human beings by purifying, illuminating, and perfecting them from within, thus causing them to become a similitude of the Trinity. This book explains what this means and why it matters.
Most existing scholarship on this subject in Bonaventure’s thought interprets it as a subtopic with respect to other themes—for example, with respect to his Christology or his Trinitarian theology—rather than taking the time to understand his doctrine of grace in its own right. Alternatively, scholarly treatments of his doctrine of grace will treat it at length, but will only examine the topic as it appears in his more speculative-academic texts—most especially his Commentary on the Sentences or his famous Itinerarium Mentis in Deum—without bringing these into conversation with his pastoral works, sermon literature, or hagiographical texts. This book provides the first unified treatment of Bonaventure’s doctrine of grace across all these different genres of his known corpus, and in so doing, fills a massive lacuna in both Bonaventurean scholarship and in the field of medieval historical theology.
"Makes a significant contribution to the field of Bonaventure studies in general, and to his theology of grace specifically. Like other seminal books, this analysis will be referenced for years to come. A pleasure to read!"~Jay M. Hammond, Saint Louis University
" Spiraling into God offers a rich and detailed study of Bonaventure’s doctrine of grace and related theological issues. Shelby displays an impressive command of Bonaventure’s entire Opera Omnia, the vast literature dedicated to him, and recent criticisms of his thought. Those interested in multiple historical and theological fields will find the study most useful. Shelby has staked her claim as an important voice in the interpretation of the Seraphic Doctor."~Joshua C. Benson, The Catholic University of America
"One of the delightful aspects of Spiraling into God is the range of sources treated in real depth: the Commentary on the Sentences, the Breviloquium, the Itinerarium mentis in Deum, the Collationes in Hexaemeron, the Legenda maior, the Disputed Questions De scientia Christi, and various sermons. Shelby ably demonstrates that Bonaventure’s doctrine of grace as an influentia and his description of the hierarchization of the soul are consistent throughout his writings. Spiraling into God admirably opens to the modern reader the riches of Bonaventure’s doctrine of grace, and fills a lacuna in Bonaventure scholarship"~Gregory LaNave, Dominican House of Studies