Hexameral Omnipotence: Augustine vs. Bonaventure

Bonaventure’s Breviloquium, part 6

Augustine, based on a bad Latin translation of a (compared to Genesis) sub-authoritative text (Ecclesiasticus 18:1), taught not only that God created all things simultaneously, but that this manner of creation was in fact more in keeping with divine power. As he writes in his Literal Commentary on Genesis (4.33), “For this power of Divine Wisdom does not reach by stages or arrive by steps.”

For Bonaventure, by contrast, it is rather God’s act of creating over six days that better displays his power, because in doing so, he also displays his wisdom and goodness. He writes:

Now God could have done all of these things simultaneously, but preferred to accomplish them over a succession of times. First of all, this would serve as a clear and distinct manifestation of God’s power, wisdom, and goodness.

As yesterday’s post pointed out, these attributes of power, wisdom, and goodness are “appropriated” by the three persons of the Trinity. This overstates matters, but there is a sense in which, from a Bonaventurean point of view, the Augustinian doctrine of simultaneous creation is monistic: it is all power without wisdom and goodness, all Father without Son and Spirit.

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