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Title: Identity and Difference in Bonaventure's Legenda Maior
Author(s): DELIO, Ilia
Journal: Studies in Spirituality
Volume: 13    Date: 2003   
Pages: 199-211
DOI: 10.2143/SIS.13.0.504596

Abstract :
The new postmodern ‘turn to the other’ underscores a revisioning of the God of modernity, from the wholly Other (absent) God to the God of immanence and Incarnation. The celebration of God as infinite, self-diffusive goodness, and the manifestation of goodness in the diversity and differences of all that exists finds a striking note in Bonaventure’s Legenda maior. Here God’s infinite goodness is expressed in a particular way, in the concrete existence of being, in the other. Bonaventure weaves his theology of divine overflowing goodness into the life of Francis through the mystery of Incarnation. The radical emphasis on Incarnation throughout the text underscores the idea that God is turned toward us in love. God is not a remote, self-sufficient Being but rather God is the fecundity of goodness that seeks to share Godself with an other. Bonaventure fleshes out this idea through the centrality of Christ as a ‘decentered centeredness’ of otherness and difference.

For Bonaventure, the centrality of Christ is not a unifying principle that erases the differences of the other; rather the centrality of Christ is the body of Christ in the diversity of its members. Bonaventure develops the idea that Francis is a source of unity because, like Christ, he spends himself in love for the sake of the other. The more Francis discovers the truth of his identity in Christ, the more he is able to be, like Christ, free enough to embrace the other in love. It is in identifying with the other as [br]other that Francis’s world unfolds in community, and it is in the community of otherness and difference that Francis perceives the beauty of the world as the overflowing goodness of God.

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