St. Bonaventure’s love of wisdom was intimately related to his love of God—so much so that he is called the "Seraphic Doctor" for the ardor that accompanied his great mind. What does this sort of mind have to say about the history of man, a topic long dear to Christian thinkers, especially owing to the Incarnation and the expectation of the Second Coming?
In this academic treatise, then-Father Ratzinger, a young university professor, delves into the work of the Seraphic Doctor to come to a critical and yet appreciative understanding of the theological meaning of history in his work. Particularly interested in Bonaventure’s Collationes in Hexaemeron, the study sets the saint’s thought against his remote and immediate predecessors, as well as his medieval contemporaries.
While bringing out Bonaventure’s "hope for history", Ratzinger must collect the spread-out and sometimes enigmatic references to eschatology and time and, comparing them against Bonaventure’s wider writings, place the saint in the tradition of Christian thought on the subjects. Key to this new theology of time, claims Ratzinger, is Bonaventure’s encounter with the prophecy of Joachim of Fiore—prophecy that threatened to tear the Franciscan Order apart.