The fontalis plenitudo in Bonaventure as a symbol for his metaphysics

Janet Clara Kvamme, Fordham University


This dissertation is about Bonaventure's treatment of the Father in the Trinity as the fountain-fullness of fecundity. The symbol of the fountain reveals the richness of Bonaventure's perception of the Father as the foundation of his entire theological vision. This image illumines the whole of Bonaventure's theology and his metaphysics. Bonaventure chose this symbol for many reasons, among them, its potential in invoking the immediate awareness of God. The symbol of the fountain fullness of the Father is at the heart of Bonaventure's mysticism and his metaphysics. Although this is the central element in Bonaventure's thought, and acknowledged as such by leading scholars, there has been no extensive study. This is largely a result of the Thomistic revival of the nineteenth century. It has been conventional to think of Bonaventure's Neoplatonism as coming only from Augustine. Yet the driving force of Bonaventure's Neoplatonic thought is from Proclus, from whom he derives the principle of primacy. The fontalis plenitudo is the central Trinitarian vision of Bonaventure. In this vision, the Father is the fountain source of the Trinitarian processions, in the generation of the Son, and with the Son the spiration of the Holy Spirit. The Trinity is pervasive in Bonaventure's metaphysics, including his Christology and his theology of creation. Bonaventure's Trinitarianism is Christocentric and his Christology is Trinitarian. Similarly, Bonaventure's creation theology is both Trinitarian and Christological. In a self-diffusion of the Good, the love in the Trinity flows out into the created world. Bonaventure brings together his Christology and creation theology in the Word. Through the contemplation of the divine in the created world and the incarnated exemplar that is Christ, we are led to the contemplation of the Trinity as the supreme Good and return to that source. Bonaventure summarizes: “This is our whole metaphysics: emanation, exemplarity, consummation—to be illumined by spiritual rays and to be led back to the highest reality.” (HexAmeron 1:17) That highest reality is the Good, the principle and fountain source of the processions in the Trinity and of all the created cosmos.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Kvamme, Janet Clara, "The fontalis plenitudo in Bonaventure as a symbol for his metaphysics" (2000). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9955966.