Thursday, February 08, 2007

Bonaventure on Scripture as the Sea

First, I say, sacred scripture is compared to the waters of the sea with regard to the depth of its mysteries. The sea is deep such that man cannot traverse it, as sacred scripture is such a depth of mysteries that, however much a man may be enlightened and however much he may be diligent, he cannot attain to its depth....I say that who with pride enters the sanctuary of God will not be able [to read it] even if he be literate; likewise, if the illiterate wish to enter, he will be foolish. one must therefore have literacy [litteraturam] and spirit.

Second, sacred scripture is compared to the waters of the sea with regard to its manifold sense. In the sea there are diverse currents [scaturitiones]; just as sacred scripture in one literal text is many meanings....

The third reason why sacred scripture is compared to the waters of the sea, is with regard to the stability of the Churches. The Psalm: Upon the seas you have founded them; and elsewhere: You who have founded the earth on its stability. Some mock David, who says that God has founded the land on the seas. He says that he has founded the land on the seas according to a mystery....Sacred eloquences are stabilizers....Where sacred scripture is lacking, it is necessary that land, that is the Church, be shaken.


Bonaventure, Collationes de Septem Donis Spiritus Sancti, Conference IV (On the Gift of Knowledge). My translation.

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