American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 96, Issue 4, Fall 2022

Catherine A. Levri
Pages 571-595

Light Metaphysics and Scripture in the Inaugural Sermons of Robert Grosseteste and St. Bonaventure

Robert Grosseteste delivered his inaugural sermon, Dictum 19, in 1229/1230. Like many inaugural sermons, Dictum 19 praises Scripture, its divine author, and the study of the sacred text. Grosseteste’s sermon, however, is unique in that its author had an extensive background in the natural sciences. I propose that his understanding of the nature of light influences his understanding of Scripture in Dictum 19. Specifically, Scripture, like light, gives form to others, creating a hierarchy of bodies which mediate this form. Grosseteste’s thought influenced Saint Bonaventure, who delivered his inaugural sermon Omnium artifex docuit me sapientia at his 1254 inception. Like Grosseteste, Bonaventure’s understanding of the nature of Scripture is based in part on his light metaphysics. I conclude that, for both Grosseteste and Bonaventure, their use of light as an analogy for Scripture is rooted not only in traditional theological metaphors but also in their metaphysics of light.