Ecclesia Spiritualis. Kirchenidee und Ceschichtstheologie der Eranziskanischen Reformation [Book Review]

Review of Metaphysics 22 (3):563-564 (1969)
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Benz is a most prolific writer on the history of speculative theology and theosophy and he is especially well-known for his studies on Oetinger and Swedenborg, but at the beginning of his long career he devoted several books to earlier doctrinal developments. There have been many other serious attempts at a comprehensive exposition of the evolution of the different branches of Franciscan theology but the present one is especially interesting because of its strong speculative foundations. Although speculative, these foundations do not prevent a continual elaboration of the political context of the genesis of ideas. From the "predecessor" Joachin da Fiore through Saint Francis himself, to the little known figures of Angelo Clareno, and Olivi and Arnoldo da Villanova, we see the unfolding of the eschatologically orientated theories of the "spiritual church," the challenge which they represented to the "official" theology of the late middle ages, and the ways they were neutralized by the Church of Rome. The book is dealing with more than obscure heresies of remote ages: it expounds issues and ideas which foreshadow and anticipate German Idealism's philosophy of history.--M. J. V.



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