The Metaphor of the Book of Nature in Early Dominican Preaching and Theology

  • Oskari Juurikkala (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


Abstract: The book of nature—the idea that creation is another divine book—is one of the most long-standing metaphors in the history of theology. It has been used in a variety of ways since the early Church Fathers, each epoch adding its own nuances and interpretations. One of the high points in the history of the metaphor was the medieval theology of the 12th and 13th centuries, and Hugh of Saint Victor and Bonaventure are often cited as its leading exponents. It was, however, also popular among the early Dominicans, particularly in the context of preaching. Our knowledge of their uses is of course limited to extant literary works, whereas we can only make educated guesses concerning the various practical applications of the metaphor in oral preaching. The extant writings are, nevertheless, sufficient to give us a general picture. The present paper examines and explores the way in which the early Dominicans employed and interpreted the metaphor of the book of nature. Special attention is paid to Richard Fishacre, who uses the book of nature quite systematically. Other important texts are the early preaching manual prepared by Thomas of Chobham and Humbert of Romans. The paper finishes with a discussion of the relatively sparse use of the metaphor by Thomas Aquinas. The paper also raises questions concerning the relationship between Richard Fishacre and Bonaventure in their use of the metaphor.
Period30 Jun 2021
Event titleAnnual Conference of the International Society for the Study of Medieval Theology: Dominican Culture, Dominican Theology
Event typeConference
LocationCopenhagen, DenmarkShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Dominicans
  • book of nature
  • two books
  • Richard Fishacre