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St. Francis of Assisi and Nature : Tradition and Innovation in Western Christian Attitudes toward the Environment - Roger D. Sorrell

St. Francis of Assisi and Nature

Tradition and Innovation in Western Christian Attitudes toward the Environment

Hardcover

Published: 8th December 1988
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One of the best-loved saints of all time, Francis of Assisi is often depicted today as a kind of proto-hippie or early environmentalist. This book, the most comprehensive study in English of Francis's view of nature in the context of medieval tradition, debunks modern anachronistic interpretations, arguing convincingly that Francis's ideas can only be understood in their 13th-century context. Through close analysis of Francis's writings, particularly the Canticle of the Sun, Sorrell shows that many of Francis's beliefs concerning the proper relation of humanity to the natural world have their antecedents in scripture and the medieval monastic orders, while other ideas and practices--his nature mysticism, his concept of familial relationships with created things, and his extension of chivalric conceptions to interactions with creatures--are entirely his own. Sorrell insists, however, that only by seeing Francis in terms of the Western traditions from which he arose can we appreciate the true originality of this extraordinary figure and the relevance of his thought to modern religious and environmental concerns.

"The author is well qualified for this study. Moreover, the book's scope is wide-ranging, and the style is very readable. Contains an exhaustive bibliography and an excellent index. Recommended for readers at all levels."--Choice "In view of the many treatments of this topic already available, one might well ask whether it is possible to say anything new or significant. In this study. R. Sorrell has done precisely that in a very convincing way."--Journal of Religion "Sorrell offers a valuable critical assessment of Francis' largely misunderstood attitude toward nature....His greatest service is to distinguish between the tradition and innovative elements in Francis' attitude toward creatures."--Theological Studies "Sorrell's book is the most authoritative study of Francis of Assisi and nature in any language. It is scholarly but not dry, interesting without being anecdotal, challenging but not pedantic....Sorrell's entire argument is coherent and convincing."--American Historical Review "With a magisterial authority the writer dissects the problems of the sources, searching for Francis' thought-world beneath the brevity of the pericopes of the Leo-sources and the learned reflections of Celano and Bonaventure. The reader...is carried on pleasurably from point to point through a labyrinth of quotations from originals and secondary sources, left, chapter by chapter, with the conviction that the author has attained balance and harmony in his conclusions, and that there will not need to be another investigation of this theme."--Journal of Theological Studies "Sorrell is a professional historian, who brings a fund of learning and insight and commonsense, as well as a strong commitment to an inspiring theme, to a well-worn path. The result is a fresh appraisal of the evidence....A helpful, thoughtful, sensitive study."--Journal of Ecclesiastical History "Sorrell's well-written study is one of the few scholarly attepts in Anglo-Saxon literature to clear up the misconceptions that exist on Francis's attitude toward the natural world and to provide an in-depth analysis of how his view of it was both traditional and innovative."--Church History "A very fine piece of scholarship, well written, argued with sophistication and control of materials. This book is a very valuable contribution to medieval studies in general and Franciscan studies in particular."--Lawrence Cunningham, Florida State University

Abbreviationsp. xi
Introduction: The Myth of the Medieval View of Naturep. 3
The Ascetic Tradition and the Early Franciscan Outlookp. 9
Traditional Elements in Francis' Interpretation of Creationp. 39
Francis' Transcendence of Tradition and Its First Major Impact on His Attitude Toward Creation: The Sermon to the Birdsp. 55
Francis' Special Regard for Creationp. 69
Tradition and Its Impact on the Canticlep. 98
The Controversy over the Canticle's Meaningp. 115
The Canticle: Francis' Ideal Vision of Creationp. 125
Francis: Reality and Legacyp. 138
Francis and Catharismp. 147
Analysis of the Early Franciscan Sourcesp. 149
The Sermon to the Birds in the Early Sourcesp. 152
Notesp. 159
Bibliographyp. 185
Indexp. 195
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780195053227
ISBN-10: 0195053222
Audience: Professional
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 236
Published: 8th December 1988
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 21.8 x 14.4  x 2.1
Weight (kg): 0.44