The Catholic University of America

 Final Examination of

Daniel McClain

for the degree of

Doctor of Philosophy


An Hexaemeral Reading of Bonaventure's Breviloquium

Director: Joshua Benson, Ph.D.

This dissertation examines the structure of Bonaventure’s Breviloquium, a brief synthesis of theology produced in 1257 at the end of his tenure as Master at the University of Paris. Previous studies of this text have complicated its structure by emphasizing a distinction in genre between the prologue and the “body,” and by reading the “body” either in terms of the Platonic scheme of procession and return, or in terms of origin, procession, and return, which is a scheme supplied by Bonaventure himself. While attending to Bonaventure’s unique theology of the Trinity and Christ as medium, these studies have overlooked significant resources in Bonaventure’s use of the six days of creation and the seventh day of rest which can help further illumine the structure of the Breviloquium. Indeed, from the resources that are available today, it appears that Bonaventure drew material and inspiration from commentaries on Genesis 1–2:4a, and synthesized them with his own distinctive theological program. This at least seems to be the case from the evidence in the critical edition of Bonaventure’s works and from a comparison of the structure and content of the Breviloquium and those commentaries. This synthesis, as this dissertation argues, becomes particularly important in the relationship that Bonaventure draws between God’s operations in creation, restoration, and perfection and the division of the Hexaëmeron into creation, distinction, and adornment, formulated at least by Bede the Venerable and Hugh of St. Victor. This study argues that accentuating this relationship helps to clarify the structure of the text and, moreover, assists in resolving the problem of the prologue’s relation to the body by appealing to the structure of the Hexaëmeron, as Bonaventure understands it.


More about McClain

Dan was born and raised in Nevada and California. His family moved to Northern Virginia as a teenager. He attended Liberty University where he studied Greek, analytic philosophy, and philosophy of religion. He graduated from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in 2003 having written on Aesthetics in the Theologies of Nicholas Wolterstorff and Frank Burch Brown.

Dan has taught courses at George Washington University, Catholic University of America and Loyola University Maryland that range in focus from the theologies of Thomas Aquinas and Bonaventure to the theological significance of Children’s Literature. While in course work, he was a research assistant for Thomas Schärtl and William Barbieri, and with Dr. Barbieri participated in the research seminar on Charles Taylor’s Secular Age from 2010-2012. Dan was in the first class to teach in the First Year Experience in 2009-2011. Since 2012, he has been the Director of Program Operations for Graduate Theological Studies at Loyola University Maryland. He will be ordained to the Transitional Diaconate in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland on January 14, 2017.

Dan has published chapters, articles, and reviews in Anglican Theological Review, New Blackfriars, the Journal of Cultural and Religious Theory, and the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and Ethics. With Matthew Tapie, he published Reading Scripture as a Political Act (2014). He has presented at multiple conferences including the American Academy of Religion, the North American Patristics Society, and the Patristic, Medieval, and Renaissance Conference at Villanova University. He currently serves on the steering committee for the Christian Systematic Theology Section of the American Academy of Religion, and from 2013-2014 was the president of the Mid-Atlantic Region of the American Academy of Religion.

 Since 2001, Dan has been married to Kate McClain, who is a business owner and therapist for children with social skills needs. They live in Baltimore and have four sons (Henry, Jude, Felix, and Ezra), and a black, 1978 Honda Goldwing.