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“The Letter Kills, But the Spirit Gives Life”: The Rise of Learning in the Franciscan Order, 1210-1310

“The Letter Kills, But the Spirit Gives Life”: The Rise of Learning in the Franciscan Order, 1210-1310

By Neslihan Senocak

PhD Dissertation, Bilkent University, 2001

Abstract: The historiography of medieval Franciscan education has been dominated by two general approaches that appear unjustifiable. The first has been to assume that the Franciscan educational organization was a later copy of the Dominican organization, and therefore to use Dominican evidence to fill in the gaps in the Franciscan picture. The second indefensible approach has been largely to ignore the fact that Franciscan educational organization went through an evolution. The foremost aim of this thesis is to present the story of the rise and institutionalization of learning in the Franciscan Order of the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries, without taking refuge in the much fuller evidence that exists for the Dominican system, but with an emphasis on the chronological development both of the Franciscan educational system itself and of attitudes to it within the Order.

Included in this study are discussions of some controversial topics such as the intention of the founder with regard to education, the position of the Spirituals, and the problems that possession of books and libraries caused. In order to compensate for the absence of Dominican evidence, a wide range of sources has been employed in the research. The resulting picture of the Franciscan involvement in education appears to be quite different from that of the Dominicans in its organization, scope, speed of growth and in the effects on the internal harmony of the Order.

Click here to read this thesis from Bilkent University

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