The Classic Age of the Distinction between God's Absolute and Ordered Power: In, Around, and After the Pontificate of John XXII (1316–1334)


Franciscan Studies 76, 207-266

Massimiliano Traversino Di Cristo 1,2
1 Le Studium Loire Valley Institute for Advanced Studies, 45000 Orléans, France
2 CESR - Centre d'études supérieures de la Renaissance UMR 7323


In more general terms, many mediaeval authors-and not only theologians used the distinction between God's ordered and absolute power (potentia Dei absoluta and ordinata) to emphasize how, on the one hand, in an 'orderly' way, the realm of nature reflects God's freedom of choice, leading to the existence of a radically contingent order of creation; but also how, on the other hand, in terms of divine absoluteness and in the economy of salvation, God is never bound in his action, which is truly inscrutable and lies above morality. 1 The extensive scholarship on this distinction clearly demonstrates how such a question represented a real 'problem' for mediaeval thinkers rather than just a simple theory. 2 I am limited to mentioning here that the doctrine of God's power comes to the fore with a much different significance in various historical epochs.

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Franciscan Studies