E. Randolph Daniel

title.none: Reeves, Joachim of Fiore and the Prophetic Future (Daniel)

identifier.other: baj9928.0008.011 00.08.11

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: E. Randolph Daniel, Unviersity of Kentucky,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2000

identifier.citation: Reeves, Marjorie. Joachim of Fiore and the Prophetic Future. New York: Sutton Publishing, 1999. Pp. v, 224. $27.95. ISBN: 0-750-92151-x.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 00.08.11

Reeves, Marjorie. Joachim of Fiore and the Prophetic Future. New York: Sutton Publishing, 1999. Pp. v, 224. $27.95. ISBN: 0-750-92151-x.

Reviewed by:

E. Randolph Daniel
Unviersity of Kentucky

Marjorie Reeves first became interested in Joachim when, as a research fellow at Westfield College (Oxford) during the initial years of the Great Depression and the rise of the Nazi party to power in Germany, she read Emile Gebhart's L'Italie mystique, a book that linked Joachim with Dante. Her thesis, presented in 1932, was entitled: "Studies in the reputation and influence of the abbot Joachim of Fiore, chiefly in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries." In 1953 Professor Reeves came to wider notice when with Beatrice Hirsch-Reich and Leon Tondelli she published a new edition of Abbot Joachim's Liber figurarum (Il Libro delle figure, vol. 2 [Turin: Societa Editrice Internazionale, 1953; reprinted 1990]). Reeves and Hirsch-Reich's work on Joachim's figure culminated in their joint study, TheFiguraeof Joachim of Fiore (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972). Three years earlier Professor Reeves had published The Influence of Prophecy: A Study in Joachimism (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969; reprinted Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1993). Reeves' thesis had dealt with Joachimism rather than the abbot himself and The Influence of Prophecy devoted only a few opening pages to Joachim before taking up the development of Joachimism down to the seventeenth century. Norman Cohn had traced a series of millenialist sects from the eleventh century onward that recruited their followers from persons who found themselves alienated from established, stable social groups and that inspired these adherents to join in revolutionary acts (The Pursuit of the Millenium, 1957; rev. pb. ed. [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1970]). In The Influence of Prophecy Marjorie Reeves demonstrated that various notions of an imminent holier and better era of history gradually expanded among the established clerical and lay elites from Joachim onward and were significant elements in the thinking of Renaissance Italians and of various reformers in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. For Cohn millennialism was revolutionary, requiring the sudden and total overthrow of the present age by divine intervention. According to Reeves "Joachimism" expected the present world to be reformed and made holier by new religious orders, by imperial or papal messiahs or by the gradual advent of a new age.

Joachim of Fiore and the Prophetic Future was originally published by SPCK in 1976 (Harper and Row published it in the United States). In those passages that I have checked, the revised version is identical with the original. Professor Reeves has written a preface to the 1999 edition that argues the relevance of Joachim for the end of the twentieth and the beginning of the twenty-first centuries. "^Êthe steady march of liberal progress^Ê" has become "the dialectic tension of conflict, crisis, and expectantly, renewal". "In [Joachim's] world, conflict is ever present, for Antichrist is multi- headed, but after the crisis of the greatest Antichrist comes the Age of the Spirit, to infuse life into the third status, a time when 'the true freedom of human souls will begin'". (no page nos.)

The structure of Joachim of Fiore is similar to that of The Influence of Prophecy and at first glance the later book appears to be only a shortened version of the prior tome. This impression is, however, misleading. In Influence Reeves scarcely dealt with Joachim himself. Joachim, however, began with a synthetic exposition of the abbot's thought that, despite its brevity, remains one of the best treatments (pp. 1-22). Joachim was unique in expecting an era of spiritual bliss after the coming of Antichrist but before the end of history. The abbot, nevertheless, was not a millenialist. For Joachim, the three status evolved organically like the trees that symbolized them. The third status grew out of its predecessors rather than superceding them. Reeves forced scholars to acknowledge that Joachim structured history into two major patterns, the familiar one consisting of three status, and a second comprising two tempora. The first had usually been perceived as radical and revolutionary. The clerical, institutional church had replaced the synagogue at the beginning of the second status. Soon a new spiritual church would replace the present institution and its sacraments. The second tempus, however, seemed clearly to posit that the present, clerical church would endure until the end of history. In Joachim Reeves put forward the argument that the pattern of three status applied primarily to the spiritual quality of life while the two tempora indicated the durability of the clerical institution. Moreover, Reeves pointed out that Joachim found significance in the numbers five and seven, the five first tribes to inherit Canaan and the seven later ones, the five patriarchates and the seven churches of the Apocalypse, the first five Cistercian motherhouses and the unidentified seven that will ensue in the third status. These conclusions flowed from the figure in the Liber figurarum. The impact of this emphasis on the figures is obvious in Delno West and Sandra Zimdars-Swartz, Joachim of Fiore (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1983) and Bernard McGinn's The Calabrian Abbot (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1985).

Joachimism began during Joachim's lifetime when Richard I sought an interview with the abbot at Messina and Ralph of Coggeschall recorded a conversation between Joachim and Adam of Persigny (pp. 22-28). In the second section of Joachim Reeves traced the influence of Joachim's notion of a coming order/orders of new spiritual men through the Pseudo-Joachite Super Hieremiam to the Dominicans, the Franciscans, the Apostolic Brethren and finally the Augustinian Hermits in the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries. The core of these efforts by the friars to see themselves in Joachim's viri spirituales was the belief that these religious would possess a new illumination that surpassed previous spiritual attainments. (58) A comparison between Reeves' statements on Peter John Olivi in Influence (pp. 195- 196) and her statements in Joachim (41) shows how she carefully modified what she had earlier said to meet criticism, especially from Raoul Manselli.

The notion of a Last World Emperor whose reign would be an era of Christian triumph and perhaps material prosperity had been popularized by the Tiburtine Sibyl and the Pseudo-Methodius, but in this pattern the era of triumph preceded the coming of Antichrist, whereas Joachimism placed such an era after Antichrist. Joachim, himself, had no room in this thinking for such an imperial messiah. The struggle between the emperor Frederick II and the papacy, especially from the late 1230's onward, produced a series of works in which a messianic ruler became a part of Joachimist expectation. Joachimists were sharply divided over Frederick, some being extremely hostile to him, others seeing him in messianic terms. Frederick's unexpected demise unleashed a search for another 'Frederick' who would be either the worst and most demonic or the most blessed ruler. In the fourteenth century hopes came to center increasingly on a future French king who would be another Charlemagne. Dante in his Divine Comedy clearly expected some kind of messiah. Reeves argued that Dante certainly knew the Liber figurarum and thus his messianism was Joachimist. (64-67) The election and resignation of Celestine V and the election of Boniface VIII set the stage for someone---Reeves carefully avoided choosing between a candidate from the circle of Angelo Clareno, OFM or one from the followers of the Catalan physician Arnau de Villanova--to take the Byzantine Leo Oracles and produce the Vaticinia de summis pontificibus, the most widely circulated of all the Joachimist texts. Joachim had envisioned a reforming pope as one element in the coming of the third status but in the Vaticinia this became a series of four messianic popes. The Liber de Flore combined the Angel Popes with a pro-French royal program. This combination was taken up by Jean de Roquetaillade, OFM, in the middle of the fourteenth century and by Telesphorus of Cosenza shortly after the Great Schism began.

Joachimism appeared in Florence in the Platonist Marsilio Ficino as well as in the fiery Dominican Savonarola. Reeves suggested that Charles VIII saw himself in the Second Charlemagne prophecy. In Venice the work of Telesphorus was taken into a compilation of prophetic excerpts made by Frater Rusticianus. The Augustinian Hermit, Silvester Meuccio, published Telesphorus' treatise and the major works of Joachim and the Pseudo-Joachimists beginning in 1516. Joachimism had influenced Cola di Rienzo, helped to shape the thinking of Cardinal Egidio of Viterbo, general of the Augustinian Hermits, and Petrus Galatinus, an observant Franciscan. The Vaticinia de summis pontificibus continued to be printed with commentaries and notes that continually updated these enigmatic texts.

Jesuits believed that Joachim had prophesied the coming of the Society. Benito Pereyra, SJ, used Joachim's thinking in his commentary on the Apocalypse and Joachim influenced Guillaume Postel, who also was a Jesuit. Reeves dealt briefly with Columbus and more expansively with Geronimo de Mendieta, a Franciscan. The Protestant reformers who cited Joachim included Mathias Flacius Illyricus, John Foxe and John Bale as well as Radical Reformers including Thomas Muentzer and Melchior Hofmann. The "most complete Joachite" was Giacopo Brocardo, a humanist from Venice who went to northern Europe, became Protestant and sided with the Huguenots. Reeves traced Joachimism down to the seventeenth century in Thomas Brightman, Hugh Broughton, and James Maxwell.

The epilogue sketched Joachimism after 1800, drawing heavily on Marjorie Reeves and Warwick Gould, Joachim of Fiore and the Myth of the Eternal evangel in the Nineteenth Century (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987). The brief Addition to the Epilogue (176-179) simply amplified this sketch.

To Reeves, Joachimism is like a river whose source was the abbot himself, that began as a relatively narrow stream which gradually widened when other streams joined with it and that reached its widest point after 1600, although it did not completely dry up even in the eighteenth century. Apocalypticism had always been on the periphery of mainstream scholarship, and Cohn left it there. Reeves both in Influence and in Joachim of Fiore shoved it into the mainstream. Her definition of Joachimism was broad and sweeping, and in many instances she could do no more than suggest results that later research might clarify, but both books are classic texts. Joachim is not merely a condensation of its predecessor, but a carefully written update of the earlier volume. Reeves has continued her researches and has continued to study the work of other scholars. Marjorie Reeves, The Prophetic Sense of History in medieval and Renaissance Europe (Aldershot: Variorum, 1999) is a collection of her articles, most written since 1976 which can serve as a guide to the continuing development of her thinking.

Finally on pages 114-115 the new edition reads: "The pro-French line, as we have seen, was pursued porting [sic!] French claims, published in Venice as the Mirabilis Liber in the Mirabilis Liber, known to us in Paris editions of 1522 and later." The Harper and Row version of the original read: "The pro-French line favoured in Venice is further indicated by the extensive anthology of prophecies supporting French claims, published in Venice as the Mirabilis Liber and subsequently re-edited in Paris in 1522 and 1530". (114-115) A bibliography including newer material is included. If you do not own and have not read Joachim of Fiore, buy it and read it, even if you own and have read The Influence of Prophecy.