JOACHIM OF FIORE (Lat. Floris) and the "EVERLASTING GOSPEL" (Evangelium aeternum):

Joachim's Life and Writings.

Joachim, abbot of San Giovanni in Fiore (in the Sila Mountains, 25 m. e. of Cosenza), Calabria, is said to have been born of wealthy parents at Celico, a village near Cosenza, in 1145(?), to have made a pilgrimage to Palestine, and then to have become a monk. In 1177 he was abbot of a Cistercian monastery at Corazzo (12 m. s.e. of Cosenza), but often withdrew to the mother monastery of Casamari (near Veroli, 50 m. s.e. of Rome) to pursue his studies. Later (not before 1188) he gave up his place at Corazzo and founded San Giovanni in Fiore, which became the center of a congregation comprising more than thirty monasteries. Leading a strictly ascetic life and being reputed a prophet, he was highly respected by potentates and popes, who encouraged him in his Biblico-apocalyptic studies. He was very loyal to the papacy, and required the members of his order not to publish the writings which he left before they had passed the examination of the papal censor. Of his works only the three which he considered the most important have been printed, viz.: (1) Liber concordiae novi ac veteris testamenti (Venice, 1519); (2) Psalterium decem chordarum (Venice, 1527); (3) Expositio apocalypais (also called Apocalypses nova, Venice, 1527). There are other works still in manuscript. The commentaries on Isaiah and Jeremiah, attributed to him as early as the middle of the thirteenth century, are not his and differ from his genuine writings especially by their harsh attitude toward the Church of Rome. Now that they have been eliminated (by Engelhardt and Friederich), a correct estimate of Joachim is first made possible.

His Relations and Significance.

He belongs in part to those of the twelfth century who, like Bernard of Clairvaux and Gerhoh of Reichersberg, in spite of their ecclesiastical sentiment and attitude, had nevertheless a keen eye for the shortcomings of ecclesiastical life. To this, like the visionaries Hildegard of Bingen and Elizabeth of Schönau, he added an excited expectation of an impending transformation of all things. The ancient hope of a glorious time of the Church on earth, preceded by fearful struggles, was revived anew. This hope Joachim based not on new revelations, but mainly upon the Holy Scriptures, for whose deeper understanding he imagined himself especially equipped through divine illumination. This illumination, however, did not take the place of study, but rather led him to a very thorough and, in his way, closer examination of the Scriptures, requiring much time and pains, and united to an artificial system of historico-prophetical theology. One may say that in this respect--following certain predecessors like Rupert of Deutz--he opens up a new development in the department of prophetical theology--a treatment which was afterward continued by Cocceius and Bengel, but it must not be forgotten that Joachim differs from both successors at least as much as each differs from the other.

His Exposition of History.

Upon the principles indicated above the following notion of history is established. It is divided into three dispensations (status) of the Father, of the Son, and of the Spirit; or, with reference to the three chief classes in the Church, the times of the predominance of the married, of the clerics, and of the monks. The first commenced with Adam, the second with John the Baptist; the preparation for the third began with St. Benedict, its development commenced with the order of the Cistercians, and about 1260 the final development will take place. The helping power, the Parvuli de ecclesia latina, will come from the Church of the West, which he thinks of as a monastic order, the ordo justorum. The elect in the Greek Church will also be united with the Roman Church, and the conversion of Gentiles and Jews will take place. This is the time in which, as is written in the Scriptures, Spirit and Life shall be in the Church, the time of the eternal Gospel (cf. ALKG, i. 52 sqq. and iii.). But there must still take place a last fight against the power of evil, which appears in the person of the last and worst antichrist, in Gog. After this will follow the final judgment and the great Sabbath of the consummation will be ushered in.

His Influence and Followers. The "Everlasting Gospel."

These thoughts, as further expanded in Joachim's writings, were favorably received. The thirteenth century was filled with more extravagant expectations of the future than the twelfth even, and the zealous Franciscans, who thought more of the ideal of poverty than of the official Church, were not the last to foster them. Here the ideas of Joachim found the most ready reception, and received an interpretation and expansion which were contrary to his own meaning. Here belong also the commentaries on Isaiah and Jeremiah. The Minorite Gerhard of Borgo San Donnino went the furthest. He regarded the three principal works of Joachim as truly inspired and canonical writings, as the last and highest part of the canon, which as Evangelium aeternum surpassed the Old and New Testaments. He prepared an edition of the same, supplied it with glosses and an Introductorius in evangelium aeternum. This work published at Paris in 1254, caused a great stir (cf. the passage from the Roman de la rose in Haupt, 379, note 1). The theologians of the University of Paris, who saw themselves threatened in their ecclesiastical and scientific position by the mendicant monks, took up the gauntlet and made a complaint at Rome. In 1255 Alexander IV. appointed a commission to examine the matter (cf. the protocols in AKLG, i. 99-142). On Nov. 4, 1255, a bull was issued which condemned the Introductorius, without censuring, however, the writings of Joachim. When a synod at Arles (1260 or 1263) afterward condemned the writings of Joachim,


this decision obtained no general ecclesiastical authority. His name remained as that of one beatified (beatus) in the memory of the Church, and as such he has a place in the Acta Sanctorum. Still less could this condemnation prevent Joachim's prophetical expositions from being read over and over again, and finding believers, though the year 1260 passed without change in the ecclesiastical relations. Johannes Petrus Olivi and Ubertinus of Casale, in general the Spirituales of the Minorites, are under their spell. There were Joachimites who adhered to the pope as well as Ghibelline Joachimites, and through the entire medieval period traces of Joachimism are found.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Besides the writings of Joachim and scattered notices, the first source is: Synopsis virtutum beati Joachimi, by Luca Consentinas, in F. Ughelli, Italia sacra, ix. 205 sqq., Venice, 1722 (also, with the Vita by Jacobus Graecus Syllanaeus and prefatory remarks, in ASB, May, vii. 83-112). Consult: J. G. V. Engelhardt, Kirchengeschichtliche Abhandlungen, pp. 1-150, 260-291, Erlangen, 1832 (fundamental); C. U. Hahn, Geschichte der Ketzer im Mittelalter, iii. 72-175, 259-346, Stuttgart, 1850 (in Engelhardt and Hahn's comprehensive extracts from Joachim's works); Friederich, in ZWT, ii (1859), 349-363, 444-514 (on Joachim's commentaries on Isaiah and Jeremiah); J. J. T. von Döllinger, in Historisches Taschenbuch, v., i (1871), 257-370; W. Preger, Geschichte der deutschen Mystik, i. 196-207, Leipsic, 1874 (defective); H. F. Reuter, Geschichte der religiösen Aufklärung im Mittelalter, ii. 191-218, 364-368, 536 sqq., Berlin, 1877; S. Denifle, Das Evangelium aeternum und die Commission zu Anagni, in ALKG, i (1885), 49-141; H. Haupt, Zur Geschichte des Joachimismus, in ZKG, vii (1884), 372 sqq. (agrees with Denifle on independent grounds); W. Bousset, Der Antichrist in der Ueberlieferung, Göttingen, 1895; E. Wadstein, Die eschatologische Ideengruppe, Antichrist, Weltsabbat und Weltgericht, Leipsic, 1896; Neander, Christian Church, iv. 220-232 et passim; Moeller, Christian Church, ii. 418-417.


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