Botany as Science and Exegetical Tool in Albert the Great

Amalia Cerrito


In the 13th century, the availability of Aristotle’s treatises of natural philosophy encouraged forms of integration between libri naturales and sapientia biblica. Instead of diving into allegory and symbolism, several Dominican exegetes began to explore more realistic approaches. The foremost figure is Albert the Great. In his biblical commentaries, philosophy of nature and theology join forces as complementary forms of knowledge. By focusing on Albert’s De vegetabilibus, this paper is aimed at analyzing in which ways the Dominican master reuses his naturalistic and, especially, botanical knowledge as an exegetical tool to deepen both the historical and the allegorical sense, realism and spiritual interpretation.


Albert the Great; philosophy of nature; theology; botany; biblical exegesis

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