The well-known medieval franciscan scholar J.G. Bougerol, notwithstanding his advanced age, has been induced to prepare this new critical edition of the « Summa de anima » of Jean de La Rochelle, by the recent discovery in the Archives of the Bishopric of La Rochelle, of an important series of registers containing information, list of manuscripts and transciptions of many important works of the Franciscan Master. The editor's intention is presumably the updating of the edition by T. DomenicheJli, which appeared in the year 1882. For a long time it has been acknowledged that this publication was sadly in need of a new and and more accurate edition. Bougerol takes as point of departure the trancription made in 1856 by Canon Cholet.
The « Summa de anima » is recognised as an important work since it represents the first systematic treatment of the subject in the Christian West of the Middle Ages. One cannot indeed deny that there were many treatises on the soul among the Greek Fathers of the Church and among mystics in Western Europe. Nevertheless, Jean de La Rochelle was the first Schoolman of the thirteenth century, who wrote a compendium of psychology, detached though not divorced from its customary place in a theological work.
Apart from the general index of the themes treated in the « Summa », the editor offers other important indexes concerning the various libraries and manuscripts, the books of Holy Scripture, and the list of authoritative personalities among the Fathers and outstanding ancient and medieval writers to whom the author makes frequent access. One may note that, whereas the list of manuscripts given by Do-menichelli amounts to 26, Bougerol enumerates 50. The main sources are Avicen-na's « De anima » through which one can become aware of Aristotle's influence; Augustine with the « De spiritu et anima » (which is erroneously attributed to him) and the « De Trinitate », « De Genesi ad h'tteram » and « De diversis quaestioni-bus » (8); John Damascene's « De fide orthodoxa »; Hilary of Poitiers; Philip the Chancellor with his « Summa de bono ».
The edition, which is preceded by a Prologue, is divided into two parts: the soul in itself (De anima secundum subsrantiam) and the powers of the soul (De vi-ribus animae). Owing to the fact that this « Summa » of De la Rochelie represents the first psychology of the Franciscan School and one can say also of Scholasticism in the 13th century, its importance cannot in any way be underestimated. In actual fact, it presents itself as a sound, consistent, well elaborated and duly developed work according to valid criteria, and indeed masterly treated from a philosophical point of view. As a synthesis, founded on augustinian and avicennian elements, the « Summa » exercised a great influence on thinkers both contemporary and posterior to De La Rochelle. With regards to the importance of this Franciscan scholar in the field of psychology, one may recall the observation made by E. Gilson, according to whom this psychology represents quite well what will later commonly be retained of the doctrine of Aristotle (cf: La philosophic au moyen age, ed. 2 Paris 1944) 438-439.
Undoubtedly, this new edition of the « Summa de Anima » must be considered a valuable contribution towards a more authentic and a more profound knowledge of the human soul and its faculties, as elaborated by the holder of the second chair of Theology in the University of Paris, after Alexander of Hales.
To our mind, it appears somehow surprising how this new and long awaited critical edition, prepared by a franciscan scholar, was not published under the auspices of the renowned Franciscan International College of St. Bonaventure of Grottaferrata.