Register Reviews: Summa Theologiae Edited by Timothy McDermott

aquinasThomas Aquinas was born in 1225 at Roccasecca, a hilltop castle located midway between Rome and Naples. At the age of five, he was entered at Montecassino where his studies began. When the battle raging on outside the walls of the school became a real threat to his safety, Thomas was moved by his family to the University of Naples. It was here he came under the influence of Aristotelianism and the Order of Preachers or the Dominicans, a recently founded mendicant order. He joined the ranks of Dominicans over the priests of his family and eventually went north to study, first a brief stint at Paris, then at Cologne with Albert the Great, whose interest in Aristotle served as a hardening agent for Thomas’s own studies.

For Thomas Theological discourse begins the revelation which God has given to man regarding his character and his action in creation and redemption. For Thomas the entire world needs to be understood in light of this revelation. His Philosophical world begins with knowledge of the world which is a knowledge molded by what is known of Him in the world. It is in the Summa that we find the clearest blend and strongest teaching of Thomas’s in regards to these two subject headings.

Although the Summa will forever remain in an unfinished state, its far-reaching precepts have permeated the Catholic and Protestant worldviews for centuries. A mixture of historical philosophy and theological study, it has become one of the most influential texts in Western literature and at one point in time was the official text for teaching in Catholic Universities.

This translation of the Summa is a great tool to have in one’s library. It offers a brief summary of a vast work which normally consists of five volumes. It is helpful to have the teachings of Aquinas in a workable, bite-sized volume which can be referenced with the flip of a few pages instead of grabbing a multitude of volumes from the shelf. The price is also cut way back in having one translation instead of the larger writings.

I am glad to have this on my shelf, even as a Reformed Baptist. It will serve well for a healthy addition to apologetics, philosophy, and a general study of the character of God. Aquinas is very detailed author and his writings must be studied and re-studied in order to grasp a full view of the points he is making. There is some troubling material in Aquinas that must be understood in the original context, such as his writings against the Jewish people. He has some very harsh things to say, and while not commending it, we must understand the man and his context. There are some portions we can leave behind but most of the Summa can be studied with painstaking skill and hours at our desks with our bibles open and the Summa alongside.

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