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Shorter Summa Paperback – Dec 1990


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Product details

  • Paperback: 162 pages
  • Publisher: Ignatius Press (Dec 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0898704383
  • ISBN-13: 978-0898704389
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 13.5 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 336,871 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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First Sentence
St. Thomas Aquinas is certainly one of the greatest philosophers who ever lived (to my mind he is the greatest), for at least eight reasons: truth, common sense, practicality, clarity, profundity, orthodoxy, medievalism, and modernity. Read the first page
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 Jan 1999
Format: Paperback
Peter Kreeft is an excellent lecturer and writer. His works on Christian Apologetics are well-known and respected. I had the pleasure of taking a class with him at Boston College.
His "A Shorter Summa" is a very good read for serious Christians. It delivers key passages of St. Thomas Aquinas' "Summa Theologiae" in a more manageable format for modern readers. Still hard reading, this book can yield precious insights when struggled over and read diligently.
A good introduction for Christians who don't have the time or the discipline to read the real thing.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 27 reviews
70 of 70 people found the following review helpful
a great "summa of the summa of the summa" 13 May 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I had the pleasure of taking a class in Medieval Philosophy with Peter Kreeft. We used this text in our survey of St. Thomas Aquinas alongside G.K. Chesterton's "Dumb Ox"--which I also recommend as a secondary source. This is a wonderful introduction into the thought of one of the most brilliant minds in the history of the world. Aquinas's "Summa Theologica" is an overview of Christian philosophy and theology, according to Aquinas. It is, however, over 5,000 pages long--a bit much for the common reader. In "A Shorter Summa" Kreeft has selected and annotated the most vital sections of the Summa, making Thomas's philosophy both accurate and accessible. If you are looking for a little more to chew on, I'd advise Kreeft's other abridgment entitled "Summa of the Summa"--hence, my title. "A Shorter Summa" is a gem, packed with more knowledge than most books five times its size. I not only recommend it; I plead that you give it a whirl.
39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
A Welcome Tutorial on Aquinas 24 Dec 2002
By Oswald Sobrino - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Peter Kreeft of Boston College has performed a work of mercy for those of us who were cheated in college by being kept in blithe ignorance of the greatest Christian philosopher. Ironically, I was cheated at a Catholic university of exposure to Aquinas! But Peter Kreeft has provided selections of Aquinas with generous footnotes explaining and enlightening various passages and even including diagrams for those of us trying to catch up. I can comfort myself with the thought that a well annotated book by Kreeft, who is also a skilled Catholic apologist, is assuredly better than what I probably would have received anyway as an undergraduate in a decidedly confused Catholic university.
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Aquinas in a Succint, Portable Format 26 Jan 1999
By Chu H. Choi - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Peter Kreeft is an excellent lecturer and writer. His works on Christian Apologetics are well-known and respected. I had the pleasure of taking a class with him at Boston College.
His "A Shorter Summa" is a very good read for serious Christians. It delivers key passages of St. Thomas Aquinas' "Summa Theologiae" in a more manageable format for modern readers. Still hard reading, this book can yield precious insights when struggled over and read diligently.
A good introduction for Christians who don't have the time or the discipline to read the real thing.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Aquinian redux of expert scholarship 25 Sep 2002
By PARTHO ROY - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
One need not be a Christian, nor even a Roman Catholic, to know of the centrality of Saint Thomas Aquinas to medeival philosophy. In his monumental work, the "Summa Theologia" (and, to a lesser extent, the supplementary tract "Summa Contra Gentiles"), Aquinas kept Aristotelian 'pagan' philosophy alive by applying its principles to the Church. Unfortunately, readers today (save for the most devout, I suppose) hardly have the time to read the whole thing. This is where Boston College's Peter Kreeft helps out. Further concentrating his previous Aquinian abridgment, the "Summa of the Summa," Professor Kreeft gives us the most accessible reduction of Aquinas's philosophy with "A Shorter Summa." Well-edited, well-translated, and well-organized, this small book is a fantastic summary of the monumental philosophy written centuries ago by the official Doctor of the Church.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
summa of summa 11 Mar 2009
By Gerard Reed - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
While in graduate school I encountered, providentially I think, while exploring the University of Oklahoma's library and reading things which appealed to me, scholars such as Jacques Maritain, Joseph Pieper, and Etienne Gilson, through whom I came to appreciate St. Thomas Aquinas and the Thomistic approach to philosophy. The longer I live and teach, the more sound I find Aquinas' "moderate realism" and his common sense Christian approach to philosophy.
I'm secured in my admiration of Aquinas and his Summa Theologica by this declaration of Flannery O'Connor, one of the greatest post-WWII writers: "So I couldn't make any judgment on the Summa, except to say this: I read it every night before I go to bed. If my mother were to come in during the process and say, 'Turn off that light. It's late,' I with lifted finger and broad bland beatific expression, would reply, 'On the contrary, I answer that the light, being eternal and limitless, cannot be turned off. Shut your eyes,' or some such thing. In any case, I feel I can personally guarantee that St. Thomas loved God because for the life of me I cannot help loving St. Thomas" ("Letter to A.," 9 August 1955, Collected Works, p. 945).
Without question Thomas Aquinas is one of the handful of theologians who've most shaped theological developments in the Christian Church. Yet anyone who's tried to read St. Thomas' Summa Theologica (written to prepare students to properly study Scripture!) will testify to some difficulty in plowing through it. Mainly this stems, I suspect, from its imposing length--several thousand pages in some editions--which easily intimidates any neophyte! It's also difficult to understand the often obscure thinkers whose "objections" Thomas answers as part of the process of disputation which structures the work's presentation. Medieval students learned through engaging in rigorous debates--a style of learning rather foreign to many of us "moderns," who are more at ease listen to a series of speeches or reading a series of monographs.
Still more, to be quite honest, the level of thinking is far more elevated and intellectually demanding than most of the material even we academicians ordinarily wrestle with! Those who dismiss the Middle Ages as a period of lackluster inquiry have rarely tangled with the likes of St. Anselm, Duns Scotus, and Thomas Aquinas! Finally, though Thomas's thought is, in the final analysis, almost always crystal-clear, it takes patient reading and re-reading to probe the depths of reality he explores. He's one of the most coherent, understandable theologians, but he's not at all interested in stylistic devices to entertain us! The Summa will never get a hearing on Saturday Night Live . . . or PBS, for that matter!
Consequently, a professor of philosophy at Boston College, Peter Kreeft, provides us a great service in his recently edited and annotated A Summa of the Summa: The Essential Philosophical Passages of St. Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica Edited and Explained for Beginners (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, c. 1990).
He makes no effort to include all sections, excluding the many parts which are purely theological. He eliminates most of the "objections" which certainly clarify the issues discussed but are often irrelevant to our concerns. He selects those excerpts which best introduce the reader to the substance of St. Thomas. For some readers, one hopes, Kreeft's Summa will whet an appetite for the original work. Kreeft clearly admires his subject. "St. Thomas Aquinas is certainly one of the greatest philosophers who ever lived (to my mind he is the greatest)," he writes, "for at least eight reasons: truth, common sense, practicality, clarity, profundity, orthodoxy, medievalism, and modernity" (p. 11).
Though Aquinas' works abound with a multitude of quotations, ranging from the classical to the world of his own contemporaries, he had little interest in restating and comparing people's opinions. Unlike many contemporary philosophers since Wittgenstein, he had no interest in "language games." Philosophy is truly the "love of wisdom," not a pleasant academic activity one pursues while in the office. He hungered for truth . . . the essence of things which language points toward. "The study of philosophy," he rightly insisted, "is not the study of what men have opined, but of what is the truth." Rigorously, resolutely he sought to see and clarify what is true. And he found truth to be graphically down-to-earth and credible. He dismissed professional skeptics, whose verbal puzzles defy resolution, as misguided folks out-of-touch with an eminently touchable reality. If you're like me and have read Nietzsche or Hegel, Heidegger or Sartre, you've probably come away with the impression that these men are incredibly learned and intelligent . . . yet at least some of what they say is truly in¬credible!
I recently read a highly erudite essay in The Christian Scholar by a young professor espousing "deconstructionism" for evangelicals. It was a prima donna performance! I was impressed! But I also wondered, as he talked about our "social construction of reality" and our self-selected "stories" which provide meanings of some sort, if he'd ever climbed Mt. Whitney or worked on a farm or run a marathon or hoed a garden or touched the unyielding reality of a world beyond the soaring flights of his imagination and verbal gymnastics! Well, if you like sober, down-to-earth folks like Aristotle, you'll find Thomas congenial. He's also congenial for those of us committed to historical Orthodoxy. Though not all Protestants would share the decision of the Council of Trent, placing St. Thomas's Summa second only to the Bible as a source of theological authority for Catholics, all Christians can find wellsprings of Orthodox doctrine pooled in the aquifers of Aquinas. That Richard Hooker, the most formative Anglican theologian, drank deeply of Aquinas helps us better grasp the thought of later Anglicans such as John Wesley and C.S. Lewis.
"Finally," says Kreeft, "St. Thomas is important for us today precisely because of our lack. Timeless truth is always timely, of course, but some aspects of truth are especially needed at some times, and it seems that our times badly need seven Thomistic syntheses: (1) of faith and reason, (2) of the Biblical and the classical, the Judeo-Chris¬tian and the Greco-Roman heritages, (3) of the ideals of clarity and profundity, (4) of common sense and technical sophistication, (5) of theory and practice, (6) of an understanding, intuitive vision and a demanding, accurate logic, and (7) of the one and the many, and a cosmic unity or 'big pic¬ture' and carefully sorted out distinctions" (pp. 13-14).
Encouraging the beginner to read one brief section a day--only a few pages in this book--Kreeft also provides helpful footnotes and a glossary of terms which enable one to develop some understanding of "Thomism." Though I've read lots of studies of Aquinas, as well as most of the Summa in its unabridged fullness, I found Kreeft's helps most helpful to me in the course of digesting this classic.
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