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Thomas Aquinas's "Summa theologiae": A Biography (Lives of Great Religious Books)
 
 

Thomas Aquinas's "Summa theologiae": A Biography (Lives of Great Religious Books) [Kindle Edition]

Bernard McGinn

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Review

"Introductions to Aquinas abound, but few manage so succinctly to introduce the reader not only to the person and his work, but also to the enduring influence of Aquinas."--Alban McCoy, Tablet

"McGinn's gift is his effort to bring some of the original warmth back into the Summa, first by making it the subject of a biography, reminding us that this great work has had a life of its own. He also argues that the sacra doctrina at the heart of the Summa is best understood in relation to sapientia, or wisdom."--Alden Lee Bass, Englewood Review of Books

Product Description

This concise book tells the story of the most important theological work of the Middle Ages, the vast Summa theologiae of Thomas Aquinas, which holds a unique place in Western religion and philosophy. Written between 1266 and 1273, the Summa was conceived by Aquinas as an instructional guide for teachers and novices and a compendium of all the approved teachings of the Catholic Church. It synthesizes an astonishing range of scholarship, covering hundreds of topics and containing more than a million and a half words—and was still unfinished at the time of Aquinas’s death.

Here, Bernard McGinn, one of today’s most acclaimed scholars of medieval Christianity, vividly describes the world that shaped Aquinas, then turns to the Dominican friar’s life and career, examining Aquinas’s reasons for writing his masterpiece, its subject matter, and the novel way he organized it. McGinn gives readers a brief tour of the Summa itself, and then discusses its reception over the past seven hundred years. He looks at the influence of the Summa on such giants of medieval Christendom as Meister Eckhart, its ridicule during the Enlightenment, the rise and fall of Neothomism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the role of the Summa in the post–Vatican II church, and the book’s enduring relevance today.

Tracing the remarkable life of this iconic work, McGinn’s wide-ranging account provides insight into Aquinas’s own understanding of the Summa as a communication of the theological wisdom that has been given to humanity in revelation.


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 984 KB
  • Print Length: 269 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0691154260
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (25 May 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00I1OV9MU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #438,896 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Small but mighty biography 20 Jun 2014
By Jane Morris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Thomas Aquinas's "Summa Theologiae" is regarded as a classic in the history of philosophy and Bernard McGinn's biography of this influential work now has a reputation of its own to contend with.

The "Summa Theologiae" was written by Thomas Aquinas with the intention of providing an instructional guide for moderate theologians as well as a compendium of the theological teachings of the Catholic Church. McGinn tells the story of how this massive piece of history came to be in what he calls "a short book about a long book".

The book begins with an exploration of the world in which Thomas Aquinas lived. The 13th century was a time of great change, from the papal reordering of western medieval Christianity to the rise of the university and scholastic theology. This world shaped Aquinas and McGinn examines his reasons for writing the "Summa". He also takes readers on a tour of the original works and discusses its influence over the last seven centuries. To this day there is extensive religious study of "Summa", and one book for several related essays is Eleonore Stump's Reasoned Faith: Essays in Philosophical Theology.

McGinn makes efforts to present this biography in a way that is accessible to all readers and assumes those who have picked it up will share his curiosity in the subject. He is right to assume this, because it is an immensely interesting subject. It is also unlikely that many people will tackle the original work (it's 3,000 pages long!), so this is a great book for both research and reference that is easy to follow and one that clearly demonstrates the author's passion for this topic.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great for insiders and outsiders of the Catholic faith 26 Jun 2014
By Blair Dee Hodges - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Princeton's "Lives of Great Religious Books" series continues to knock them out of the park. In this volume McGinn manages to give a reasonably comprehensive overview of one of the most important and largest works in Christian history in under 300 small pages and frankly I don't know how that was possible.

I wasn't previously familiar with the Summa itself and I'm not personally from the Catholic tradition. But I didn't struggle with this book because McGinn writes coherently to insiders and outsiders of the Catholic tradition. I haven't read any other introductions to the Summa, but if there is a better one out there than this I'd like to see it, because I'm not sure how you could improve on what McGinn's done here.
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