Aquinas in Context
Robert P. Imbelli January 28, 2007 - 10:32am
Too often, even among those tutored in theology, knowledge of the great doctor of the church, is limited to his masterful Summa Theologiae. And, even here, it is the first two parts that receive most attention. What can thereby escape notice is how radically Christocentric Thomas' vision and theology are.
Happily, the last decades have witnessed a renewed appreciation of the Angelic Doctor's entire oeuvre, in its specific religious and theological context.
Fergus Kerr's essay, "Christ in the Summa Theologiae," (in his book, After Aquinas) offers a succinct summary of the more integral perspective this affords:
Thomas could never have supposed, let alone intended, that the Summa would be studied in isolation from his biblical exegesis, as it so frequently has been. While we may be tempted to think that the Summa is the text of a course of lectures, there is no reason to believe it was ever delivered in class, or regarded by Thomas as anything more than an aid in studying Scripture and disputing doctrinal issues. Nor could he have imagined students of Christian doctrine whose days were not shaped by worship and penitential practices. We have abundant evidence that the friars understood the liturgy as continuous meditation on, and re-creation of, the realities declared in the articles of the Creed: their daily lives immersed them in "following Christ."
Blessed feast of Thomas Aquinas to all, especially the extended Dominican family.
About the Author
Rev. Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is Associate Professor of Theology Emeritus at Boston College.