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Encyclopedia > Summa Theologica
Summa theologiae, Pars secunda, prima pars. (copy by Peter Schöffer, 1471)
Summa theologiae, Pars secunda, prima pars. (copy by Peter Schöffer, 1471)

The Summa Theologica (or the Summa Theologiae or simply the Summa, written 12651274) is the most famous work of Thomas Aquinas (c. 12251274) although it was never finished. It was intended as a manual for beginners as a compilation of all of the main theological teachings of that time. It summarizes the reasonings for almost all points of Christian theology in the West, which, before the Protestant Reformation, subsisted solely in the Roman Catholic Church. The Summa's topics follow a cycle: the existence of God, God's creation, Man, Man's purpose, Christ, the Sacraments, and back to God. It is famous for its five arguments for the existence of God, the Quinquae viae (Latin: five ways). Throughout his work, Aquinas cites Augustine, Aristotle, and other Christian, Jewish and even Muslim and ancient pagan scholars. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (625x800, 226 KB) Summary Mittelalterliche Manuskriptseite aus der Summa Theologica des Thomas von Aquin Licensing File links The following pages link to this file: Summa Theologiae ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (625x800, 226 KB) Summary Mittelalterliche Manuskriptseite aus der Summa Theologica des Thomas von Aquin Licensing File links The following pages link to this file: Summa Theologiae ... For broader historical context, see 1260s and 13th century. ... Events May 7 - In France the Second Council of Lyons opens to consider the condition of the Holy Land and to agree to a union with the Byzantine church. ... Aquinas redirects here. ... // The Teutonic Order is expelled from Transylvania. ... Events May 7 - In France the Second Council of Lyons opens to consider the condition of the Holy Land and to agree to a union with the Byzantine church. ... Theology finds its scholars pursuing the understanding of and providing reasoned discourse of religion, spirituality and God or the gods. ... The name Catholic Church can mean a visible organization that refers to itself as Catholic, or the invisible Christian Church, viz. ... According to St. ...

The Summa Theologica is a more mature and structured version of Aquinas's earlier Summa Contra Gentiles. This earlier work was more apologetic, each article refuting a belief of a heresy. Aquinas's death left the Summa, perhaps the greatest theological statement of the Middle Ages, unfinished. The Summa contra Gentiles (hereafter referred to as SCG) was written by St. ... For other uses, see Heresy (disambiguation). ... The Middle Ages formed the middle period in a traditional schematic division of European history into three ages: the classical civilization of Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and modern times, beginning with the Renaissance. ...



The Summa is composed of three major parts, each of which deals with a major subsection of Christian theology. Each part contains several questions, each of which revolves around a more specific subtopic; one such question is "Of Christ's Manner of Life."[1] Each question contains several articles, which are phrased as interrogative statements dealing with specific issues, such as "Whether Christ should have led a life of poverty in this world?"[2] The Summa has a standard format for handling each article. Icon of Christ in a Greek Orthodox church This page is about the title, office or what is known in Christian theology as the Divine Person. ...

  • A series of objections to the (yet to be stated) conclusion are given; one such objection, for example, is that "Christ should have embraced the most eligible form of life . . . which is a mean between riches and poverty."[2]
  • A short counter statement, beginning with the phrase "sed contra" ("on the contrary"), is then given; this statement almost always references authoritative literature, such as the Bible or Aristotle.[3] In this instance, Aquinas begins, "It is written [in Matthew 8:20]: 'The Son of Man hath not where to lay His head.' "[2]
  • The actual argument is then made; this is generally a clarification of the issue. For example, Aquinas states that "it was fitting for Christ to lead a life of poverty in this world" for four distinct reasons, each of which is expounded in some detail.[2]
  • Individual replies to the preceding objections are then given, if necessary. These replies range from one sentence to several paragraphs in length. Aquinas's reply to the above objection is that "those who wish to live virtuously need to avoid abundance of riches and beggary, . . . but voluntary poverty is not open to this danger: and such was the poverty chosen by Christ."[2]

For other uses, see Bible (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Aristotle (disambiguation). ... The Gospel of Matthew (literally, according to Matthew; Greek, Κατά Μαθθαίον or Κατά Ματθαίον, Kata Maththaion or Kata Matthaion) is a synoptic gospel in the New Testament, one of four canonical gospels. ...

References within the Summa

The Summa makes many references to certain thinkers held in great respect in Aquinas's time. The Summa is almost entirely based on citations from these authors. Some were called by special names:

  • The Philosopher: Aristotle. He was considered the most astute philosopher, the one who had expressed the most truth up to that time. The main aim of the Scholastic theologians were to use his precise technical terms and logical system to investigate theology.
  • The Commentator: Averroes (Ibn Rushd). He was among the foremost commentators on Aristotle's works in Arabic, and his commentaries were often translated into Latin along with Aristotle's text.
  • The Master: Peter Lombard. Writer of the dominant theological text for the time, called The Sentences, commentaries on the writings of the Doctors of the Church.
  • The Theologian: Augustine of Hippo. Considered the greatest theologian who had ever lived up to that time; Augustine's works are frequently quoted by Aquinas.
  • Dionysius: Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite. Aquinas refers to the works of Dionysius, whom scholars of the time thought to be the person mentioned in Acts 17:34, a disciple of St. Paul. However, they were most likely written in the 6th century in Syria by a writer who attributed his book to Dionysius (hence the addition of the prefix "pseudo-" to the name "Dionysius" in most modern references to these works).
  • Avicenna: Aquinas frequently cites the Aristotelian/Neoplatonic/Islamic philosopher, Ibn Sina (Avicenna).
  • Algazel: Aquinas also cites the Islamic theologian, al-Ghazali (Algazel).
  • Rabbi Moses: Rabbi Moses Maimonides was a Jewish rabbinic scholar, a near-contemporary of Aquinas. The scholastics found many insights from his work, as he also employed the scholastic method.

For other uses, see Aristotle (disambiguation). ... Scholasticism comes from the Latin word scholasticus, which means that [which] belongs to the school, and is the school of philosophy taught by the academics (or schoolmen) of medieval universities circa 1100–1500. ... Logic, from Classical Greek λόγος (logos), originally meaning the word, or what is spoken, (but coming to mean thought or reason) is most often said to be the study of arguments, although the exact definition of logic is a matter of controversy among philosophers. ... Ibn Rushd, known as Averroes (1126 – December 10, 1198), was an Andalusian-Arab philosopher and physician, a master of philosophy and Islamic law, mathematics, and medicine. ... Peter Lombard (c. ... Peter Lombards seminal work, on which his reputation rests. ... In Roman Catholicism, a Doctor of the Church is a theologian from whose teachings the whole Christian church is held to have derived great advantage and to whom eminent learning and great sanctity have been attributed by a proclamation of the Pope or of an ecumenical council. ... Augustinus redirects here. ... Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, also known as pseudo-Denys, refers to the anonymous theologian and philosopher of the 5th century whose Corpus Areopagiticum was falsely ascribed to Dionysius the Areopagite of Acts 17:34. ... Paul of Tarsus (b. ... Neoplatonism (also Neo-Platonism) is the modern term for a school of religious and mystical philosophy that took shape in the 3rd century AD, founded by Plotinus and based on the teachings of Plato and earlier Platonists. ... Early Muslim philosophy is considered influential in the rise of modern philosophy. ... (Persian: ابن سينا) (c. ... Kalam (علم الكلم)is one of the religious sciences of Islam. ... Abu Hāmed Mohammad ibn Mohammad al-Ghazzālī (1058-1111) (Persian: ), known as Algazel to the western medieval world, born and died in Tus, in the Khorasan province of Persia (modern day Iran). ... Commonly used image indicating one artists conception of Maimonidess appearance Maimonides (March 30, 1135 or 1138–December 13, 1204) was a Jewish rabbi, physician, and philosopher in Spain, Morocco and Egypt during the Middle Ages. ... For other uses, see Jew (disambiguation). ... For the town in Italy, see Rabbi, Italy. ...

Notable points made by the Summa

  • Theology is the greatest and most certain of all the sciences, since its source is from divine knowledge, which cannot be deceived, and because of the higher worth of its subject-matter, the sublimity of which transcends human reason.[4]
  • When a man knows an effect, and knows that it has a cause, the natural desire of the intellect or mind is to understand the essence of that thing, natural because this understanding results from the perfection of the operation of the intellect or mind.[5]
  • The existence of something and its essence are separate (that is, its being and the conception of being man has or can imagine of it [for example, a mountain of solid gold would have essence, since it can be imagined, but not existence, as it is not in the world]) in all things except for God, who is simple.[6]
  • The existence of God, his total simplicity or lack of composition, his eternal nature ("eternal", in this case, means that he is altogether outside of time; time is held to be a part of the universe that God created), his knowledge, the way his will operates, and his power can all be proved by human reasoning alone.[7]
  • All statements about God are either analogical or metaphorical; one cannot say man is "good" in exactly the same sense as God, but rather that he imitates in some way the simple nature of God in being good, just or wise.[8]
  • Unbelief is the greatest (meaning largest in scope) sin in the realm of morals.[9]
  • The principles of Just War[10] and Natural Law.[11]
  • The greatest happiness of all, the ultimate good, consists in the beatific vision.[12]
  • Taking interest on loans is forbidden, because it is charging people twice for the same thing.[13]
  • In and of itself, selling a thing for more or less than it is worth is unlawful (the just price theory).[14]
  • The contemplative life is greater than the active life[15], but greater still is the contemplative life that sometimes takes actions to call others to the contemplative life and give them the fruits of contemplation.[16] (This actually was the lifestyle of the Dominican friars, of which Aquinas was a member.)
  • Being a monk is greater than being married and even greater in many ways than being a priest, but it is not as good as being a bishop. Both monks and bishops are in a state of perfection.[17]
  • Although the Jews delivered Christ to die, it was the Gentiles who killed him, foreshadowing how salvation would start with the Jews and then would spread to the Gentiles.[18]
  • After the end of the world, in which all living material will be destroyed, the world will be composed of non-living matter (such as rocks), but it will be illuminated or enhanced in beauty by the fires of the apocalypse (but a new heaven and new earth will be established).[19]
  • Martyrs, teachers of the faith (doctors), and virgins, in that order, receive special crowns in heaven for their achievements.[20]

Arguments for and against the existence of God have been proposed by philosophers, theologians, and others. ... In theology, the doctrine of divine simplicity says that God is without parts. ... While in the popular mind, eternity often simply means existing for an infinite, i. ... Analogy is both the cognitive process of transferring information from a particular subject (the analogue or source) to another particular subject (the target), and a linguistic expression corresponding to such a process. ... This article is about metaphor in literature and rhetoric. ... For other uses, see Sin (disambiguation). ... Just War theory is a doctrine of military ethics studied by moral theologians, ethicists and international policy makers which holds that a conflict can and ought to meet the criteria of philosophical, religious or political justice, provided it follows certain conditions. ... Natural law or the law of nature (Latin: lex naturalis) is an ethical theory that posits the existence of a law whose content is set by nature and that therefore has validity everywhere. ... For other uses, see Happiness (disambiguation). ... In Roman Catholic theology, the beatific vision is the eternal, direct perception of God enjoyed by those who are in Heaven, imparting supreme happiness or blessedness. ... For other senses of this word, see interest (disambiguation). ... The just price is a theory of ethics in economics which attempted to set standards of fairness in financial transactions. ... A friar is a member of a religious mendicant order of men. ... Matrimony redirects here. ... This article is about religious workers. ... Topics in Christianity Movements · Denominations · Other religions Ecumenism · Preaching · Prayer Music · Liturgy · Calendar Symbols · Art · Criticism Important figures Apostle Paul · Church Fathers Constantine · Athanasius · Augustine Anselm · Aquinas · Palamas · Luther Calvin · Wesley Arius · Marcion of Sinope Archbishop of Canterbury · Catholic Pope Coptic Pope · Ecumenical Patriarch Christianity Portal This box:      This article... For other uses, see Perfection (disambiguation). ... The word gentile is an anglicised version of the Latin word gentilis, meaning of or belonging to a clan or tribe. ... For other uses, see Salvation (disambiguation). ... Judgment Day redirects here. ... St. ... For other uses, see Martyr (disambiguation). ... In Roman times, Vestal Virgins were strictly celibate or they were punished by death. ... For other uses, see Heaven (disambiguation). ...

Overview and summary of the entire Summa

The Summa Theologica is more than just a laundry list of theological and philosophical questions in a more-or-less arbitrary order. Rather, the entire order of questions is meant to summarize the history of the cosmos and provide an outline for the meaning of life itself. This article is about the concept of the meaning of life. ...

This order is cyclical. It begins with God and His existence in Question 2. The entire first part of the Summa deals with God and His creation, which reaches its zenith in man. The First Part therefore ends with the treatise on man.

The second part of the Summa deals with man's purpose, the meaning of life, which is Happiness. The Ethics detailed in this part summarize the ethics (Aristotelian in nature) which man must follow to reach his intended destiny.

Since no man on his own can truly live the perfect ethical life, and therefore reach God, it was necessary that a Perfect man bridge the gap between God and man. Thus God became man. The third part of the Summa therefore deals with the life of Christ.

In order to follow the way prescribed by this Perfect Man, in order to live with God's grace, which is necessary for man's salvation, the Sacraments have been provided, and the final part of the Summa considers the Sacraments.

The entire Summa can be summarized roughly in this chart:

 God --------> Creation ---------> Man ^ | | v Sacraments <-------- Christ <---- Creation's return to God through man 

Summary of key opinions rendered in the Summa

This is from the Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge: The Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge is a 1914 religious encyclopedia, published in thirteen volumes. ...

The Summa, Part I: Theology

Aquinas's greatest work was the Summa, and it is the fullest presentation of his views. He worked on it from the time of Clement IV (after 1265) until the end of his life. When he died he had reached Question 90 of Part III, on the subject of penance. What was lacking was added afterwards from the fourth book of his commentary on the "Sentences" of Peter Lombard as a supplementum, which is not found in manuscripts of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The Summa was translated into Greek (apparently by Maximus Planudes, c. 1327), into Armenian, into many European tongues, and even into Chinese. Pope Clement IV (Saint-Gilles-du-Gard, November 23, year uncertain – November 29, 1268 in Viterbo), born Gui Faucoi le Gros (English: Guy Foulques the Fat; Italian: Guido il Grosso), was elected Pope February 15, 1265, in a conclave held at Perugia that took four months, while cardinals argued over... For other uses, see Penance (disambiguation). ... Maximus Planudes (c. ...

It consists of three parts. Part I treats of God, who is the "first cause, himself uncaused" (primum movens immobile) and as such existent only in act (actu), that is pure actuality without potentiality and, therefore, without corporeality. His essence is actus purus et perfectos. This follows from the fivefold proof for the existence of God; namely, there must be a first mover, unmoved, a first cause in the chain of causes, an absolutely necessary being, an absolutely perfect being, and a rational designer. In this connection the thoughts of the unity, infinity, unchangeableness, and goodness of the highest being are deduced. Categories: Wikipedia cleanup | Stub | Philosophy of science | Religious Philosophy | Theology ... Actus Purus is a term employed in scholastic philosophy to express the absolute perfection of God. ... For other uses, see Infinity (disambiguation). ...

The spiritual being of God is further defined as thinking and willing. His knowledge is absolutely perfect since he knows himself and all things as appointed by him. Since every knowing being strives after the thing known as end, will is implied in knowing. Inasmuch as God knows himself as the perfect good, he wills himself as end. But in that everything is willed by God, everything is brought by the divine will to himself in the relation of means to end. Therein God wills good to every being which exists, that is he loves it; and, therefore, love is the fundamental relation of God to the world. If the divine love be thought of simply as act of will, it exists for every creature in like measure: but if the good assured by love to the individual be thought of, it exists for different beings in various degrees. In so far as the loving God gives to every being what it needs in relation to the whole, he is just: in so far as he thereby does away with misery, he is merciful. In every work of God both justice and mercy are united and, indeed, his justice always presupposes his mercy, since he owes no one anything and gives more bountifully than is due. For other uses, see Knowledge (disambiguation). ...

As God rules in the world, the "plan of the order of things" preexists in him; i.e., his providence and the exercise of it in his government are what condition as cause everything which comes to pass in the world. Hence follows predestination: from eternity some are destined to eternal life, while as concerns others "he permits some to fall short of that end". Reprobation, however, is more than mere foreknowledge; it is the "will of permitting anyone to fall into sin and incur the penalty of condemnation for sin". The effect of predestination is grace. Since God is the first cause of everything, he is the cause of even the free acts of men through predestination. Determinism is deeply grounded in the system of Aquinas; things with their source of becoming in God are ordered from eternity as means for the realization of his end in himself. On moral grounds Aquinas advocates freedom energetically; but, with his premises, he can have in mind only the psychological form of self-motivation. Nothing in the world is accidental or free, although it may appear so in reference to the proximate cause. From this point of view miracles become necessary in themselves and are to be considered merely as inexplicable to man. From the point of view of the first cause all is unchangeable; although from the limited point of view of the secondary cause miracles may be spoken of. In theology, Divine Providence, or simply Providence, is the sovereignty, superintendence, or agency of God over events in peoples lives and throughout history. ... Predestination (also linked with foreknowledge) is a religious concept, which involves the relationship between the beginning of things and their destinies. ...

In his doctrine of the Trinity Aquinas starts from the Augustinian system. Since God has only the functions of thinking and willing, only two processiones can be asserted from the Father. But these establish definite relations of the persons of the Trinity one to another. The relations must be conceived as real and not as merely ideal; for, as with creatures relations arise through certain accidents, since in God there is no accident but all is substance, it follows that "the relation really existing in God is the same as the essence according to the thing. From another side, however, the relations as real must be really distinguished one from another. Therefore, three persons are to be affirmed in God. This article is about the Christian Trinity. ...

Man stands opposite to God; he consists of soul and body. The "intellectual soul" consists of intellect and will. Furthermore the soul is the absolutely indivisible form of man; it is immaterial substance, but not one and the same in all men (as the Averrhoists assumed). The soul's power of knowing has two sides; a passive (the intellectus possibilis) and an active (the intellectus agens). It is the capacity to form concepts and to abstract the mind's images (species) from the objects perceived by sense. But since what the intellect abstracts from individual things is a universal, the mind knows the universal primarily and directly, and knows the singular only indirectly by virtue of a certain reflexio (cf. Scholasticism). As certain principles are immanent in the mind for its speculative activity, so also a "special disposition of works"; or the synderesis (rudiment of conscience), is inborn in the "practical reason", affording the idea of the moral law of nature, so important in medieval ethics. For other uses, see Soul (disambiguation). ... Intelligence is a general mental capability that involves the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend ideas and language, and learn. ... // For the racing driver, see Will Power. ... Scholasticism comes from the Latin word scholasticus, which means that [which] belongs to the school, and is the school of philosophy taught by the academics (or schoolmen) of medieval universities circa 1100–1500. ... Synderesis, in scholastic moral philosophy, is the natural capacity or disposition (habitus) of the practical reason to apprehend intuitively the universal first principles of human action. ...

The Summa, Part II: Ethics

The first part of the Summa is summed up in the thought that God governs the world as the "universal first cause". God sways the intellect in that he gives the power to know and impresses the species intelligibiles on the mind, and he sways the will in that he holds the good before it as aim, and creates the virtus volendi. "To will is nothing else than a certain inclination toward the object of the volition which is the universal good". God works all in all; but so that things also themselves exert their proper efficiency. Here the Areopagitic ideas of the graduated effects of created things play their part in Aquinas' thought. The second part of the Summa (two parts, Prima Secundae and Secundae Seconda) follows this complex of ideas. Its theme is man's striving, after the highest end, which is the blessedness of the visio beata. Here Aquinas develops his system of ethics, which has its root in Aristotle.

In a chain of acts of will man strives for the highest end. They are free acts in so far as man has in himself the knowledge of their end and therein the principle of action. In that the will wills the end, it wills also the appropriate means, chooses freely and completes the consensus. Whether the act be good or evil depends on the end. The "human reason" pronounces judgment concerning the character of the end, it is, therefore, the law for action. Human acts, however, are meritorious in so far as they promote the purpose of God and his honor.

By repeating a good action man acquires a moral habit or a quality which enables him to do the good gladly and easily. This is true, however, only of the intellectual and moral virtues, which Aquinas treats after the manner of Aristotle; the theological virtues are imparted by God to man as a "disposition", from which the acts here proceed, but while they strengthen, they do not form it. The "disposition" of evil is the opposite alternative. An act becomes evil through deviation from the reason and the divine moral law. Therefore, sin involves two factors: its substance or matter is lust; in form, however, it is deviation from the divine law.

Sin has its origin in the will, which decides, against the reason, for a "changeable good". Since, however, the will also moves the other powers of man, sin has its seat in these too. By choosing such a lower good as end, the will is misled by self-love, so that this works as cause in every sin. God is not the cause of sin, since, on the contrary, he draws all things to himself. But from another side God is the cause of all things, so he is efficacious also in sin as actio but not as ens. The devil is not directly the cause of sin, but he incites by working on the imagination and the sensuous impulse of man, as men or things may also do.

Sin is Original sin. Adam's first sin passes upon himself and all the succeeding race; because he is the head of the human race and "by virtue of procreation human nature is transmitted and along with nature its infection". The powers of generation are, therefore, designated especially as "infected". The thought is involved here by the fact that Aquinas, like the other scholastics, held to creationism, therefore taught that the souls are created by God. Two things according to Aquinas constituted man's righteousness in paradise — the justitia originalis or the harmony of all man's powers before they were blighted by desire, and the possession of the gratis gratum faciens (the continuous indwelling power of good). Both are lost through original sin, which in form is the "loss of original righteousness". The consequence of this loss is the disorder and maiming of man's nature, which shows itself in "ignorance; malice, moral weakness, and especially in concupiscentia, which is the material principle of original sin". The course of thought here is as follows: when the first man transgressed the order of his nature appointed by nature and grace, he, and with him the human race, lost this order. This negative state is the essence of original sin. From it follow an impairment and perversion of human nature in which thenceforth lower aims rule contrary to nature and release the lower element in man. Original Sin redirects here. ...

Since sin is contrary to the divine order, it is guilt and subject to punishment. Guilt and punishment correspond to each other; and since the "apostasy from the invariable good which is infinite", fulfilled by man, is unending, it merits everlasting punishment.

But God works even in sinners to draw them to the end by "instructing through the law and aiding by grace". The law is the "precept of the practical reason". As the moral law of nature, it is the participation of the reason in the all-determining "eternal reason". But since man falls short in his appropriation of this law of reason, there is need of a "divine law". And since the law applies to many complicated relations, the practicae dispositiones of the human law must be laid down.

The divine law consists of an old and a new. In so far as the old divine law contains the moral law of nature it is universally valid; what there is in it, however, beyond this is valid only for the Jews. The new law is "primarily grace itself" and so a "law given within", "a gift superadded to nature by grace", but not a "written law". In this sense, as sacramental grace, the new law justifies. It contains, however, an "ordering" of external and internal conduct, and so regarded is, as a matter of course, identical with both the old law and the law of nature. The consilia (see Consilia Evangelica) show how one may attain the end "better and more expediently" by full renunciation of worldly goods.

Since man is sinner and creature, he needs grace to reach the final end. The "first cause" alone is able to reclaim him to the "final end". This is true after the fall, although it was needful before. Grace is, on one side, "the free act of God", and, on the other side, the effect of this act, the gratia infusa or gratia creata, a habitus infusus which is instilled into the "essence of the soul", "a certain gift of disposition, something supernatural proceeding from God into man". Grace is a supernatural ethical character created in man by God, which comprises in itself all good, both faith and love. Look up Habitus in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...

Justification by grace comprises four elements: "the infusion of grace, the influencing of free will toward God through faith, the influencing of free will respecting sin, and the remission of sins". It is a "transmutation of the human soul", and takes place "instantaneously". A creative act of God enters, which, however, executes itself as a spiritual motive in a psychological form corresponding to the nature of man. Semipelagian tendencies are far removed from Aquinas. In that man is created anew he believes and loves, and now sin is forgiven. Then begins good conduct; grace is the "beginning of meritorious works". Aquinas conceives of merit in the Augustinian sense: God gives the reward for that toward which he himself gives the power. Man can never of himself deserve the prima gratis, nor meritum de congruo (by natural ability; cf. R. Seeberg, Lehrbuch der Dogmengeschichte, ii. 105-106, Leipsic, 1898).

After thus stating the principles of morality, in the Secunda Secundae, Aquinas comes to a minute exposition of his ethics according to the scheme of the virtues. The conceptions of faith and love are of much significance in the complete system of Aquinas. Man strives toward the highest good with the will or through love. But since the end must first be "apprehended in the intellect", knowledge of the end to be loved must precede love; "because the will can not strive after God in perfect love unless the intellect have true faith toward him". Inasmuch as this truth which is to be known is practical it first incites the will, which then brings the reason to "assent". But since, furthermore, the good in question is transcendent and inaccessible to man by himself, it requires the infusion of a supernatural "capacity" or "disposition" to make man capable of faith as well as love. Accordingly the object of both faith and love is God, involving also the entire complex of truths and commandments which God reveals, in so far as they in fact relate to God and lead to him. Thus faith becomes recognition of the teachings and precepts of the Scriptures and the Church ("the first subjection of man to God is by faith"). The object of faith, however, is by its nature object of love; therefore faith comes to completion only in love ("by love is the act of faith accomplished and formed"). Summum bonum (Latin for the highest good), is an expression used in philosophy, particularly in mediaeval philosophy, to describe the singular and most ultimate end which human beings ought to pursue. ...

Treatise on Law

According to Question 90, Article Four of the Second Part of the Summa, law "is nothing else than an ordinance of reason for the common good, made by him who has care of the community, and promulgated." All law comes from the eternal law of Divine Reason that governs the universe, which is understood and participated in by rational beings (such as men and angels) as the natural law. The natural law, when codified and promulgated, is the human law. In addition to the human law, dictated by reason, man also has the Divine law, which, according to Question 91, is dictated through revelation, that man may be "directed how to perform his proper acts in view of his last end," "that man may know without any doubt what he ought to do and what he ought to avoid," because "human law could not sufficiently curb and direct interior acts," and since "human law cannot punish or forbid all evil deeds: since while aiming at doing away with all evils, it would do away with many good things, and would hinder the advance of the common good, which is necessary for human intercourse." It should be noted that human law is not all-powerful; it cannot govern a man's conscience, nor prohibit all vices, nor can it force all men to act according to its letter, rather than its spirit. Furthermore, it is possible that an edict can be issued without any basis in law as defined in Question 90; in this case, men are under no compulsion to act, save as it helps the common good. This separation between law and acts of force also allows men to depose tyrants, or those who flout the natural law; while removing an agent of the law is contrary to the common good and the eternal law of God which orders the powers that be, removing a tyrant is lawful as he has ceded his claim to being a lawful authority by acting contrary to law. For other uses, see Law (disambiguation). ... The Annunciation - the Angel Gabriel announces to Mary that she will bear Jesus (El Greco, 1575) An angel is an ethereal being found in many religions, whose duties are to assist and serve God. ... Natural law or the law of nature (Latin: lex naturalis) is an ethical theory that posits the existence of a law whose content is set by nature and that therefore has validity everywhere. ... François Chifflart (1825-1901), The Conscience (after Victor Hugo) Conscience is an ability or faculty or sense that leads to feelings of remorse when we do things that go against our moral values, or which informs our moral judgment before performing such an action. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... Natural law or the law of nature (Latin: lex naturalis) is an ethical theory that posits the existence of a law whose content is set by nature and that therefore has validity everywhere. ...

The Summa, Part III: Christ

The way which leads to God is Christ, and Christ is the theme of part III. It can be asserted that the incarnation was absolutely necessary. The Unio between the Logos and the human nature is a "relation" between the divine and the human nature which comes about by both natures being brought together in the one person of the Logos. An incarnation can be spoken of only in the sense that the human nature began to be in the eternal hypostasis of the divine nature. So Christ is unum since his human nature lacks the hypostasis. The person of the Logos, accordingly, has assumed the impersonal human nature, and in such way that the assumption of the soul became the means for the assumption of the body. This union with the human soul is the gratia unionis which leads to the impartation of the gratia habitualis from the Logos to the human nature. Thereby all human potentialities are made perfect in Jesus. Besides the perfections given by the vision of God, which Jesus enjoyed from the beginning, he receives all others by the gratia habitualis. In so far, however, as it is the limited human nature which receives these perfections, they are finite. This holds both of the knowledge and the will of Christ. The Logos impresses the species intelligibiles of all created things on the soul, but the intellectus agens transforms them gradually into the impressions of sense. On another side the soul of Christ works miracles only as instrument of the Logos, since omnipotence in no way appertains to this human soul in itself. Concerning redemption, Aquinas teaches that Christ is to be regarded as redeemer after his human nature but in such way that the human nature produces divine effects as organ of divinity. The one side of the work of redemption consists herein, that Christ as head of humanity imparts ordo, perfectio, and virtus to his members. He is the teacher and example of humanity; his whole life and suffering as well as his work after he is exalted serve this end. The love wrought hereby in men effects, according to Luke vii. 47, the forgiveness of sins.

This is the first course of thought. Then follows a second complex of thoughts which has the idea of satisfaction as its center. To be sure, God as the highest being could forgive sins without satisfaction; but because his justice and mercy could be best revealed through satisfaction he chose this way. As little, however, as satisfaction is necessary in itself, so little does it offer an equivalent, in a correct sense, for guilt; it is rather a "superabundant satisfaction", since on account of the divine subject in Christ in a certain sense his suffering and activity are infinite. With this thought the strict logical deduction of Anselm's theory is given up. Christ's suffering bore personal character in that it proceeded "out of love and obedience". It was an offering brought to God, which as personal act had the character of merit. Thereby Christ "merited" salvation for men. As Christ, exalted, still influences men, so does he still work in their behalf continually in heaven through the intercession (interpellatio). In this way Christ as head of humanity effects the forgiveness of their sins, their reconciliation with God, their immunity from punishment, deliverance from the devil, and the opening of heaven's gate. But inasmuch as all these benefits are already offered through the inner operation of the love of Christ, Aquinas has combined the theories of Anselm and Abelard by joining the one to the other.

The Sacraments

The doctrine of the sacraments follows the Christology; the sacraments "have efficacy from the incarnate Word himself". They are not only signs of sanctification, but bring it about. It is inevitable that they bring spiritual gifts in sensuous form, because of the sensuous nature of man. The res sensibiles are the matter, the words of institution the form of the sacraments. Contrary to the Franciscan view that the sacraments are mere symbols whose efficacy God accompanies with a directly following creative act in the soul, Aquinas holds it not unfit to agree with Hugo of St. Victor that "a sacrament contains grace", or to teach that they "cause grace". In Christian belief and practice, a sacrament is a rite that mediates divine grace, constituting a sacred mystery. ... Hugh of St. ...

Aquinas attempts to remove the difficulty of a sensuous thing producing a creative effect, by distinguishing between the causa principalis et instrumentalis. God as the principal cause works through the sensuous thing as the means ordained by him for his end. "Just as instrumental power is acquired by the instrument from this, that it is moved by the principal agent, so also the sacrament obtains spiritual power from the benediction of Christ and the application of the minister to the use of the sacrament. There is spiritual power in the sacraments in so far as they have been ordained by God for a spiritual effect". This spiritual power remains in the sensuous thing until it has attained its purpose. At the same time Aquinas distinguished the gratia sacramentalis from the gratia virtutum et donorum, in that the former perfects the general essence and the powers of the soul, whilst the latter in particular brings to pass necessary spiritual effects for the Christian life. Later this distinction was ignored.

In a single statement, the effect of the sacraments is to infuse justifying grace into men. That which Christ effects is achieved through the sacraments. Christ's humanity was the instrument for the operation of his divinity; the sacraments are the instruments through which this operation of Christ's humanity passes over to men. Christ's humanity served his divinity as instrumentum conjunctum, like the hand: the sacraments are instrumenta separata, like a staff; the former can use the latter, as the hand can use a staff. For a more detailed exposition cf. Seeberg, ut sup., ii. 112 sqq. In Christian belief and practice, a sacrament is a rite that mediates divine grace, constituting a sacred mystery. ...


Of Aquinas's eschatology, according to the commentary on the Sentences, this is only a brief account. Everlasting blessedness consists in the vision of God: and this vision consists not in an abstraction or in a mental image supernaturally produced, but the divine substance itself is beheld, and in such manner that God himself becomes immediately the form of the beholding, intellect; God is the object of the vision and at the same time causes the vision. The perfection of the blessed also demands that the body be restored to the soul as something to be made perfect by it. Since blessedness consists in operatio, it is made more perfect in that the soul has a definite operatio with the body, although the peculiar act of blessedness (i.e., the vision of God) has nothing to do with the body. For the eschatological beliefs of various religions, see End Times. ...


  1. ^ Summa Theologica, Third Part, Question 40. Retrieved 11 July 2006.
  2. ^ a b c d e Summa Theologica, Third Part, Question 40, Article 3. Retrieved 11 July 2006.
  3. ^ Kreeft, Peter. Summa of the Summa, Ignatius Press, 1990. ISBN 0-89870-300-X
  4. ^ ST, First Part, Question 1, Article 5. Retrieved 11 July 2006.
  5. ^ ST, First Part of Second Part, Q. 3, art. 8, ibid, art. 6-7/
  6. ^ ST, First Part, Question 3, Article 4. Aquinas develops this line of thought more fully in a shorter work, De ente et essentia.
  7. ^ Rom. 1:19-20; ST, First Part, Question 2, Article 2. See also I, Q. 1, art. 8.
  8. ^ ST, First Part, Question 4, Article 3.
  9. ^ ST, Second Part of the Second Part, Question 10, Article 3. Retrieved 11 July 2006. However, at other points, Aquinas, with different meanings of "great" makes the claim for pride, despair, and hatred of God.
  10. ^ ST, II-II, Q. 40.
  11. ^ ST, I-II, Q. 91, art. 2; ST, I-II, Q. 94.
  12. ^ ST, I-II, Q. 2, art. 8.
  13. ^ ST, II-II, Q. 78, art. 1.
  14. ^ ST, II-II, Q. 77, art. 1.
  15. ^ ST, II-II, Q. 182, art. 1.
  16. ^ ST, II-II, Q. 182, art. 4.
  17. ^ ST, II-II, Q. 184.
  18. ^ ST, III, Q. 47, art. 4.
  19. ^ Supplement, Q. 91; Supplement, Q. 74, art. 9.
  20. ^ Supplement, Q. 96, arts. 5-7.

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