An Eastern Aquinas?

Yesterday, we posted a new book from Baylor’s Frank Beckwith on the relevance of Aquinas for Evangelical Christians. Here’s another book out this month from Catholic University Press, Thomas Aquinas and the Greek Fathers, a collection of essays on Aquinas’s debt to the Greek Church Fathers. The editors are Michael Dauphinais (Ave Maria), Andrew Hofer ( Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception), and Roger Nutt (Ave Maria). The publisher’s description follows.

Scholars have often been quick to acknowledge Thomas Aquinas’s distinctive retrieval of Aristotle’s Greek philosophical heritage. Often lagging, however, has been a proper appreciation of both his originality and indebtedness in appropriating the great theological insights of the Greek Fathers of the Church. In a similar way to his integration of the Aristotelian philosophical corpus, Aquinas successfully interwove the often newly received and translated Greek patristic sources into a thirteenth-century theological framework, one dominated by the Latin Fathers. His use of the Greek Fathers definitively shaped his exposition of sacra doctrina in the fundamental areas of God and creation, Trinitarian theology, the moral life, and Christ and the Sacraments.

For the sake of filling this lacuna and of piquing scholarly interest in Aquinas’s relation to the Fathers of the Christian East, the Aquinas Center for Theological Renewal at Ave Maria University and the Thomistic Institute of the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception at the Dominican House of Studies co-sponsored an international gathering of scholars that took place at Ave Maria University under the title Thomas Aquinas and the Greek Fathers. Sensitive to the commonalities and the differences between Aquinas and the Greek Fathers, the essays in this volume have sprung from the theme of this conference and offer a harvest of some of the conference’s fruits. At long last, scholars have a rich volume of diverse, penetrating essays that both underscore Aquinas’s unique standing among the Latin scholastics in relationship to the Greek Fathers and point the way toward avenues of further study.

A Protestant Aquinas?

The importance of Thomism for Catholic legal theory goes without saying. This week, we highlight two new books that explore the relevance of Aquinas for other Christian communions. In a book to be released by Baylor University Press next month, Never Doubt Thomas: The Catholic Aquinas as Evangelical and Protestant, our friend Frank Beckwith (Baylor) argues that Aquinas is an important resource for Evangelicals. Here’s the description of the book from the publisher’s website:

Theologian, philosopher, teacher. There are few religious figures more Catholic than Saint Thomas Aquinas, a man credited with helping to shape Catholicism of the second millennium. In Never Doubt Thomas, Francis J. Beckwith employs his own spiritual journey from Catholicism to Evangelicalism and then back to Catholicism to reveal the signal importance of Aquinas not only for Catholics but also for Protestants.

Beckwith begins by outlining Aquinas’ history and philosophy, noting misconceptions and inaccurate caricatures of Thomist traditions. He explores the legitimacy of a “Protestant” Aquinas by examining Aquinas’ views on natural law and natural theology in light of several Protestant critiques. Not only did Aquinas’ presentation of natural law assume some of the very inadequacies Protestant critics have leveled against it, Aquinas did not, as is often supposed, believe that one must first prove God’s existence through human reasoning before having faith in God. Rather, Aquinas held that one may know God through reason and employ it to understand more fully the truths of faith. Beckwith also uses Aquinas’ preambles of faith—what a person can know about God before fully believing in Him—to argue for a pluralist Aquinas, explaining how followers of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam can all worship the same God, yet adhere to different faiths. 

Beckwith turns to Aquinas’ doctrine of creation to question theories of Intelligent Design, before, finally, coming to the heart of the matter: in what sense can Aquinas be considered an Evangelical? Aquinas’ views on justification are often depicted by some Evangelicals as discontinuous with those articulated in the Council of Trent. Beckwith counters this assessment, revealing not only that Aquinas’ doctrine fully aligns with the tenets laid out by the Council, but also that this doctrine is more Evangelical than critics care to admit.

Beckwith’s careful reading makes it hard to doubt that Thomas Aquinas is a theologian, philosopher, and teacher for the universal church—Catholic, Protestant, and Evangelical.

Rogers, “Aquinas and the Supreme Court”

This May, Wiley will publish Aquinas and the Supreme Court: Biblical Narratives of Jews, Gentiles and Gender by Eugene F. Rogers, Jr. (University of North Carolina).  The publisher’s description follows.ebook_k

This new work clarifies Aquinas’ concept of natural law through his biblical commentaries, and explores its applications to U.S. constitutional law.

  • The first time the use of Aquinas on the U.S. Supreme Court has been explored in depth, and its applications tested through a rigorous reading of the biblical commentaries
  • Shows how key judgments in the Supreme Court have rested on medieval natural law, and applies critical gender theory to discuss problems with these applications
  • Offers new research data to give a different picture of Aquinas and natural law, and a fresh take on Aquinas’ biblical commentaries
  • New research based on passages in the biblical commentaries never before available in English
%d bloggers like this: