"The combination of theology and philosophy which was the basis of scholasticism found its finest expression in [St. Thomas's] writings. Aquinas held that knowledge came from two sources: the truths of Christian faith and the truths of human reason. Each is a distinct source, but the revelation which comes from faith is the greater of the two, and its chief characteristic is that it consists of mysteries to be believed rather than understood" (PMM 30 for the editio princeps of the 'Summa Theologiae' published in 1485). The 'Summa de veritate catholicae fidei contra gentiles' (Treatise on the Truth of the Catholic Faith, against Unbelievers), written in Rome, 1261-64, was composed at the request of St. Raymond of Pennafort, who desired to have a philosophical exposition and defence of the Christian Faith, to be used against the Jews and Moors in Spain. It is a perfect model of patient and sound apologetics, showing that no demonstrated truth (science) is opposed to revealed truth (faith). It is worthy of remark that the Fathers of the Vatican Council, treating the necessity of revelation (Coast. "Dei Filius", c. 2), employed almost the very words used by St. Thomas in treating that subject in this work (I, cc. iv, V).
Although some masters at the University of Paris spent decadesteaching there, it was the custom of the Dominican order (as with theFranciscans) to rotate scholars through these positions. Accordingly,in 1259 Aquinas was sent back to Italy, where he spent most of thefollowing decade in several Dominican houses of study, first inOrvieto (in Umbria) and then in Rome. During these years, while hecontinued to preach, lecture on the Bible, and conduct academicdisputations, he found the time to develop his two most importantworks, the Summa contra gentiles and the Summatheologiae.
For some years now the Biblioteca apostolica vaticana has been digitizing its many manuscripts and, just in time for Easter, has just made available St Thomas's famous autograph manuscripts Vatican Latin (Vat. Lat.) nos. 9850 and 9851. The former carries portions of Thomas's Summa contra gentiles (snippets from books 1 and 2, and a good bit of book 3), and from his early Scriptum super Boethii de trinitate and Super Isaiam. The latter contains a lengthy section of his Scriptum super III librum sententiarum. The first manuscript (9850) has been especially mutilated over time, with people snatching this or that folio as a souvenir. Indeed, the manuscript you see on the Vatican site is today a bundled heap.
In the "Scriptores Ordinis Praedicatorum" (Paris, 1719) Fr. Echard devotes eighty-six folio pages to St. Thomas's works, the different editions and translations (I, pp. 282-348). Touron (op. cit., pp. 69 sqq.) says that manuscript copies were found in nearly all the libraries of Europe, and that, after the invention of printing, copies were multiplied rapidly in Germany, Italy, and France, portions of the "Summa theologica" being one of the first important works printed. Peter Schöffer, a printer of Mainz, published the "Secunda Secundae" in 1467. This is the first known printed copy of any work of St. Thomas. The first complete edition of the "Summa" was printed at Basle, in 1485. Many other editions of this and of other works were published in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, especially at Venice and at Lyons. The principal editions of all the work (Opera Omnia) were published as follows: Rome, 1570; Venice, 1594, 1612, 1745; Antwerp, 1612; Paris, 1660, 1871-80 (Vives); Parma, 1852-73; Rome, 1882 (the Leonine). The Roman edition of 1570, called "the Piana", because edited by order of St. Pius V, was the standard for many years. Besides a carefully revised text it contained the commentaries of Cardinal Cajetan and the valuable "Tabula Aurea" of Peter of Bergamo. The Venetian edition of 1612 was highly prized because the text was accompanied by the Cajetan-Porrecta commentaries . . . . The Leonine edition, begun under the patronage of Leo XIII, now continued under the master general of the Dominicans, undoubtedly will be the most perfect of all. Critical dissertations on each work will be given, the text will be carefully revised, and all references will be verified. By direction of Leo XIII (Motu Proprio, 18 Jan., 1880) the "Summa contra gentiles" will be published with the commentaries of Sylvester Ferrariensis, whilst the commentaries of Cajetan go with the "Summa theologica".
The latter has been published, being volumes IV-XII of the edition (last in 1906). St. Thomas's works may be classified as philosophical, theological, scriptural, and apologetic, or controversial. The division, however, cannot always be rigidly maintained. The "Summa theologica", e.g., contains much that is philosophical, whilst the "Summa contra gentiles" is principally, but not exclusively, philosophical and apologetic. His philosophical works are chiefly commentaries on Aristotle, and his first important theological writings were commentaries on Peter Lombard's four books of "Sentences"; but he does not slavishly follow either the Philosopher or the Master of the Sentences (on opinions of the Lombard rejected by theologians, see Migne, 1841, edition of the "Summa" I, p. 451).
(5) "Summa de veritate catholicae fidei contra gentiles" (Treatise on the Truth of the Catholic Faith, against Unbelievers) -- This work, written at Rome, 1261-64, was composed at the request of St. Raymond of Pennafort, who desired to have a philosophical exposition and defence of the Christian Faith, to be used against the Jews and Moors in Spain. It is a perfect model of patient and sound apologetics, showing that no demonstrated truth (science) is opposed to revealed truth (faith). The best recent editions are those of Rome, 1878 (by Uccelli), of Paris and Fribourg, Switzerland, 1882, and of Rome, 1894. It has been translated into many languages. It is divided into four books: I. Of God as He is in Himself; II. Of God the Origin of Creatures; III. Of God the End of Creatures; IV. Of God in His Revelation. It is worthy of remark that the Fathers of the Vatican Council, treating the necessity of revelation (Constitution "Dei Filius", c. 2), employed almost the very words used by St. Thomas in treating that subject in this work (I, cc. iv, V), and in the "Summa theologica" (I:1:1).
For many years, especially since the days of Pusey and Newman, St. Thomas has been in high repute at Oxford. Recently the "Summa contra gentiles" was placed on the list of subjects which a candidate may offer in the final honour schools of Litterae Humaniores at that university (cf. Walsh, op. cit., c. xvii). For several years Father De Groot, O.P., has been the professor of Scholastic philosophy in the University of Amsterdam, and courses in Scholastic philosophy have been established in some of the leading non-Catholic universities of the United States. Anglicans have a deep admiration for St. Thomas. Alfred Mortimer, in the chapter "The Study of Theology" of his work entitled "Catholic Faith and Practice" (2 vols., New York, 1909), regretting that "the English priest has ordinarily no scientific acquaintance with the Queen of Sciences", and proposing a remedy, says, "The simplest and most perfect sketch of universal theology is to be found in the Summa of St. Thomas" (vol. II, pp. 454, 465).
Aquinas was born near Aquino, Sicily and was an Italian Dominican theologian whose scholarship propelled him to the first rank among the Scholastics of the Middle Ages. His major works are the Summa theologica and the Summa contra gentiles. 781b155fdc