Seminary or university where whole Summa is read?


#1

Is there a Catholic seminary or university where St. Thomas Aquinas's entire Summa Theologiæ is read, perhaps even in its Latin original? Thanks


#2

I’m not sure if there is one. The question is, does the whole summa need to be read? Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s an incredibly important document that should be used to teach in seminaries, but it seems like reading the entire thing, down to the last question, is a bit much. It would take an enormous amount of time to get through it, and seminarians have a lot to learn. St. Thomas Aquinas is not the be all end all of theology and philosophy. Other things need to be read too. I think that reading the whole thing would simply be too time consuming. Remember, there’s all the Church Fathers out there, who St. Thomas Aquinas based much of his thinking on, in particular St. Augustine. Time must be devoted to them too.


#3

I would tend to be surprised to see the whole thing read in an undergraduate or seminary program - there is just too much. I had professors who had read the whole thing but as part of a graduate or post-graduate study or on their own.

In a four year theology program there is just too much to get through even without reading the whole thing.


#4

St. Thomas characterises his Summa Theologiae as a manual composed specifically for the benefit of beginners in the sacred science. In my opinion, this means that it should be read by any man who is thinking about becoming a priest. The entire document gives a very good, simple, basic summary of what a theologian ought to know. Our beloved saint laid out a wondrous framework and structure as an overview.

Dogmatic and moral theology were served well by St. Thomas; so, since a priest works in these realms, it seems to be essential not to give him a pass before entering seminary. Read him on your own time, hopeful-seminarians! :D


#5

For anyone looking for a scholastic look into theology in the Latin Church, I will agree with you.

If you are looking for another approach or are not a Latin Catholic, then I will disagree with you.

My undergraduate degree we went a little bit into it. One of our texts for a couple of my philosophy classes was A Summa of the Summa by Peter Kreeft. And then I took one more philosophy course over the summer before entering the theologate and we used the Summa.


#6

Even in the Latin Church, there is a lot more than just scholasticism. You could spend a few years on just Augustine’s major works as well, plus there are so many others. What about Duns Scotus and his response to scholasticism? Or Thomas contemporary who took a different - and perhaps even more Eastern approach - St Bonaventure?

I think this idea that Thomas is the only really important theologian in Catholic history is a very unfortunate one.


#7

Yes, that is how he characterizes it. It is however still a huge work. There’s a ton more theological and philosophical stuff that seminarians need to work through. There is simply no time. We seminarians need to learn a lot more philosophy than just Thomism. We learn the other medieval philosophers, we learn the ancient ones, the modern ones, etc. There’s just not enough room in the curriculum. There’s just a lot more to learn besides the summa.


#8

I agree.


#9

Pff… he’s been called the “Universal Doctor” for a reason! :wink: All minds and hearts must submit to the angelic theologian, whose mind delved and extended toward the greatest depths and heights of Heaven. Let all other theologians fall into obscurity at his mighty name! :stuck_out_tongue:

Of course, if you want religious diversity, you can always go study the less-awesome saints… :slight_smile:

I do apologise for the cheekiness, but my bias is incredibly strong. Everyone I know keeps trying to tell me that “Aquinas is not God!!!”, in their loving concern. O’, how misguided are the thoughts of men! :blush: No doubt, seminarians have more important things to learn and do than study every last word of the Summa. To see the head of Thomas unite with the heart of Bonaventure, the spirit of Chrysostom married to the soul of John of the Cross, or the will of Ambrose crossed with the intellect of Albertus Magnus - that is the real joy of a theologian. We must take every last morsel God has given us through the ages… my own tastes, palate, and stomach just happen to be satisfied more by the style and system of Thomas than the others. Seminarians must be well-rounded to help guide we sheep… :smiley:


#10

Pope Leo XIII and many other popes do not think this is unfortunate; they give the highest praise in favor of his philosophy and theology. Pope Leo says in his encyclical Æterni Patris:

  1. Among the Scholastic Doctors, the chief and master of all towers Thomas Aquinas, who, as Cajetan observes, because “he most venerated the ancient Doctors of the Church, in a certain way seems to have inherited the intellect of all.” The doctrines of those illustrious men, like the scattered members of a body, Thomas collected together and cemented, distributed in wonderful order, and so increased with important additions that he is rightly and deservedly esteemed the special bulwark and glory of the Catholic faith. With his spirit at once humble and swift, his memory ready and tenacious, his life spotless throughout, a lover of truth for its own sake, richly endowed with human and divine science, like the sun he heated the world with the warmth of his virtues and filled it with the splendor of his teaching. Philosophy has no part which he did not touch finely at once and thoroughly; on the laws of reasoning, on God and incorporeal substances, on man and other sensible things, on human actions and their principles, he reasoned in such a manner that in him there is wanting neither a full array of questions, nor an apt disposal of the various parts, nor the best method of proceeding, nor soundness of principles or strength of argument, nor clearness and elegance of style, nor a facility for explaining what is abstruse.

This seems to go against the testimonies of numerous popes (e.g., Pope Leo XIII’s Æterni Patris, Pope St. Pius X’s Doctoris Angelici, or Pope Pius XII’s Studiorum Ducem) and other magisterial documents like Vatican II’s Optatum Totius, which says: “in order that they may illumine the mysteries of salvation as completely as possible, the students should learn to penetrate them more deeply with the help of speculation, under the guidance of St. Thomas, and to perceive their interconnections.” The 24 Thomistic Theses of the Sacred Congregation of Studies, now called the Congregation for Catholic Education, ordered “that in all schools of philosophy the principles and main teachings of Thomas Aquinas be held,” and the 1917 1366Code of Canon Law, par. 2 said: “Teachers shall adhere religiously to the method, doctrine and principles” of Saint Thomas. What happened?

The responses here seem to be focusing on seminaries, but are there really no Catholic universities that study the whole Summa? Pope St. Pius X’s said in Doctoris Angelici:

As for sacred theology itself, it is Our desire that the study of it be always illuminated by the light of the philosophy before referred to, but in ordinary clerical seminaries, provided suitable teachers are available, there is no objection to the use of text books containing summaries of doctrines derived from the source of Aquinas. There is an ample supply of excellent works of the kind.

But for the more profound study of this science, as it ought to be studied in Universities and Colleges and in all Seminaries and institutions which are empowered to grant academic degrees, it is of the first importance that the old system of lecturing on the actual text of the Summa Theologica- which should never have been allowed to fall into disuse-- be revived; for the reason also that prelections on this book make it easier to understand and to illustrate the solemn decrees of the teaching Church and the acts passed in consequence. …]


#11

Thomas represents a particular time and place in the history of theology, as do all theologians. A student of theology needs to develop a sense of the arc of that history, and a basic familiarity with it’s different elements, before devoting himself to one aspect. No one thinker can give a real appreciation for the Mind of the Church.

It isn’t even possible to really have a good grasp of Thomas without a good grasp of the intellectual history he comes from, and that he wrote in.

That is why university programs are structured the way they are - undergraduates do overviews of their general area of study so that they have a good, but basic grasp of the concepts, people, and developments of their subject. And seminaries are really in the same boat as they are often teaching students with little background in theology.

Then, once they have that, graduate students - or just interested persons - are able to really immerse themselves in one thinker and actually benefit from it. They have the knowledge to ask the right kind of questions, to understand what comes from other thinkers, and what is original. To know how the Church and other thinkers responded to these ideas.

Someone who just read Thomas would have a very limited and narrow view of the thought of the Church, and probably wouldn’t even be able to understand Thomas all that well.


#12

What happened? Not all that much really. Look, I don’t claim that St. Thomas shouldn’t be taught. He should be studied a lot. But that doesn’t mean that seminarians should have to read the whole summa. The fact is that we seminarians still need to study a lot of other theologians. There is nothing wrong with having a Thomistic grounding, as long as you do not begin to exclude other important theologians. There are plenty of others who need to be studied for a seminarian to even have a good understanding of how St. Thomas got his ideas. Studying the whole summa would take too much time. None of the links you seem to provide actually advocate reading the entire summa. Studying St. Thomas, even a lot? Yes. However, there is far more to St. Thomas Aquinas than the summa. This is actually something that really irks me, is when people reduce him down to that one work. The man wrote plenty of other things, some of them containing far more important stuff. To read the entire summa would force the exclusion of a lot of great Thomistic theology, which is in fact contrary to your goal.


#13

[quote="Bluegoat, post:11, topic:240825"]
Someone who just read Thomas would have a very limited and narrow view of the thought of the Church, and probably wouldn't even be able to understand Thomas all that well.

[/quote]

As Card. Cajetan said of St. Thomas, as quoted in Pope Leo XIII's encyclical Æterni Patris: "he most venerated the ancient Doctors of the Church, in a certain way seems to have inherited the intellect of all." Those who study St. Thomas don't just get St. Thomas. St. Thomas himself was influenced by many, many theologians and philosophers. He didn't pull his philosophy and theology out of thin air.

Why, e.g., have so many popes advocated St. Thomas above all others? Why does Pope St. Pius X, e.g., write in Pascendi Gregis: "[L]et Professors remember that they cannot set St. Thomas aside, especially in metaphysical questions, without grave detriment."?

Thanks for the input


#14

Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary (Denton Nebraska, FSSP), read a lot of St Thomas Aquinas, I do not believe that during the Seminary Program the whole of the Summa is studied, (however if you go onto universities such as PUSC (Pontifical University of the Holy Cross) during your 3 cycle degree, you will get through St Thomas in it’s entirety, and the Language is entirely up to you, Latin or the Vernacular). In your average Seminary or university though St Thomas might get a look in, but no where near as much as you’ld hope (especially in the Latin Church).


#15

[quote="Geremia, post:13, topic:240825"]
As Card. Cajetan said of St. Thomas, as quoted in Pope Leo XIII's encyclical Æterni Patris: "he most venerated the ancient Doctors of the Church, in a certain way seems to have inherited the intellect of all." Those who study St. Thomas don't just get St. Thomas. St. Thomas himself was influenced by many, many theologians and philosophers. He didn't pull his philosophy and theology out of thin air.

Why, e.g., have so many popes advocated St. Thomas above all others? Why does Pope St. Pius X, e.g., write in Pascendi Gregis: "[L]et Professors remember that they cannot set St. Thomas aside, especially in metaphysical questions, without grave detriment."?

Thanks for the input

[/quote]

Having read a fair bit of theology, including Thomas, for my degree, I'd have to disagree. He doesn't necessarily encompass all the others. And how would you know if he did anyway, not having read anything else?

From the perspective of Catholic theology I think you could make a better argument for reading all of Augustine. But that too would likely be impractical for a four year program.

Dedicating oneself to reading all of Thomas is a great goal, but to do it well you need to get a general theological education first. I can guarantee that Thomas read everything he could get his hands rather than limiting himself to only one theologian.


#16

[quote="Geremia, post:13, topic:240825"]
As Card. Cajetan said of St. Thomas, as quoted in Pope Leo XIII's encyclical Æterni Patris: "he most venerated the ancient Doctors of the Church, in a certain way seems to have inherited the intellect of all." Those who study St. Thomas don't just get St. Thomas. St. Thomas himself was influenced by many, many theologians and philosophers. He didn't pull his philosophy and theology out of thin air.

Why, e.g., have so many popes advocated St. Thomas above all others? Why does Pope St. Pius X, e.g., write in Pascendi Gregis: "[L]et Professors remember that they cannot set St. Thomas aside, especially in metaphysical questions, without grave detriment."?

Thanks for the input

[/quote]

You're arguing against a point of view that I do not advocate. I do not say that we must put St. Thomas Aquinas aside. He's an incredibly important theologian who needs to be taught. However, my point on reading the whole Summa still stands. It is an incomplete way to learn Thomism. St. Thomas Aquinas wrote plenty of other things. You need to read many of his other works to be well educated in Thomism. Reading the whole Summa would be too time consuming, and would not fully allow for that. If we were to study the whole thing, you would in fact be limiting how much St. Thomas Aquinas needs to be read.

So if we do read the whole Summa, then an enormous amount of time will have been consumed, leaving less time for actually understanding St. Thomas, or the rest of the 2000 years of Church theology. You will be crippling the seminary education system. Don't think that St. Thomas Aquinas is not taught a lot in seminaries. He is in fact, and that's exactly why we seminarians don't read the whole Summa. Doing so would limit our knowledge greatly.

Ultimately, how seminaries will educate varies from Pope to Pope. Some may want St. Thomas Aquinas taught more, some less. The encouragements of their predecessors were written long ago, and are not necessarily binding on the seminary education system. If you want a good idea of how the Church now wants seminaries to be run, read Blessed John Paul II's Pastores Dabo Vobis. As much as the various Popes have encouraged reading St. Thomas Aquinas, I can guarantee you that all of them would be horrified at the notion that we would have to start excluding many other important theologians, which is what might happened if you actually tried to teach the entire Summa to seminarians.

Again, I do support the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas in seminaries. His influence on Catholic theology is immense. However, I think that reading the entire Summa is the wrong way to do so. I doubt that under any of these Popes an in depth study of the entire Summa was done for all seminarians.


#17

Great post Biedrik.

Another reason why seminarians should not have to read the full Summa or to only study St Thomas is that seminarians are not studying to be theologians, they are studying to serve the Church in the parish Church.

That that have a calling to be theologians will go on for further schooling after ordination.


#18

A good point Brother David. Unless you are in some particularly scholarly order such as the Jesuits or the Dominicans, odds are that you’re not studying to be a theologian or philosopher. For example, I’m studying to become a diocesan priest. If I am ordained one day, then most of my work will be in parishes, where knowing the entire Summa will not actually be that useful. As great as the Summa is, there are large parts of it that simply will almost never come up in the life of a parish priest. If my bishop wants me to study more, he’ll send me to continue my education after my ordination. In that case, I might learn the whole Summa if it is so needed. Until then, it’s not really the best way to prepare me for the priesthood.


#19

At the school where I teach, the International Theological Institute, a large amount of the Summa is read in the bacchelaureate/master’s program (equivalent to the philosophy + theology in a seminary). It is not strictly a seminar, but there is a program of formation for seminarians, and some bishops send their seminarians to study there.

In more detail: the greater part of the Prima Pars (the questions on God, on the Trinity, on creation, on man, and some of the questions on angels and the work of the six days), almost all of the Prima Secundae, a little bit of the Secunda Secundae, and almost all of the Tertia Pars are read.

Deacon Joseph


#20

Wow, that is great to hear! Your Institute is based in Austria? I liked that altar in the slide-show.

Perhaps you know: Certainly the Angelicum covers most of the Summa, right?

Thanks


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