Summa on the Summa


#1

Has any one read this book by Peter Kreeft? I’ve been wanting to read some of Thomas Aquinas and am thinking about starting with this book, as I feel a bit too intimidated by my rudimentary knowledge to dive right into the work by Aquinas straight, without guidance of footnotes to assist my undeveloped mind.


#2

I have it but am still to intimidated to start it, altho he is one of my favorite writers. May I suggest Theology for Beginners by Frank Sheed as a better starting point? It helped me immensely and gives a good foundation for further reading and study.


#3

I’ve found it helpful. If you find it too intimidating, try Kreeft’s A Shorter Summa, which is a summa of the Summa of the Summa.


#4

The Divine Doctor is never a light read, but I certainly found Peter Kreeft’s book very helpful in reading him.

It didn’t make me a Thomist scholar (what could :confused: ), but having gone through it, I could certainly get more out of the rest of the Summa (it doesn’t cover it all) than I could have without its help.

Blessings,

Gerry


#5

Hee! Hee! A Thomist scholar is not a realistic expectation for me. I recently read a few books by Scott Hahn (Scripture Matters, A Father who Keeps his Promises, and The Lamb’s Supper)about interpretations of the Bible, and he often refers to Aquinas’ work as sources for analytical framework. I am curious to see a little more of what Aquinas wrote in relations to those subject.

I also have the Handbook for Christian Apologetics by Kreeft and Tacelli, and like the chapter on talking about God’s existance. I know Aquinas is known for his arguments for the existence of God, and that they are included in the Summa of the Summa. In the Handbook’s introduction, Kreeft and Tacelli mention Aquinas’ influence on their work.

I have (much) younger siblings, and would like to be better equipped about defending God’s existence, with the hope that it might help them stay in the Church or return to it, if I can get them to think. This is a difficult topic for me, because although I have gone through a period where I questions the interpretation of the Catholic church and its validity for my life, I never once doubted there was a God.

I have heard great things about Sheed’s book Theology for Beginners, but I like the idea of being able to mention sources where the ideas came from, and I am not sure how much of that type of information is given in Sheed’s book.


#6

Kreeft’s book on the Summa is excellent; most important, he begins by defining his terms. By providing the actual writings of Thomas (in bite sized amounts, with explanations) he gives you a better feel for Thomas than you could get from reading secondary sources. I don’t think you’d find many short quotes you could show or repeat for your siblings, but you will grasp a little of the mind and heart of perhaps our Church’s greatest scholar. I learned more by reading Thomas than by reading about Thomas.

If you are looking for something to share with others, besides Sheed’s excellent books, take a look at “Orthodoxy” by G. K. Chesterton. In fact, the book “The Quoteable Chesterton” contains bite sized nuggets of wisdom, so it’s the most accessible way I know of to introduce someone to the light and joy of our faith. Enjoy! (and don’t forget to pray for the folks you are sharing with!

Paul


#7

I personally think its better to just read St. Thomas’s Summa itself - slowly, and from the beginning. Of course, before you do that, you ought to have a basic understanding of where he’s coming from. So, you should probably read Aristotle’s Physics and De Anima. And prior to that, you should read Aristotle’s Organon.

Sorry, this probably isn’t too helpful. Perhaps you could start with St. Thomas (he’s really very clear) and if you have a particular question, bring it to the forum.


#8

The biggest hurdle for me is getting familier with the terminolgy. First principles, causes, form, essense, being, and a bunch of others mean something very particular. Once i had a grasp of these philosiphical concepts, and their reasonings, things started to make sense. St Thomas clearly defines the basics and then procedes to natural law and theology, at least as far as I’ve read. Don’t let the dated science throw you, the rationale is there if you care to really think. Summa of the Summa is a very good book.


#9

I have it, but I have not read it cover to cover. I was told and I think they are right that it isn’t a book to read as a whole it should be looked at as a text or reference book and read alittle at a time in order to absorb the great thought that it is in it. Use the index at the back to lead you to the subject matter that you are seeking. God Bless all here. :thumbsup:


#10

I love it because it doesn’t try to reword St. Thomas. It gives you essential passages & then has copious footnotes from Kreeft breaking St. Thomas’ words down for you. I approach it like taking a college course from him with the footnotes being his lecture. My mind is somewhat dull so I have to go over and over these passages, but I feel that is healthy for my lazy brain to do & I notice that slowly I start to internalize these truths. As already mentioned, his “ShorterSumma” is an even more condensed version. I have both.

While on the subject of Peter Kreeft, I highly recommend “Three Approaches to Abortion.” It’s on sale @ Ignatius Press right now. I’m going to have to buy at least one more copy because I keep giving it to people to read.


#11

[quote=serendipity]Has any one read this book by Peter Kreeft? I’ve been wanting to read some of Thomas Aquinas and am thinking about starting with this book, as I feel a bit too intimidated by my rudimentary knowledge to dive right into the work by Aquinas straight, without guidance of footnotes to assist my undeveloped mind.
[/quote]

I’ve not read this Peter Kreeft text, but I have read some of his other works and he’s very good. I have the following, and it is very good too…

Tour of the Summa. Reprint of the 1960 Ed by Paul J. Glenn

If you haven’t had a course in Philosophy, specifically Aristotelian, then I would recommend one prior to studying Aquinas’ works directly. Catholic Distance University offers a seminar called Philosophy for Theology which may also be helpful (see here: cdu.edu/coursedescription.cfm?CourseID=212-1202 )


#12

[quote=serendipity]Has any one read this book by Peter Kreeft? I’ve been wanting to read some of Thomas Aquinas and am thinking about starting with this book, as I feel a bit too intimidated by my rudimentary knowledge to dive right into the work by Aquinas straight, without guidance of footnotes to assist my undeveloped mind.
[/quote]

I’ve not read this Peter Kreeft text, but I have read some of his other works and he’s very good. I have the following, and it is very good too…

Tour of the Summa. Reprint of the 1960 Ed by Paul J. Glenn

If you haven’t had a course in Philosophy, specifically Aristotelian, then I would recommend one prior to studying Aquinas’ works directly. Catholic Distance University offers a seminar called Philosophy for Theology which may also be helpful (see here: cdu.edu/coursedescription.cfm?CourseID=212-1202 )

I haven’t takent the course yet, but it’s required for my degree program. One of the course texts is called: Saint Thomas Aquinas, Shorter Summa: The Essential Philosophical Passages of Saint Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica, Peter Kreeft, Ignatius Press. Is that the same text you were referring to or is this a different text by Kreeft?


#13

[quote=Vincent]I’ve found it helpful. If you find it too intimidating, try Kreeft’s A Shorter Summa, which is a summa of the Summa of the Summa.
[/quote]

Of course not to be confused with the Suma Katra :stuck_out_tongue:


#14

That is almost a verbatim quote of the subtitle on the main title page of the Summa of the Summa. It continues in my copy with “Edited and Explained for Beginners.” And it is an Ignatius Press publication.

But the ISBN is different, so what you probably have there is an adaptation of the book we are talking about, for use as a textbook. And Amazon will sell you either book, so they are different, though I suspect, related.

Blessings,

Gerry


#15

Thanks everyone for your advice.

The course sounds very intereresting and useful too.

I would have thanked you sooner, but I am having trouble getting into the forums today (Saturday).


#16

I bought Summa of the Summa when I was 17, and it’s a great place to start. The only bad thing is that once you’re hooked with Aquinas, you hope that you had the whole Summa with you.


#17

I have the book but have not read it cover-to-cover: I have used it as a kind of reference source, and have read sections that I have had an interest in. Kreeft’s footnotes are VERY helpful, and it is a good introduction to an incerdible mind.


#18

[quote=Sherlock]I have the book but have not read it cover-to-cover: I have used it as a kind of reference source
[/quote]

I, too, use this as a reference, even for my teenagers. Not only does it help me with specific issues, but after reading the way St. Thomas addresses the difficult questions, it gives a good framework for answering any aplogetic question.


#19

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