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Discovering Aquinas: An Introduction to His Life, Work, and Influence [Paperback]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   224
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.14" Width: 6.04" Height: 0.6"
Weight:   0.69 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 20, 2003
Publisher   Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
ISBN  0802805140  
EAN  9780802805140  


Availability  0 units.


Item Description...
Overview
Thomas Aquinas is one of the great figures of church history, and his ideas continue to have a powerful effect on theologians and contemporary writers from very different backgrounds and traditions. In "Discovering Aquinas" Aidan Nichols offers a lively and authoritative introduction to the life, thought, and ongoing influence of this singular churchman. This book could not have come at a better time. After a lengthy period of declining interest in Aquinas, we are starting to see a Thomistic renaissance, including a renewed appreciation for the way Aquinas's work so brilliantly weaves together philosophy, theology, spirituality, revelation, and ethics. As Nichols writes, "It is because of the wonderfully integrated character of the wisdom of Thomas Aquinas integrated not only as supernatural with natural but also as "thinking with love" that the church in our day should not leave him as a fresco on a wall but find inspiration from his teaching and example." By means of writing as felicitous as it is insightful, Nichols chronicles the compelling facts of Aquinas's life, explores the major facets of his thought, establishes Aquinas's historical importance, and shows why many today are regarding him as a vital partner in current debates about the future of Christianity.

Publishers Description
Thomas Aquinas is one of the great figures of church history, and his ideas continue to have a powerful effect on theologians and contemporary writers from very different backgrounds and traditions. In Discovering Aquinas Aidan Nichols offers a lively and authoritative introduction to the life, thought, and ongoing influence of this singular churchman. This book could not have come at a better time. After a lengthy period of declining interest in Aquinas, we are starting to see a Thomistic renaissance, including a renewed appreciation for the way Aquinas's work so brilliantly weaves together philosophy, theology, spirituality, revelation, and ethics. As Nichols writes, "It is because of the wonderfully integrated character of the wisdom of Thomas Aquinas -- integrated not only as supernatural with natural but also as thinking with love -- that the church in our day should not leave him as a fresco on a wall but find inspiration from his teaching and example." By means of writing as felicitous as it is insightful, Nichols chronicles the compelling facts of Aquinas's life, explores the major facets of his thought, establishes Aquinas's historical importance, and shows why many today are regarding him as a vital partner in current debates about the future of Christianity.

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More About Aidan Nichols

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Aidan Nichols entered the Dominican Order in 1970, and has since worked in Edinburgh, Oslo, Rome and Cambridge, where he now lives. His other publications include "The Art of God Incarnate" and "The Shape of Catholic Theology," among others.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Not for beginners  Nov 18, 2005
This book was recommended for background/preliminary reading for a course on Aquinas' thought. I have dipped into this book and the author clearly has great command of his subject; however, it is not a book for those who are not already aquainted with Aquinas. I think/hope that I will be able to get the most benefit from "Discovering Aquinas" after I've done the course. The writing is generally clear and elegant, there being just enough idiosyncratic turn of phrase to maintain interest and keep you on your guard, though it is also sometimes somewhat too allusive.
 
An excellent resource for Thomists  Sep 23, 2005
Thomas Aquinas is very relevant to the 21st century. In fact, "The hour is striking when a recall to the ontological theology of Thomas is urgent," (p. 182) writes Aidan Nichols, Prior of the Dominican House in Cambridge, England. Fr. Nichols is an accomplished philosopher who has become an accomplished theologian with such works as The Theology of Joseph Ratzinger: An Introductory Study (1994) and The Word Has Been Abroad: A Guide through Balthasar's Aesthetics (1998). In his Discovering Aquinas: An Introduction to His Life, Work and Influence, contemporary philosophers and theologians will discover what Nichols calls "the concrete intellectualism" of St. Thomas Aquinas. (p. 158)

Nichols opens Part One of the book with a delightful re-telling of Aquinas' biography. It is always refreshing to hear how Aquinas began his studies at the Benedictine abbey of Monte Cassino, ended them at the Benedictine/Cistercian abbey of Fossanova and made in between stops in Naples, Paris, Cologne, Orvieto, Rome, Paris again and then Naples again. Nichols explains how the controversy at the University of Paris was solved by Aquinas who suggested "the naturalism of the pagans at their best... could be textured into the fabric of Christian theology." (p. 15)

With his excellent Dominican formation provided by the venerable Blackfriars of Cambridge, Nichols discusses seven topics from a Thomistic perspective: Revelation, God and Creation, Trinity, Trinity in Man, Angelology, Grace and Virtue, then Christ, Church and Sacraments. Revelation, according to Nichols, is anything that is known "through angelic mediation" (p. 25) and grasped by humans with "what Thomas calls a lumen propheticum, a 'prophetic light'" (p. 22), such as "God's eternal designs for his world" (26). Nichols has a clear description of Aquinas' five proofs for the conclusion that God is real and expertly shows how the Third Way is the "basis" for the other four ways which resemble the material, formal, efficient and final causes of Aristotle. I found this insight to be particularly helpful. Nichols tries his best when discussing Aquinas' teaching on the Trinity although trying to keep track of Unitarianism, Modalism and Subordinationism can be challenging for the non-theologian. The main thing to remember is that for "Thomas' Trinitarian personalism the Persons are their relations." (p. 69) Here Nichols shows Aquinas' debt to Richard of St. Victor, Alexander of Hales and "the admirable Bonaventure." (p. 66)

Aquinas is knows at the Angelic Doctor and one look at Part Two of Nichols book will help a reader see why. Aqinas writes in the De Ente, chapter 4, that "intelligentie sunt infinite inferius et finite superius" ("intelligences are infinite from below and finite from above"). Nichols highlights this teaching of Aquinas and writes, "Unlike our nature, angelic nature is purely form [and]... it's nature is in potency to the actuality which is its existence." (p. 88) Here Nichols shows his polished understanding of metaphysics. When reviewing Aquinas' teaching on the theological virtues in the next chapter Nichols shows his confidence with theology. Aquinas wrote in the Compendium of Theology, "Love cannot be rightly ordered unless the proper goal of our hope is established, nor can there be any hope if knowledge of the truth is lacking." (p. 102) Clarifying this Nichols writes, "We need to receive resources for good living - for both natural living and supernatural living - from the grace of God." (p. 102) The chapter on Christ, Church and Sacraments is an excellent review of Aquinas' doctrine on christology and the sacraments. After slowly making his way through the maze of Eastern and Western views of how Jesus can be both a man and God as the same time, Nichols shows that Aquinas is worthy of any academic task and "adds to the orthodox interpretation of the Chalcedonian Formula." (p. 112).

Discovering Aquinas is a recommended text for mature students of Thomism who wish to review on their understanding of Aquinas. I also recommend Nichols' book for continental philosophers who would be interested in his American and European sources.

The fine presentation of Aquinas' work here is slightly marred by the over-arching attempt to summarize the 20,000 pages of Aquinas with one small book and by the regular presence of sentences held together by numerous commas which makes for a slow read. Still, Nichols clearly understands the finer points of philosophy and theology, genuinely appreciates the value of Aquinas, and writes in a colorful and delightful way. For example, the essence of a thing is described by Nichols as its "thinginess". (p. 55). This and other gems truly make Nichols' Discovering Aquinas a perfect assistant to contemporary students and scholars of St. Thomas Aquinas.

 

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