Nearly 40 people from all across the country spent the week of August 12-16 in Wausau, Wisconsin studying St. Thomas Aquinas’s commentary on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians. The event was a collaborative effort of The Aquinas Institute for the Study of Sacred Doctrine and the St. Albert the Great Center for Scholastic Studies. All participants received a copy of Aquinas’s commentary on Galatians and Ephesians.

Seminar Style Discussion of the Text

Our approach to studying theology prioritizes a close reading of the texts of the great masters of the theological tradition, with pride of place belonging to the common doctor St. Thomas Aquinas. Students were divided into three seminar groups, each of which was led by one of our faculty tutors, in order to go through the text carefully together, one chapter at a time.

Lectures Series

The lecture series aimed to open up a deeper exploration of some of the central themes arising from Galatians, which is a particularly rich letter theologically. Rev. Dr. Thomas Crean, O.P. gave a paper (in absentia) in which he considered The Scope and Limits of Papal Power; Dr. Taylor Patrick O’Neill lectured on the topic of St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine contra Martin Luther on Grace, Freedom, and Justification by Works; and Dr. Alan P. Fimister gave a lecture entitled, Dead and Deadly: The Passing of the Old Law.

Scholastic Disputation

The highlight of the week was the culminating scholastic disputation. Students were divided into two teams and assigned to argue for or against several questions that were proposed in connection with Galatians. The questions disputed were: (1) whether the power of the pope is limited by more than divine and natural law; (2) whether man is justified by faith alone; and (3) whether all you need is love.

For each question proposed, the team arguing in the affirmative led off with their prepared arguments; the opposing team was then given 3 minutes to confer before attempting to rebut these arguments. Next, the second team delivered their prepared arguments and the first team then had 3 minutes to confer before giving their rebuttals. This process was repeated for all three questions and then the magister (yours truly, Dr. John P. Joy) retired to consider the arguments and compose his respondeo. Finally, in the last session of the week, the magister delivered his respondeo together with replies to all the objections made on both sides of the question.

Sacred Liturgy

In addition to the academic program, students were able to participate in the rich liturgical life of St. Mary’s Oratory with the canons of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. This is an important part of the week, since our aim is not merely to study the sacred Scriptures but to contemplate the divine mysteries of the faith. Taking St. Thomas as our model both in study and in prayer, our academic work draws its life from the sacred liturgy of the Church.

St. Mary’s Oratory is an unparalleled gem of Gothic Bavarian architecture.

The daily schedule included opportunities for confession and daily Mass in the usus antiquior (‘extraordinary form’) of the Roman Rite. We were also able to join the canons of the Institute in singing compline, the night prayer of the Church. But the highlight of the week liturgically was the solemn high Mass and procession with a relic of our Lady’s veil for the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin on August 15.

Special thanks to our hosts, the canons and people of St. Mary’s Oratory! They were incredibly warm and welcoming and made us all feel right at home.

When the Aquinas Institute was founded in 2008, we built on a strong foundation. We had a deep background in St. Thomas Aquinas, years of experience translating medieval Latin, and a passion for our mission: to make the texts of Aquinas available as widely as possible in high quality, bilingual editions. We also knew how to leverage technology. We soon built the best tools available for translation editing, and we used the same tools to make Aquinas’s texts available online for free in a bilingual, searchable format. We even pioneered a new approach to bilingual ebooks.

But the world of paper publishing was new to us. We learned slowly about printers, paper, binding, distribution, marketing, customer service, and everything else that gets the text from our database into your hands. All of that is crucial to our mission, but not what we are best at. Over the years, negotiating with printers and attending to lost packages has taken time away from our real strengths.

So we are genuinely excited to announce a partnership with the up-and-coming publishing powerhouse Emmaus Academic, a branch of the St. Paul Center in Steubenville, Ohio. Their team of experts will print and distribute the Opera Omnia series, and their staff—larger and more experienced than ours—will take over customer service. This will get the works of Aquinas out to a much larger audience, and at the same time it will free up the Aquinas Institute to do what we do best: research, translate, edit, and format the texts of Aquinas for publication. We can offer even higher-quality texts at a faster pace than ever! We can’t imagine a better way to celebrate the 10th anniversary of our founding.

We have spent the past two months transferring books, unplugging our systems from our previous distributor, and plugging them into the St. Paul Center’s system. All of our current publications are now for sale at the St. Paul Center’s site. To celebrate the partnership, you can get any Aquinas Institute title for 20% off for a limited time – plus, log in or create an account to get free shipping! Spread the word!

At the head of each of the four books of the Summa contra gentiles, St. Thomas places a verse from Scripture that expresses his plan for the book.

Book I. On God. My mouth shall meditate truth, and my lips shall hate impiety (Prov 8:7).

Wherefore the twofold office of the wise man is fittingly declared from the mouth of wisdom, in the words above quoted; namely, to meditate and publish the divine truth, which antonomastically is the truth, as signified by the words: my mouth shall meditate truth; and to refute the error contrary to truth, as signified by the words: and my lips shall hate impiety, by which is denoted falsehood opposed to divine truth. (SCG I, 1)

Book II. On Creation. I meditated on all thy operations: I meditated upon the works of thy hands (Ps 142:5).

Now the operation of a thing is twofold, as the Philosopher teaches; one that abides in the very worker and is a perfection of the worker himself, such as to sense, to understand, and to will; and another that passes into an outward thing, and is a perfection of the thing made that results from it, such as to heat, to cut, and to build… Of the former operation of God we have already spoken in the foregoing book, where we treated of the divine knowledge and will. Wherefore in order to complete our treatise of the divine truth, it remains for us to treat of the latter operation, whereby, to wit, things are made and governed by God. We may gather this order from the words quoted above. For first he speaks of meditation on the first kind of operation, when he says: I meditated on all thy operations, so that we refer operation to the divine intelligence and will. Then he refers to meditation on God’s works when he says, and I meditated on the works of thy hands, so that by the works of his hands we understand heaven and earth, and all that is brought into being by God, as the handiwork produced by a craftsman. (SCG II, 1)

Book III. On Providence. God is a great Lord and a great king above all gods. For the Lord will not reject his people. For in his hands are all the ends of the earth and the heights of the mountains are his. For the sea is his and he made it, and his hands formed the dry land (Ps 94:3-5).

Wherefore, the Psalmist, filled with the divine spirit, in order to give us an illustration of the divine government, first describes to us the perfection of the supreme governor—as to his nature when he says, God; as to his power, when he says, a great Lord, implying that he needs no one for his power to produce its effect: as to his authority, when he says, a great king above all gods, since, although there be many rulers, yet are all subject to his rule. Secondly, he describes to us the manner of this government. As regards intellectual beings, which, if they submit to his rule, receive from him their last end which is himself; wherefore he says, for the Lord will not reject his people. As regards things corruptible which, albeit at times they wander from their proper mode of action, never escape the power of the supreme ruler, he says, for in his hands are all the ends of the earth. And as regards the heavenly bodies, which transcend the highest summits of the earth, that is of corruptible bodies, and always maintain the order of the divine government, he says, and the heights of the mountains are his. Thirdly, he assigns the reason of this universal government, for the things that God made must needs be governed by him. To this he refers when he says, for the sea is his, etc. (SCG III, 1)

Book IV. On Salvation. Behold, these things are said of his ways in part: and seeing we have heard scarce a little drop of his word, who shall be able to behold the thunder of his greatness? (Job 26:14).

Hence man’s knowledge of divine things is threefold. The first is when man, by the natural light of reason, rises through creatures to the knowledge of God. The second is when the divine truth which surpasses the human intelligence comes down to us by revelation, yet not as shown to him that he may see it, but as expressed in words so that he may hear it. The third is when the human mind is raised to the perfect intuition of things revealed. This threefold knowledge is indicated by the words of Job quoted above. The words, these things are said of his ways in part refer to the knowledge in which our intellect rises to the knowledge of God by the way of creatures. And because we know these ways but imperfectly, he rightly adds in part: since we know in part, as the Apostle says (1 Cor 13:9).

The words that follow, and seeing we have heard scarce a little drop of his word, refer to the second knowledge, wherein divine things are revealed to our belief by way of speech: because faith, as it is said, is by hearing, and hearing is by the word of Christ (Rom 10:17), of which it is also said (John 17:17): sanctify them in truth. Thy word is truth. Wherefore, since the revealed truth in divine things is offered not to our sight but to our belief, he rightly says we have heard. And whereas this imperfect knowledge flows from that perfect knowledge whereby the divine truth is seen in itself, when revealed to us by God by means of the angels who see the face of the Father, the expression drop is appropriate: hence it is said: in that day the mountains shall drop down sweetness (Joel 3:18). But since not all the mysteries which the angels and blessed know through seeing them in the first truth are revealed to us, but only a certain few, he says pointedly, a little. For it is said: who shall magnify him as he is from the beginning? There are many things hidden from us, that are greater than these: for we have seen but a few of his works (Sir 43:35-36). Again the Lord said to his disciples: I have yet many things to say to you: but you cannot bear them now (John 16:12). Moreover these few things that are revealed to us are proposed to us figuratively and obscurely, so that only the studious can succeed in understanding them, while others revere them as things occult, and so that unbelievers are unable to deride them. Hence the Apostle says: we see now through a glass in a dark manner (1 Cor 13:12); wherefore Job adds significantly the word scarce, to indicate difficulty.

When he goes on to say, who shall be able to behold the thunder of his greatness? he is referring to the third knowledge, whereby the first truth shall be known as an object not of belief but of vision, for we shall see him as he is (1 John 3:2); wherefore he says, behold. Nor shall a small portion of the divine mysteries be perceived, but the divine majesty itself shall be seen, and the entire perfection of good things: hence the Lord said to Moses: I will show thee all good (Exod 33:19); wherefore he says rightly, greatness. Nor will the truth be revealed to man obscurely, but made clearly manifest: wherefore our Lord said to his disciples: the hour cometh when I will no more speak to you in proverbs, but will show you plainly of the Father (John 16:25); hence the word thunder is significant as indicating manifestation.

Now the passage quoted is suitable to our purpose: because hitherto we have spoken of divine things, in as much as natural reason is able to arrive at the knowledge of them through creatures; imperfectly however and as far as its own capacity allows, so that we can say with Job: behold, these things are said of his ways in part. It remains then for us to speak of those things that God has proposed to us to be believed, and which surpass the human intelligence. (SCG IV, 1)

We were pleased to hear from Scott Corbin about how much he likes his Aquinas Institute Summa volumes—and intrigued, since Scott is a student at a Southern Baptist seminary. We asked Scott to share some thoughts with us about how Thomas Aquinas appeals to more than just Roman Catholics.

How were you drawn to Thomas Aquinas as a Protestant Evangelical?

My first real engagement with Thomas’ work was in a course I took on Medieval theology in seminary. Prior to that, I had remedial knowledge of Thomas, but nothing substantive. This was the first time I engaged with Thomas, specifically the Summa, directly. Prior to that, I was indifferent about him. I knew that he was often a target in Reformation polemics, that Luther had serious misgivings, and that many of the theologians within the Reformed tradition—including John Calvin—shared Luther’s concerns.

What I found when reading Thomas was someone who was deeply rooted in the catholic tradition of theology and exegesis, utilizing Aristotle’s methodology as an ancillary help to clarify Christian doctrine. At the same time, I began to read more of the secondary literature on Thomas, as well as the history of his reception, and found some fascinating historical oddities. I began to understand that there was debate regarding Thomas’ development and his reception by later “Thomist” scholars, including Tomasso de Vio Cajetan, whom Luther debated at Augsburg in 1518.

At the same time, I also found that the Reformers reception of Thomas was eclectic. There was no denying Luther and his followers vitriolic animus against Thomas, but I also discovered other Reformed theologians like Peter Martyr Vermigli and Jerome Zanchi who appropriated Thomas constructively in their work. Further, I discovered that even someone like Philip Melancthon, who raged against Thomas in the first edition of his Loci communes in 1521, modified and even appropriated thought from Thomas in later editions.

What all of this made me realize was that Thomas was being used and abused in ways beyond his work. It was only in engaging with the text of Aquinas that I began to see much that was consonant with my convictions as a Protestant Evangelical.

One would think that Thomas Aquinas would be a Roman Catholic’s author, but you’re finding other evangelicals are drawn to Thomas. Why is that?

Thomas’ thought is so rich and varied that there are seemingly endless ways that he can be incorporated. However, I’ve noticed that various Evangelicals are drawn to him for various ways. Some see him primarily as a philosopher who can help them think about the relation between faith and reason. Others see him as a constructive, orthodox theologian able to help reason through issues regarding the doctrine of God, Christology, and Trinity, especially after the abuse that such richly metaphysical doctrines have undergone in modern theology.

Often, either due to a naïve biblicism or ignorance of history, Evangelicals have a difficult time understanding historic debates regarding the Trinity and the two natures of Christ. They have a hard time reasoning through these things because they can’t just point to a text and say, “That settles it.” Theologians like Thomas help to make sense of the issues in all of their metaphysical resonance. For the uninitiated, reading Thomas is by no means a breeze, but once one is familiar with his style and terms, it’s very profitable.

Who are some of the most notable theologians who incorporated elements of Thomas’s theology into their constructive work?

Historically, as I mentioned above, Reformed theologians like Martin Bucer, Jerome Zanchi and Peter Martyr Vermigli were trained in Thomas’ theology. Notably, Zanchi incorporates elements of Thomas in his doctrine of God, while Vermigli positively mentions Thomas in his discussion on predestination.

In addition, you see other theologians incorporating Thomas in the post-Reformation period. For example, John Owen, to whom most Evangelicals are drawn because of his work on sanctification, utilizes elements of Thomism in his discussion of the theological virtues and infused habits for the Christian who has been justified by faith alone. In addition, Owen’s work on the atonement, what is called “particular redemption,” uses the simplicity of God as an operating principle. For Owen, the doctrine of particular redemption is intimately connected to God’s simplicity—a category he at least shared with Thomas.

Finally, Francis Turretin, whose Institutio was the theological textbook for Reformed theologians like Charles Hodge and B. B. Warfield associated with the Princeton school in the 19th century, defines the study of theology in a way that is strikingly similar to Thomas: theology is a study of God, who is both the subject and object of theology, and all His works.

Where have you found Thomas most helpful?

I’ve found Thomas to be most helpful in his doctrine of God and in his Christology. I must admit here that I’ve also been helped greatly by two Dominican theologians, Gilles Emery, OP and Thomas Joseph White, OP, in seeing Thomas’ lucidity on these points. I am convinced that Emery’s little book on the Trinity, published by the Catholic University of America, is the single best introduction to the doctrine. It’s the book that I recommend when people ask me for one book on the Trinity.

In addition, Emery’s larger book Summa’s treatment of the Trinity, The Trinitarian Theology of St. Thomas Aquinas, has helped me immensely in understanding the grammar and logic behind the questions regarding processions, relations, and notional acts in the Prima Pars.

Thomas Joseph White’s latest book The Incarnate Lord: A Thomistic Christology, also published by the Catholic University of America, has been an exhilarating read for me as someone who has wrestled with the work of theologians like Friedrich Schleiermacher and Karl Barth. The strength of White’s book for me has been putting the actual text of Aquinas on Christology in conversation with the critiques of those like Barth. Plus, a few quibbles aside, I think the majority of what White brings to the table is in harmony with a confessing Evangelical like myself.

Another area where he is helpful, and has contemporary relevance, is regarding ethics, specifically sexual ethics. Many Evangelicals have found the work of Roman Catholic philosophers and ethicists a great help in understanding natural law and the importance of sexual differentiation in marriage. On this point, Roman Catholics and a great number of Evangelicals are cobelligerents.

Why should evangelicals read Thomas Aquinas?

St. Augustine writes in De trinitate that “it is useful that many persons should write many books in diverse styles but not in diverse faith, even with regard to the same questions, that the matter itself may reach the greatest number.” St. Thomas’ contribution to Christian theology is one more “diverse style” in which to think about the God of the Christian faith.

While the differences among Roman Catholics and Protestant Evangelicals certainly exist, and ought not be minimized in the name of a soft ecumenism, it still remains the case that there is much between us that is shared. Evangelicals should read Aquinas for his erudition and clarity of thought, but they should also read him for the way in which he reasons deeply in faith. They should read him for the way in which he asks and frames questions in a way that is deeply distant—but deeply helpful—in order to help solve contemporary issues.

But mostly, they should read him for the way in which he brings all sorts of resources to the table, both Christian and non-Christian, to honor and confess the blessed God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Scott Corbin is a student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife Jessi live in Nashville, TN with their two children. You can follow Scott on Twitter or read more on his blog.

When we set out to publish the entire Opera Omnia of Aquinas, we were determined to make books that students and teachers would love: readable, durable, beautiful—and yet affordable. And the message from all of you has been loud and clear: we love these volumes!

But you have sent another, quieter message as well: these books are lovely, but they are big, they are heavy, and we can’t imagine taking them on an airplane. Isn’t there some way to make Aquinas more portable?

We hear you.

Introducing the new Aquinas Institute eBooks. Each eBook matches one of our printed volumes, and if your e-reader permits it you can even see what page of our printed volume you are viewing. Best of all, just like our printed volumes, the eBooks are bilingual. How does that work? See the video below for a demonstration. You can toggle back and forth between Latin and English. In many readers, you can load a Latin dictionary, and then tap and hold on a word to look it up. You can take notes, search, bookmark, and anything else your reader allows. We have combined all the features you expect from an Aquinas Institute volume with all the convenience of your Kindle.

Where can you get Aquinas Institute eBooks? Anywhere you get eBooks: from Amazon, iBooks, Nook, and a host of other providers. Each eBook costs just $5.99. And if you prefer a static PDF to a reflowable eBook, the bilingual layout found in our printed books is also available through Web PDF providers like Microsoft Books for just $12.99.

As of this writing, only the Summa Theologiae is available in eBook form, but more volumes are soon to come. Please send us your feedback! We’re spearheading a new approach to eBooks for the serious student.

The Aquinas Institute would like to give our subscribers and supporters a Christmas gift: Aquinas’s Christmas sermon Ecce Rex Tuus in a fresh translation from the Leonine text by Madison Michieli. To see the Latin text in a parallel column and critical footnotes in the English, visit our online text viewer. Feel free to share.



The greatness of the Incarnation

Behold, your king comes to you, meek (Matt 21:5). Many are the wonders of the divine works, as the Psalmist says: wonderful are your works (Ps 137[138]:14). Yet no work of God is as marvelous as the coming of Christ into the flesh, because, while in his other works God imprinted his likeness on the creature, in the work of the Incarnation he impressed his very self, and united himself to human nature through a unity of person (or united our nature to himself). And hence, while the other works of God are imperfectly knowable, this work (namely, the Incarnation), is entirely without reason. Job 5:9: you do great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number. There is one work that I cannot see: if he should come to me, I would not see him (Job 9:11). And in Malachi: behold, the lord of hosts comes, and who can know the day of his coming? (Mal 3:1–2) As though to say: it exceeds the knowledge of man. But the Apostle teaches who would be able to know the day of his coming, saying: not that we are sufficient to think anything of ourselves, as of ourselves: but all our sufficiency is from God (2 Cor 3:5). Therefore, in the beginning we will ask the Lord that he himself should give me something to say, etc.


The four comings of Christ the King

Behold, your king comes, meek (Matt 21:5). These words are taken from the Gospel which we read today, and are taken from Zechariah 9:9, although there it is said in slightly different words. In these words, Christ’s coming is clearly prophesied to us. And lest we proceed on the basis of an ambiguity, you should know that Christ’s coming is read in four ways. First is that by which he comes into the flesh. His second coming is that by which he comes into the soul. The third coming of Christ is that by which he comes in the death of the just. And the fourth coming of Christ is that by which he comes to judge.

First, I say that the coming of Christ is into the flesh. And it is not to be understood as though he came into the flesh by changing place, because he says in Jeremiah: I fill heaven and earth (Jer 23:24). In what way, then, did he come into the flesh? I say that he came into the flesh descending from heaven, not by leaving heaven behind, but by assuming human nature. Thus John says: he came unto his own (John 1:11). And how? I say that he was in the world, but he came in the world when the word became flesh (John 1:14).

And see how this coming leads to the other coming of Christ, which is into the soul. It would have profited us nothing if Christ had come into the flesh, unless he had also entered into the soul, that is, by sanctifying us. Hence John says: if anyone love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and will make our abode with him (John 14:23). In the first coming, the Son comes alone, but in the second, the Son comes with the Father to live within the soul. This coming, which is through justifying grace, frees the soul from fault, though not from all punishment, because it receives grace, although it does not yet receive glory.

And because of this the third coming of Christ is necessary, in which he comes in the death of the saints, when he receives these souls unto himself. Hence John says: if I should go, to the Passion, and prepare a place for you, by removing the obstacle, I shall come to you again, namely, in death, and I shall take you to myself, namely, in glory, that where I am, you also may be (John 14:3). And again he says: I came that they may have life, namely, my presence in your souls, and have it in abundance (John 10:10), namely, through participating in glory.

The fourth coming of Christ will be to judge, namely, when the Lord will come as Judge, and then the glory of the saints will overflow even into the body, and the dead will rise again. Hence John says: the hour is coming, and now is, when all who are in the tomb will hear the voice of the son of God and those who did well will enter into the resurrection of life (John 5:25).

And perhaps it is because of these four comings that the Church celebrates Christ’s coming over the four Sundays of Advent. It celebrates the first coming of Christ on this Sunday: and we can see four things in the words set down above. First, the coming of Christ is shown at: behold; second, the condition of the one coming, at: your king; third, the purpose of the coming: comes to you; fourth, the mode of the coming, at: meek.

First, I say that we can see that the coming of Christ is shown at: behold. We must note that we normally understand four things by ‘behold’. First, showing a thing to be certain: we say ‘behold’ of things which are evident to us. Second, we understand through ‘behold’ a determination of time; third, the manifestation of a thing; and fourth, men’s comfort.

First, I say that through ‘behold’ we normally mean to make a thing certain. When anyone wants to make a thing certain, he says, behold. Hence the Lord says in Genesis: behold, I will establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you. I shall set my bow between me and you (Gen 9:9, 13), namely, as a sign of peace. This bow signifies the Son of God, for, as the bow is generated from the reflection of the sun on the watery clouds, so is Christ generated from the Word of God and human nature, which is like the clouds. And as the soul and body are one man, so God and man are the one Christ; and it is said of Christ that he ascended on a light cloud (cf. Acts 1:9), that is, on human nature, by uniting it to himself. And Christ came to us as a sign of peace, and it was necessary that he should become such because of how some doubt Christ’s second coming. Hence the Apostle says: in the last days there shall come deceitful scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, “where is his promise or his coming?” (2 Pet 3:3-4). Such men will say that the soul will not endure after the body, and because of this, to show the certainty of Christ’s coming, the prophet says: behold. And it says in Habakkuk 2:3: the Lord will appear in the end, and will not lie. And Isaiah says: the Lord of hosts will come (Isa 3:14).

The second thing we usually understand through ‘behold’ is a determined time. In the coming of Christ to judge, we do not have a determined time; hence Job says: I know not how long I shall continue, and when my Maker may take me away (Job 32:22). And in Luke: the kingdom of God will not come with observation (Luke 17:20). Why was there not a time determined for us for that coming? Perhaps because the Lord wished us to be always watchful. But for the coming of Christ into the flesh we had a determined time; hence Isaiah says: behold, the days shall come, and I shall raise up to David a just seed, and he shall reign and be wise (Jer 23:5).

The third thing we normally understand by ‘behold’ is the manifestation of a thing. A certain coming of God to us is hidden, namely, the coming in which he enters into the soul, and cannot be known through showing it to be certain. Hence Job says: if he come to me, I shall not see him, and if he depart, I shall not understand (Job 9:11). But in this coming, which is into the flesh, Christ comes manifest and visible; hence Isaiah says: therefore my people shall understand my name, because I am myself who spoke; behold, I am here (Isa 52:6). And John points him out, saying as though in the present: behold, the Lamb of God (John 1:36). But Zechariah showed him through behold in reference to the future.

Fourth, by ‘behold’ we normally understand men’s comfort; and this in two ways. If a man suffers annoyance from his enemies, and his enemies submit to him, he says, behold. Thus Lamentations 2:16 says: my enemies have opened their mouth, and behold, the day comes which I have longed for. Similarly, when a man obtains some good which he has long desired, he says ‘behold’. As the Psalmist says: behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to live in unity (Ps 132[131]:1). We obtained these two in the coming of Christ because man is freed from the insults of the devil and rejoices in hope obtained. As Isaiah says: say to the fainthearted, “take courage, and fear not: behold, your God will bring the revenge of recompense over your enemies; God himself will come and will save you” (Isa 35:4).

Now, let us consider the condition of the one coming. A person’s coming requires that he be expected or announced with solemnity because of the person’s greatness, if he is a king or papal legate, or because of friendship and affinity: and this one who comes is a king, our close relation, and a friend.

Because of this, we must await him with solemnity. You know that a king orders the authority of dominion, yet not just anyone who has authority of dominion is called a king, but four things are required for someone to be called a king; if anyone is absent, he is not called a king. A king must first have unity; second, fullness of power; third, wide jurisdiction; and fourth, equity of justice.

First, I say that a king must have unity, because if there are many lords in a kingdom and dominion is not proper to one, we do not say there is a king. Hence the kingdom is like a certain monarchy, and Christ has unity. Thus Ezekiel says: there will be one king of us all (Eze 37:22). He says one king to signify that our king will not be a foreigner, nor another lord, but the one Lord, Son with the Father. Thus Christ says: I and the Father are one (John 10:30), against Arius who said that the Father and Son are different. As the Apostle says: if there are many gods and many lords, we have one God and Lord (1 Cor 8:5-6).

Second, ‘king’ conveys fullness of power. Whoever reigned without fullness of power, but according to imposed laws, would not be called ‘king’ but ‘consul’ or ‘magistrate.’ Now, it was going to be that, by Christ’s coming, the law was changed by God with regard to the ceremonial laws. Thus Christ himself is the one who can establish the law. Hence he says: it was said to the ancients, “do not kill,” but I say (Matt 5:21), as though to say: I have power, and I can make the laws. Thus Isaiah says: our Lord, our judge, our law-maker, he himself shall come and save us (Isa 33:22). We read that the Father gave all judgement to the Son (John 5:22), and the Son is our law-maker and consequently, our king. Thus Esther says: Lord, all-powerful king, all are placed in your power (Est 13:9); and thus the Son says: all power in heaven and on earth is given to me (Matt 28:18).

Third, ‘king’ conveys breadth of jurisdiction. The head of a household has fullness of power in his own home, yet he is not called a king. Similarly, someone who has one estate is not called a king because of this, but he who has dominion over many lands and over a large city is called a king. We see this in he who came to us, for all creatures are under him, because God is king of all the earth (Ps 46[47]:8). And it was necessary that the sort of man should come who had such power, because the law once was given only to the Jews (and the Jews were called the chosen people of God): but all had to be brought to salvation, and hence there had to be a king of all who could save all. Such was the one who came to us. Hence the Psalmist says: ask of me, and I will give you the Gentiles for your inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for your possession (Ps 2:8).

Fourth, it is necessary that a king have equity, because otherwise he would be a tyrant: for the tyrant turns everything within the kingdom to his own use, but a king orders his kingdom to the common good. Thus Proverbs says: a just king sets up the land; a covetuous man destroys it (Prov 29:4). But he came not seeking his own use, but yours, because the Son of Man did not come to be ministered to, but to minister (Matt 20:28). And who comes to minister? Surely the one who comes to give his soul for the redemption of many (Matt 20:28), and so that he might lead the redeemed to eternal glory, to which may he lead us, etc.

Evening Collation

The love and meekness of Christ the King

Behold, your king comes, etc. It was said that in these words we could see the coming shown when it says: behold; second, the condition of the one coming, at: your king; third, the usefulness of the coming, at: comes to you; and fourth, the manner of the coming, at: meek. It was also said that through ‘behold’ we normally understand four things: first, making a thing certain; second, the determination of a time; third, the manifestation of a thing; and fourth, comfort.

Now, we said about the condition of the one coming (which is noted when it says your king) that a person’s coming requires that he be expected or announced with solemnity because of his greatness (if he is a king or a legate), or because of a person’s friendship and affinity: and these were in he who came.

We then must consider that he himself is the king of all creation. Hence Judith 9:17 says: creator of the waters and king of all creation. But he is specifically called your king, namely, of man, because of four things: first, because of the likeness of his image; second, because of special love; third, because of special care and solicitude; and fourth, because of the society of human nature.

First, I say that Christ is called your king, that is, of man, because of the likeness of his image. You know that things are especially said to pertain to a king which bear his insignia, like his image; and while every creature is God’s, yet there is a special way in which a creature is God’s that bears his image: and this is man. Thus Genesis says: let us make man toward our image and likeness (Gen 1:26). In what does this likeness consist? I say that it is not according to a bodily likeness, but according to the intelligible light of the mind. Now, the fount of intelligible light is in God, and we have a sign of this light. Thus Psalm 4:7 says: the light of your countenance, O Lord, is signed upon us. Man has a seal of this light: thus this image is created in man; but it is blackened and obscured through sin. Psalm 71(72):20: you will bring their image to nothing. Because of this, God sent his Son to reform that image which was deformed through sin. Therefore, let us strive to be reformed, following the Apostle who says: putting off the old man, and put on the new man, who is created after the likeness of God, and who is renewed in the image of he who created him (Eph 4:24). And how are we renewed? Surely insofar as we imitate Christ. For that same image which is deformed in us is perfect in Christ. Therefore we ought to bear the image of Christ. Hence the Apostle says to the Corinthians: as we have borne the image of the earthly, thus let us bear also the image of the heavenly (1 Cor 15:49); and in today’s epistle: let us put on Christ (Rom 13:14), that is, let us imitate Christ. The perfection of the Christian life consists in this.

Second, Christ is called your king, that is, of man, because of special love. It is the custom in groups of clerics that when a bishop loves certain ones in a more special way than others, that he is called their bishop. God loves all that there is, but he loves men in a special way. Thus Isaiah says: where is your zeal, and your strength, the multitude of your bowels over me? (Is 63:15) Observe that God specially loves human nature. For we find diverse levels of nature, but we do not find that God lifts up a lower level of nature to a higher level of nature, such as the level of a star to the level of the sun, or the level of the inferior angels to the level of the higher angels. But God raised man to the level of and equality with the angels. Hence in Luke: the sons of the Resurrection, the saints, will be equal with the angels (Luke 20:36). Thus God especially loves men. Therefore, we ought not to be ungrateful for such great love, but we ought to wholly transfer our love to him. If the king should love some poor man, that poor man would consider himself wretched if he should not repay the king his love as much as he could. Out of immense love, God said to man: my delights are to be with the sons of men (Pro 8:31). Therefore, we ought to return him this love.

Third, Christ is called your king, that is, of man, because of his singular care and solicitude. It is true that God has care of all things; thus Wisdom 12:13 says, the care of all things is his. There is no thing so small as to be taken away from divine providence: for as a thing is from God, so is its order from God, and providence is the same as that order. Yet men are under divine providence in a special way. Thus the Psalmist says: men and beasts you will preserve, O Lord, namely, by bodily health, but the children of men will hope in the covert of your wings (Ps 35[36]:7-8). And how do they hope? I say that not only spiritual goods, but also eternal ones are prepared by God for those he leads to eternal life, and in regard to this God’s care is not for others. Thus the Apostle says: God’s care is not for oxen (1 Cor 9:9). God does not allow the act of man to be untried. Thus Wisdom 12:18 says: but you, the master, judge sin with great tranquillity.

Fourth, Christ is called your king, that is, of man, because of the society of human nature. Thus Deuteronomy 17:15 says: you may not make a man of another nation king who is not your brother. In this is a prophecy about Christ. The Lord was ordaining that he should establish the king for men; he did not want that he should be of another nation, that is, of a different nature, who would not be our brother. Thus the Apostle says of Christ: never does he take hold of the angels, but of the seed of Abraham (Heb 2:16), in which it appears that man has a privilege over the angels. Christ is the king of angels, and is a man, not an angel. The angels also serve man. Thus the Apostle says: all are ministering spirits (Heb 1:14). Now it was necessary that Christ be man for this, that he might save, for the Apostle says to the Hebrews: he who sanctifies and he who is sanctified are one, for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying: “I will declare my name to my brethren” (Heb 2:11-12). Now the demonstration of the coming and the condition of the one coming are clear.

Next, we should consider the usefulness of the coming, which is noted when he says: comes to you, namely, not compelled by his own usefulness, but by ours. Now, he came because of four things:

First, he came to make manifest the divine majesty; second, to reconcile us to God; third, to free us from sin; and fourth, to give us eternal life.

First, I say that Christ came to manifest to us the divine majesty. Man had ardently desired to have knowledge of the truth, and the truth principally to be considered is about God. But men were in such ignorance that they did not know what God is. Some were saying that he was a body, others said that he did not have care for individuals: and hence the Son of God came to teach us the truth. Thus he says: for this was I born, and for this came I into the world: that I should give testimony to the truth (John 18:37). And in John: no one has seen God (John 1:18), and because of this the Son of God came so that you might know the truth. Our parents were in such great error that they did not know the divine truth. But we, through the coming of the Son of God, are brought back to the truth of faith.

Second, Christ came to reconcile us to God. You were able to say: God was my enemy because of sin; therefore it was better for me to not know than to know him. Because of this, Christ came not only to manifest the divine majesty to us, but to reconcile us to God. Thus the Apostle says to the Ephesians: and coming, he will preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near (Eph 2:17). And elsewhere the Apostle says: we were reconciled to God through the death of his son (Rom 5:10); and because of this at the birth of Christ the angels sang: glory to God in the highest (Luke 2:14); and after the Resurrection the Lord brought peace to his disciples, saying: peace to you (John 20:21).

Third, he came to free us from the slavery of sin. Thus the Apostle says: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners (1 Tim 1:15). He who commits sin is the slave of sin (John 8:34); therefore, he must be freed. It is said: if the son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed (John 8:36). And: the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10).

Fourth, Christ came to give us the life of grace in the present and the life of glory in the future. Thus John 10:10 says: I came that you might have life, namely, the life of grace in the present, and since the just man lives from faith (Gal 3:11); and have it in abundance, that is, the life of glory in the future through charity. Thus John says: we know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren (1 John 3:14): and let us live through good works. Again in John: this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent (John 17:3). Now the usefulness of the one coming is clear.

But how did he come? I say that he comes meek. This is important. Thus in Proverbs: as the roaring of a lion, so also is the anger of a king: and his cheerfulness as the dew upon the grass (Pro 19:12). Meekness is mitigated wrath. Now God comes with meekness, but in the future he will come with wrath. Thus Isaiah says: behold, the name of the Lord shall come from afar; his wrath like burning fire (Isa 30:27). And Job: he does not now bring on his fury, neither does he revenge wickedness exceedingly (Job 35:15). For now Christ comes with meekness, and we ought to receive him with meekness. Thus blessed James says: with meekness receive the ingrafted word, which is able to save your souls (Jam 1:21).

Notice that we can consider Christ’s meekness in four things: first, in his way of life; second, in his correction; third, in his gracious reception of men; and fourth, in his Passion.

First, I say we can see the meekness of Christ in his way of life, for his entire life was peaceful. He did not seek matters of dispute, but wholly avoided everything which could lead him to quarrel. Thus he said: learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart (Matt 11:29). And we ought to imitate him in this. Christ ascending to Jerusalem sat upon a donkey, which is a meek animal (not on a horse), and which was a son of one under the yoke (Matt 21:5). Therefore we ought to be meek. Hence Sirach says: my son, do your works in meekness, and you shall be beloved above the glory of men (Sir 3:19).

Moreover, the meekness of Christ appears in his correction. He bore many taunts from his persecutors, yet nevertheless he did not respond to them with wrath or strife. About this, Psalm 44:5 says: because of truth and meekness, etc. In expounding this, Augustine says that when Christ spoke, he acknowledged the truth; when he patiently answered his enemies, his meekness was praised. As the Psalmist says: meekness is come upon us, and we shall be corrected (Ps 89[90]:10). And Isaiah: he neither contended nor cried out (Isa 42:2).

Third, the meekness of Christ appears in his gracious reception of men. Some men do not know to receive others with meekness. But Christ kindly received sinners, and even ate with them and admitted them to his banquet, or went to their banquets: thus the Pharisees were amazed, saying: why does your master eat with publicans? (Matt 9:11) Therefore, he was meek. Hence it can be said about the Church in 2 Samuel 22:36: your meekness multiplied me. Therefore, those who rule over others ought to be meek.

Fourth, the meekness of Christ is apparent in his Passion, because he went like a lamb to the slaughter (Acts 8:32), and when he was cursed, he did not curse (1 Pet 2:23); nevertheless, he could have handed over everyone to death. Hence he says in Jeremiah: I am like a lamb that is carried to the sacrifice (Jer 11:19).

Saint Andrew imitated his meekness well, for when he was placed on the cross and the people wished him to come down from the cross, urged and begged by prayers that they should not take him down from the cross, but that they themselves might follow him through the passion. Thus it is fulfilled in him: this man appears the most meek among the people (Num 12:3). The meek will inherit the blessed land. Thus in Matthew: blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the land (Matt 5:4); which may he deign to grant us, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit, etc.

In the prologue to his commentary on the book of the prophet Isaiah, St. Thomas Aquinas writes: “Now the subject matter of this book is principally the appearing of the Son of God, hence in the Church this book is read in the time of Advent.” As St. Thomas points out, most Christians have the words of Isaiah ringing in their ears at this time of year: “a virgin shall conceive and bear a son”; “for unto us a child is born”; “a rod shall come forth from the root of Jesse”; “a voice cries out in the wilderness.”

So the Aquinas Institute has decided to do something we have never done before: rather than wait until hardcover books are all printed and ready for sale, we have released Aquinas’s Expositio super Isaiam ad Litteram online today—the first time this work has ever appeared in English. Dr. Joshua Madden, who wrote his dissertation on the Isaiah commentary at Ave Maria University, has provided a crisp translation with helpful footnotes.

This commentary was St. Thomas’s earliest theological work, predating even his commentary on the Sentences.[1] He composed it, not as a master lecturing to graduate students, but as a graduate student lecturing undergraduates cursorie, offering a rapid tour of the plain sense of the Bible.[2]

Cursory though it may be, raw and sometimes rushed, the Expositio super Isaiam ad Litteram remains an astonishing work. Even without the team of research assistants he would later enjoy, St. Thomas quotes St. Jerome, St. Augustine, St. Ambrose, St. Gregory, St. Bernard, and others, as well as the standard medieval glosses. Despite such roots in the tradition, certain of his comments were so boldly contrary to opinions of the day that later readers doubted whether this exposition of Isaiah could really be from the Angelic Doctor.[3] All doubts were erased, however, when a partial autograph copy of the manuscript was found in 1844 containing the commentary on chapters 34 to 50 in the saint’s own famously illegible hand.[4]

Why should you read St. Thomas’s commentary on Isaiah? We can think of at least three reasons:

1. St. Thomas highlights the literary and structural qualities of the text.

Noting in his preface that Isaiah, more than any other prophet, employs the most “beautiful and perfectly chosen figures” to convey his message, St. Thomas remains attuned to this aspect of the text when it appears. See for example his measured yet profound comment on harlot’s song in Isaiah 23:15. Instead of flattening the text into a theological treatise, St. Thomas allows us to feel the weight of the metaphor, drawing out the affective imagery of a forgotten woman and finally drawing the parallel between the scorned lover and the city of Tyre. At the same time, St. Thomas pays careful attention to the organization of the text, dividing and subdividing all the way down to particular phrases. Click here for Aquinas’s general outline of the work.

2. St. Thomas allows Scripture to comment on Scripture.

At points, the reader almost forgets St. Thomas’s presence as a commentator. Following key words and thematic ties, he weaves together verse after verse from other books of Scripture and from other passages in Isaiah to illuminate the text at hand, allowing his authorial voice to give way to the voice of Scripture itself. For example, meditating on the phrase “from the sole of the foot even to the head” in Isaiah 1:6, St. Thomas recalls Isaiah 56:11, Wisdom 7:6, Leviticus 10:19, Psalm 99:2, and Psalm 13:3, illustrating the illness of Israel at every level of society.

3. St. Thomas’s commentary is theological.

Never separating textual interpretation from the consideration of reality, St. Thomas pauses to discuss theological issues as they arise. For example, commenting on the first word of the entire book, namely “vision,” he explores the nature of prophecy in general and how a prophetic “vision” relates to the broader category of “visions,” including the “beatific vision.” When he comes to the messianic prophecy of Isaiah 11, the traditional source-text for the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, St. Thomas pauses to explain the nature of these gifts, their number and order of the Gifts, how Christ possessed them in a unique way, and why they are attributed to the Holy Spirit—all within the compass of a couple of pages. Faith and exegesis go hand in hand throughout the Expositio.

And with that, we return to the reason for releasing this precious text now, during the season of Advent. St. Thomas brings us not only closer to the literary text that gives these weeks their distinctive sound, but also to the reality we await: the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

[1] Cf. Leonine edition, vol. 28, 20*.

[2] Torrell, St. Thomas Aquinas: Vol. 1, The Person and His Work, 337.

[3] Cf. Preface to the Leonine edition, 3-4; see also Torrell, St. Thomas Aquinas: Volume 1, The Person and His Work. Translated by Robert Royal (Washington D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1996), 27-28.

[4] Cf. Leonine edition, vol. 28, 14*-15*.

Because the Aquinas Institute’s mission is to make the works of Aquinas as widely available as possible, we put all of our bilingual editions online for free. But we don’t just slap texts up: we have put the same care into our online text viewer that we put into our well-known hardbound volumes. Our goal is to make the best way to access Aquinas on the web.

Did you know that Aquinas mentions Ambrose 278 times in the Summa? Or that his commentary on the Letter to the Hebrews is a particularly rich source for angelology? It only takes a few keystrokes to pull up what you need. At, you can:

  • Navigate quickly between works,
  • Search in either English or Latin,
  • Share a link to a particular paragraph,
  • And more.

This is the tool we use as translators and publishers, and we hope it will become the tool you use as teachers, students, and devotees of Aquinas. Check out our tutorial video below for details.

This past July, the Albertus Magnus Center Summer Program spent two weeks reading the Aquinas Institute’s latest volume, Book IV, Distinctions 1-13 of St. Thomas Aquinas’s Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard. Not many students have had the opportunity to read Aquinas’s Commentary at length. We asked AMCSS Vice-President Christopher Owens to tell us how it went.

First, tell us a bit about the Albertus Magnus Program.

The Albertus Magnus Center for Scholastic Studies promotes renewal in sacred theology according to the mind and method of the great scholastics, and particularly the work of St. Thomas Aquinas. We achieve this primarily through our annual summer program held in Norcia, Italy in cooperation with the Benedictine monastery there.

During the two-week program we follow a seminar method, looking to the great masters as our teachers. In addition, we have daily lectures by the tutors, the Fathers of the monastery, and other guest lecturers. The program culminates in a scholastic disputation and magisterial response, which allows for a synthesis of the materials learned and an application to contemporary questions, engaging theological questions of our own time and so contributing to the common good of the life of the Church.

Why was St. Thomas’s Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard chosen for this year’s program?

Over the last three summers we worked through several of Aquinas’s commentaries on the Pauline epistles, and before that we undertook systematic readings of various parts of the Summa. We wanted to change things up a bit this year. We have been friends with the faculty of the Aquinas Institute for a decade or more, and have been looking forward to the publication of the Sentences Commentary since the inception of the project. We were especially excited about the possibility of making a systematic study of the Commentary for the first time in English with recourse to the Latin text.

Did many attendees have previous experience with the Commentary on the Sentences?

We were privileged to have present the Aquinas Institute’s own Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, whose translations of selections of the Commentary on Love and Charity was published by CUA Press, and I have worked on medieval commentaries on the Sentences. We also had two doctoral students who are engaged in some exciting research on medieval theology. This was a great benefit to the seminar, but lack of experience was in no way an impediment for those who had never studied the Sentences commentarial tradition. Indeed, it was refreshing for me to hear of discoveries in the text from those who had never been exposed to the method.

Inevitably, people compare St. Thomas’s earlier Commentary with his later masterwork, the Summa theologiae.  Did points of comparison come up in class?  Does the Commentary have any unique advantages?

Fr. Torrell reports that St. Thomas would have been less than 30 years old when he was writing this first Commentary, while the Tertia Pars of the Summa would have been much later — indeed, when Thomas died, he left his treatise on the sacraments in the Summa unfinished. There is a great benefit to looking at the whole of Thomas’s career in order to try and discern a development in the thought of Thomas from his youth to his maturity. This historical approach can yield great insight—for example, Fr. Reginald Garrigou-LaGrange’s defense of Thomas’s belief in the Immaculate Conception depends upon not only reading the Summa, but his Sentences commentary, and other works.

However, we made a decision early on that such an attempt would be futile for the seminar: we simply never would have gotten through the work. Although there were occasional references to the Summa during our seminar study, on the whole what we found is that the text, and particularly the methodology of the text, stands as worthy of engagement on its own. Since our goal is not only to know what Thomas thinks about a particular issue, but more importantly what the truth of the matter is, Thomas’s methodology in interrogating the question opens up the subject for the reader to see the many facets of the issue under dispute, and allows the student to arrive at his own insights. Indeed, the Sentences Commentary uniquely opens up to the reader the breadth and depth that a particular question may have, since rather than a standard three objections, as one might find in the Summa, there will at times be as many as a dozen or more objections and counter-objections put forward in one question.

The unfamiliar format can be intimidating to a newcomer, but the Aquinas Institute edition is a great aid. The page headings make it easy to find the various distinctions, questions, articles, and quaestiunculae. The text itself is beautifully printed with a minimal amount of mark-up, but enough to help make the edition truly usable as a bi-lingual research tool. The quality of the binding is wonderful, and this is particularly important with such a large text. The text is footnoted both with critical remarks about the text or translation and also cross-references for further research.

Did your impression or imagination of St. Thomas change through your immersion in his early work?

In so many ways, yes! But here, I will constrain myself to two observations. First, perhaps the most unfortunate characterization of scholasticism by some mid-20th century theologians is that it is devoid of the vitality of the Spirit which is present, for instance, in the Patristic era. Reading Thomas’s Commentary, one cannot help but see that this characterization is manifestly false. My experience of reading the Commentary was that I found in the text to be an intensely personal search for Christ and his truth, one which enlivened my own heart and mind through following in the footsteps of Aquinas.

Second, even in schools today where St. Thomas’s Summa is considered an authority in the classroom, it can sometimes be taught not theologically, but rather as if it were the Catechism (albeit a much more detailed catechism). But to do this, I think, is to miss the point of the scholastic endeavor entirely! In reading the Sentences Commentary, the learner is put back in touch with the fact that this text is theology: it is faith seeking understanding; it is one theologian entering into dialectic with other theological opinions of his day, and trying to work out what is the truth. In this, we are reminded that theology as a sacred science is first of all about divinization, for it is the science of God and the Saints. Thus, here below, theology is about working out our faith, personally and ecclesially. The Commentary on the Sentences offers to the reader a most excellent guide to this process, both in providing some answers, but perhaps more importantly in providing a model for the right way to ask questions.

How would you envision the Commentary being used in a university classroom?  In large sections on its own, as in the St. Albert the Great Program, or in smaller selections in connection with the Summa, or in some other way?

This is certainly a difficult question! As far as I am aware, in those faculties where specialized studies are offered in the theology of Thomas Aquinas, the Sentences commentary plays an ancillary role in the Thomistic curriculum. But this is not the fault of the faculty: up to now, there has not been a widely available edition for student use, even for those students who have facility with Latin. Thus, the new Aquinas Institute editions create opportunities to explore the rich theology contained in these rarely used texts. I hope that we will see elective courses dedicated to the study of the Commentary cropping up all over the place now that there is a quality edition available. In addition, these new editions could be used as a foundation for graduate studies in sacramental theology for a class on medieval thought; or else, portions of the text would be highly beneficial in support of a greater understanding of the Eastern and Western disputes over the sacraments.

Another consideration, one which might challenge a paradigm, is that we might rediscover the practice embodied in Aquinas’s Commentary. While the commentary tradition is all but absent from today’s theological curriculum, commentating on the Sentences of the Lombard was considered the foundation of high scholastic education, and it offers a unique way to compare the thought of different theologians:  they all start from the same text, and then have points of convergence and divergence. A widespread re-discovery of this methodology might offer a challenge to the way theological disputation is undertaken in the 21st century.  It might even provide a vehicle for resolving contemporary disputes, which too often suffer from a vastly disparate set of sources and methods in coming to opposed conclusions.

Who is eligible to participate in one of your two-week summer programs?

While our program is academic in nature and pitched at a graduate level, many participants come for a time of retreat and relaxation, and sometimes vocational discernment: Br. Augustine, OSB (the brewmaster at the monastery) was a participant in our first summer program, and we regularly have priests who join us for their two-week vacation from parish life. Monastic chant, the majestic Sibilline mountain range, and traditional Umbrian cuisine create an ideal setting for contemplation of higher truths. We have hosted doctors, businessmen, school teachers, attorneys, and even retirees, with attendees from Chile, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Italy, England, and the United States. Although we are non-accredited, we have usually been able to make arrangements for a student’s home university to offer some sort of credit for their participation in the program.

What’s up next for the St. Albert the Great Program?

This past year was the first year that we held the program near the new monastery on the mountain outside of Norcia. The agriturismo where we stayed was a great hit, and the nightly five-course meals were incredible! Just as we published last year’s proceedings, so we intend to publish the proceedings from this past summer’s program, hopefully in time for Christmas.  Plans are underway for next summer’s program on Divine Providence and Human Suffering, using the Aquinas Institute’s edition of Thomas’s Commentary on the Literal Sense of Job as our primary text. We have confirmed that the dates for next year’s program will be during the last two weeks of June. We will be launching details about the program, as well as opening the application process, on this coming St. Albert’s Day (Nov. 15th). We hope to fill the agriturismo, so please do spread the word, and get in touch if you’d like to help us out in some way.

How can people find out more?

Please, feel free to visit our website,, or else drop me an email!

The Aquinas Institute’s goal is simple: to get all of Aquinas’s works into as many hands as possible.

It is a goal both inspiring and intimidating. Visualizing the completed Opera Omnia fires enthusiasm, but surveying and mapping the vast range of Aquinas’s untranslated works can make a completed bi-lingual Opera seem chimerical. The single biggest mountain in this range: the Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard. Weighing it at 1,501,918 words, second in size only to the Summa Theologiae, the Sentences commentary has been translated only in bits and snatches.

Until now. In 2013, when we received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to further the translation of Book IV of the Sentences Commentary, our goal began to seem less fanciful. One volume of Book IV is already out in a beautiful, bi-lingual edition, with a second volume set for release on November 21, and more to follow in the coming months.

We are grateful, therefore, to announce that this year the Aquinas Institute has received a second grant from the NEH, this time supporting work on Books II and III. Much hard work lies ahead, but the goal is now in sight. Our team has already translated much of Book II, but it will take time to finish the translation, put in footnotes, compare our Latin with the Leonine Commission’s provisional critical texts, and check everything for accuracy.

Meanwhile, we want to make sure these volumes reach as many people as possible. One way we are pursuing that goal is by selling books this October at a steep discount when purchased from our own website. Join us as we celebrate the month of Our Lady of the Rosary, as well as the feasts of two Carmelite doctors of the Church, by offering the Summa Theologiae at a 50% discount. The first published volume of Book IV of the Sentences commentary is half the price if purchased from our website. If money has been an obstacle to anyone getting his or her own copies of Aquinas’s works, we hope this will help.

A second way to get books out to people is by visiting conferences. Dr. John Mortensen will be at the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture’s fall conference with a display of our published volumes. If you plan to be there, stop by and say hello! We’d love to see you.