Thomas Aquinas
(c. 1225 - 1274)
Middle Ages

Dominican philosopher and theologian, author of Summa Theologica.

Thomas Aquinas by Joos van Ghent

A large and taciturn monk whom schoolmates called "the dumb ox," Thomas became one of the most prolific and influential theologians of the middle ages. An inheritor of the Latin Averroists, Thomas pursued his theological work in the context of intense reflection on the works of Aristotle. His works include commentaries on Scripture, on the Sentences of Peter Lombard, and on works of Aristotle. His momentous works were the Summa Contra Gentiles and the Summa Theologica, compendious and summative works on apologetics and doctrinal theology respectively. Thomas's most important contribution to the later development of theology was his construal of the relation of faith and reason. Thomas maintained that some truths are accessible to unaided reason and that other truths are known only through revelation. Philosophy deals with truths known only to reason. Theology treats both truths known through reason and truths known through revelation. This means that reason can prove some truths that are necessary to the order of salvation. On the other hand, Thomas also teaches that all truth necessary to the order of salvation is also made known through revelation. Reason and revelation are thus for Thomas complementary, although revelation imparts truths that cannot be known through reason alone. In the period after his death the theology of Thomas Aquinas inspired both intense admiration and controversy, and Thomist theologians in every subsequent century have expounded themes from his work. In the nineteenth century, Pope Leo XIII enjoined the study of Thomas Aquinas on all Roman Catholic theological students.

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