Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Quaeritur: What is the Best Edition of the Summa?


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Quaeritur: What is the absolute best pre-Vatican II edition of the Summa Theologica of St Thomas, in Latin. And please don't just say the Leonine.  I want a publisher, and a year of publication. My ideal edition would be very developed, bring us right up to Vatican II, with tons of excellent footnotes, commentary, and scholia. Would it be Cajetan commentary? I don't know. You would know. Let me know. Let us all know, please. My ideal edition would also be in as few volumes as possible. If my ideal edition is not your ideal edition, please compare contrast, elucidate, and extrapolate. Thanks for your help professor.

Respondeo: In my opinion, there is no single, perfect edition; there are only many different good versions, each of which has its advantages and disadvantages.

1. The best text is that of the Leonine edition (pictured); this is the best critical edition (best critical apparatus), and it also has the advantage that it includes Cajetan's commentary. It has the disadvantage of being enormously voluminous (9 huge vols + index), out of print, and very expensive (unless you get the PDF from ITOPL). I use this work only for articles and books that I intend to publish, or for Cajetan's Commentary:

Sancti Thomae Aquinatis. Opera omnia iussu impensaque Leonis XIII P. M. edita, t. 4-12: Summa theologiae Ex Typographia Polyglotta S. C. de Propaganda Fide, Romae, 1888-1889.

2. The best as far as bibliography is the St. Paul edition: it includes extensive bibliography for every treatise and question, plus great footnotes. It also has the advantage of being a single (though rather large and heavy) volume:

Sancti Thomae de Aquino. Summa theologiae. Editiones Paulinae, Alba-Roma, réimprimée souvent à partir des années 1955.

3. Now, neither the Leonine edition nor the St. Paul edition is really the most useful for casual study and research. In my opinion, the best as far as study tools (outlines of parts, generous anthology of commentators, etc.) is the Marietti edition:

Sancti Thomae de Aquino. Summa theolgiae. Ed. Petrus Caramello. Taurini: Marietti, 1952.

4. But these three versions so far are far too bulky and uncomfortable to take out of your library. The best version, in my opinion, as far as size, weight, and feel of the volumes, is the Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos (BAC) edition. I like this version because I can easily take any one of the five volumes on the road with me and read it any time I have a break, without it being too burdensome (as far as weight and size) and it is also quite sturdy so it does not get damaged easily. This version is not to be confused with the Spanish translation (or the bilingual version) of the Summa, both published by BAC:

Sancti Thomae de Aquino. Summa theologiae. Madrid: Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos, 1995.

5. Now, all four versions so far only contain the Latin text. If your Latin needs a little help (as is the case with most of us) the best side-by-side Latin-English version is that by NovaAntiqua:

Saint Thomas Aquinas. Summa theologiae. Scotts Valley, CA: CreateSpace, 2009.

N.B.: For those who are not planning on being professional Thomistic scholars, for those whose Latin is not solid enough to handle the Latin alone, and those who just want one version, I would recommend they get the NovaAntiqua version. For more serious scholars, I would urge them to get them all or most of them (the Leonine is a must, at least on PDF).

Request: If you ever scan the St. Paul or Marietti editions (or anything else), please feel free to share those files with me, as they can be immensely helpful.


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