Sunday, February 07, 2010

Quaeritur: What is the Best of the Manuals? (Follow-Up)


QuaeriturThank you very much for your reply, Fr. Romanus.  I have obtained a copy of the Sacrae Theologiae Summa by Fr. Nicolau and Salverri, the Jesuit Spanish Fathers (correct?), and I said the word "wow" about 10 times persuing through the introduction alone.  The copious footnotes and excellent bibliographies are worth so much!

So, the more authoritative, and higher level theological works are the commentaries on the Summa?  Did Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange write a complete Commentary on the Summa, or did he only comment on parts?  If Fr. Garrigou did write a complete Commentary on the Summa, which is the best edition of it?
I have not bought a copy of Billot yet, but if that is anything like Nicolau, then I am looking forward to it very much.

Respondeo: Yes the BAC Spanish Jesuit manual is very helpful for its footnotes; it is just not always following the Thomistic tradition, as the Jesuits have always tended to be more eclectic, following Suarez's approach. I most highly recommend the first volume, on Scripture, Tradition, and Ecclesiology. In this one there is not much difference between the Jesuits and the Thomists.

There is no Summa commentary as a collected whole written by Garrigou-Lagrange OP, but rather a number of works which cover most of the Summa written over many years. They have the advantage thus of being able to treat of things with a broader scope, and at greater length, although there are some, like Providence, which have a slightly more popular aim, and are a little less rigorous in style. A must read is his God, His Existence and His Nature: this would be a summary of natural theology, in which you get all that you would find in De Deo Uno, but with greater logical rigor. It also involves very important metaphysical and epistemological points, which will run like a golden thread throughout the rest of the works. There is also Reality: A Synthesis of Thomistic Thought, his short commentary on Thomism, broad strokes on all of St. Thomas' thought.

Then there are the great full commentaries of the Salamancan Fathers (Carmelites from Salamanca), John of St. Thomas OP, Cajetan OP, Capreolus OP, and Billuart OP.

I think you might find Billuart more accessible, and he was lets say the proximate channel of Thomism, that inspired Garrigou Lagrange.

I would most highly recommend Billot SJ for his Scripture Tradition, and Ecclesiology tracts only. As the Jesuits have different metaphysical principles on some important points, it changes some of the conclusions throughout the rest of the De Deo Uno, Trino, Gubernante, etc. tracts.

We have most of these works are available through the Ite ad Thomam Out-of-Print Library (ITOPL).

So in short if you spend most of your time on the Master himself, aided by Billuart and Garrigou, you will come out as a true son of St. Thomas.

-Fr. Romanus.
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