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Guide to Thomas Aquinas Paperback – April 1, 1991

4.3 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Ignatius Press; Subsequent edition (April 1, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0898703190
  • ISBN-13: 978-0898703191
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #184,347 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book is one of the essential studies of St. Thomas's life and thought. It is especially valuable because it preserves some of the profound insights of two other Thomists whose books have either never been translated into English (Grabmann) or are, alas, out-of-print (Chenu). Pieper's treatment of St. Thomas's (and Aristotle's) use of language is absolutely essential reading for beginning students of Aquinas who have not read the more thorough treatments (by Chenu and Blanche - now largely forgotten) upon which it is based. Pieper also captures better than most biographers the importance of Thomas's decision to embrace both of the apparently opposed movements of his day, the back-to-the-Bible movement of the mendicant orders and, the modern, scientific movement of Aristotelianism.
There are a few points on which I think Pieper is wrong, most importantly on the question of Thomas's "Aristotelianism." In his justifiable attempt to show that Thomas is not an unqualified Aristotelian, Pieper goes too far the other direction and leaves the reader with the impression that Thomas was a defender of Plato. Especially troubling is Pieper's citation of passages from Thomas's Commentaries on Aristotle's De Anima and Metaphysics, which he, Pieper, claims defend Plato against Aristotle's criticisms: I cannot figure out how Pieper could construe the cited passages in such a way. Also, Pieper's criticism of the Inquistion, the Dominican order's role in it, and Thomas's defense of it seems surprisingly naive coming from an author steeped in the history of the Church. But these are relatively minor flaws in an otherwise worthy study of St. Thomas.
My rating of other books on St. Thomas: (1) Josef Pieper, The Silence of St. Thomas. ***** One of the very best books on St.
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Format: Paperback
Pieper is an excellent writer and has done extensive research on Thomas Aquinas. Even though the book does not give an in-depth discussion of Thomas's philosophy, it does give an excellent account of Thomas's life and the cultural background of the Medieval period which Aquinas both embodied and transcended. It does, however, go over the most basic concepts of Thomas's philosophy (the five ways, for example).
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Format: Paperback
Josef Pieper does a wonderful job of making Thomas Aquinas understandable. He does it by broadly covering several important aspects: the first is framing the time in which he lived from a historical point of view, second he presents some biographical facts about Thomas and who is was as a man, thirdly he presents the situation of the Church and the Dominicans at the time, and then he masterfully blends in the most important concepts that Thomas Aquinas contributed to the world. He doesn't go into too much depth on his theology or philosopy - this would kill the average reader like me. But his does provide enough details to start your intellect moving forward which is wonderful. It left me with the feeling I've learned a lot, yet and now thirsty for more which is very rare in a book. I would not guess this is a book for a high level theology/philosophy student unless he was in a level 101 class. That being said it's full of wonderful insights. I would say this is for an advanced lay person who is really starting to learn more about his spiritual life and also more about what has structured church thinking for centuries. A 'must have' for an advanced Catholic library in your home. Also, this is a book recommend in James Schall's "Another Sort of Learning" which is another wonderful book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I discovered Josef Pieper's work entirely by accident while researching another modern philosopher. I'm very glad I did. Pieper's Guide to Thomas Aquinas was a short but solid read crammed with good information, one of the best such books on St. Thomas Aquinas that I've read.

Pieper interweaves examination of Aquinas's life, works, philosophy, and theology, making this short book a biography, explanation, and critical analysis at the same time. He carefully explores Aquinas's historical context, explaining the philosophical and theological temper of the time and how Aquinas was influenced by it--and eventually how he altered it forever. Pieper is extremely well-versed in the sources and it shows--he quotes liberally both from Aquinas's huge body of work and the works of other medieval philosophers--from contemporaries like Albertus Magnus or Siger of Brabant to philosophical forebears like Boethius and St. Augustine--not to mention modern scholars. Pieper writes skilfully, never letting his examination of, say, Aquinas's epistemology bog down, or his analysis overwhelm his emphasis on St. Thomas himself.

It's Pieper's portrait of Aquinas as a person that made this book especially valuable to me. Books on Aquinas tend to emphasize his intellectual output to the point of diminishing the human being behind it, so insights into Aquinas's character--his patience, intellectual voracity, dedication to God, and love and respect for ostensible enemies--were an outstanding feature.

Pieper's book is very good, but I'm not sure I'd recommend it to those just beginning to study Aquinas. It's a bit difficult in places and, as a series of university-level lectures, assumes a certain about of knowledge of the medieval philosophical world on the part of the reader.
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