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Saint Thomas Aquinas - 'The Dumb Ox' Paperback – April 10, 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
I like that and I learned a great deal about one of my favorite saints.
On a personal plane, my affinity goes back to the fact that this was my introduction to both Chesterton and Aquinas. And the first is always indelible if not formative.
But it is also the best. After reading more Chesterton and studying Aquinas a little, I can say objectively that this book still rests at the top. Others agree: Peter Kreeft noted that the top 20th century Aquinas scholars have all said that The Dumb Ox is the best book on Aquinas. And Kreeft himself said it was the best, so add another top scholar to the list of endorsements.
How can this be when, as critics say, it isn’t really about Aquinas?
Going into it, you have to realize that it isn’t going to be a typical biography or even a study of Aquinas’ thought. Chesterton himself calls the book a sketch. And, like a sketch of charcoal or pen and ink, we don’t get details or even identifiable traits. We get a likeness—an adumbration—of the great figure. This limits the product to ideas, and big ones at that. Those who demand comprehensive tabulation of facts will naturally find the work lacking.
By foregoing details, however, Chesterton is able to craft the big ideas more convincingly. The overall picture is more compelling because there are no specifics bogging down the portrayal.
What is the overall picture? If one were to create a sketch of this sketch of Aquinas, it would reflect the importance of reason in life and salvation. As such, the Dumb Ox amounts to an ode to the godliness of reason.
This is ironic if we recall that Chesterton has in other works challenged the value of reason and has even suggested that logical consistency is a sign of madness rather than sound judgment.Read more ›
It is however, only a sketch of the great systematic philosopher, as Chesterton himself says at the beginning of the book. If you're looking for an introduction to Aquinas's philosophy I reccomend Peter Kreeft's excellent books for laymen. (Kreeft is one of those who should know mentioned above). If you're looking for a personal introduction to Aquinas, you can't get better than this slim volume.
I learned about the medieval era and mind, very nice indeed. I learned about Aquinas and I like him. I think I wondered if he were even a Christian before I read this, so I'm so glad to get him vindicated in my own mind. Now I have respect for and am in awe of him, as I should have and be.
One thing, though. He was a bit rough on poor Martin Luther, probably because he burnt Aquinas's books. It sort of glared to me that Luther had not one virtue and Aquinas had not one flaw. He said the Augustinians emphasized "the impotence of man before God, the omniscience of God about the destiny of man, the need for holy fear and the humiliation of intellectual pride, more than the opposite and corresponding truths of free will or human dignity or good works," that "emphasizing the one was to flatly contradict the other." Well! duh! For centuries the opposite and corresponding truths were the only ones emphasized! But, enough about that. I enjoyed the challenge to my own narrow Augustinian, Lutheran viewpoint.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Just cracked into it, but who can go wrong with Chesterton!Published 11 months ago by Dr. James N. Phillips Jr.
Difficult to read. Did like two items: The church can no longer say, "Silver and gold have I none." But neither they it say, "Rise up and walk. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Karl
The subject and the author were both great.However,the wide book format made
reading the book difficult.
Chesterton wrote a superb book that succinctly describes the nature of Aquinas's work and the milieu in which he was formed and which he thrived. It is a wonderful book.Published 17 months ago by John Bunce