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Summa Contra Gentiles: Book One,God Paperback – Black & White, May 1, 1975
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In this volume, Aquinas deal with the nature of God (i.e. simplicity, immutability, infinite, eternal, etc.). Also, Aquinas discusses the issues of God's knowledge per se, and His knowledge of future contingents, counterfactual, etc. Moreover, Aquinas discusses God's will, essence, necessity, the problem of evil and God's part in evil as it appears in creation, and much more. Thus, just in this one volume, Aquinas is nearly exhaustive in his presentation of the person and work of God.
This translation (by Anton Pegis) is eloquently produced and easy to read and understand. While some of the classical terms will need to be understood (i.e. essence/existence, substance, perfect actuality, univocal/equivocal/analogical predications, etc) to gain a better grasp on what Aquinas is espousing, nonetheless, this work is a wonderful tool for those who want to gain a better grasp of Aquinas' thoughts on God.
Finally, if you decide to purchase this volume, then I recommend not stopping with just this single volume, but buy the entire set. It is well worth the money invested. Moreover, the whole set works quite well as a reference tool for future research. I highly recommend it, especially since I consider Aquinas to be the greatest philosopher of the Medieval period, and it would be a pity to miss out on such good philosophy.
The titles of the five volumes are as follows:
Summa Contra Gentiles: God
Summa Contra Gentiles: Creation
Summa Contra Gentiles: Providence, Part I
Summa Contra Gentiles: Providence, Part II*
Summa Contra Gentiles: Salvation
Each volume is formally divided into about 100 short chapters. A typical chapter gets its title from some proposition that is to be affirmed, or in some cases refuted. Each paragraph is an argument in support (or denial) of that proposition. The chapters are themselves ordered so that the later chapters build on what the arguments in the earlier chapters have established, and it is this arrangement of chapters that constitutes the real structure of "Summa Contra Gentiles".
Although in his later "Summa Theologica", Thomas formalized the higher-level structure of his writing, he did not do so here, which somewhat complicates any presentation of this structure - the book titles are so high level that they give little feel of the work, and the chapter titles so numerous that the reader is easily overwhelmed by a list of them.
In order to give the reader some sense of the overall work, I've prepared an outline of the work that (hopefully) is short enough to be readily comprehensible and long enough to give the reader an understanding of what topics are covered and in what order. This outline is presented below:
1.0 Summa Contra Gentiles: God
1.1 Intention of the Work (1 - 2)
1.2 Truths of Reason and Revelation (3 - 9)
1.3 That God Exists (10 - 13)
1.4 That God is Eternal (14 - 20)
1.5 God's Essence (21 - 28)
1.6 That God is Known (29 - 36)
1.7 That God is Good, One and Infinite (37 - 44)
1.8 God's Intellect and Knowledge (44 - 71)
1.9 God's Will (72 - 96)
1.10 God's Life and Beatitude (97 - 102)
2.0 Summa Contra Gentiles: Creation
2.1 Purpose of the Work (1 - 5)
2.2 That God is the Creator of All Things (6)
2.3 God's Power Over His Creation (7 - 29)
2.4 For and Against the Eternity of the World (30 - 38)
2.5 The Distinction of Things (39 - 45)
2.6 Intellectual Substances (46 - 55)
2.7 The Intellect, the Soul and the Body (57 - 78)
2.8 Immortality of Man's Soul (79 - 82)
2.9 Origin of Man's Soul (83 - 89)
2.10 On Non-human (Angelic) Intellects (90 - 101)
3.0 Summa Contra Gentiles: Providence (Parts I and II)
3.1 Prologue (1)
3.2 Good, Evil, and God as the End of All Things (2 - 25)
3.3 Human Felicity (26 - 63)
3.4 How God's Providence Works (64 - 94)
3.5 Prayer and Miracles, Magic and Demons (95 - 110)
3.6 Rational Creatures and Divine Law (111 - 130)
3.7 Voluntary Poverty and Continence (131 - 138)
3.9 Rewards and Punishments (139 - 147)
3.10 Sin, Grace, and Predestination (148 - 163)
4.1 Forward (1)
4.2 The Trinity (2 - 16)
4.3 The Incarnation (27 - 55)
4.4 The Sacraments (56 - 78)
4.5 The Resurrection (79 - 97)
* in searching for Part II of "Providence" in Amazon's book catalog, be sure to search by the full title, or the search results may just return part I.
This is a book which makes the reader think. Some chapters really leave the reader with the feeling of understanding something new. This book is not light reading. It requires the investment of serious intellectual energy. For the reader willing to make the investment, the rewards can be heavenly.