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A Summa of the Summa Paperback – October 1, 1990

4.4 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Latin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Aquinas, while studying at the University of Naples, joined the Dominican monastic order in 1244. Under St. Albert the Great he embarked on a life of teaching, preaching, and writing. He was formally canonized in 1323.

Jacquelin Thomas is the national bestselling and award-winning author whose many adult novels include "Defining Moments, Saved in the City, Soul Journey, A Change Is Gonna Come, The Prodigal Husband", and "Singsation". Her short fiction is featured in the Pocket Books anthology "Have a Little Faith". A driving force in the world of Christian fiction, she is the founder and producer of the annual Faith-Based Arts Conference, an event showcasing authors in the field.

Visit her website at www.jacquelinthomas.com.

Peter Kreeft, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy at Boston College, is one of the most widely read Christian authors of our time. His many bestselling books cover a vast array of topics in spirituality, theology, and philosophy. They include Practical Theology, Back to Virtue, Because God Is Real, You Can Understand the Bible, Angels and Demons, Heaven: The Heart's Deepest Longing, and A Summa of the Summa.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 539 pages
  • Publisher: Ignatius Press (October 1, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 089870300X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0898703009
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,551 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kendal B. Hunter on November 13, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
You have to hand it to Kreeft for taking some of the greatest ratiocination ever, and translating it into commonspeak. Thomas Aquinas is one of the greatest minds ever to grace God's green earth, but too often--probably due to his religion--he has been marginalized. Generally, we just read his "Five Ways" that prove God's existence. However, this is much more to Thomism than this one philosophical derringer.
For those unaware, Thomas Aquinas was the Catholic scholar who produces two L*A*R*G*E, multi-volume books on Catholic theology: "Summa Contra Gentiles" and "Summa Theologica," the latter being a summation of Catholic theology. This book is a summation of "Summa Theologica," and serves as a handbook and thumbnail for both Catholic Theology and Philosophy and Christian philosophy in general.
Aquinas has a sharp mind and can both divide the word and divide a question in a way that few others can. I am not Catholic, but stand in deep admiration for Aquinas's work and mind, and more especially because he minded his work by working his mind.
The Book:
Kreeft has selected the essential texts and questions that illuminate aspects of Thomistic philosophy/theology. He has the text with explanatory notes in footnotes, which is unusual since we are not reading a summery or rephrasing of Aquinas, but actually reading his words and ideas, unfiltered and undistorted.
His chapter divisions follow closely the divisions used in the whole "Summa Theologica," and focus primarily on the first part of part one, and the second part of part two of the "Summa Theologica," and doesn't deal with the latter books that deal with the church and the nature of sacraments. This summation, therefore, would not be offensive to any Christian.
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Format: Paperback
Kreeft does a wonderful job of picking the finer points of Aquinas' massive work - Summa Theologica. This is a condensed text for the beginning reader of St. Thomas' work. The book itself is organized in a way that includes the primary work of the Summa and Kreeft's comments. Thus, this makes for a wonderful read if you are trying to understand what Thomas was communicating in his work. The essential Thomas is present. In other words, Kreeft covers everything one would need to know to get a thorough grasp of Thomistic philosophy. Also, Kreeft does so in such a way that it makes Aquinas very easy to understand. The topics covered are Cosmology, the Nature of God, Aquinas' Epistemology, Proofs, Ethics, etc. This is a wonderful beginning text for anyone who is interested in studying one of the greatest philosophers who ever lived. Moreover, Peter Kreeft is well qualified to handle the Summa since he is a renown philosopher himself (Boston College Professor) and a Thomist of sorts. Keep in mind, that this book is not simply Kreeft's commentary on Aquinas, but it also includes the actual excerpts from Aquinas' Summa. That is one reason why this book stands out from other books about Aquinas. I would recommend this book to anyone.
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Format: Paperback
Summa of the Summa (hereafter SS) is a simply wonderful abridgment of Aquinas' Summa Theologica (hereafter ST). Professor Kreeft has done a superlative job of assembling those parts of ST that will be of most interest to readers new to Aquinas' thought. The text is drawn from the Dominican Benzinger Brothers translation of ST, still the most faithful to Aquinas original language and still the most widely available complete edition of ST in English. Kreeft includes a fine glossary of technical terms in ST likely to be unfamiliar to most readers, and a short, readable introductory essay that gives an interesting discussion of the structure of ST. Rather than include a lengthy introductory commentary on the classic text as do many editors, Kreeft includes his comments in footnotes, which appear frequently and are quite extensive. To give one example, to accompany Aquinas' famous "five ways" to prove the existence of God on pp. 57-70, Kreeft provides approximately eight pages worth of footnotes. The footnotes that discuss Aquinas only are nearly always illuminating, and will prove invaluable to readers as they study the primary text. I believe readers of SS will be able to progress more smoothly to the complete ST if they so choose than they could with any other abridgment of ST or other anthology of Aquinas' writings now in print. At the same time, SS is a fine, self-contained introduction to Aquinas' thought.
The only disappointing aspect of SS is its discussion of philosophical positions that are at variance with Aquinas. Like many philosophers working in Roman Catholic institutions, Kreeft has a tendency to present false straw-man interpretations of philosophers whose conclusions he disagrees with, and then to "refute" these philosophers by kicking down the straw men.
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Most books on Thomas Acquinas can be summarized: "He was a great man and I understand him and you never will." Kreeft diverges from academic interpretation, often designed to show off the brilliancy of the academic interpreter, by providing the reader with Acquinas' own words. He carefully provides footnotes designed to clarify language (he makes use of a literal interpretation into English) and issues. It is an effective approach, but not just for "Beginners." Many people familiar with Thomist thought will find clarification in Kreeft's brief notes and even discover, as I did, understandings they thought they had were, to one degree or another, inaccurate. As I went through this book I found that the title of "Beginner" is in many ways a good thing, especially when climbing the heights of Thomas Acquinas and Krefft is an exceptionally good guide for that climb.
Portions of the Summa have been omitted, including Objections unique to Acquinas' time and irrelevant to the modern reader and Part III of the Summa. Frankly, while recognizing the religious focus of Part III might not be immediately useful to all readers, I would have liked to seen at least some of it with Kreeft's footnotes, perhaps as a second volume.
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