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Thomas Aquinas: A Portrait Hardcover – May 21, 2013
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“[A] superb study”—Terry Eagleton, London Review of Books (Terry Eagleton London Review of Books 2013-12-05)
- Item Weight : 1.43 pounds
- Hardcover : 312 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0300188552
- ISBN-13 : 978-0300188554
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 1.06 x 8.25 inches
- Publisher : Yale University Press; F First Edition (May 21, 2013)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,360,551 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Turner’s introduction to the life and thought of Aquinas has given me a totally different perspective on the Dominican preacher. Modern caricatures picture Aquinas as an academic who was more interested in philosophical precision than the life of faith. How very wrong these caricatures are. I do not know if I will ever return to the Summa Theologiae; but I am grateful to have been introduced to this great theologian who is also a saint. I have discovered that while Aquinas lies well beyond my intellectual capacity he is not beyond my sympathies. “The holiness of Thomas,” writes Turner, “is a theologian’s holiness, the holy teacher invisible otherwise than in the holy teaching itself.”
There is not much here on the Trinity (Turner gets started on it, and then stops), and nothing on the subsequent history of Aquinas' influence.
The book is quite dense in its way -- it would not be a good starting point for someone who knew nothing about medieval or Christian theology generally.
I'd read Chesterton's 'biography' of Aquinas last year, but have already forgotten most of it. Yet at the time it gave me an enthusiasm for Aquinas that I'd never previously had. Turner recommends Chesterton's book in spite of its datedness and hurried writing (typical of Chesterton, of course, a man who seemed to write a book a month). He sees value in its way of getting to grips with the person of Aquinas. Turner's own book isn't intended to be for academics and great minds: it's intended for such as me, the kind of people who never make it to a philosophy class, but are interested in knowing more about it; never make it to a theology class, but read theology continually in various forms.
Turner does a great job at expounding Aquinas' thinking, and this is where the book really struck home for me. The earlier part, where he gives some background to Thomas' life, didn't grab me quite so much, but that may be because at that point I was looking for something different from the book.
As he explores Thomas' philosophical teaching, Turner opens up all manner of ways of thinking about theology, about God, and humanity, and who we are.
This is the reason I'm going back through it again. I started reading the library copy, and couldn't mark anything in it (it was too new-looking to do that!) but I bought a Kindle copy when I was about a third of the way through, and it's heavily highlighted. No doubt it will be more so by the time I've re-read it.