Saturday, October 28, 2006

Reading Thomas

Reading Thomas is a dangerous thing.

I find his style engaging and thoroughly understandable. (There are those who will take this as evidence of mental deficiency on my part, I know.) At the end of the day, his systematics suits me less because of what he says than because of how ruthlessly interrelated it is.

There is nothing piecemeal or situational about Thomas. Everything is set in the context of . . . well, everything. One reads his moral theology and realizes that he is covertly doing Christology. One reads his eschatology and realizes that he is covertly doing ethics. There is nothing that he writes that has not been brought into thorough and exhaustive conversation with any- and everything else he writes.

This makes it very difficult to write on Thomas.

I started a year ago by reading the Treatise on Happiness and the Treatise on the Virtues from the Summa Theologica(having already read the fourth section of the Summa Contra Gentiles, several important selections on nature and grace, a smattering of his political theology).

Hauerwas made a passing comment--"Now, where this all really gets interesting is in the Treatise on the Passions. That's where you see how it all hangs together."

So, I decided to read the Treatise on the Passions.

And I didn't see how it all hung together. Not because it wasn't clear, mind you--just because there was more to it. I found myself thinking, "Well, yeah, but . . . I really need to read the Treatise on the Incarnation to know how this all hangs together."

So, I decided to read the Treatise on the Incarnation.

And now I find myself thinking, "Well, yeah, but . . . this really all depends on what he thinks about the Beatific Vision. Can't really see how it all hangs together unless you read his eschatology."

So, I'm starting to read . . .

. . . well, I hate to say it, but I think I'm reading . . .

. . . too much Thomas.

1 comment:

net said...

*sigh* i miss good old stanley. he could be counted on for a great class. especially the day we had visiting students from a nc women's college and it was the day to lecture on human sexuality! how i miss those days!

go duke!

mdiv '91