Weisheipl on the Thomistic Revival

It was my pleasure to visit for about five days with Fr Adriano Oliva, OP (Praeses, Leonine Commission), at the beginning of October, while he was here in the United States attending conferences at the University of Notre Dame and then at Marquette University here in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We spoke about a million things, mostly concerning the work of the Commission. One of the neat things we did was to tape an interview here at Marquette, in Italian—I hope to post that on the site before the end of this semester. My first question to Fr Oliva was the general "hey-tell-me-about-the-Leonine-Commission-and-its-history" type question, which Fr Oliva answered with clarity. One thing struck me about the beginning of his answer, something I had known forever, but had forgotten—being reminded of it by Fr Oliva had the effect of putting the whole issue into new light for me. At the outset of his answer about the Leonine Commission's origins Fr Oliva mentioned Pope Leo XIII's Aeterni patris and the fact that Leo's intent was to publicize the philosophical teaching of St. Thomas.

Having studied Thomas for two-and-a-half decades now, in a somewhat "integrationist" fashion, I knew and appreciated the presence of philosophical teaching in Thomas's work—Fr Oliva's paper here at Marquette, as it happens, was on precisely that topic—but I've always somewhat chaffed at the bit when Thomas was termed "a philosopher"; Fr Oliva's reminder made me realize that "Thomas-the-philosopher" was at least part of Leo's immediate intention in the Thomistic revival.

I scurried to my offprints to find the article I had first read about the topic of the Thomistic revival, an offprint that my beloved James Weisheipl gave me when I got to Toronto in 1983. Re-reading it was informative, corrective, and heart-warming—it is always an emotional thing for me to re-read Fr Weisheipl's texts, since I can almost detect his spoken cadence as I read. The article, entitled "The Revival of Thomism: An Historical Survey," and dating from 1962, can happily also be found on the web, at the Dominican Central website, by following this link.

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Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson is an associate professor of Theology at Marquette University, and founded thomistica.net on Squarespace in November of 2004. He studied with James Weisheipl, Leonard Boyle, Walter Principe, and Lawrence Dewan, at the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies (Toronto, Canada).