Oxford University Press is projecting the publication of a new English edition of the De Potentia for this summer. Veteran translator of Aquinas, Richard J. Regan, SJ, of Fordham University is producing the translation. In some ways this will replace the old translation of 1932 by Lawrence Shapcote, OP, which has been out of print for years. But in some ways it won’t replace it. I was disappointed to see that the new translation will be abridged. Here is the explanation for this move from the OUP website:
However, the De Potentia is a very long work indeed (the 1932 translation fills three volumes), and a full translation would be a difficult publishing proposition as well as a challenge to any translator. Recognizing this fact, while wishing to make a solid English version of the De Potentia available, Fr. Richard Regan has produced this abridgement, which passes over some of the full text while retaining what seems most important when it comes to following the flow of Aquinas’s thought.
The information at the OUP site puts the page count of Fr. Regan’s abridgement at 368, which, admittedly, is still quite generous. The 1952 Newman Press unabridged single volume edition of the Shapcote translation comes to 476 pages. Is that really too much for OUP? One might guess that OUP, although they are a nonprofit, is concerned about the bottom line. That would not be an irrelevant consideration. After all, OUP would like to stay in business and we would like them to stay in business too. Their service to the academic world is invaluable. But consider the fact that in December they published — to take a random example — F.C. Beiser’s The German Historicist Tradition, a 608 page tome. While I would personally be interested in reading Beiser’s book, I cannot imagine that it would wildly outsell an unabridged version of the De Potentia. So why shortchange the latter?
No doubt there are factors of which I am unaware. Are they insurmountable? Perhaps there is still time for OUP to reconsider.
UPDATE: Michael Dougherty notes in his comment below that the Shapcote translation for the De Potentia has been brought back into print by Wipf and Stock and is also available online in HTTP format. These observations make me further question the value of the upcoming abridged Oxford translation.