Aquinas's Contra errores graecorum's target: Nicholas of Crotone's Libellus

Thomas Prügl from the Universität Wien (link) writes to us with this question:

Let me use the expertise of Thomistica to ask a question: Some months ago, I read a note about a study that included an English translation of the Liber de fide trinitatis, the famous "Libellus" that Pope Urban asked Saint Thomas to examine and that became the occasion for Aquinas' Contra errores graecorum. Father Dondaine edited the Libellus in vol. 40 of the Leonine Edition, along with Contra errores graecorum. Unfortunately I did not wirte down the author and the title, but does anybody know this study or translation?

Please feel free to offer suggestions in the Comments section below, or write to Dr Prügl here.

PS: I checked Fr. Joseph Kenny's library of texts on this but came up short. Any ideas?

An English translation of Aquinas's Scriptum on the Sentences?

Via David Whidden, some links to fascinating news about a translation company that is working towards a facing page, Latin-English translation of Thomas’s Scriptum on Peter’s Lombards Libri sententiarum. For the background to the story you can visit the Washington Times article “From Bill Gates to Thomas Aquinas” and then go to the profiled company’s page (Logos Software) devoted to the translation project (link).

It seems that the company is looking for pledged support for the project, so if you have influence in your school’s library budgets this might be the time to get the word in—especially as people try to flush out expenditures before the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

Thomistic Philosophical Terms (part 4)

While looking through the Notre Dame Press catalogue this morning I came across a forthcoming book by John W. (Jack) Carlson titled Words of Wisdom: A Philosophical Dictionary for the Perennial Tradition. Here is part of the publisher’s blurb:

It offers precise, yet clear and understandable accounts of well over a thousand key philosophical terms, richly cross-referenced. It also explains significant terms from other philosophical movements with which Thomism (and the Catholic intellectual tradition more generally) has engaged—either through debate or through judicious and creative incorporation. Moreover, it identifies a number of theological and doctrinal expressions to which perennial philosophy has contributed. Finally, it provides a comprehensive bibliography of works by Aquinas in English, expositions and discussions of perennial themes, and representative examples from the writings of all philosophers and theologians mentioned in dictionary entries.

While the book is not available until December, I thought it could be added to the growing list of resources on Thomistic philosophical terms (see parts 1, 2, 3).

Thomistic Philosophical Terms (part 3)

In an earlier post, I responded to a reader inquiry concerning a short list of definitions that might help students in an introductory course on Thomistic philosophy. Mark Johnson and Bob Barry also weighed in with more suggestions (here, and here). Today while googling for something else I happened upon A Scholastic List of Definitions for Philosophical Terms and A Scholastic List of Philosophical Axioms. Further searching led me to a MS Word version here.

Georgetown Undergraduate essay competition in medieval philosophy

In from Robert Matava, fellow at the Georgetown University Center for Medieval Philosophy, comes news of an inaugural competition for the best undergraduate essay in medieval philosophy:

Edward A. Martin Prize for Undergraduate Medieval Philosophy Paper

Prof. Mark Henninger, S.J., Director of the Center for Medieval Philosophy is pleased to announce the establishment of the Edward A. Martin Prize for the Most Outstanding Undergraduate Paper in Medieval Philosophy. The purpose of this prize is to recognize the best work currently being done in undergraduate medieval philosophy.

Criteria: A paper or honors thesis focused on western medieval philosophy from Augustine to Suarez of between 3,000 – 5,000 words, double-spaced, exclusive of bibliography or endnotes. The paper should have been written for an undergraduate course or as an honors thesis during the calendar year 2010 and must not have been published in professional fora or student journals. Papers will be judged based on their quality of research, depth of philosophic inquiry and clarity.

Prize: US$700.00 First Prize and two US$ 150.00 Honorable Mentions

Requirements for submission:

 Cover letter with the name, address, email and phone number of the student and supervising professor.

  • The paper
  • In addition to the paper, the student must submit a letter of recommendation from the supervising professor attesting to the superior quality of the work as well as its originality.
  • Deadline: January 31, 2011.
  • Cover letter, paper and letter of recommendation must be submitted together by either .pdf, .doc or .docx to the Center for Medieval Philosophy email address or by mail to: Prof. Mark Henninger, S.J., Center for Medieval Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, Georgetown University, Washington D.C., 20057. If mailed the package must be postmarked by January 31, 2011.


  • Winners will be notified on March 31, 2010.
  • For administrative purposes this inaugural year, the prize will be limited to US university students.

 For more information please go to Georgetown University’s Center for Medieval Philosophy’s website.

Texts for Introduction to St. Thomas (or what to do when Pegis goes out of print...)

A conversation with a colleague turned to the topic of the texts we assign for our introductory courses on Thomas, he for his philosophy course and me for my theology course. I mentioned my love of Anton Pegis’ Introduction to St. Thomas Aquinas for its extensive content and its low price; he then broke the bad news that it has gone out of print. In disbelief that this long-time standard in my classroom would no longer be available, I checked and confirmed that this text with its 1945 copyright date is no longer available new from any sources.

As I gradually worked through the five stages of dealing with your favorite text for a class going out of print, I thought of what other texts I might use for teaching my Theology of Thomas Aquinas course that would provide ample texts of Thomas but not drive my students into bankruptcy.

The most obvious source for cost-effective texts of Thomas, of course, would be the online versions of his work, especially the exceedingly user-friendly version of the English Dominican translation of the Summa Theologiae hosted on itself:

I am a firm believer, however, that the printed page is a superior technology for both study and classroom use, and having students print reams of questions from any website becomes impractical.

I have already supplemented Pegis in my classroom with Fritz Bauerschmidt’s Holy Teaching: Introducing the Summa Theologiae of St. Thomas Aquinas from Brazos Press. I highly recommend this text for introductory courses such as mine; it provides useful selections from the Summa, but I find its real strength to be the extensive footnotes accompanying the selections, which constitute in themselves textbook on the theology of Thomas. This is probably the best selection of primary texts for a theology course, as Bauerschmidt includes samples of all the distinctively theological questions that selections of Thomas with a philosophical focus, even Pegis, often omit.

The next candidate, which I have considered adding in the past, is Ralph McInerny’s Thomas Aquinas: Selected Writings in the Penguin Books paperback edition. It is extremely affordable, and has the unique virtue of providing selections from an array of different genres of Thomas’ writings beyond the standard disputational format, including sermons, commentaries and treatises. The selections are putatively arranged in chronological order, but with the chosen topics of those selections proceeding with some resemblance to the systematic progression of the Summa Theologiae. The texts themselves are McInerny’s own translations, each preceded by a brief introduction. The entire work opens with a strong introduction to Thomas’ thought, and though the stated focus of the work is philosophical, there is substantial amount of content useful for an introduction to Thomas’ theology.

The text I’ve regularly assigned as an accompanying secondary-source has been Michael Dauphinais and Matthew Levering’s Knowing the Love of Christ: An Introduction to the Theology of St. Thomas Aquinas from Notre Dame Press. The majority of students in my Thomas class are non-majors with little or no background in theology, and they find this work very clear and accessible. Coupled with Bauerschmidt’s deeper expositions of the primary texts, I find enough here to guide students to a fruitful understanding of Christian theology through the primary texts of Thomas Aquinas.

I was wondering, however, whether there are any other gems out there used by blog-readers that are both affordable and useful for teaching. Or in other words, what texts would you assign for your introduction to the philosophy or theology of Thomas Aquinas if you wanted to keep the total book-budget for your course under $50. I would be interested to hear suggestions from readers of this blog, either in the comments section or in the new Forums available at the top of this page.

Thomistic Philosophical Terms (part 2)

Michael’s answer to a reader’s question about where to find a handy accounting of Thomistic philosophical terms mentioned Fr William Wallace’s The Elements of Philosophy, which contains pithy renderings of these polyvalent terms. I read Michael’s mention of the book, mentally checked-off on the issue, and went about my day.

But then I remembered that, given the reader’s original concern as a teacher, Fr Wallace’s The Elements of Philosophy is carefully indexed to the corresponding articles on philosophical and theological terms to be found in the New Catholic Encyclopedia! Indeed, if I remember correctly, Fr Wallace wrote the thing as a distillation of the corresponding NCE content. So, to the original question and for our other readers, don’t forget that the New Catholic Encyclopedia (together with its 2003 update) has articles on these essential philosophical terms (many of which were authored by Wallace, Weisheipl, and thomistic lights).

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Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson is an associate professor of Theology at Marquette University, and founded 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).