Monday, August 4, 2014

Dating of the Texts in which Aquinas
Uses the Expression actus essendi

Texts nos. 1, 2, 3, and 4

Entry 0364: Dating of the Texts in which Aquinas
Uses the Expression 
actus essendi  

Aquinas uses the expression actus essendi in four passages in his Commentary on the Sentences:

 Text no. 1: In I Sententiarum, distinction 8, question 1, article 1, corpus.

 Text no. 2: In I Sententiarum, distinction 8, question 4, article 2, ad 2.

 Text no. 3: In I Sententiarum, distinction 8, question 5, article 2, corpus.

 Text no. 4: In III Sententiarum, distinction 11, question 1, article 2, ad 2.

The Commentary on the Sentences seems to have been written between 1252-1256, and the date of composition has been framed within the following setting:

After some difficulties with his blood family concerning his vocation to the Dominican Order, and “since his resolve remained unbroken, he [Aquinas] was permitted to rejoin the Dominican confreres and made his way to Paris in 1245. At Paris he first came into contact with Albert the Great during the period 1245-1248, and in 1248 he accompanied Albert to Cologne in order to continue his theological formation there. In 1252 he was sent back to Paris to begin working for the highest degree offered by the University there, that of Magister in Theology, and pursued the rigorous academic program required for this until 1256. Not least among his duties during this period was his responsibility to comment on the Sentences of Peter the Lombard, and this resulted in the eventual publication of his first major theological writing, his Commentary on the Sentences” (John F. Wippel, The Metaphysical Thought of Thomas Aquinas [Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2000], xiii-xiv).

These comments are in agreement with what Jean-Pierre Torrell wrote on this subject:

“Upon his arrival in Cologne, after Naples and Paris (and whatever may have been the details about his years of study), Thomas already had seven or eight years of formation behind him, even without counting what he learned on his own during the imprisonment by his family. Some scholars (De Groot, Berthier, Pelster) even think that he was already a lecturer in theology and probably the biblical bachelor for Albert (Scheeben, Eschmann). Weisheipl takes up this hypothesis and suggests that Thomas taught cursorie on Jeremiah, Lamentations, and a part of Isaiah at Cologne. … Weisheipl’s arguments are not without weight. On the one hand, he reminds us that Thomas was sent to Paris to lecture on the Sentences, not the Bible. Besides, he emphasizes that, if he had begun by reading the Bible, Thomas would have been an exception, since none of the masters who had occupied the second Dominican chair up until then had begun their teaching as bachelors with a cursory reading of the Bible. All had begun with the Sentences. Furthermore, by the middle of the thirteenth century it was no longer an absolute rule that the bachelor of the Sentences would earlier have been a biblical bachelor. Weisheipl’s suggestion is, therefore, well founded and it has been well received by accomplished scholars” (Jean-Pierre Torrell, Saint Thomas Aquinas: The Person and His Work - Volume 1, trans. Robert Royal [Washington. D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2005], 27-28).

Torrell then adds:

 “The ampleness of this work [the Commentary on the Sentences] fits only with difficulty into the chronological framework that assigns the two first years in Paris to biblical teaching and the next two to the Sentences. But if we accept the solution that naturally suggests itself from the sources, we may spread out the composition of this immense, five-thousand-page commentary over a little more than four academic years (though the teaching, according to the university statutes, had to be completed within two years). All this accords with Tocco, who makes the time of composition spill over into the following period, not just the time of the ‘formed’ bachelor, but that of the master as well. [Footnote:] Ystoria 15, p. 236 (Tocco 14, p. 81): ‘Scripsit in baccellaria et principio sui magisterii super quatuor libros Sententiarum.’ We may thus understand Thomas’s achievement much better. He was far from thinking his work definitive, however, and, from all appearances, he modified it, trying to improve it, when he took it up again to deliver to his students at Santa Sabina almost a decade later” (Ibid., 45).

But Torrell makes clear that “it was not this return to the subject in Rome that came down to posterity, but the Paris lectura” (Ibid., 47).