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Monday, August 11, 2014

0365: Dating of the Texts in which Aquinas
Uses the Expression "Actus Essendi" (II)

Entry 0365: Dating of the Texts in which Aquinas
Uses the Expression 
"Actus Essendi" (II) 

Aquinas uses the expression “actus essendi” in four passages in his Quaestiones disputatae De veritate:

1. De veritate, question 1, article 1, corpus
2. De veritate, question 1, article 1, ad 1
3. De veritate, question 1, article 1, ad sc 3
4. De veritate, question 10, article 8, ad 13

There seems to be very little doubt that Aquinas wrote the Quaestiones disputatae De veritate in the period between 1256 and 1259.

Jean-Pierre Torrell states simply that “The disputed questions De veritate date from the three years of Thomas’s first period teaching as a master in Paris, from 1256 to 1259” (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], 334).

And in agreement with this John F. Wippel writes: “From 1256 until 1259 Thomas carried out the functions of a Master (Professor) of Theology at the University of Paris. These duties included conducting formal disputed questions (resulting in his Quaestiones disputatae De veritate) and quodlibetal disputations (where any appropriate question could be raised by any member in the audience, and would ultimately have to be answered by the presiding Master). His Quodlibets 7-11 and his Commentary on the De Trinitate of Boethius resulted from this period” (John F. Wippel, The Metaphysical Thought of Thomas Aquinas [Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2000], xiv).

Torrell elaborates further on the issue of the date of composition of De veritate by offering the following remarks: “To return to De veritate … its existence is attested very early. Well before the deposition during the canonization process at Naples by Bartholomew of Capua (Processus canonizationis S. Thomae, Neapoli, ed. M.-H Laurent, in Fontes, 85, p. 388), a catalogue of Thomas’s works published prior to 1293 mentions the questions De veritate ‘quas disputavit Parisius.’ (This is the list of the ms. Praha, Metr. kap. A 17/2, of which we can find a transcription in M. Grabmann, Die Werke des hl. Thomas von Aquin: Eine literarhistorische Untersuchung und Einfuhrung, in Beitrage zur Geschichte der Philosophie und Theologie des Mittelalters 22 (1-2), pp. 97-98. …) But we have two other even earlier testimonies. Beginning in 1278, William de la Mare, Thomas’s Franciscan adversary, author of the famous Correctorium, dedicated a section of nine articles attacking the (in his eyes) faulty theses of the De veritate—an indisputable sign of Thomist authenticity. Thomas’s friends also evidently recognized this, since they came to his defense. (See some of the details of this subject in the Leon. ed., vol. 22/1, p. 6*. …) At a still earlier period, Vincent of Beauvais introduced (prior to 1264/65, the date of his death), in his second edition of the Speculum maius, important fragments from questions 11, 12, and 13 of the De veritate under the explicit name of their author. (See Leon., vol. 22, p. 7*, and p. 189* for a list of these borrowings by Vincent.) The use of the book was therefore practically contemporaneous with its completion, and this permits us to emphasize both the rapidity of its diffusion and the vitality of Parisian university circles at the time” (Torrell, Saint Thomas Aquinas: The Person and His Work, 63-64).