Monday, August 25, 2014

Dating of the Texts in which Aquinas
Uses the Expression Actus Essendi

Text no. 10

Entry 0368: Dating of the Texts in which Aquinas
Uses the Expression Actus Essendi 

Aquinas uses the expression actus essendi in the Summa theologiae only once in part I, question 3, article 4, ad 2.

 Text no. 10: Summa theologiae, part I, question 3, article 4, ad 2.

Concerning the dating of the Prima Pars, there seems to be very little doubt that Aquinas wrote it in Rome in the period between 1266 and 1268.

Wippel writes that “Thomas returned to Italy in 1259 and served there at various Dominican houses of study as Lecturer or as Regent Master, continuing to teach and to write at a rapid pace. During this period he completed his Commentary on the De anima, thereby commencing a series of intensive studies of Aristotle which would eventually result in partial or total commentaries on twelve works by the Stagirite. He completed his Summa contra Gentiles (1259-1265) and the Prima Pars of the Summa theologiae (1266-1268). Also dating from this period are his Exposition on the Divine Names (of Pseudo-Dionysius), Disputed Questions on the Power of God (De potentia), Disputed Questions on Spiritual Creatures, Disputed Questions on the Soul, and many other works of a theological or religious nature” (John F. Wippel, The Metaphysical Thought of Thomas Aquinas [Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2000], xiv).

In 1259 Aquinas took part in the General Chapter of the Dominicans in Valenciennes, France, where he was a member of a commission that established the Dominican Order's program of studies.

Soon after that, Aquinas returned to Italy. From 1261 to 1265, he was in Orvieto, where Pope Urban IV, who had high esteem for Aquinas, commissioned him to compose the liturgical texts for the Feast of Corpus Christi, the feast which, in addition to Holy Thursday, commemorates the institution of the Eucharist.

From 1265 until 1268 Thomas Aquinas lived in Rome where he directed the Study House of the Dominican Order. And in 1269 he was recalled to Paris for a second cycle of lectures.

Franklin T. Harkins reports more precisely that “From his inception at Paris in the Spring of 1256 until he stopped writing in Naples on 6 December 1273, Thomas Aquinas was—above all else—a teacher of sacred doctrine, a master of theology. (See Josef Pieper, Guide to Thomas Aquinas, trans. Richard and Clara Winston [Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1987], 89-102.)

“On 8 September 1265, not quite a decade into his teaching career, Thomas was charged by his Dominican provincial chapter at Anagni ‘for the remission of his sins’ with establishing and directing a studium at Rome for the education of select friars. (See Leonard E. Boyle, The Setting of the Summa theologiae of Saint Thomas [Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1982], 8-15; Jean-Pierre Torrell, Saint Thomas Aquinas, vol. 1: The Person and His Work, rev. ed., trans. Robert Royal [Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2005], 142-59; and M. Michèle Mulchahey, 'First the Bow is Bent in Study….' Dominican Education before 1350 [Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1998), 278-306.])

“Having served the previous four years as conventual lector at Orvieto where he was responsible for the pastoral formation of the fratres communes, Aquinas had by this time become quite well aware of the deficiencies then characterizing Dominican education, particularly its narrow emphasis on applied and moral theology. (See Mulchahey, ‘First the Bow is Bent in Study…. ‘, 184-203; Boyle, The Setting of the Summa theologiae, 1-8; and Torrell, Saint Thomas Aquinas 1, 117-20.)

“As head of his studium at Santa Sabina in Rome Master Thomas took terrific advantage of the opportunity to devise a new, more comprehensive theological curriculum for his young Dominican students by beginning to compose—and presumably teach—the Summa theologiae. (See Boyle, The Setting of the Summa theologiae.)”

This passage is from Franklin T. Harkins, “Primus doctor Iudaeorum: Moses as Theological Master in the Summa theologiae of Thomas Aquinas,” The Thomist 75 (2011): 91-92.

And Torrell points out that “It seems certain that during the time he was at Rome [from 1265] until September 1268, Thomas composed the Prima Pars in its entirety and that this portion [of the Summa theologiae] was in circulation in Italy even before his return to Paris [in 1269]” (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], 146).