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Monday, September 29, 2014


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

Text no. 13



Entry 0371: Dating of the Texts in which Aquinas
Uses the Expression Actus Essendi 
 



Aquinas uses the expression actus essendi several times in his commentary on Boethius’s De hebdomadibus.



 Text no. 13: Exposition of Boethius’s De hebdomadibuslectio 2.



This work seems to have been composed between 1257 and 1259, during Aquinas’s first regency in Paris. This is the opinion of Eleonore Stump who writes: “Aquinas’s commentaries on Boethius’s De Trinitate (On the Trinity) and De hebdomadibus (sometimes referred to as ‘How Substances are Good’) are his other philosophically important writings from this period of his first regency” (Aquinas [New York: Routledge, 2003], p. 4).

The Oxford Handbook of Aquinas also situates the composition of the commentary on Boethius’s De hebdomadibus around 1257-1259, the same date that they report for the composition of the commentary on Boethius’s De Trinitate. (See The Oxford Handbook of Aquinas, ed. Brian Davies and Eleonore Stump [New York: Oxford University Press, 2012] 534.)

Brendan Thomas Sammon places the composition of this commentary on 1258. (See B. T. Sammon, The God Who Is Beauty [Eugene, Oregon: Pickwick Publications, 2013] 207.)

Torrell, for his part, seems to agree with this dating but is inclined to think that the commentary on Boethius’s De Trinitate was written first. Thus Torrell writes: “Historians habitually mention these two works one after another because of their common subject. In the preface to the Leonine edition, Father Bataillon thinks instead—given the internal data that reveal differences—that the Expositio libri Boetii De hebdomadibus is probably later than the Super Boetium De Trinitate. But without external data that would permit us to situate it better (through dated sources, for example), Bataillon declares himself unable to propose a precise date” (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], 68). Torrell then concludes that “The date of this work is doubtless later than that of the other commentary on Boethius, but the current state of research does not allow us to specify the date further, nor its circumstances” (Torrell, Saint Thomas Aquinas, 345-346). 

Monday, September 15, 2014


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

Text no. 12



Entry 0370: Dating of the Texts in which Aquinas
Uses the Expression Actus Essendi 
 



Aquinas uses the expression actus essendi only once in his Commentary on Aristotle’s Metaphysics, in the commentary on book 4, lecture 2, paragraph no. 6.


 Text no. 12: Commentary on Aristotle’s Metaphysics, book 4, lectio 2.


Aquinas’s Commentary on the Metaphysics seems to have been written between 1270 and 1272. Here are some remarks concerning the date of composition of this work.

Commenting on the derivation of the predicaments reported in the Commentary on Aristotle’s Physics and in the Commentary on Aristotle’s Metaphysics, John F. Wippel notes that “While there is no substantial disagreement between these two attempts on Thomas's part to derive the ten predicaments, we may wonder which comes later in time. It is as difficult to answer this question with certainty as it is to determine whether the Commentary on the Metaphysics is prior to the Commentary on the Physics, or perhaps vice versa. In fact, Weisheipl suggested that Thomas may have been working on the two commentaries at approximately the same time -- the Physics (at Paris from 1270 to 1271) and the Metaphysics (at Paris, and possibly at Naples, from 1269 to 1272). As Weisheipl also warns, we should not assume that Thomas composed his Commentary on the Metaphysics, at least in its final version, in the order in which we number its books today. While accepting this final point, Torrell places the Commentary on the Physics during the earlier part of Thomas's second teaching period at Paris, ca. 1268-1269. Although he acknowledges the uncertainties surrounding the dating of the Commentary on the Metaphysics, he suggests that its beginning may date from the academic year 1270-1271, with the Commentary on Books VII-XII falling after mid-1271 but before 1272-1273. Since Torrell has been able to take into account more recent research concerning this, he should be followed on this point. Consequently, it now appears that Thomas's derivation of the predicaments in his Commentary on the Metaphysics expresses his most mature thought on this issue” (John F. Wippel, The Metaphysical Thought of Thomas Aquinas [Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2000], 223-224).

Torrell points out that by the end of 1271, Thomas had adopted the numbering of the books of the Metaphysics of William of Moerbeke’s translation. This fact,” Torrell explains, is too little known by the average reader of Saint Thomas, but its importance is great. Until Moerbeke’s translation, one referred to the Metaphysics according to the translation by Michael Scot or according to the Translatio media, which was anonymous; both having omitted book Kappa, the book designated Lambda was referred to as book XI. William of Moerbeke is the first to translate book Kappa, which in his translation will become XI, while the book Lambda will become book XII. This criterion has permitted us to divide Saint Thomas’s works into two series, the one which dates before the Moerbecana, where the book Lambda is called XI, the other which dates from after the Moerbecana, when book Lambda is called XII. … The key date, which is to say the date when Saint Thomas knew the Moerbecana of the Metaphysics, is situated towards the middle or the end of 1271” (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], 225, n. 2).

Torrell, however, affirms that “The date and place of composition for the commentary on Aristotle’s Metaphysics pose numerous problems. The designation of Book Lambda as Book XII, a title that Thomas adopted toward the middle of 1271, invites us to date the commentary on Books VII-XII after that date. The beginning of the commentary may date from the academic year 1270-71. The commentary on Books II and III may be the fruit of self-correction or of later editing. Begun in Paris, the composition of this work may have been finished in Naples. The only sure thing, in the current state of research, is that this text is earlier than the De caelo et mundo, probably composed in Naples, 1272-73” (Torrell, Saint Thomas Aquinas, 344). 

Monday, September 8, 2014


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

Text no. 9



Entry 0367: Dating of the Texts in which Aquinas
Uses the Expression Actus Essendi 
 



Aquinas uses the expression actus essendi in the quodlibetal questions only once, in Quodlibet 9, question 4, article 1, corpus.




 Text no. 9: Quodlibetal disputations, Quodlibet 9, question 4, article 1, corpus.



There seems to be very little doubt that Quodlibet 9 was written between 1256 and 1259 when Aquinas was regent master in theology at the University of Paris.

Wippel, for example, writes that “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 writes towards the end of his book that “Thomas’s Quodlibets can be divided into two groups, according to the two periods of teaching in Paris. Quodlibets I-VI and XII (the reportatio of the latter was not revised by Thomas) come from the second period (1268-72)” (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], 337). In other words, by process of elimination, Quodlibet 9 belongs to the group written during the first Paris regency.

Earlier Torrell was more specific about the dating of the quodlibetal questions: “As to dates, after the first tentative steps, the researchers have reached agreement on dividing the Quodlibets into two groups according to the two Parisian sojourns: Quodlibets VII-XI belong to the first period [1256-1259], while Quodlibets I-VI and XII (the reportatio of this latter was not revised by Thomas) belong to the second [1268-72]” (Torrell, Saint Thomas Aquinas, 208-209).

Torrell explains that at the time of Aquinas at the University of Paris there were two types of disputed questions, private and public. “The first, private dispute (disputatio privata), was held within the school—the master with his students and bachelor only. The second type was public (disputatio publica or ordinaria), and the master had to hold it at regular intervals, though many willingly dispensed themselves from it, for the exercise could be perilous. 

The difference between the first and the second form was therefore the public,” Torrell adds, since the students from other schools could attend, and sometimes masters as well. On occasion, they did not refrain from raising difficulties for the colleague engaged in the exercise. In one of its forms,” Torrell continues, this second genre of disputed questions could even be a solemn public occasion (the famous Quodlibets), which were held twice a year, during Lent and Advent. They interrupted the regular courses at the university. As a result of P. Mandonnet’s labors, we can agree today in dating from this first period of teaching in Paris [1256-1259] Thomas’s Quodlibets VII though XI” (Torrell, Saint Thomas Aquinas, 60-61). 

Monday, September 1, 2014


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

Text no. 11



Entry 0369: Dating of the Texts in which Aquinas
Uses the Expression Actus Essendi
 



Aquinas uses the expression actus essendi in the Disputed Questions on the Power of God (De potentia) only once, in question 7, article 2, ad 1.




 Text no. 11: Disputed questions De potentia, question 7, article 2, ad 1.



Scholars seem to have fixed the date of composition of De potentia

After returning to Italy in 1259, Aquinas first worked in Orvieto from 1261 to 1265, and then moved to Rome where he directed the Study House of the Dominican Order from 1265 to 1268. 

There seems to be very little doubt that it was during this period in Rome that Aquinas wrote the disputed questions De potentia.

Referring to this teaching activity of Aquinas in Rome, Torrell accordingly remarks that “the disputed questions De potentia are precisely situated in this period” (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], 161).

Weisheipl for his part comments that “De potentia is chronologically and speculatively the immediate predecessor of the first part of the theological Summa” (James A. Weisheipl, Friar Thomas D’Aquino: His Life, Thought, and Works, 2nd ed. [Washington. D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1983], 200). Aquinas wrote the Prima Pars of the Summa theologiae in Rome in the period between 1266 and 1268.

And concurring with this, Susan C. Selner-Wright begins the introduction of her translation of De potentia, question 3, by saying that “Thomas Aquinas wrote his Disputed Questions On the Power of God (Quaestiones disputatae De potentia Dei or De potentia) in Rome in 1265–66. It was begun, but probably not completed, before he began the first part of his most famous work, the Summa theologiae, also composed during this time in Rome” (Thomas Aquinas, On Creation: Quaestiones disputatae De potentia Dei-Q. 3, trans. S. C. Selner-Wright, [Washington. D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2011], vii).