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).