Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae in modern English

TREATISE ON HUMAN NATURE: The Complete Text (Summa Theologiae I, Questions 75-102).  By St. Thomas Aquinas; translated by Alfred J. Freddoso (St. Augustine’s Press, South Bend, IN 47780, 2011), 351 pp.  PB $20.00.

Students of St. Thomas Aquinas should be happy with this new translation of the Summa Theologiae. The most commonly used English translation is that of the Dominican Fathers that was made a hundred years ago.  It is an admirable work, but the language is not consistent because there were several translators, and often translating the same Latin word with a different English word.  That problem is avoided in this new translation by one scholar, Professor Alfred J. Feddoso, from the University of Notre Dame.

This volume offers the last section of Part I of the Summa, namely, Thomas’ philosophical and theological treatment of anthropology.  In these 28 questions,  he treats the metaphysical nature of man, his intellectual power of intellect and will, and the origin of man, in soul and body.  It is Thomas’ commentary on the first two chapters of the Book of Genesis.

The English is clear, easily readable and up-to-date.  The print is easy to read, and the pages well laid out, so that the reader can follow the argument.  A special feature of this edition is that the translator includes many difficult Latin phrases in the text immediately after the English translation.  This makes it possible for readers who know Latin, to check the author on the correctness of his translation.

The Treatise on Law (Prima Secundae, Questions 90-108) was the first part of this new translation to appear in print.  The goal is to have the whole Summa available in this new English translation by 2013.

Professor Freddoso, and St. Augustine’s Press, are to be congratulated for making the most important work of St. Thomas Aquinas—the only theologian quoted by name and praised by Vatican II—available to all who wish to increase their knowledge of the Catholic faith by immersing themselves in the greatest of all the Summas.

Fr. Kenneth Baker, S.J., HPR Editor Emeritus
Tacoma, Washington

 

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