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Summa Contra Gentiles: Book One: God (Summa Contra Gentiles) [Paperback]

By Thomas Aquinas (Author) & Anton C. F. R. S. C. Pegis (Translator)
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Item description for Summa Contra Gentiles: Book One: God (Summa Contra Gentiles) by Thomas Aquinas & Anton C. F. R. S. C. Pegis...

The Summa Contra Gentiles is not merely the only complete summary of Christian doctrine that St. Thomas has written, but also a creative and even revolutionary work of Christian apologetics composed at the precise moment when Christian thought needed to be intellectually creative in order to master and assimilate the intelligence and wisdom of the Greeks and the Arabs. In the Summa, Aquinas works to save and purify the thought of the Greeks and the Arabs in the higher light of Christian Revelation, confident than all that had been rational in the ancient philosophers and their followers would become more rational within Christianity.

This exposition and defense of divine truth has two main parts: the consideration of that truth which faith professes and reason investigates, and the consideration of the truth which faith professes and reason is not competent to investigate. The exposition of truths accessible to natural reason occupies Aquinas in the first three books of the Summa. His method is to bring forward demonstrative and probable arguments, some of which are drawn from the philosophers to convince skeptics. In the fourth book Aquinas appeals to the authority of Sacred Scripture for those divine truths which surpass the capacity of reason.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: University of Notre Dame Press
Pages   317
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.06" Width: 5.43" Height: 0.78"
Weight:   0.9 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 1, 1975
Publisher   University of Notre Dame Press
Edition  Revised  
Series  Summa Contra Gentiles  
ISBN  026801678X  
ISBN13  9780268016784  

Availability  50 units.
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More About Thomas Aquinas & Anton C. F. R. S. C. Pegis

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) is a Doctor of the church. He was an Italian Dominican friar and Roman Catholic priest who was an influential philosopher, theologian, and jurist in the tradition of scholasticism. Canonized in 1323 by Pope John XXII, Aquinas was the foremost classical proponent of natural theology and the father of Thomism.

Thomas Aquinas has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Library of Christian Classics
  2. Summa Contra Gentiles

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Classics
2Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > Medieval Thought
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Authors, A-Z > ( A ) > Aquinas, Thomas
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism > General
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Bible > General
7Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Apologetics
8Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Catholic
9Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about Summa Contra Gentiles: Book One: God?

It Makes You Think!  Mar 29, 2003
"Summa Contra Gentiles: Book One: God" is St. Thomas Aquinas' work in which he proclaims his philosophy of God. While differing from his Summa Theologica in form, it does bear it some resemblance. It consists of 102 chapters, each of which postulates a particular attribute of God. Each chapter then proves the postulated attribute by the application of philosophical reasoning. Support of authority, Scriptural or otherwise,. is only invoked after the issue has been established.

This is a book which makes the reader think. Some chapters really leave the reader with the feeling of understanding something new. This book is not light reading. It requires the investment of serious intellectual energy. For the reader willing to make the investment, the rewards can be heavenly.

Structure of Summa Contra Gentiles  Jul 30, 2002
Thomas Aquinas was an extraordinarily systematic thinker and writer. Because of this, one of the best ways to comprehend "Summa Contra Gentiles" is through consideration of its structure. At the highest level, it consists of 4 books, with the third book in two parts, on account of its length.

The titles of the five volumes are as follows:

Summa Contra Gentiles: God

Summa Contra Gentiles: Creation

Summa Contra Gentiles: Providence, Part I

Summa Contra Gentiles: Providence, Part II*

Summa Contra Gentiles: Salvation

Each volume is formally divided into about 100 short chapters. A typical chapter gets its title from some proposition that is to be affirmed, or in some cases refuted. Each paragraph is an argument in support (or denial) of that proposition. The chapters are themselves ordered so that the later chapters build on what the arguments in the earlier chapters have established, and it is this arrangement of chapters that constitutes the real structure of "Summa Contra Gentiles".

Although in his later "Summa Theologica", Thomas formalized the higher-level structure of his writing, he did not do so here, which somewhat complicates any presentation of this structure - the book titles are so high level that they give little feel of the work, and the chapter titles so numerous that the reader is easily overwhelmed by a list of them.

In order to give the reader some sense of the overall work, I've prepared an outline of the work that (hopefully) is short enough to be readily comprehensible and long enough to give the reader an understanding of what topics are covered and in what order. This outline is presented below:

1.0 Summa Contra Gentiles: God

1.1 Intention of the Work (1 - 2)

1.2 Truths of Reason and Revelation (3 - 9)

1.3 That God Exists (10 - 13)

1.4 That God is Eternal (14 - 20)

1.5 God's Essence (21 - 28)

1.6 That God is Known (29 - 36)

1.7 That God is Good, One and Infinite (37 - 44)

1.8 God's Intellect and Knowledge (44 - 71)

1.9 God's Will (72 - 96)

1.10 God's Life and Beatitude (97 - 102)

2.0 Summa Contra Gentiles: Creation

2.1 Purpose of the Work (1 - 5)

2.2 That God is the Creator of All Things (6)

2.3 God's Power Over His Creation (7 - 29)

2.4 For and Against the Eternity of the World (30 - 38)

2.5 The Distinction of Things (39 - 45)

2.6 Intellectual Substances (46 - 55)

2.7 The Intellect, the Soul and the Body (57 - 78)

2.8 Immortality of Man's Soul (79 - 82)

2.9 Origin of Man's Soul (83 - 89)

2.10 On Non-human (Angelic) Intellects (90 - 101)

3.0 Summa Contra Gentiles: Providence (Parts I and II)

3.1 Prologue (1)

3.2 Good, Evil, and God as the End of All Things (2 - 25)

3.3 Human Felicity (26 - 63)

3.4 How God's Providence Works (64 - 94)

3.5 Prayer and Miracles, Magic and Demons (95 - 110)

3.6 Rational Creatures and Divine Law (111 - 130)

3.7 Voluntary Poverty and Continence (131 - 138)

3.9 Rewards and Punishments (139 - 147)

3.10 Sin, Grace, and Predestination (148 - 163)

4.0 Salvation

4.1 Forward (1)

4.2 The Trinity (2 - 16)

4.3 The Incarnation (27 - 55)

4.4 The Sacraments (56 - 78)

4.5 The Resurrection (79 - 97)


* in searching for Part II of "Providence" in this site's book catalog, be sure to search by the full title, or the search results may just return part I.

Reader's Notes  Jul 26, 2002
Depending on the reader's preparation, "Summa Contra Gentiles: God" is either completely impenetrable or one of the easier philosophical works to understand.

While it is ideal for the reader to have read Aristotle, particularly his "Physics" and "Metaphysics", less - even much less - will do. What is minimally necessary is an understanding of the vocabulary. Thomas used a number of terms that he acquired from Aristotle that had a particular technical meaning, a meaning that is different from the ordinary meaning of those same terms. Without a good grasp of these terms, the reader simply will not be able to follow Thomas's logic.

Fortunately, the list of important terms is not very large, nor are the meanings especially obscure. The purpose of this review is to list and define these terms. For examples, I will draw on the familiar story of "The Three Little Pigs":

Matter, material - what a thing is made of. The matter of the three little pigs' houses are straw, sticks, and bricks respectively. Contrast with "form".

Form, formal - how a thing is ordered or arranged. The form of all of the three little pigs' houses is the same: "house". Contrast with "matter".

Prime matter - the stuff out of which all physical objects are ultimately made. While the third little pig's house has the form of "house" and the matter of "bricks", "bricks" themselves have a form of "brick" and matter of "earth" (assuming they are earthen bricks), and "earth" itself has a form and matter, and so on. Eventually, this process must end with some matter that is not composed of anything more fundamental. This most fundamental matter is given the name "prime matter".

Substance, substantial - Ordinarily, matter and form together make a substance. The third little pig's house is a substance that combines the matter of "bricks" and the form "house". The possibility of substances which do not ultimately derive from prime matter is an important question (perhaps the important question) of Summa Contra Gentiles.

Sensible - that which is seen, heard, smelt, touched, or tasted. Sometimes this term is used to refer to the sensible qualities themselves (color, sound, etc.) and sometimes to the objects that have those qualities. The little pigs' houses can be seen, so those houses are sensible objects. Contrast with "intelligible".

Intelligible - that which is understood but not sensed. We understand "house", but we cannot see "house", although we can see the three little pig's individual houses. Contrast with "sensible".

Accident, accidental - the qualities of a thing that do not determine what it is. The matter of which the three little pigs' houses are made is accidental; whether a house is made of straw, sticks, or bricks, it is still a house. Contrast with "essence".

Essence, essential - the qualities of a thing that make it what it is. That the three little pigs' houses are places for them to live is essential to those houses; if they couldn't live in them, they wouldn't be houses. Contrast with "accidental".

Quiddity - see "essence".

Privation - a lack of a quality that would ordinarily be present. It would be a privation if the first little pig could not see, but it is not a privation that his house cannot see.

Act, actual - what a thing is at a particular time. After the first little pig builds his house (but before the wolf blows it down) it is a house in act. Contrast with "potency".

Potency, potential - what a thing could be, but is not. Before the first little pig builds his house, the straw of which it is to be made is a house in potency. Contrast with "act".

Motion - sometimes refers specifically to movement in space, at other times to any change in a thing.

Generation - the process of applying form to matter to make a substance. While the first little pig is building his house from straw, the house is in generation. Contrast with "corruption".

Corruption - the process by which matter loses its form and ceases to be a substance. While the wolf is blowing down the first little pig's house, the house is in corruption. Contrast with "generation".

Nature, natural - qualities of a thing or changes to a thing that arise from what it is. It was natural for the sticks of the second little pig's house to stay where he put them. Contrast with "violent".

Violent, violence - motion in a thing that is contrary to its nature. When the sticks in the second little pig's house were blown apart, that change was violent. Contrast with "nature".

Eternal, eternity - often used to mean not dependent on time; as distinct from an infinite amount of time. "House" is eternal but the pig's individual houses were not.

Cause - how a thing came to be. The efficient cause of the first little pig's house was his work in building it. While Aristotle defined four causes: material, efficient, formal, and final, Thomas almost always means the efficient cause when he refers to a thing's cause.

End - why a thing came to be. The final cause, or end, of the little pigs' houses were to give them shelter.

Get the Whole Set, it is Well Worth Just About Any Price  Feb 14, 2001
This is Volume I (on God) of a 5 volume set. Aquinas wrote this work in order to refute the claims of the Islamic philosophers and theologians of his day and to help those who were Christian missionaries in Islamic areas. Thus, the set (and this book especially) were written in a sort of apologetic fashion.

In this volume, Aquinas deal with the nature of God (i.e. simplicity, immutability, infinite, eternal, etc.). Also, Aquinas discusses the issues of God's knowledge per se, and His knowledge of future contingents, counterfactual, etc. Moreover, Aquinas discusses God's will, essence, necessity, the problem of evil and God's part in evil as it appears in creation, and much more. Thus, just in this one volume, Aquinas is nearly exhaustive in his presentation of the person and work of God.

This translation (by Anton Pegis) is eloquently produced and easy to read and understand. While some of the classical terms will need to be understood (i.e. essence/existence, substance, perfect actuality, univocal/equivocal/analogical predications, etc) to gain a better grasp on what Aquinas is espousing, nonetheless, this work is a wonderful tool for those who want to gain a better grasp of Aquinas' thoughts on God.

Finally, if you decide to purchase this volume, then I recommend not stopping with just this single volume, but buy the entire set. It is well worth the money invested. Moreover, the whole set works quite well as a reference tool for future research. I highly recommend it, especially since I consider Aquinas to be the greatest philosopher of the Medieval period, and it would be a pity to miss out on such good philosophy.

The fundemental work in the defense of the Christian faith.  Apr 20, 2000
St. Thomas Aquinas explores with great aptitude the existence of god, along with many other issues of christian doctrine. This work is a must read for those who wish to defend the faith against the philosophical arguments of the non-theist. The "Summa contra Gentiles" and the "Summa Theologica" are pillars of christian theology in the midevil era (and the modern), and without a doubt the most profound arguments for the exsistence of god, and explanation for many doctrinal intricacies of the christian faith.

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