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Study the Summa Theologica in the Classical Liberal Arts Academy
Study the Summa Theologica in the Classical Liberal Arts Academy

The Summa Theologica, also Summa Theologiae, was composed by St. Thomas Aquinas between the years 1265 and the saint’s death in 1274.The Catholic Encylopedia tells us:

“Summæ are compendiums of theology, philosophy, and canon law which were used both as textbooks in the schools and as books of reference during the Middle Ages.”

The Summa by St. Thomas Aquinas is–by far–the most famous “summa” in Church history.

While many like to treat the Summa Theologica as some kind of advanced theological work to be left for seminarians and theologians, St. Thomas said otherwise.  He wrote in the preface to the Summa,

“We purpose in this book to treat of whatever belongs to the Christian religion, in such a way as may tend to the instruction of beginners. “

In the Classical Liberal Arts Academy, we seek to make the Summa  accessible to school-aged students.  The Summa is central to our Catholic theology program and is divided into four separate courses, each of which focuses on one of the four parts of the work.

Summa Theologica I

In this first course, we study the First Part of the Summa, which treats of:

  • the Essence of God
  • the Persons of God
  • the Works of God in Creation

Summa Theologica II

In this second course, we study the “First Part of the Second Part” of the Summa, which treats of:

  • the End of Man
  • Human Acts, Passions and Habits
  • Vice and Sin
  • the Law and Grace

Summa Theologica III

In this third course, we study the “Second Part of the Second Part” of the Summa, which treats of:

  • the Theological Virtues
  • the Natural Virtues
  • the Acts of Particular Men

Summa Theologica IV

In this fourth and final course, we study the Third Part of the Summa, which treats of:

  • the life of Jesus Christ
  • the Seven Sacraments
  • the Resurrection

Summary of the Summa Theologica

The Summa Theologica is a comprehensive guide to Christian theology written by Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century. It is divided into three parts: the first part deals with God, the second part covers human happiness and morality, and the third part is about Christ and the sacraments. In each part, Aquinas provides answers to questions and debates of the time, using reason and scripture to support his arguments.

In the first part of the Summa, Aquinas discusses the nature of God and the existence of God. He argues that God is a necessary being, meaning that God must exist because there can be no explanation for why God does not exist. Aquinas also explores the attributes of God, such as God’s goodness, wisdom, and power. He argues that God is the source of all that exists, and that everything in the universe exists because of God.

The second part of the Summa focuses on human happiness and morality. Aquinas argues that the ultimate goal of human life is to attain happiness, which can only be found in God. He also covers various moral questions, such as the nature of sin and the importance of virtues like love and justice. He explains that moral acts should be guided by reason and guided by the laws of God.

The third part of the Summa deals with Christ and the sacraments. Aquinas explains the nature of Jesus Christ as both fully human and fully divine, and explores the significance of Christ’s death and resurrection. He also discusses the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church, including baptism, confession, and the Eucharist. Aquinas argues that the sacraments are necessary for salvation, as they provide the grace needed to achieve eternal happiness.

Overall, the Summa Theologica is a comprehensive guide to Christian theology that provides answers to many of the questions and debates of the time. Aquinas’ use of reason and scripture to support his arguments has made the Summa a influential work in the development of Catholic theology. Despite being written over 700 years ago, the Summa remains relevant today and continues to be widely read and studied by theologians and philosophers.

In conclusion, the Summa Theologica is a remarkable work that provides a comprehensive guide to Christian theology, covering topics such as the nature of God, human happiness and morality, and Christ and the sacraments. Its impact on Catholic theology and philosophy cannot be overstated, and it remains a must-read for anyone interested in learning about the foundations of Christianity.


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