Thomistic synthesis

Daily Reading for January 28 • Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Friar, 1274

Though involved in numerous ecclesiastical and civil affairs, Thomas Aquinas was primarily a theological thinker and writer. The only comparable figure in previous church history is Augustine, and Aquinas quotes his distinguished predecessor more frequently than any other of the Fathers. But unlike Augustine, Aquinas was a systematizer with a neat, orderly mind that delighted in logical and dialectical coherence. Aiding him in this architectonic ideal was the newly rediscovered Aristotle, whose precision of definition and syllogistic distinctions provided Aquinas with the philosophical instrument he needed for his theological construction. Thus in Aquinas both Augustine and Aristotle meet, and the synthesis added an astonishing brilliance to such perennial problems as the relation of revelation and reason.

There are two distinct lines of development in Christian theology. One comes out of the Hebrew-Christian tradition and the other from the Greco-Roman philosophy and culture. The so-called Thomistic synthesis brought the two into functional coexistence.

From Readings in Christian Thought, edited by Hugh T. Kerr (Abingdon, 1983).

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