Monday, May 15, 2017

Bite Size Aquinas: Question 1-The Nature and Extent of Sacred Doctrine; Article 1

Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) is known as "The Angelic Doctor." Out of all the scholars and teachers in the Medieval period, Aquinas stands heads and shoulders above the rest. I have been undergoing a project recently where I translate his magnus opus Summa Theologiae from Latin into English. Because I move slowly, I thought it might be nice to share my work as I go. Sometimes, I may leave commentary but I think this article speaks for itself.
To place our purpose under some fixed limits, that which is first necessary to investigate is Sacred Doctrine itself, such as it may increase.
About which there are ten things which are to be sought.
 First, whether these doctrines are necessary.
Second, whether it is knowable.
Third, whether it is one or many.
Fourth, whether it is speculative or practical.
Fifth, what is its relationship to the other sciences.
Sixth, whether it is wisdom. Seventh, what is its subject.
Seventh, what is its subject.
Eighth, whether it is a matter of argument.
Ninth, whether it uses metaphors and symbolic language.
Tenth, whether the Sacred Scripture of this doctrine may be expounded in two or more senses. 

Article 1: Whether, besides Philosophy, any Further Doctrine is Required 
Objection 1: To the first it thus proceeds. It seems that, except the discipline of philosophy, it is not necessary to have any other doctrine. For man should not attempt to seek that which is above reason. Second, Ecclesiastes 3:12 states, seek not what is too high for you. But that which is placed under reason is sufficiently taught in the discipline of philosophy. Therefore, any discipline, besides the discipline of philosophy, is shown to be superfluous.
Objection 2: In addition, doctrine can only be concerned truly with being because nothing can be known unless it is true and all that is is true. But concerning all that is discussed is in the philosophical disciplines and also concerning God is declared as some part of philosophy, theology, or divine science that has been opened through philosophy in Metaphysics 6 (Aristotle). Therefore, it is not necessary to have other knowledge besides the discipline of philosophy. 

But it is against that declared by II Tim 3: All Scripture is divinely inspired and is useful for teaching, for evidence, for correction, for instruction, for education. Scripture, however divinely inspired is not pertinent to the philosophical disciplines, which are built by human reason of invention. Therefore, it is useful, besides the philosophical disciplines, that there should be other knowledge divinely inspired.
I respond that it was necessary for human salvation that there should be some knowledge revealed by God besides the philosophical disciplines, which can be investigated by human reason. Indeed, first, man is directed to God as to an end which exceeds comprehensible reason, that seconded by Isa 66.4, The eye does not see apart from you, God, who has prepared for them who carefully wait for you. However, the end is necessary to be known by men who have their intentions and actions set on the end. Therefore, it was necessary for the salvation of men because they learned some things through divine revelation which exceed human reason. And to those things of God which human reason can investigate, it was necessary for men to learn from divine revelation, because the truths of God, through rational investigation, were few and through a long time and mingling with many errors, men came forth dependent on God, in whom is the salvation of all men. Therefore, in order that he might originate the salvation of men more fitly and surely and because it was necessary for the divine, he taught through divine revelation. Therefore, it was necessary, besides the philosophical disciplines, to have revelation to have sacred doctrine through revelation. 

Response to Objection 1: Although, that which is higher than human knowledge may not be sought for by humans through reason, nevertheless, that revealed from God must be acknowledged by faith. Whence and at that moment it was supplied, Many things above the human senses have been exposed to you (Eccl 3.25). And in this, the Sacred Doctrine consists. 

Response to Objection 2: Sciences are differentiated according to the various means by which knowledge is taken in. Likewise, the conclusion is truly demonstrated by the astronomer and the physicist, both think that the earth is round, but the astronomer through mathematics, that is by abstract subject-matter, however the physicist through a medium considered material. Hence there is no reason why those things from the philosophical disciplines, so far as they can be known by natural reason, may not also be taught to us by another science so far as they fall within revelation. Hence theology is included in Sacred Doctrine differs in kind from that theology which is part of philosophy.   

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