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The Doctors of the Church: A History

Pier Francesco Sacchi (circa 1485–1528)
Four doctors of the Church represented with attributes of the Four Evangelists: St. Augustine with an eagle, St. Gregory the Great with a bull, St. Hieronymus with an angel, St. Ambrosius with a winged lion.

The Doctors of the Church did not begin to be officially identified as such until relatively late in Church history.  It was the Catholic Church that confers the title upon both western and eastern Christians.  In the post today, I’d like to share with you a little of the history of how the Doctors of the Church came to be.

The Ecumenical Doctors

The eight Doctors of the Church commonly known as the Ecumenical Doctors are the earliest recognized Doctors of the Church.  They are St. Gregory the Great, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, St. Jerome, St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory Nazianzen, and St. Athanasius of Alexandria.  As one can see, this list of eight neatly divides into four Doctors from the Latin West and four Doctors from the East.

The Latin Doctors

The Catholic Encyclopedia tells us that:

In the Western church four eminent Fathers of the Church attained this honour in the early Middle Ages: St. Gregory the Great, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, and St. Jerome. The “four Doctors” became a commonplace among the Scholastics, and a decree of Boniface VIII (1298) ordering their feasts to be kept as doubles in the whole Church is contained in his sixth book of Decretals (cap. “Gloriosus”, de relique. et vener. sanctorum, in Sexto, III, 22).

This notion of doctor as an authoritative teacher of the faith originated in the “early Middle Ages.” Saints Augustine, Ambrose, and Jerome were contemporaries, each living into the early 400s. Gregory the Great was the last of these four to have lived and died in the early 600s.  Thus, it is reasonable to assume that possibly as early as the 700s the liturgy would be reflecting these doctor saints.

The Eastern Doctors

Here again, the Catholic Encyclopedia tells us:

In the Eastern Church three Doctors were pre-eminent: St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil, and St. Gregory Nazianzen. The feasts of these three saints were made obligatory throughout the Eastern Empire by Leo VI, the Wise, the deposer of Photius. A common feast was later instituted in their honour on 30 January, called “the feast of the three Hierarchs”. In the Menaea for that day it is related that the three Doctors appeared in a dream to John, Bishop of Euchaitae, and commanded him to institute a festival in their honour, in order to put a stop to the rivalries of their votaries and panegyrists. This was under Alexius Comnenus (1081-1118; see “Acta SS.”, 14 June, under St. Basil, c. xxxviii). But sermons for the feast are attributed in manuscripts to Cosmas Vestitor, who flourished in the tenth century. The three are as common in Eastern art as the four are in Western. Durandus (i, 3) remarks that Doctors should be represented with books in their hands. In the West analogy led to the veneration of four Eastern Doctors, St. Athanasius being very properly added to the three hierarchs.

In the Catholic Church in the Latin West, it was Pope St. Pius V in 1568 proclaimed official feasts in the Roman Calendar for these eight Ecumenical Doctors with their addition to the newly reformed Roman Breivary.

Additional Doctors

Pope St. Pius V officially established the Ecumenical Doctors, but also one new Doctor: the medieval Scholastic theologian extraordinaire, St. Thomas Aquinas.  He thus established the precedent and pattern of popes proclaiming Doctors of the Church for the benefit of the faithful.  Twenty years later, in 1588, Pope Sixtus V, a Franciscian, named the famous medieval Franciscian theologian St. Bonaventure a Doctor of the Church.

Over the next several centuries, the following popes named the following saints to the rank of Doctor (the list was adapted from the Catholic Encyclopedia)

  • St. Anselm was added by Clement XI in 1720.
  • St. Isidore by Innocent XIII in 1722.
  • St. Peter Chrysologus by Benedict XIII in 1729.
  • St. Leo I by Benedict XIV in 1754.
  • St. Peter Damian by Leo XII in 1828.
  • St. Bernard of Clairvaux by Pius VIII in 1830.
  • St. Hilary was added in 1851 by Pius IX along with two more modern saints, St. Alphonsus Liguori in 1871 and St. Francis de Sales in 1877.
  • St. Cyril of Alexandria, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, and St. John Damascene were named in 1883 by Leo XIII, who also named the Venerable Bede  in 1899.

Modern Doctors

The twentieth and early twenty-first century saw the naming of thirteen new doctors:

  • St. Ephrem the Syrian, a Deacon, was named in 1920 by Pope Benedict XV as “Doctor of the Syrians.”
  • St. Peter Canisius was named in 1925, St. John of the Cross was named in 1926, St. Robert Bellarmine and St. Albert the Great were named in 1931, each by Pope Pius XI.
  • St. Anthony of Lisbon and Padua was named in 1946 by Pope Pius XII.
  • St. Lawrence of Brindisi was named in 1959 by Pope John XXIII.
  • St. Teresa of Ávila and St. Catherine of Sienna–the first women named as Doctors of the Church–were named in 1970 by Pope Paul VI.
  • St. Thérèse of Lisieux was named by Pope John Paul II in 1997.
  • St. John of Ávila and St. Hildegard of Bingen were named by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012.
  • St. Gregory of Narek was named by Pope Francis in 2015.

You still have a few days left to check out our Doctor for the month of March: St. Cyril of Jerusalem.  We have several volumes of his for up to 50% off.  Add this Doctor to your Verbum library before these titles go back to full price!

Looking forward to our April Doctors: St. Anselm of Canterbury, St. Isidore of Seville, and St. Catherine of Siena.

February Doctors of the Church

This month in February we celebrate two Doctors of the Church: St. Peter Damian and St. Gregory of Narek.

St. Gregory of Narek (February 27)

St. Gregory of Narek is the most recent Doctor of the Church to be recognized.  Pope Francis named Gregory a Doctor in 2015.  He was an Armenian Christian and has been venerated as a saint in the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Eastern Rite of the Catholic Church for centuries.  Gregory, born around 951 and died in 1003, lived his life as a monk and was a noted poet, mystic, philosopher, composer, and theologian in present-day Turkey.

Pope Francis, in his usual style, raised some questions about recognizing this Christian saint whose church during his life was not in direct communion with Rome.  Catholic theologian Dr. R. Jared Staudt describes the process by which Gegory came to be acknowledged as a Doctor in a 2015 article and the Holy Father followed the precedent of recognition of other Doctors.  Staudt states regarding the process of equipollent or equivalent canonization:

It should be noted that when Pope Benedict XVI declared St. Hildegard von Bingen as a Doctor of Church he used the process of equipollent or equivalent canonization, as she also had not been formally canonized. Even St. Albert the Great was canonized in this fashion when he was declared a doctor of the Church in 1931 by Pope Pius XI. Pope Benedict used this process of canonization a few other times and Pope Francis has done so with even greater regularity, so much so, that Vatican Radio felt the need to explain the process:

“When there is strong devotion among the faithful toward holy men and women who have not been canonized, the Pope can choose to authorize their veneration as saints without going through that whole process. … This is often done when the saints lived so long ago that fulfilling all the requirements of canonization would be exceedingly difficult.”

From Andrea Tornielli’s commentary, referenced above, it seems likely that an equipollent canonization is forthcoming. Hopefully we will have clarification on this point soon. What is clear in the meantime is that there is a foundation for the equipollent canonization of saints in association with their being named a Doctor of the Church and there is a longstanding practice of celebrating St. Gregory of Narek’s feast day within the Armenian Catholic Church.

We currently don’t have any resources in Verbum we can share with you, but St. Gregory’s feast day in the Eastern liturgy is celebrated on October 13 and we are aiming to have some of his works available later in the year, hopefully in time for his feast.

St. Peter Damian (February 21)

St. Peter Damian was a Benedictine monk, a cardinal under Pope Leo IX, a bishop of Ostia and was recognized by the poet Dante as inhabiting one of the highest levels of his Paradiso.  He was born around 1007 and died February in 1072 or 1073.  St. Peter was blessed with a reforming zeal, and upon abandoning his secular career and seeking a monastic life, he avoided the more luxurious monastery of Cluny and opted for a more primitive life as a hermit.  While a disciplined and zealous monk, he also recognized the practical needs of the body–in true Benedictine fashion–by prescribing a daily siesta to balance the short night of sleep the monks typically got.

St. Peter Damian was never formally canonized, similar to Gregory of Narek, Albert the Great, and Julian of Norwich, as the Catholic News Agency states:

Never formally canonized, St. Peter Damian was celebrated as a saint after his death in many of the places associated with his life. In 1823, Pope Leo XII named him a Doctor of the Church and extended the observance of his feast day throughout the Western Church.

Unlike Gregory of Narek right now, we do offer several resources by St. Peter Damian.  The letters of St. Peter are contained in  the 15 volumes of the Fathers of the Church: Medieval Continuation collection.  This not only contains 180 letters by St. Peter Damian, but it also contains sermons by St. Thomas Aquinas, a commentary on Romans by Peter Abelard, and a treatise on Aristotle’s Categories by John Duns Scotus.

You can check out all of the February deals for Verbum here.


Doctors of the Church: What, Who, and Why

You may have noticed back in January that we were promoting the works of St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Basil of Caesarea, St. Gregory Nazianzus, St. Hilary of Poitiers, and St. Francis de Sales.  You may have noticed further that each of these great saints had feast days in January.  Bonus points for those in the audience that also realized that each of these saints is also designated as a “Doctor of the Church.” We’ll be talking a lot about the Doctors of the Church this year.

What is a “Doctor of the Church?”

The Catholic Church recognizes 36 exemplary saints from throughout the history of the church as doctors, which in Latin means teacher. The Doctors are designated as such for their extraordinary teaching on some aspect of ecclesial life, including, preaching, prayer, holiness, but above all in the way in which they shared their faith and way of life with the Church.

Who are the Doctors of the Church?

The following list of the 36 doctors is ordered according to their appearance on the liturgical calendar.

Saint Feast Date
Hilary of Poitiers  1/13
Basil of Caesera  1/02
Gregory Nazianzus  1/02
Thomas Aquinas  1/28
Francis de Sales  1/24
Gregory of Narek  2/27
Peter Damian  2/21
Cyril of Jerusalem  3/18
Isidore of Seville  4/04
Anselm of Canterbury  4/21
Catherine of Siena  4/29
Athanasius of Alexandria  5/02
Bede the Venerable  5/25
John of Avila  5/10
Ephrem the Syrian  6/09
Cyril of Alexandria  6/27
Anthony of Padua  6/13
Augustine of Hippo  8/28
Peter Chrysologus  8/30
Bernard of Clairvaux  8/20
Bonaventure  8/15
Lawrence of Brindisi  8/21
Alphonsus Liguori  8/01
Jerome  9/30
Gregory the Great  9/03
Robert Bellarmine  9/17
John Chrysostom  9/13
Hildegard of Bingen  9/17
Teresa of Ávila 10/15
Thérèse of Lisieux 10/01
Leo the Great 11/10
Albertus Magnus 11/15
Ambrose of Milan 12/7
John Damascene 12/4
John of the Cross 12/14
Peter Canisius 12/21

Why the Doctors of the Church?

The Church has chosen to recognize these great saints for our edification and so we can learn from their teaching. For similar reasons, we are choosing to focus our attention here at Verbum in 2018 on the Doctors of the Church because if there are any resources you should have in your library outside of the Bible and the Catechism—it is the works of these great saints. Whether it is research, everyday study, or daily devotions, we want you to get to know them (and so does the Church).

So, in January, if you missed our doctors, then we have extended the sale on their resources through February 28th.

Each month throughout 2018 we will be featuring each doctor who has a feast for that month. We will be selecting resources written by or about them for you to add to your Verbum library. So stay tuned and don’t miss this opportunity to build your library with the best the Church has to offer.

Free Advent and Christmas Sermons!

Deepen your spiritual life with Sermons of St. Bernard on Advent and Christmas, free this month. St. Bernard of Clairvaux is a doctor of the church and speaks with wisdom and insight about the scriptures leading up to Christmas:

It is now fitting that we should consider the time of our Lord’s coming.
He came, as you know, not in the beginning, nor in the midst of time, but in the end of it. This was no unsuitable choice, but a truly wise dispensation of His infinite wisdom, that He might afford help when He saw it was most needed. Truly, “it was evening, and the day was far spent”(Lk 24:29); the sun of justice had wellnigh set, and but a faint ray of his light and heat remained on earth. The light of Divine knowledge was very small, and as iniquity abounded, the fervour of charity had grown cold. No angel appeared, no prophet spoke. The angelic vision and the prophetic spirit alike had passed away, both hopelessly baffled by the exceeding obduracy and obstinacy of mankind. Then it was that the Son of God said: “Behold, I come”(He 10:7). And “while all things were in quiet silence, and the night was in the midst of her course, the almighty word leaped down from heaven from thy royal throne” (Wi 18:14,15). Of this coming the Apostle speaks: “When the fullness of time was come, God sent his Son” (Ga 4:4) (Sermons 11-12).

st bernard

You can also add St. Bernard’s On Consideration for 0.99.

This offer ends December 1st–download your free book today!



Last Chance: Verbum’s Free Book of the Month

Free from Verbum until the end of the month: The Holy Eucharist by St. Alphonsus de Liguori.

The Holy EucharistA doctor of the Church, St. Alphonus combines spiritual insight with deep scriptural knowledge in his devotional classic The Holy Eucharist. This volume includes a variety of prayerful meditations on the sacrifice of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, the Feast of Corpus Christi, the Virgin Mary, and ways to practice the love of Jesus Christ in daily life.

In addition, Verbum is offering a companion volume by St. Alphonsus de Ligouri, The Divine Office, for 99 cents! A treasure of erudition, the Psalms and Canticles are presented  side-by-side in Latin and English, with notes on the Hebrew text as well.

If you already downloaded this month’s free book and plus one, you can pick up the complete 7-volume Alphosus de Liguori collection with a personalized discount!


Don’t miss out—these deals are only good until June 30th! 

Free Book from Verbum!

This month’s free book from Verbum is The Glories of Mary.

Written by St. Alphonsus de Liguori, a Doctor of the church, The Glories of Mary brings together a wide variety of information about the Virgin Mary, featuring discussions of the main events in Mary’s life, her virtues, and theological reasons for her veneration. Excellent for expanding your knowledge about the Virgin Mary and for personal devotion, this book is yours for free through May 31st.

Glories of Mary


Verbum’s $5 Million Giveaway

Verbum’s $5 million dollar grant to Catholic high schools is well under way and we’ve had amazing success in connecting to great Catholic schools. Today, we want to turn the spotlight onto two of our grant recipients: Benet Academy and Hackett Catholic Preparatory High School.

Founded in 1887 and staffed by the Benedictine monks of St. Procopius Abbey, Benet Academy has a long history of academic and spiritual excellence. Freshman theology teacher Kevin Clemens advocated for Benet to apply for the Verbum grant and is looking forward to spearheading the use of our curriculum in the fall. Students will begin to use the Lumen curriculum on iPads, and Mr. Clemens is looking forward to being able to introduce students to the riches of the faith in new and exciting ways:

The ability to move seamlessly within Verbum from the Scriptures to the Catechism to the writings of the popes and Church Fathers has greatly improved my ability to develop dynamic lessons. My hope for using Verbum more widely in the classroom is that my students not just study about Jesus Christ, but rather encounter Him in the living word as we receive it from the Church.

It doesn’t hurt that Benet alumnus, Fr. Robert Barron, is featured throughout the Lumen curriculum in his popular Word on Fire videos. This partnership between Verbum and Benet Academy fits right in to the solidly Catholic ethos of the school.

Another notable grant recipient is Hackett Catholic Prep in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Deacon Kurt Lucas teaches in the Theology department at Hackett and has been an enthusiastic advocate of the Lumen program. Deacon Kurt has been a faithful Verbum user since 2006 and is very excited that Verbum has launched a high school program. He hopes to expand use of the curriculum to the higher grade levels ASAP. We look forward to working with Hackett Prep and all our Verbum grant schools.

It’s not too late for your school to take advantage of our grant program! Visit and contact us today to get your share of $5 million dollars in curriculum software.

St Thomas Aquinas on Knowing God

We hope you have enjoyed our introduction to St. Thomas Aquinas throughout January’s Verbum Monthly Sale!

Let’s close with a few of Aquinas’ thoughts on knowing God, from the beginning of his masterpiece, Summa contra Gentiles:

That certain divine truths wholly surpass the capability of human reason, is most clearly evident. For since the principle of all the knowledge which the reason acquires about a thing, is the understanding of that thing’s essence, because according to the Philosopher’s teaching the principle of a demonstration is what a thing is, it follows that our knowledge about a thing will be in proportion to our understanding of its essence. Wherefore, if the human intellect comprehends the essence of a particular thing, for instance a stone or a triangle, no truth about that thing will surpass the capability of human reason.

But this does not happen to us in relation to God, because the human intellect is incapable by its natural power of attaining to the comprehension of His essence: since our intellect’s knowledge, according to the mode of the present life, originates from the senses: so that things which are not objects of sense cannot be comprehended by the human intellect, except in so far as knowledge of them is gathered from [the senses]. Now [things we grasp from the physical senses] cannot lead our intellect to see in them what God is, because they are effects unequal to the power of their cause. And yet our intellect is led by [sense experiences] to the divine knowledge so as to know about God that He is, and other such truths. Accordingly some divine truths are attainable by human reason, while others altogether surpass the power of human reason ( 1, 5).


Jacobs Ladder by Jacques Stella, 1650.

This is the last day to enjoy these special savings!


Celebrate the Feast Day of St. Thomas Aquinas

On the feast day of  St. Thomas Aquinas, we will feature him in his own words! Here is this Sunday’s gospel reading from Mark:

And they went into Caperna-um; and immediately on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught. And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit;  and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching! With authority he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee (Mk 1:21-28).

To demonstate the tremendous scope of his erudition, we excerpt the Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels. St. Thomas Aquinas’ masterful treatment of this same passage includes the works of the early church fathers, as well as scripture:

BEDE. (in Marc. i. 7) Since by the envy of the devil death first entered into the world, it was right that the medicine of healing should first work against the author of death; and therefore it is said, And there was in their synagogue a man, &c.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) The word Spirit is applied to an Angel, the air, the soul, and even the Holy Ghost. Lest therefore by the sameness of the name we should fall into error, he adds, unclean. And he is called unclean on account of his impiousness and far removal from God, and because he employs himself in all unclean and wicked works.

AUGUSTINE. (de Civ. Dei, ix. 21) Moreover, how great is the power which the lowliness of God, appearing in the form of a servant, has over the pride of devils, the devils themselves know so well, that they express it to the same Lord clothed in the weakness of flesh. For there follows, And he cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus of Nazareth, &c. For it is evident in these words that there was in them knowledge, but there was not charity; and the reason was, that they feared their punishment from Him, and loved not the righteousness in Him.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) For the devils, seeing the Lord on the earth, thought that they were immediately to be judged.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) Or else the devil so speaks, as if he said, ‘by taking away uncleanness, and giving to the souls of men divine knowledge, Thou allowest us no place in men.’

THEOPHYLACT. For to come out of man the devil considers as his own perdition; for devils are ruthless, thinking that they suffer some evil, so long as they are not troubling men. There follows, I know that thou art the Holy One of God.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) As if he said, Methinks that Thou art come; for he had not a firm and certain knowledge of the coming of God. But he calls Him holy not as one of many, for every prophet was also holy, but he proclaims that He was the One holy; by the article in Greek he shews Him to be the One, but by his fear he shews Him to be Lord of all.

AUGUSTINE. (ubi sup.) For He was known to them in that degree in which He wished to be known; and He wished as much as was fitting. He was not known to them as to the holy Angels, who enjoy Him by partaking of His eternity according as He is the Word of God; but as He was to be made known in terror, to those beings from whose tyrannical power He was about to free the predestinate. He was known therefore to the devils, not in that He is eternal Life, but by some temporal effects of His Power, which might be more clear to the angelic senses of even bad spirits than to the weakness of men.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) Further, the Truth did not wish to have the witness of unclean spirits; wherefore there follows, And Jesus threatened him, saying, &c. Whence a healthful precept is given to us; let us not believe devils, howsoever they may proclaim the truth. It goes on, And the unclean spirit tearing him, &c. For, because the man spoke as one in his senses and uttered his words with discretion, lest it should be thought that he put together his words not from the devil but out of his own heart, He permitted the man to be torn by the devil, that He might shew that it was the devil who spoke.

THEOPHYLACT. That they might know, when they saw it, from how great an evil the man was freed, and on account of the miracle might believe.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) But it may appear to be a discrepancy, that he should have gone out of him, tearing him, or, as some copies have it, vexing him, when, according to Luke, he did not hurt him. But Luke himself says, When he had, cast him into the midst, he came out from him, without hurting him. (Luke 4:35) Wherefore it is inferred that Mark meant by vexing or tearing him, what Luke expresses, in the words, When he had cast him into the midst; so that what he goes on to say, And did not hurt him, may be understood to mean, that the tossing of his limbs and vexing, did not weaken him, as devils are wont to come out even with the cutting off and tearing away of limbs. But seeing the power of the miracle, they wonder at the newness of our Lord’s doctrine, and are roused to search into what they had heard by what they had seen. Wherefore there follows, And they all wondered &c. For miracles were done that they might more firmly believe the Gospel of the kingdom of God, which was being preached, since those who were promising heavenly joys to men on earth, were shewing forth heavenly things and divine works even on earth. For before (as the Evangelist says) He was teaching them as one who had power, and now, as the crowd witnesses, with power He commands the evil spirits, and they obey Him. (1 John 5:20. John 17:3) It goes on, And immediately His fame spread abroad, &c.

GLOSS. (non occ.) For those things which men wonder at they soon divulge, for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. (Mat. 12:24)

PSEUDO-JEROME. Moreover, Capernaum is mystically interpreted the town of consolation, and the sabbath as rest. The man with an evil spirit is healed by rest and consolation, that the place and time may agree with his healing. This man with an unclean spirit is the human race, in which uncleanness reigned from Adam to Moses; for they sinned without law, and perished without law. (v. Rom. 5:14. 2:12) And he, knowing the Holy One of God, is ordered to hold his peace, for they knowing God did not glorify him as God, but rather served the creature than the Creator. (1:21.25) The spirit tearing the man came out of him. When salvation is near, temptation is at hand also. Pharaoh, when about to let Israel go, pursues Israel; the devil, when despised, rises up to create scandals.

Be sure to take advantage of all the excellent St. Thomas Aquinas resources as we come to the close of January’s Verbum Monthly Sale!


Jesus Casting Out Demons, Strasbourg Cathedral

Celebrate the Genius of St. Thomas Aquinas, Part 4

Bloomsbury Studies on Thomas Aquinas is on pre-pub for 18% off!


In his book, On Aquinas, Herbert McCabe tells the story of a propitious meeting between St. Thomas Aquinas and an Irishman named Peter (Petrus Hibernicus), who introduced St. Thomas to “some bewildering and exciting new thinking that was filtering in from Islamic sources” (1).

McCabe goes on to indicate that discovery of Aristotle’s method from these newly-translated sources was an intellectual turning point for Aquinas:

A whole  lot of texts of Aristotle were beginning to make their way through Naples into Europe, texts that nobody there had seen before.

Aristotle, a student and critical disciple of Plato, and a teacher of Alexander of Macedon, was a marine biologist who not only observed and classified his specimens but used the same methods in all sorts of other areas like physics, astronomy, the study of society, and of what makes human begins tick. He found time to invent logic in the modern sense, and moreover was intensely interested in what we would nowadays call philosophy of science—questions about what it means to pursue such studies, and questions about language itself and so on. Medieval Europe was being quite suddently hit by systematic scientific investigation and thinking. Many of Aristotles’s answers turned out to be wrong, but that didn’t matter. It was the method that mattered. This is what the young Aquinas fell in love with. One outstanding feature of it all was that it seemed completely subversive of Christianity, especially as it came through Christendom’s main enemy, Islam. This didn’t worry the Emperor too much but it must have presented an exciting challenge to Thomas. Anyway he spent much of his life painstakingly showing that if you found Aristotle right, broadly speaking, that didn’t mean you had to stop being a Christian; and indeed it sometimes helped you to express the Gospel (2).

Take advantage of the pre-pub savings for this 13-volume scholarly resource!


The Triumph of St. Thomas Aquinas by Benozzo Lozzoli, 1468-1484

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