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'The Ever-Illuminating Wisdom of St Thomas Aquinas' by Peter Kreeft et al

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 Contents - May 2000AD2000 May 2000 - Buy a copy now
Editorial: Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference - Michael Gilchrist
Australian Catholic University student survey - Michael Gilchrist
News: The Church Around the World
How do we know whether a sacrament is valid or not? - Fr Peter Joseph
The priesthood: John Paul II's Holy Thursday Letter sets guidelines - Pope John Paul II
What are the foundations of a good Catholic education? - Dr. John J. Haldane
Understanding the Incarnation - Msgr Peter J. Elliott
Books: Francis Thompson: author of 'The Hound of Heaven' - Michael Daniel
How the future John Paul II saved a Jewish girl's life - Zenit News Service
Letters: Women's report: a reply (letter) - Dr Marie McDonald
Letters: Nothing to do? (letter) - Frank Mobbs
Letters: More on Adelaide (letter) - Margret E. Mills
Letters: Women in the Church (letter) - Marie Kennedy
Letters: 'Day of Pardon' (letter) - Paul MacLeod
Letters: Reply to Fr Frank Brennan (letter) - Richard Egan
Letters: God's love (letter) - Justin Ford
Letters: EWTN visit (letter) - Mike Keating
Letters: Mixed marriages (letter) - John Schmidt
Letters: Archbishop Pell defended (letter) - Fr Kevin Ryan
Letters: Year of the Lord (letter) - Fr Chrysostom Alexander
Books: 'Three Inns of Everlasting Happiness' by Fr Fabian Duggan - Catherine Sheehan (reviewer)
Books: 'The Wisdom of Adrian Fortescue' ed. Michael Davies - Michael Daniel (reviewer)
Books: 'The Legacy of Pope John Paul II' ed. Geoffrey Gneuhs - Anthony Cappello (reviewer)
Books: 'The Ever-Illuminating Wisdom of St Thomas Aquinas' by Peter Kreeft et al - Tracey Rowland (reviewer)
Reflection: Mary's divine motherhood: central to God's plan of salvation - Sr Mary Augustine Lane OP

(Ignatius Press, 1999, 150pp, RRP $19.90)

This work is the publication of a set of conference papers delivered at the Wethersfield Institute in New York in 1994. The authors published are: Marie George, John Haas, Russell Hittinger, Peter Kreeft, Ronald McArthur and Ralph McInerny.

The Kreeft contribution takes the form of an examination of ten of St Thomas's personality traits. Each character trait is illustrated by reference to some incident in the life of St Thomas.

The essay by Marie George covers the subject of faith and reason. It seeks to emphasise what can be achieved through reason alone, although it does not address any of the arguments of the post-moderns that all conceptions of rationality are tradition-dependent. George thus reiterates the classical Thomist arguments in favour of philosophy without entering into an analysis of the degree to which St Thomas's philosophy is dependent upon his theology - a task she would need to undertake in order to answer the post-modern criticisms of the position she seeks to defend.

The essay on the subject of nature and grace in St Thomas by John Haas is very introductory. In the beginning of the essay Haas claims that he does not want to buy into the argument about whether or not Cardinal Henri de Lubac's interpretation of this relationship was correct. This means that he has to avoid dealing with any of the complex aspects of the relationship and gives a kind of lowest common denominator presentation of the key concepts. The major merit of this paper is that it highlights the problems with the Calvinist and Lutheran interpretations and it also introduces readers to the terminology associated with the theology of grace and nature.

Moral absolutes

The essay by Ralph McInerny is entitled "Thomas Aquinas and Moral Relativism". Its focus is a defence of the 1993 encyclical Veritatis Splendor and a refutation of the arguments of Richard McCormick against the existence of moral absolutes.

The Hittinger essay provides a good overview of the political philosophy of St Thomas, and the McArthur paper contains some interesting reflections on the subject of how our minds tend to be more accepting of ideas which are familiar to us, than ideas which come from sources outside our usual social milieu. McArthur ends his paper with a series of quotations from different Popes regarding the importance of the study of the work of St Thomas.

The work would thus be valuable for students at senior high school or undergraduate levels who want a basic introduction to the thought of St Thomas. The essays presuppose no knowledge of St Thomas's works and would provide a relatively pain-free introduction to his thought and personality.

Tracey Rowland is a doctoral student at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge.

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Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 13 No 4 (May 2000), p. 18

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