Helping me To Find That Book: Full Success By Half!

After I wrote this post, I had many answers, showing the great quality of the readers of this little effort.

One of the answers had (with huge hat tip to reader Quoter Meister!) what it seemed to me the winning take: Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium of Theology.

This book had two characteristics of the book I was looking for and that I remembered (or seemed to remember):

  1. Written by St Thomas Aquinas, and
  2. Structured as “steps” building one on another.

Full of enthusiasm, I started reading the book (there is a link to an electronic version in the comments to the other post).

The book is excellent, and I recommend to everyone with an interest in theology to give it a try. It can be read in sections, which further enhances the possibility of a reader to get from it the required information or to digest it in more manageable logical chunks. The book also shows, though there is no need for that, the utter superiority of old, thinking people to what passes for intellectuals today.

However, the book is not exactly what I was looking for, or better said: it is not exactly the book I was trying to find.

This is a theological treatise starting with a treatise on Faith and, specifically, God. It is, therefore, a theological work from the get go.

The book I remember reading had two differences with this one.

  1. The “steps” were much shorter than in this book. They were so short that you would devour the first ones, same as you might get a flight a small steps running (before, slowly, the going gets harder). Also, every step had only one logical advancement, explained once (this one often has three or more explanation of the step, from very early on).
  2. The steps started not from God, but from the observation of reality. It was a theology work built on philosophy. It was a book which (as far as my memory can assist me) set up to explain reality, and God’s place in it, starting (in pure Aristotelean fashion) from the observation of reality itself and building from there.

Therefore, what I would say is that the Compendium of Theology does exactly what I remember the other book doing, but not in exactly the same way I remember the other book doing it. Of course, you can say that my brain has a certain age by now, and I would agree with you. It can also be that the other work I read was a manipulation or extrapolation of Thomistic thinking, perhaps from more than one source. But it was not quite the Compendium of Theology.

I might, or not, manage to find the book again.

Still, the search already brought me to what is clearly an accessible masterwork of theology, for which I am grateful to all the readers who have helped me in this quest, particularly Quoter Meister.

Posted on November 21, 2022, in Catholicism, Conservative Catholicism, Traditional Catholicism. Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Theology and Sanity , by Frank Sheed
    LOTR by Tolkien is imaginative theology. Or morality.
    This, is the Periodic Table of spiritual Reality.

  2. I’m wondering if you don’t have in mind Adolphe Tanqueray’s Manual of Dogmatic Theology.

  3. I misspelled his last name. It’s Tanquerey.

  4. What about C.S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity”. He starts out with the basics and then goes step by step from there:+) God bless~

  5. Could you be thinking of Grenier’s Cursus Philosophiae? It’s a multi-volume text on Aquinas’ philosophy. It’s been put back into print, but here’s an online version of the whole text. Volume 2 is the Metaphysics, which sound like what you are remembering.

    Click to access Thomistic%20Philosophy%20(vols.%201-4)%20-%20Grenier,%20Henri.pdf

  6. “Tour of The Summa” by Msgr Paul J. Glenn ?

  7. Bonaventure’s Journey of the Mind Into God?

  8. “Catechism of The Summa Theologica” by Fr Pegues

  9. I still recommend a look at “Thomas Aquinas in 50 Pages” by Taylor Marshall PhD. He provides endnotes which might contain your “lost” book [De Substantiis Separatis by Aquinas?]. His foreword: “This is the world’s most concise and easy to read book on the thought of Saint Thomas Aquinas. It’s only 50 pages, so be aware that it is not the most thorough treatment [which would require 5,000+ pages];…if you read this short book and understand what it lays out, you will be in the top 0.001% of people in the world who have a working knowledge of the philosophy and theology of Saint Thomas Aquinas. You will have the knowledge to pass a class called “Thomas Aquinas 101,” and you will be ready to study Thomas Aquinas at the collegiate level. At the end of this book, I make practical recommendations to take it to the next level and recommend the next books to read. To Jesus through Mary, Taylor Marshall PhD.”

  10. Well, sticking with Aquinas and the step-by-step structure, there is his Summa Contra Gentiles. The steps don’t seem much shorter or concise than in his Compendium, but they are different.

    Joseph Rickaby (SJ!) has an annotated and abridged translation (entitled “Of God and His Creatures”) available here:
    … and here, if you prefer a published book format:

    From the Wikipedia article:
    Whereas the Summa Theologiæ was written to explain the Christian faith to theology students, the Summa contra Gentiles is more apologetic in tone. While the last book deals with topics of revealed theology such as trinity, incarnation, and the sacraments, the remaining three books limit themselves to Natural Theology: Arguments on the basis of reason, Thomas believes, will be understood also by those who do not believe in Christian revelation.

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