Thursday, September 13, 2007

Coming Closer to Aquinas' Writings

In the last twenty years, or since the introduction of Internet, scholars from all over the world had the chance to get closer and closer to Aquinas' writings. Manuscript repositories from various European and American parts opened their pages via virtual libraries to almost anyone interested. HMML's Vivarium is making no exception. The Vivarium is hosting an on-line selection of folios from two 14th cent. manuscripts containing Aquinas' Catena Aurea (Arca Artium; aap2094) and Expositio in Job (Codex Campililiensis 10).

Other mss. of Aquinas' work:

Why is it important to come closer to Aquinas' writings in manuscript? I think at least two answers can be offered to this question: first, the paleographical scholarship may help restore an original text reflecting the ideas intended by Thomas Aquinas himself and not those introduced by his editors or copyists.

Weisheipl ([1974] p. 222) wrote that the Summa Theologiae “was the most widely circulated work [of all the writings of Thomas Aquinas] both in manuscript and in print”. But we are still far from appreciating at full extent its circulation and influence. As I have tried to explain in my PhD thesis, which I hope will be printed in fall 2008, the Thomist tradition has had a great influence on our current moral traditions and especially on the modern interpretations of Aristotle's moral thought. But also the modern Thomists influenced Aquinas' reading. So, by unfolding the layers of tradition, contrary to the principle exploited by the bee allegory, we will be able to uncover not only Aquinas' thinking, but also that of Aristotle.

Other useful links:
Aquinas' works on-line:
PS: I agree with those that say that not everything on the Internet can be useful for research, but there are some reliable sources that any scholar cannot overlook. For example, some respectable researchers have decided to post on the Internet their pre- and post- printed materials. Why not use them if the references are in a standard form?

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