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Hope for the Doctrine of the Divine Ideas: A Study on the Habit of Thinking Theologically in the Summa Theologiae of Thomas Aquinas

DE-SPAIN, BENJAMIN,ROSS (2016) Hope for the Doctrine of the Divine Ideas: A Study on the Habit of Thinking Theologically in the Summa Theologiae of Thomas Aquinas. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis offers a reconstructive reading of Thomas’s doctrine of the divine ideas, and its contribution to his pedagogical efforts in the Summa Theologiae to train its readers in the habit of thinking theologically. I argue that through a series of primary and peripheral gestures, Thomas appropriates the doctrine of the divine ideas to help guide his readers from the confession of faith to the understanding of humanity’s creational and soteriological dependence on God. Accordingly, Thomas’s multilevel integration of the divine ideas into the Summa typifies the convergence of faith and reason that defines the nature of theological discourse in his exposition of sacra doctrina. More specifically, this integration reflects Thomas’s understanding of the theological task as the contemplative process of discerning the fittingness (convenientia) of God’s actions revealed in the mysteries of faith. Following the pedagogical structure of the Summa, then, Thomas uses the doctrine of the divine ideas to help discern the mysteries of creation and salvation. Corresponding to this pedagogical repurposing of the divine ideas, Thomas’s intimations and subtle references to the divine ideas throughout the Summa are designed to direct the reader’s attention to the goal of theological inquiry, which is the contemplative vision of God. He does this by utilizing the divine ideas both to prepare his readers for his theological exposition on God’s creational activity and providential oversight of all that exists and supplement their understanding of these issues. Thomas’s theological appropriation of the divine ideas is, therefore, grounded in the unity of his exposition on the trinitarian life of God, which demonstrates that his integration and elevation of the doctrine is rooted in his understanding of theological inquiry as a pedagogical response to God’s self-disclosure in scripture. This process of appropriating and elevating the doctrine of the divine ideas into dialogue with the mysteries of faith culminates when Thomas extends the grammar of the divine ideas into his theological reflections on Christ’s salvific work and humanity’s response.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Thomas Aquinas; divine ideas; sacra doctrina; theological fittingness
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2016
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:05 May 2016 16:29

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