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The Essential Summa Theologiae, 2nd Edition

A Reader and Commentary

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Saint Thomas Aquinas's masterwork, the Summa theologiae, can be daunting to beginners. This volume offers an ideal introduction. It presents key selections from the Summa along with accessible commentary designed to provide background, explain key concepts, and walk readers through Aquinas's arguments.

Previously published as Holy Teaching, this new edition has been fully revised and includes a substantial amount of new material. The book draws from the entire Summa and incorporates selections that focus on moral theology, providing a fuller picture of Aquinas's thought.


Prologue to the Summa theologiae
Question 1: The Nature of Holy Teaching
Question 2: The Existence of God
Question 3: The Simplicity of God
Question 12: Knowledge of God
Question 13: Words for God
Question 27: The Procession of the Divine Persons
Question 32: Knowledge of the Trinity
Question 36: The Person of the Holy Spirit
Question 39: The Persons in Relation to the Essence
Question 43: The Sending of the Divine Persons
Question 45: How Things Come Forth from the First Principle
Question 50: The Substance of the Angels
1.50.1 Is there any entirely spiritual creature, completely nonbodily?
Question 75: The Nature of the Soul Itself
Question 93: The Image and Likeness of God
Prologue to the First Half of the Second Part
Question 1: The Final Goal for Human Beings
Question 3: What Happiness Is
Question 4: Those Things That Are Required for Happiness
Question 5: The Attainment of Happiness
Question 6: The Voluntary and Involuntary
Question 9: The Mover of the Will
Question 18: Good and Bad in Human Acts in General
Question 55: The Essence of the Virtues
Question 61: The Cardinal Virtues
Question 62: The Theological Virtues
Question 65: The Connection of the Virtues
Question 68: The Gifts
Question 71: Vices and Sins Considered in Themselves
Question 91: The Various Kinds of Law
Question 109: The Necessity of Grace
Question 110: The Grace of God as Regards Its Essence
Prologue to the Second Half of the Second Part
Question 2: The Act of Faith
Question 11: Heresy
Question 17: Hope
Question 19: The Gift of Fear
Question 23: Charity
Question 24: Charity in Relation to Its Subject
Question 40: War
Question 47: Prudence in Itself
Question 58: Justice
Question 64: Homicide
Question 77: Cheating That Is Committed in Buying and Selling
Question 123: Fortitude
Question 124: Martyrdom
Question 141: Moderation
Question 153: Lust
Question 182: The Active Life Compared to the Contemplative Life
Prologue to the Third Part
Question 1: The Fittingness of the Incarnation
Question 2: The Mode of Union of the Word Incarnate
Question 9: Christ's Knowledge in General
Question 16: What Is Fittingly Said of Christ
Question 17: Christ's Unity with Regard to His Existence
Question 27: The Sanctification of the Blessed Virgin
Question 40: Christ's Way of Living
Question 42: Christ's Teaching
Question 46: The Suffering of Christ
Question 47: The Efficient Cause of Christ's Suffering
Question 48: What Christ's Suffering Did
Question 53: Christ's Resurrection
Question 54: The Qualities of the Risen Christ
Question 59: Christ's Power as Judge
Question 61: The Need for the Sacraments
Question 62: The Sacraments' Principal Effect, Which Is Grace
Question 63: The Other Effect of the Sacraments, Which Is a Seal
Question 65: The Number of the Sacraments
Question 66: The Sacrament of Baptism
Question 68: Those Who Receive Baptism
Question 75: The Conversion of the Bread and Wine
Question 80: Receiving the Eucharist
Question 83: The Rite of This Sacrament


"This is it: the ideal set of Summa selections for most classrooms as well as for readers who wish they could take a class on Thomas Aquinas with a professor capable of paraphrasing the angelic doctor, explaining and illustrating his thought while pointing to further readings both medieval and modern."

Fred Sanders, professor of theology, Torrey Honors College, Biola University

"In this expanded edition of his reader and commentary, Bauerschmidt has done students of St. Thomas a tremendous service--giving them a sense of the work as a whole by zeroing in on its essential parts and showing how those parts bear on the whole. His commentary is admirably clear, replete with easily grasped examples that bring complex theological ideas back to ordinary life. This is an excellent resource for the classroom and for anyone interested in the thought of Thomas Aquinas."

Jennifer A. Frey, associate professor of philosophy, University of South Carolina

"The Essential 'Summa Theologiae' is an indispensable learning tool for anyone who wants to come to grips with the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas. By a judicious choice of key texts from the massive Summa theologiae and the addition of his own pertinent and useful commentary, Frederick Christian Bauerschmidt transmits to his volume's readers a sense of the breadth and depth of Aquinas's theological genius and gives them the opportunity to imbibe his wisdom for themselves. While I have always found the first edition a great help in communicating Aquinas's arguments and conclusions to students, the addition of crucial texts from the second part of the Summa in this second edition brings out even more Aquinas's profound vision of the unity of theological science, where morals is enfolded at the heart of dogmatics. Since he is not only immersed in the Angelic Doctor's teaching but also fully appreciative of the facts of the saint's life and his identity as a Dominican preacher and teacher, Bauerschmidt's insightful introduction offers his readers a fuller picture of this friar-theologian and equips them to approach his penetrating texts for themselves."

Simon Francis Gaine, OP, Pinckaers Professor of Theological Anthropology and Ethics, Thomistic Institute Angelicum, Pontifical University of St. Thomas, Rome

"Like Thomas Aquinas himself, Bauerschmidt here aims for pedagogy, and he attains it admirably. This carefully chosen selection of key texts from the Summa theologiae, accompanied by in-depth commentary, captures and clarifies the grand scope of this complex work for 'beginners' in theology. Expanded treatment of questions on the moral life in this revised edition especially assist the study of Aquinas's unique vision of graced human action as the way to perfect happiness found in the knowledge and love of God. As a classroom text or for personal study, this volume is an invaluable resource for students and teachers of the theology of St. Thomas Aquinas."

Daria Spezzano, associate professor of theology, Providence College

The Author

  1. Frederick Christian Bauerschmidt

    Frederick Christian Bauerschmidt

    Frederick Christian Bauerschmidt (PhD, Duke University) is professor of theology at Loyola University Maryland and a deacon of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. He is the author or coauthor of numerous books, including The Love That Is God: An Invitation to...

    Continue reading about Frederick Christian Bauerschmidt