Chapter 6 Thomas Aquinas: Scholastic Theologian & Creator of Medieval Christian Synthesis

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Chapter 6 Thomas Aquinas: Scholastic Theologian & Creator of Medieval Christian Synthesis

  • Historical Context: Marie Johns
  • Life-Career-Contributions: Susan Jones
  • Theologian/Philosopher: Pat Morgan

Historical Context

  • Madonna and Child
  • ART
  • Berlinghiero: (active by 1228, died by 1236). This painting is of exceptional beauty and importance and is one of only two that can be confidently assigned to him. Berlinghiero was always open to Byzantine influence, and this Madonna is of the Byzantine type in which the Madonna points to the Child as the way to salvation.


  • Toward the latter part of the Middle Ages, music consisted of two or more melodic lines that were heard simultaneously, called polyphony (music consisting of several (two or more) melodic lines, each having individual significance and independence). This appeared around the 1200s. Polyphony was more difficult to compose than the monophonic chant, because a composer had to combine multiple melodic lines in a way that would be pleasing to the listener. Most of the Medieval polyphonic music was anonymous, as the names of composers were never written down. However, there are a few exceptions, as some composers had works so important that their names were preserved along with their music.

Historical Events

  • Western Reformulation of Medieval Christianity
  • Destabilization of Roman Empire
  • Synthesis of Theology & Philosophy

Life-Career- Educational Contributions

Life-Career- Educational Contributions

Life Events

  • Enrolled at Benedictine Abbey
    • Age14:
    • Enrolled at University of Naples
  • Age 5:

Age 18:

  • Studied Aristotle’s logic & philosophy
  • Announced plans to join Dominicans
  • Ordained as a priest
  • Wrote first essay: On Being & Essence

Age 27:

  • Entered University of Paris
  • Lectured using the scholastic method:
    • Lectured on text
    • Reviewed the arguments pro and con
    • Provided explanations
    • Drew conclusions

Age 30:

  • Made a Professor
  • Wrote Summa Contra Gentile
  • Challenged Arab Scholar’s views on Aristotle
  • Said that the individual soul possessed intellect

Age 49:

  • Died March 7, 1274
  • 49 years after death: made a saint by Catholic Church

Theologian & Philosopher

Summa Theologiae

  • Divine revelation is ultimate source of truth
  • Validity of human reason

Used Aristotle’s Ideas

Thomism: known as realism

  • Supernatural: spiritual dimension
  • Natural order: physical dimension

Agreed with Aristotle concerning power of rationality

  • Reason = rational excellence = intellectual virtue
  • Expanded Aristotle’s ideas to include divine revelation

Thomism Curriculum

  • Reason + faith = rational excellence = doctrinal truth = vision of God after death
  • Encouraged study of Philosophy & Liberal Arts
  • Hierarchy of studies

De Magistro Aquinas’s Theory of Education

  • Purposeful
  • Reality is spiritual & physical
  • Reality is hierarchically structured

Formal Education: disciplina

  • Medieval Universities: scientia

Aquinas’s Model Teacher

Aquinas’s Worldview

  • All things are purposeful
  • Lead to ultimate end of fulfillment on earth and salvation in heaven

Conclusion & assessment

  • Thomism vs. contemporary U.S. society
  • Thomism effects on Western Education ideas
  • Relationship to class goals

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