Google full text of our books:


Thomas Aquinas’s Summa theologiae:
A Biography
Bernard McGinn

Honorable Mention, 2015 Catholic Press Association Book Award, History Category

Hardcover | 2014 | $24.95 | £19.95 | ISBN: 9780691154268
272 pp. | 4 1/2 x 7 1/2
Add to Shopping Cart

eBook | ISBN: 9781400850068 |
Our eBook editions are available from these online vendors

Reviews | Table of Contents
Introduction[PDF] pdf-icon

Google full text of this book:

This concise book tells the story of the most important theological work of the Middle Ages, the vast Summa theologiae of Thomas Aquinas, which holds a unique place in Western religion and philosophy. Written between 1266 and 1273, the Summa was conceived by Aquinas as an instructional guide for teachers and novices and a compendium of all the approved teachings of the Catholic Church. It synthesizes an astonishing range of scholarship, covering hundreds of topics and containing more than a million and a half words—and was still unfinished at the time of Aquinas's death.

Here, Bernard McGinn, one of today’s most acclaimed scholars of medieval Christianity, vividly describes the world that shaped Aquinas, then turns to the Dominican friar’s life and career, examining Aquinas’s reasons for writing his masterpiece, its subject matter, and the novel way he organized it. McGinn gives readers a brief tour of the Summa itself, and then discusses its reception over the past seven hundred years. He looks at the influence of the Summa on such giants of medieval Christendom as Meister Eckhart, its ridicule during the Enlightenment, the rise and fall of Neothomism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the role of the Summa in the post–Vatican II church, and the book’s enduring relevance today.

Tracing the remarkable life of this iconic work, McGinn’s wide-ranging account provides insight into Aquinas’s own understanding of the Summa as a communication of the theological wisdom that has been given to humanity in revelation.


"Introductions to Aquinas abound, but few manage so succinctly to introduce the reader not only to the person and his work, but also to the enduring influence of Aquinas."--Alban McCoy, Tablet

"McGinn's gift is his effort to bring some of the original warmth back into the Summa, first by making it the subject of a biography, reminding us that this great work has had a life of its own. He also argues that the sacra doctrina at the heart of the Summa is best understood in relation to sapientia, or wisdom."--Alden Lee Bass, Englewood Review of Books

"[E]xcellent and beautifully written. . . . There is a long and complicated story to tell here, one in which both friends and foes of Aquinas feature. But McGinn tells it very well while being brief and to the point, and he manages to do so without having a pro-Aquinas or an anti-Aquinas agenda. The result strikes me as a balanced and non-partisan account of considerable value."--Brian Davies, New Blackfriars

"A welcome contribution to Princeton's highly regarded Lives of Great Religious Books series, Bernard McGinn's 'biography' of Thomas's masterwork is a deeply impressive book. Learned, judicious, elegant, a model of expositional economy and analytical clarity, it may be the best brief introduction to the production, structure and content, and reception of the Summa theologiae available in English."--Donald Wood, Religion and Theology

"This biography succinctly covers a vast amount of ground, but it is always accessible and readable and often elegant. It would be an excellent introduction for any newcomer curious about Aquinas's reputation, and it is a handy survey for scholars of the field."--Philip L. Reynolds, Journal of Religion

"A concise yet sweeping introduction to Aquinas's Summa Theologiae. The text successfully weds brevity of content with analytical depth."--Katherine Wrisley Shelby, Religious Studies Review

More reviews

Table of Contents:

Preface ix
Introduction 1
Chapter 1 The World That Made Thomas Aquinas 7
Chapter 2 Creating the Summa theologiae 19
Chapter 3 A Tour of the Summa theologiae 74
Chapter 4 The Tides of Thomism, 1275-1850 117
Chapter 5 The Rise and Fall of Neothomism 163
Epilogue 210


Subject Areas:

Shopping Cart options:

  • For ebooks:

Our eBook editions are available
from these online vendors:

  • Amazon Kindle Store
  • Apple iBooks
  • Barnes & Noble Nook Store
  • Google Play eBook Store
  • Kobo eBook Store
  • Many of our ebooks are available through
    library electronic resources including these platforms:

  • Books at JSTOR
  • Ebrary
  • Ebook Library
  • EBSCO Ebooks
  • MyiLibrary
  • Dawsonera (UK)

    • For hardcover/paperback orders in United States, Canada, Latin America, Asia, and Australia

     Hardcover : $24.95 ISBN: 9780691154268

    Add to shopping cart
    View contents of your shopping cart

    • For hardcover/paperback orders in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, India, and Pakistan

     Hardcover  £19.95 ISBN: 9780691154268

    Add to shopping cart
    View contents of your shopping cart

    Prices subject to change without notice

    File created: 9/7/2017

    Questions and comments to:
    Princeton University Press

    New Book E-mails
    New In Print
    PUP Blog
    Princeton APPS
    Sample Chapters
    Princeton Legacy Library
    Exam/Desk Copy
    Recent Awards
    Princeton Shorts
    Freshman Reading
    PUP Europe
    About Us
    Contact Us
    PUP Home

    Bookmark and Share 
    Send me emails
    about new books in:
    European History
    More Choices