269J Thomas Aquinas 1225-1274

Summa theologiae: Pars prima. Ed: Franciscus de Neritono, Petrus Cantianus, and Joannes Franciscus.

IMG_1009Venice : [Nicolaus Jenson] 1477.   $ 13,000IMG_1014


Folio 10 ½ x 7 inches. a8, b-z8, [&]8, [Rho]8,[Psi]8, A8-H8, I-L10, M12  (lacking three Blanks)

This copy is bound in full contemporary calf over wooden boards, with only the the remains of the clasps. The corner pieces have been.  It is rubricated through out.


This is the second Printed edition of the ‘pars prima”, the first was 1473. The Summa was written 1265–1274 and also known as the Summa Theologica or simply the Summa) is the best-known work of Thomas Aquinas.

Although unfinished, the Summa is “one of the classics of the history of philosophy and one of the most influential works of Western literature.”  It is intended as an instructional guide for theology students, including seminarians and the literate laity. It is a compendium of all of the main theological teachings of the Catholic Church. It presents the reasoning for almost all points of Christian theology in the West.

The Summa Pars Prima addresses the God’s existence and nature;  first cause, himself uncaused”(primum movens immobile) and as such existent only in act (actu) – that is, pure actuality without potentiality, and therefore without corporeality. His essence is actus purus et perfectus.

But before it gets off in the weeds, Saint Thomas is quite readable and structuresd in a very sensible way. As it says in the prologue:

 “As onto the little ones in Christ, I gave you milk to drink not meat”                                                                                   (I Cor. iii. I,2)

And so His first question is in ten parts, followed by ten articles  followed by an objection and then a Reply to the objections. The questions Outline “the nature and extent of sacred doctrine” The first Article asks wether we need more than Philosophy. In his reply to the second objection Aquinas tells us:

“Sciences are differentiated according to the various means through which knowledge is IMG_1048 2obtained. For the astronomer and the physicist both may prove the same conclusion—thar the earth, is for instance, is round: The astronomer by means of mathematics (abstracting from matter) but the physicist by means of matter itself. Hence there is no reason why those things which may be learned from philosophical science….. hence theology included in sacred doctrine differs in kind from that theology which is Philosophy” 3


Here, many basic premises of Christianity, the Creation and the Existence of God are discussed. The knowledge of God, How God is Known to Us, ideas of Truth and Falsity, The Book of Life, the Power and Beatitude of God, the nature of Man, and many more are some of the metaphysical questions discussed. The Summa deeply influenced contemporary artists and writers like Dante.

As God rules in the world, the “plan of the order of things” preexists IN him; in other words, his providence and the exercise of it in his government are what condition as cause everything which comes to pass in the world. Hence follows predestination: from eternity some are destined to eternal life, while as concerns others “he permits some to fall short of that end”. Reprobation, however, is more than mere foreknowledge; it is the “will of permitting anyone to fall into sin and incur the penalty of condemnation for sin”. 2



  1. Gilson, Etienne (1994). The Christian Philosophy of Saint Thomas Aquinas. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press. p. 502. ISBN 978-0-268-00801-7.
  2. “Thomas Aquinas” The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Vol. XI, (1911), pp. 422–427.
  3. The Summa Theologic of St. Thomas Aquinas. London 1920
  4. Goff T198; HC 1442*; Mich 118; Pell 1038; CIBN T-170; Zehnacker 2241; Castan(Besançon) 95; Polain(B) 4759; IGI 9573; IBP 5300; Sajó-Soltész 3263; IDL 4392; IBE 5623; IJL2 354; SI 3796; Coll(U) 1431; Madsen 4397; Voull(Trier) 1820; Voull(B) 3669; Ohly-Sack 2743; Sack(Freiburg) 3444; Borm 2610; Bod-inc T-167; Sheppard 3283; Pr 4103; BMC V 177; BSB-Ink T-273GW M46455



United States of America:

Columbia University, Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary
Free Library of Philadelphia
New York, The Morgan Library and Museum
San Marino CA, Huntington Library
Univ. of California at Los Angeles
Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library