St Thomas Aquinas (1)

Penflourish initial E at beginning of text
Pembroke Coll. MS 33, f. 1r
Aquinas, Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard Bks 1, II
East Anglia, Bury St Edmunds?, ca 1300–1325

Image reproduced by kind permission of the Master and Fellows of Pembroke College

A fundamental starting point for scholastic theology was the work by Peter Lombard, the Sentences, written in the 1160s. It was the first systematic compendium of theology, what later came to be called a Summa, of which the most famous was the Summa theologica of St Thomas Aquinas. In the later Middle Ages the Summa theologica came to replace the Sentences as the fundamental compendium for the teaching of theology. The Sentences is in four books on the Trinity, the Creation and Original Sin, the Incarnation and the Sacraments respectively. Many of the great scholastic theologians early in their careers wrote commentaries on the Sentences as St Thomas did in 1254–1256 when still in his twenties, but Albertus Magnus wrote his commentary in the 1240s at a more mature age. This manuscript comes from the Benedictine library of Bury St Edmunds Abbey and was perhaps made in East Anglia but perhaps not at the abbey itself. Alternatively, the book may have been made at a university centre such as Oxford or Cambridge where texts of the Summa were much in demand for study.

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