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God the Father in the Theology of St. Thomas Aquinas

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John Baptist Ku

God the Father in the Theology of St. Thomas Aquinas is an exposition of Aquinas’ theology of God the Father as a coherent whole. Surprising as it might be, there has not been an extended treatment of Aquinas’ theology of God the Father. Three misconceptions are addressed: (1) the idea that Aquinas’ speculative Trinitarian theology is detached from Scripture; (2) the supposition that in Aquinas’ understanding, the Father’s relation to the Holy Spirit is an afterthought to the Father’s relation to the Son; and (3) the view that for Thomas, the Father has no proper mode of action in the created universe – since Thomas maintains that in all ad extra activity, the Trinity acts as a single principle. Two less polemical, more perennial issues are discussed as well. First, the concept of relation, as the key to a coherent account of three distinct persons in one same divine essence, emerges as an important theme in Aquinas’ exposition of the Father’s paternity and innascibility. Second, Aquinas understands the Father as the source of unity in the Trinity and as the beginning and end of the whole created universe. It becomes clear that St. Thomas places forceful emphasis on the Son’s equality to the Father and on the radical difference between the creator and the creature.

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Abbreviations ............................................................................................... xiii Works of St. Thomas Aquinas................................................................. xiii Other abbreviations ................................................................................. xiv Acknowledgments ....................................................................................... xvii Introduction ..................................................................................................... 1 Subject ........................................................................................................ 1 Theological interest .................................................................................... 2 Current research ......................................................................................... 3 Scope .......................................................................................................... 8 Method........................................................................................................ 9 Organization ............................................................................................. 10 Preliminary Note: Basic Terminology .......................................................... 21 I. Basic terms ......................................................................................... 22 A. Procession and relation .............................................................. 22 B. Notion and property ................................................................... 24 C. “Person” as a subsistent relation ................................................ 25 D. Hypostasis and supposit ............................................................. 27 II. Modes of signifying ......................................................................... 28 A. Concrete and abstract terms ....................................................... 28 B. Formal and operational terms .................................................... 30 III. Unity and plurality: avoiding the ancient heresies ........................... 32 Chapter 1: The Revelation of the Father ....................................................... 41 I. The Father is revealed by the Son ...................................................... 41 A. Initial considerations .................................................................. 42 B. The Son’s revelation of the Father ............................................. 44 1. Christ’s deeds and very person ............................................. 44 2. Christ as Word, Image, and Consubstantial Son ................... 45 C. The only Son has made known the invisible God ...................... 47 D. The example of Lazarus ............................................................. 50 E. Jesus comes from and returns to the Father ............................... 53 viii God the Father in the Theology of St. Thomas Aquinas II. The Father is revealed by the Holy Spirit ......................................... 56 A. The Holy Spirit’s manner of revealing the Father ..................... 56 B. The Holy Spirit does the work of the Father.............................. 58 C. Jn 14:26: “The Holy Spirit will teach you all things” ................ 60 D. The Holy Spirit speaks in another’s name ................................. 62 Conclusion .............................................................................................. 63 Chapter 2: The Innascible Father .................................................................. 73 I. The Father is the principle not from a principle .................................. 75 A. I Sent., d. 28, q. 1, a. 1...

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