Thomas Aquinas and His Predecessors
The Philosophers and the Church Fathers in His Works
Imprint: Catholic University of America Press
Thomas Aquinas and His Predecessors takes us on a voyage through the history of philosophical thought as present in the works of Thomas Aquinas. It is a synthetic presentation of the works and thought of the great predecessors of Aquinas, as he knew and used them. This is the first time that a comprehensive survey of the works of these influential thinkers that were quoted by St. Thomas Aquinas is presented in a readable form. Throughout Aquinas’s corpus he commented on the works of Aristotle, Boethius and Dionysius, showed great interest in and use of the writings of St. Augustine, St. Jerome, St. John Chrysostom, Gregory the Great and John Damascene, as well as the great Arab and Jewish scholars of the tenth to the twelfth centuries. However, the precise extent of Aquinas’s knowledge and use of these various writings has not always been clear. In Thomas Aquinas and His Predecessors chapters are devoted to Thomas’s relationship with stoicism, Cicero and Seneca, and neo-platonist thought. For this volume, Dr. Elders has researched the thousands of quotations of these different authors in the works of Aquinas. The references reveal the admirable knowledge Thomas had of the doctrine of the different authors, his evaluation of them, his agreement and disagreement. In sum, the book is an illustration of how the philosophical and theological works of St. Thomas Aquinas lie in close scholarly, philosophical, and theological proximity with the writings and thought of his great predecessors.
"This eminently readable work will doubtless earn a place next to Jean-Pierre Torrell’s Saint Thomas Aquinas (CH, Apr'97, 34-4416) as a required resource for students of Thomas"~Choice Connect
"Elders’s book is a marvelous hermeneutical tool for those who want to understand Aquinas, but they should not be induced by careless reading of his material – either into supposing that Aquinas’s account of his predecessors even in some cases his Christian predecessors (who may be cited out of context, thus made to answer questions they did not ask) – is always historically accurate, or still less that we can assume, for example, that we can uncritically read Aristotle through the eyes of Aquinas, or indeed of any other medieval thinker. Which is not to say that we cannot use Aquinas to understand Aristotle."~JOURNAL OF ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY
"This is a valuable survey of the sources that Thomas Aquinas consulted in the development of his philosophy and theology. It is not merely a textual survey of those sources, but an account of how Thomas related to or assessed the authors he consulted. In writing the book, Professor Leo Elders has drawn not only on his knowledge of the works of Thomas Aquinas, but he has utilized the work of scores of secondary sources as he develops his exposition...For anyone interested, whether as a beginner or as a seasoned scholar, Leo Elders provides insight not only with respect to the development of Thomas' philosophy, but to the intellectual climate of his day."~The Wanderer
"My first encounter with the books of Fr. Elders was as a dissertation student, and I have tried to keep up with his incredible scholarly output over the years. Thomas Aquinas and His Predecessors exhibits all his fine qualities as scholar and writer in this fine translation: mainstream interpretation of Aquinas, which avoids eccentricity, profound knowledge of the Thomistic texts, exhaustive knowledge of the scholarship, and, in this case, discerning judgment about which ‘predecessors’ to choose in light of the most recent scholarship. My favorites are the chapters on Gnosticism and Neoplatonism, the Liber de causis, Avicenna, and Averroes, which can introduce the reader to a vibrant area of contemporary Thomist scholarship."~R. E. Houser, Bishop Nold Professor of Philosophy, University of St. Thomas.
"This book has a place next to Torrell's Saint Thomas Aquinas as a basic resource necessary for every student of St. Thomas. Father Elders reveals the richness of Aquinas's debts to many of the greatest pagan, Christian, Muslim, and Jewish thinkers of the two millennia that preceded him. The book should become a touchstone for all future Thomistic studies."~Matthew Levering, James N. and Mary D. Perry Jr. Chair of Theology, Mundelein Seminary
"The prodigious labor of this book beckons those who follow Elders to look carefully at how the Common Doctor uses his sources to give shape to his own thought - which is most importantly about what he finds on the sacred page. We can be thankful for the bountiful harvest of wisdom in this book of Elders, and be encouraged to continue the work that remains."~Thomist