Bound for Beatitude
A Thomistic Study in Eschatology and Ethics
Thomistic Ressourcement Series
Imprint: Catholic University of America Press
Bound for Beatitude is about St. Thomas Aquinas’s theology of beatitude and the journey thereto. Consequently, the work’s topic is the meaning and purpose of human life embedded in that of the whole cosmos. This study is not an antiquarian exercise in the thought of some sundry medieval thinker, but an exercise of ressourcement in the philosophical and theological wisdom of one of the most profound theologians of the Catholic Church, one whom the Church has canonized, granted the title "Doctor of the Church," and for a long time regarded as the common doctor. This exercise of ressourcement takes its methodological cues from the common doctor; hence, it is an integrated exercise of philosophical, dogmatic, and moral theology. Its specific theological topic, the ultimate human end, perfect happiness, beatitude, and the journey thereto—stands at the very heart of St. Thomas’s theology. Far from being passé, his theology of beatitude is of urgent pertinence as the crisis of humanity and of creation and the exile of God seems to approach its apogee.
By way of a presentation, interpretation, and defense of Thomas Aquinas’s doctrine of beatitude and the journey thereto, Bound for Beatitude advances an argument based on four theses: (1) The loss of a theology of beatitude has greatly impoverished contemporary theology. In order to succeed and flourish, theology must recover a sound teleological orientation. (2) In order to recover a sound teleological orientation, theology must recover metaphysics as its privileged instrument. (3) Thomas Aquinas provides a still pertinent model for how theology might achieve these goals in a metaphysically profound theology of beatitude and the beatific vision. Finally, (4) Aquinas’s rich and sophisticated account of the virtues charts the journey to beatitude in a way that still has analytic force and striking relevance in the early twenty-first century.
"An enormous contribution to Thomistic theology, and a genuinely innovative contribution to Thomistic moral theology. Hutter is an exquisite reader of Aquinas, and has grand command of the scholarly literature on topics he addresses."~William C. Mattison III, University of Notre Dame
"Building on Aquinas’s profound theological anthropology, Hütter develops a rich account of the beatitudes within an Aristotelian-Thomist grammar of proximate and ultimate ends. He also makes a compelling case for why a retreat from these metaphysical questions into a purely immanent frame dominated by ‘practical’ concerns would greatly impoverish theology and, indeed, the faith itself. Immensely learned and unfailingly probing, the arguments presented will establish Bound for Beatitude as the benchmark for all future exploration of Christian soteriology and eschatology."~Thomas Pfau, Duke Divinity School
"Like Ariadne’s thread, this richly documented and clear-sighted work guides the reader through a maze of newer and older controversies clustered around the manifold ties connecting the first-and-last things to the search for the best approaches to them in our earthly Christian existence. It locates the concerns where intra-Thomistic debates intersect and interact with the wider theological and philosophical spectrum of quaestiones disputatae et disputandae."~Richard Schenk, OP, University of Freiburg
"We are called to eternal happiness. As the Gospel spirituals proclaim, we are bound for glory and the joys of Canaan Land. Reinhard Hütter, nourished by an evangelical love of Scripture and trained in the best of Catholic tradition, employs the insights of Thomas Aquinas to present the implications for the Christian life (and for moral theology) of the universal call to beatitude. Hütter illustrates the difference that beatitude makes. We are pilgrims on the way (viatores), sustained by the sacraments and fortified by the virtues. By restoring to moral theology the eschatological urgency of St. Thomas’s understanding of beatitude, Hütter has done theology a tremendous service."~Michael Sherwin, OP, author of On Love and Virtues: Theological Essays.
"Aquinas's theology is at once intricately analytical and authentically mystical. These dual elements are captured wonderfully in this major work. Bound for Beatitude is an extensive and coordinated study of the moral teaching and virtue theory of Aquinas, always with an orientation toward eschatology. Reinhard Hütter is one of the leading voices in Thomistic studies today, and this book marks a milestone in his articulation of a living Thomistic theology, one simultaneously rooted in historical principles and engaged with contemporary questions."~Thomas Joseph White, OP, Director, Thomistic Institute, Angelicum, Rome
"An important exercise in retrieving Thomas Aquinas's theology of beatitude in today's postmodern context...a rich volume of considerable learning, mature theological insight, and promise for the future of theology."~Thomist
"In this volume Hütter confidently engages a bewildering number of philosophical and theological viewpoints, both modern and contemporary. In so doing, the doctrine of Saint Thomas not only emerges all the more numinous, but Reinhard Hütter further solidifies his place as one of Saint Thomas's most reliable contemporary expositors."~Nova et Vetera
"Constitutes a stellar addition to the field of Thomistic ethics...Hütter is a careful and thorough expositor of Aquinas's thought, and his book rewards a careful and thorough reading."~Reviews in Religion and Theology
"Throughout, Hütter demonstrates a sophisticated mastery of the unavoidable complexity of Aquinas’s many distinctions, together with a clear explanation of each that grants easy access to the reader. More relevantly, Hütter also shows the crucial parallel between Aquinas’s synchronic presentation of topics with a diachronic projection, à la Dante’s Di vine Comedy, of the various stages of the pilgrim’s journey out of the ‘dark woods’ through awakening and return toward maturity and beatitude."~Heythrop Journal