published on November 14, 2017
Brandon L. Wanless
St. Thomas Aquinas on Original Justice and the Justice of Christ
A Case Study in Christological Soteriology and Catholic Moral Theology
This paper discusses the theme of “personal justice” in the Summa theologiae, a concept inherited from the Nicomachean Ethics wherein Aristotle says that a man is just toward himself only metaphorically, insofar as the parts of man are appropriately ordered with the higher ruling the lower and the body subjugated to the soul. This paper demonstrates how Aquinas extensively utilizes this concept of metaphorical justice across the tripartite division of the Summa in his accounts of original justice in the prima pars, the humanity of Christ in the tertia pars, and justification of the sinner in the secunda pars. As a response to critiques that Thomistic moral theology is not properly centered in the person of Christ, I will show that, for Aquinas, Christ’s personal justice both fulfills the right ordering of humanity lost through sin and restores that integrity to mankind in the grace of justification—the root of the Christian’s entire moral life.