Volume 78, Issue 4, Fall 2004
Peter M. Candler, Jr.
The Quaestio and the Paragraph in the Summa Theologiae
What is the theological logic of the particular textual apparatus of the Summa theologiae, and what kinds of implications arise when the text is adapted to a modern format? In this essay, I argue that the peculiar use Thomas makes of the quaestio protests against any attempt to reify the “responses” of Thomas into self-contained monologues, as is often done in recent attempts to render the Summa intelligible to modern readers. Yet doing so undermines not only the historical contexts of the work, but much more importantly, it transforms what is essentially an itinerary of the soul’s return to God into a panoptic map of the commonplaces of theology. I suggest that for Thomas, the ordo disciplinae of the Summa corresponds to the circuit of the reader’s return to God as the source and end of all that is. The textual form, therefore, is not separable from the manuduction of the soul towards beatific vision.