THE CHRISTIAN PHILOSOPHY OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS, by Etienne Gilson (Gollancz, 42s.).
ST. THOMAS AQUINAS AND HIS WORK., by A. M. Serfillanges, O.P. (Blackfriars, 10s. 6d.).
WHEN the Salvation Army claims a convert, the repentant sinner vociferously " accepts Jesus," he, testifies, he moves onlookers and hearers. Henceforth
he wears the uniform of the Army of Salvation. When the Methodist " hears the Lord" and is " converted to Him ", he. too. bears witness, proclaims the 'truth and tries to move others to his new-found joy and enthusiasm.
When in the bleak and uncomfortable " parlours " of presbyteries a heathen or heretic is being prepared for " reception into the Church " he has explained to him, and is asked to accept, a long series of propositions.
Has then the " Good News become merely the unassailable, the incontrovertible, proposition ? No ! But the " Good News" means nothing, unless it can be grasped by the mind before being embraced by the will and lived by heart and mind together.
But so soon as we venture even on so simple a definition as: " God is the Supretne Spirit who alone exists of Himself," or "God is the creator of Heaven and earth," we are inevitably and wholly committed to the search for, and perfection of, a philosophy within which and in terms of which we make our Faith and all knowledge reasonable and acceptable.
IT took the Church, young, vibrant. adventurous and expanding, no less than 1,300 years before such a philosophy was produced. The man who produced it was a priest, a scholar, a genius, a mystic and a Saint: Thomas Aquinas. It took the Church which produced Suarez. Molina and Rosonini another 600 years to come near to saying that " Thomism " the Church's " -ism."
But even at that; St. Thomas wrote in, and for, his own age; specifically of its problems, and in its language: the language of the great Schools. His philosophy is as often called Scholasticism as it it is called Thomism.
But each age has its new problems, or at least new formulations of old problems, so that it is the principles of Thomism which are of vital importance and living pertinence, not the Questions and Answers of the Surname; for the Questions are no longer asked nor
the Answers intelligible to the ordinary men of 1957.
So-though it is something of an over simplification a Marttain interprets Thomism for an age in which Bergson dominates the secular-scene; and a Gilson represents St. Thomas to a world of Existentialists-pagan like Sartre, or Christian like Marcel.
BOTH these works are already
well known. Gilson's " The Christian Philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas" is the fruit of over 30 years' study and publication and this is a translation of the latest French edition of 1948. Fr. Sertillanges' admirable little book first appeared as early as 1930.
This first English edition of Gilson's great work is a notable publishing venture, and it is a mark of the sureness and breadth of its appeal that it is undertaken by Gollancz. Including notes, indexes, and the " Catalogue of St. Thomas's Works " by Fr. 1. T. Eschmartn, 0.P.. the text runs to 500 pages. The translation is by Fr. L. K. Shook, C.S.B., who is not undeservedly congratulated and praised by the author.
This is the definitive Gilson on St. Thomas and no reputable library, secular or religious, can be without it. Nor can any student of St. Thomas, or of philos4hy. modern or ancient. afford not to read it.
It is a happy chance that Fr. Anstruther should at this time publish his translation of Fr. Se rt iflanges' book.
Eleven chapters cover St. Thomas's epoch, life and family, his task. method, genius. teaching, style, his poetry, his triumph and his future. One of the most rewarding 140 pages we have read in a long time and an excellent companion volume to the notable work mentioned above.