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Summa Theologies 


Edited and translated by ^ "* ' 

Herbert McCabe O.P. 

Can we ever see God just as he is ? 
Can we now make statements about 
him which are literally true ? These 
two questions are here discussed by 
a theology which draws epistemology, 
psychology and logic into its 
discourse without strain. Already the 
grounds have been shown for a 
reasoned conviction that God exists 
and that he is not completely baffling 
to the human mind ; these are now 
extended to the Christian promise of 
the face to face vision of God in 
heaven^ and explored to show that 
our present thinking about him can 
avoid the extremes of anthropo- 
morphism and agnosticism and is not 
limited to speaking of him only in 
metaphors or honouring him by 

The Summa provides the framework 
for Catholic studies in systematic 
theology and for a classical Christian 
philosophy. Steady endorsement for 
centuries by the Apostolic See has 
given it a position of singular authority 
so much so that it is now the 
standard work of its kind in Catholic 
schools all over the world. For all 
Christians the Summa is invaluable 
as the witness of a developing tradi- 
tion and the source of living theology. 

The ultimate purpose of this edi- 
tion is not narrowly ecclesiastical, but 
to present to Christians everywhere 
this treasury of wisdom which is part 
of their common heritage. It will 
appeal not only to the scholar and 
professional theologian, but also to 

Continued on back flap 

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Thomas Aquinas, Saint 
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Latin text and English translation, 

Introductions, Notes, Appendices 

and Glossaries 













WAS PLEASED to grant an audience^ on 13 December 1963, 
to a group a representing the Dominican Editors and the 
combined Publishers of the new translation of the Surntna 
Theologize of St Thomas, led by His Eminence Michael 
Cardinal Browne 3 of the Order of Preachers, and the Most 
Reverend Father Aniceto Fernandez^ Master General of the 

same Order. 


THE HOLY FATHER made a cordial allocution in which he first welcomed 
the representatives of a project in which he found particular interest. He 
went on to laud the perennial value of St Thomas's doctrine as embodying 
universal truths in so cogent a fashion. This doctrine, he said, is a treasure 
belonging not only to the Dominican Order but to the whole Church, and 
indeed to the whole world; it is not merely medieval but valid for all 
times, not least of all for our own. 

His Holiness therefore commended the enterprise of Dominicans from 
English-speaking Provinces of the Order and of their friends; they were 
undertaking a difficult task, less because the thought of St Thomas is 
complicated or his language subtle, than because the clarity of his thought 
and exactness of language is so difficult to translate. Yet the successful 
outcome of their efforts would undoubtedly contribute to the religious 
and cultural well-being of the English-speaking world. 

What gave him great satisfaction was the notable evidence of interest 
in the spread of divine truth on the part of the eminent laymen concerned, 
members of different communions yet united in a common venture. 

For these reasons the Holy Father wished it all success, and warmly 
encouraged and blessed all those engaged. He was happy to receive the 
first volume presented to him as a gesture of homage, and promised that 
he would follow with interest the progress of the work and look forward 
to the regular appearance of all the subsequent volumes. 




1 Theology (la. i) 

2 Existence and Nature of God (la. 2-11) 

3 Knowing and Naming God (la. 12-13) 

4 Knowledge in God (la. 1418) 

5 The Will and Power of God (la. 19-26) 

6 The Trinity (la. 27-32) 

7 Father, Son., and Holy Ghost (la. 33-43) 

8 Creation (ia. 44-9) 

9 Angels (la. 50-64) 

10 Cosmogony (la. 65-74) 

11 Man (la. 75-83) 

12 Human Intelligence (la. 84-9) 

13 Man Made to God's Image (la. 90-102) 

14 Divine Government (la. 103-9) 

15 The World Order (la. 110-19) 


16 End Happiness (ia2ae, 1-5) 

17 Human Acts (ia2ae. 6-17) 

18 Principles of Morality (ia2ae. 18-21) 

19 Love and Desire (ia2ae* 22-30) 

20 Pleasure (ia2ae. 31-9) 

21 Fear and Anger (ia2ae. 40-8) 

22 Dispositions for Human Acts (ia2ae. 49-54) 

23 Virtues (ia2ae. 55-67) 

24 Gifts and Beatitudes (ia2ae. 68-70) 

25 Sin (ia2ae. 71-80) 

26 Original Sin (ia2ae. 81-5) 

27 Effects of Sin (ia2. 86-9) 

28 Law (ia2se. 90-7) 

29 The Old Law (ia2ae. 98-105) 

30 The Gospel of Grace (ia2ae. 106-14) 


31 Faith (2a2ae. 1-7) 

32 Consequences of Faith (2a2ae. 8-16) 

33 Hope (2a2*e. 17-22) 

34 Charity (2a2ae. 23-33) 

* ix 

35 Consequences of Charity (23235. 34-46) 

36 Prudence (232ae. 47-56) 

37 Justice (2a2se. 57-62) 

38 Injustice (2a2se. 63-79) 

39 Religion (2a2se. 80-91) 

40 Consequences of Religion (2a2ae. 92-100) 

41 The Social Virtues (232 se. 101-22) 

42 Courage (2a2se. 123-40) 

43 Temperance (232ae. 141-54) 

44 Parts of Temperance (2a2se. 155-70) 

45 Mysticism and Miracle (2a2ae. 1718) 

46 Activity and Contemplation (2a2se. 179-84) 

47 The Pastoral and Religious Lives (232ae. 185-9) 


48 The Incarnate Word (33. 1-6) 

49 The Grace of Christ (33. 715) 

50 The One Mediator (33. 16-26) 

51 Our Lady (33. 27-30) 

52 The Childhood of Christ (33. 31-7) 

53 The Life of Christ (33. 38-45) 

54 The Passion of Christ (33. 4652) 

55 The Resurrection (33. 53-9) 

56 The S3cr3ments (33. 60-5) 

57 Baptism and Confirmation (33. 66-72) 

58 The Eucharist I (33. 73-8) 

59 The Eucharist II (33. 79-83) 

60 Penance (33. 84-90) 



for Catholic studies in systematic theology and for a classical Christian 
philosophy. Yet the work, which is more than a text-book for professional 
training, is also the witness of developing tradition and the source of 
living science about divine things. For faith seeks understanding in the 
contemplation of God's Logos, his wisdom and saving providence, run- 
ning through the whole universe. 

The purpose, then, of this edition is not narrowly clerical, but to share 
with all Christians a treasury which is part of their common heritage. 
Moreover, it consults the interests of many who would not claim to be 
believers, and yet appreciate the integrity which takes religion into hard 

Accordingly the editors have kept in mind the needs of the general 
reader who can respond to the reasons in Christianity, as well as of 
technical theologians and philosophers. 

Putting the Latin text alongside the English is part of the purpose. The 
reader with a smattering of Latin can be reassured when the translator, 
in order to be clear and readable, renders the thought of St Thomas into 
the freedom of another idiom without ckcumlocution or paraphrase. 

There are two more reasons for the inclusion of the Latin text. First, 
to help the editors themselves, for the author's thought is too lissom to be 
uniformly and flatly transliterated; it rings with analogies, and its precision 
cannot be reduced to a table of terms. A rigid consistency has not been 
imposed on the editors of the different volumes among themselves; the 
original is given, and the student can judge for himself. 

Next, to help those whose native tongue is not English or whose duty it 
is to study theology in Latin, of whom many are called to teach and preach 
through the medium of the most widespread language of the world, now 
becoming the second language of the Church. 

The Latin is a sound working text, selected, paragraphed, and punc- 
tuated by the responsible editor. Important variations, in manuscripts 
and such major printed editions as the Pfana and Leonine, are indicated. 
The English corresponds paragraph by paragraph and almost always sen- 
tence by sentence. Each of the sixty volumes, so far as is possible, will be 
complete in itself, to serve as a text for a special course or for private study. 







(ia. 12-13) 

Latin text. English translation. Introduction, Notes, 
Appendices & Glossary 

Black Friars, Manchester 

Introduction by 








Prior Provincialis Anglia 
die 16 Martii 1964 



Censor deputatus 


Epos. Sebastopolis, Vic. Gen. 
Westmonasterii, die 9 Aprilis 1964 






xvii Notes on the text, translation^ footnotes, and references 


17 Article 5. 
21 Article 6. 


3 Article i. can any created mind see the essence of God? 

7 Article 2. does the mind see the essence of God by means of any 

created likeness? 

ii Article 3. can we see the essence of God with our bodily eyes? 
13 Article 4. can any created intellect see the essence of God by 

its own natural powers? 

does the created mind need a created light in order to 

see the essence of God? 

is the essence of God seen more perfectly by one than 

by another? 

23 Article 7. can a created mind comprehend the essence of God? 
27 Article 8. does it in seeing the essence of God see all things? 
3 1 Article 9. is it by means of any likeness that it knows what it sees 


35 Article 10. is all that is seen in God seen together? 
37 Article II. can any man in this life see the essence of God? 
41 Article 12. can we know God by our natural reason in this 

43 Article 13. besides the knowledge we have of God by natural 

reason is there in this life a deeper knowledge than 

we have through grace? 


47 Article i. can we use any words to refer to God? 

51 Article 2. do any of the words we use express something of what 

he is? 
57 Article 3. can we say anything literally about God or must we 

always speak metaphorically? 

59 Article 4. are all the words predicated of God synonymous? 
61 Article 5. are words used both of God and of creatures used 

univocally or equivocally? 


67 Article 6. given that they are in fact used analogically, are they 
predicated primarily of God or of creatures? 

71 Article 7. in speaking of God can we use words that imply 
temporal succession? 

79 Article 8. does c God' mean a thing of a certain kind or a thing 
having a certain operation? 

8 1 Article 9. is the name 'God' peculiar to God alone? 

87 Article 10. when it is used of God, of what shares in divinity, 

and of what is merely supposed to do so, is it used 

univocally or equivocally? 

91 Article n. is c He who is' the most appropriate name for God? 
93 Article 12. can affirmative statements correctly be made about 



99 i. Knowledge 

101 2. Causes 

104 3. 'Signifying Imperfectly' 

106 4. Analogy 

109 Glossary 

113 Index 




This is taken from the Faucher Edition (Paris, 1886), here corrected, 
re-punctuated, and paragraphed to match the translation; some Piana or 
Leonine readings are incorporated, others are indicated in footnotes. 


In this translation I have sought neither elegance of style nor literal exact- 
ness; I have tried to reproduce as accurately as possible the argument of 
St Thomas. For those who wish to consult his use of particular words the 
Latin text is provided on the left-hand pages. My own opinion is that 
St Thomas was rather carefree in his use of 'technical' terms and I have 
not tried to use the same English equivalent for every occurrence of 
'species', 'phantasma', 'nomen', etc. At two points I have departed widely 
from the literal text: for the untranslatable and false etymology of 'lapis* 
from 'laedens pedem', I have substituted the etymology of 'hydrogen' from 
'producing water' the anachronism should be sufficiently glaring to 
deceive nobody. Again, St Thomas says that 'sanum dicitur de animali 
et medicina et urina' but since we do not usually speak in English of 
healthy medicine or urine, I have said instead that we use 'healthy* of a 
man, a diet and a complexion. 


Those signified by a superior number are the references given by St 
Thomas, with the exception of no. I to each article which refers to parallel 
texts in his writings. Those signified alphabetically are editorial references 
and explanatory remarks. 


Biblical references are to the Vulgate, bracketed numbers to the Psalms 
are those of versions based on the Hebrew text. Patristic references are to 
Migne (PG, Greek Fathers; PL, Latin Fathers). Abbreviations to St 
Thomas's works are as follows: 

3 B 


Summa Theologia, without title. Part, question, article, reply; e.g. la. 3, 2 

ad 3. ia2e. 17, 6. 2a2ae. 180, 10. 3a. 35, 8. 
Summa Contra Gentiles, CG. Book, chapter; e.g. CG I, 28. 
Scriptum in IV Libras Sententiarum> Sent. Book, distinction, question, 

article, solution or quastiuncula, reply; e.g. ill Sent. 25, 2, 3, ii ad 3. 

Compendium Theologice> Compend. TheoL 

Commentaries of Scripture (kcturce, expositions) : Job, In Job; Psalms, 
In PsaL; Isaiah, In Isa.; Jeremiah, In Jeremy Lamentations, In Thren.; 
St Matthew, In Matt.; St John, In Joan.; Epistles of St Paul, e.g. In 
Rom. Chapter, verse, lectio as required. 

Philosophical commentaries : On the Liber de Causis, In De causis. Aristotle : 
Peri Hermeneias, In Periherm.; Posterior Analytics, In Poster.; Physics, 
In Physic.; De Ccelo et Mundo, In De C&L; De Generatione et Corrup- 
tione> In De gen.; Meteorologica, In Meteor.; De Anima, In De anima; 
De Sensu et Sensato, In De sensu; De Memoria et Reminiscentia> In De 
tnemor.; Metaphysics, In Meta.; Nicomachean Ethics, In Ethic., Poli- 
tics, In Pol. Book, chapter, lectio as required, also for Expositions on 
Boethius, Liber de Hebdomadibus and Liber de Trinitate, In De hebd. and 
In De Trin.) and on Dionysius De Divinis Nominibus^ In De div. nom. 
References to Aristotle give the Bekker annotation. 

Qucestiones quodlibetales (de quolibet), Quodl. 

Main titles are given in full for other works, including the 10 series of 
Quastiones Disputata. 



HAVING OUTLINED the character of Christian Theology (Vol. i) and 
opened the discussion whether a reasoned conviction can be reached that 
a divine being exists, inquiry into whose nature need not be left at a 
question mark (Vol. 2), St Thomas then pauses before pursuing his inves- 
tigations into divine activity (Vols. 4 & 5). He takes stock of the position 
he has arrived at and, in two unusually long Questions (to which this 
Vol. 3 is devoted), considers if there be any kinship between our finite 
minds and the infinite reality of God (la. 12) , and, if so, whether the words 
of human thought can truthfully describe it (ia. 13). Accordingly this intro- 
duction will be divided into two parts : the first (1-17) follows the argument 
that the human mind can be carried past reflections of the Creator to the 
vision of the Godhead; the second (18-31) that in the meantime the 
imperfect articulations of reason about him can be really relevant to this 

The Light of Divinity 

i. Given intelligence, however slight, and at once, if one may put it so, 
God begins to appear on the map, and in a manner that promises manifest 
presence, not merely rumour, report, or representation. Aristotle's con- 
clusion that happiness lay in a kind of godlike contemplation, 1 which was 
meditated on by Dante from St Thomas's philosophical commentaries 
and held such fascination for humanists of the Middle Ages and after, had 
seemed to strain human nature beyond its powers. St Thomas, however, 
presses far past his master. As a Christian theologian he responded to 
God's self-revelation overshadowing the whole of human history from the 
beginning, throwing, as it were, an unearthly light on natural things, not 
indeed eclipsing their rational evidences nor distorting their proper 
shapes, yet edging more sharply their limitations as objects of final desire. 

The human spirit cannot be satisfied by creatures, nor even by the dear 
perception of their creator integrating its manifold experience, for the 
heart's desire is not to gaze at the first reason for things, but to be em- 
braced by the living God himself. 2 Anything vicarious or not at first hand 
falls short of such union, and so at the end ideas about God will not serve; 
only he himself can hold the mind in a presence direct, seen, and realized 
through no abstract likeness. We are about to watch how St Thomas 
literally attributes to this knowledge the requirements of full vision; 

^.g. Nicomachean Ethics 9 x, 8 *ia2ae. 2, 8; 3, 6-8. cf zazae. 28* 3 


'those things are said to be seen which by their very selves exeite mind or 
sense to their being known'. 3 

2. Two streams of teaching converge a rough sketch-map may mark 
their flow from Jewish and Hellenic sources. For the first God is far 
beyond our understanding, incomprehensible in his being and unsearch- 
able in his ways; for the second he is the word of reason and the light of 
the world. On the one hand, the answer to Job; on the other, the play of 
Wisdom, rejoicing in the habitable part of the earth and delighting with 
the children of men. No wonder that mystical writings, exemplifying the 
terse distinction drawn by the Summa between remotio and eminentia (to 
be touched on later), bear witness that those who search for God are tugged 
in two directions, towards the path of negation where in a dark cloud of 
unknowing all distinctiveness is stripped from our conceptions about him 
and the creature itself is emptied of content, and towards an ascent of 
affirmation where in a bright cloud like that on the Mount of the Trans- 
figuration his manifold excellence is acknowledged. 

3. The Summa begins by marking the negative way; 'we are considering 
how God is, or rather, how he is not'. 4 For he is not part of our world and 
cannot be placed in its categories; 5 it will be emphasized throughout that 
no created mind can sound his depths. 6 Yet the phrase is guarded 'how 
he is not*, quomodo non sit> rather than 'what he is not', quid nan sit, as 
though to anticipate what will appear later, that to deny of God a crea- 
turely mode of existence is not to hold him void of the values and noble 
forms we discover in the world. Indeed the discourse opens by stressing 
the supreme evidence of God's being in itself, though not to us, 7 and goes 
on to show that all that is in creatures takes after God, assimilantur ei 
inquantum sunt entia ut primo et universali prindpio totius essef and to 
describe his infinity not by indefiniteness but by very excess of form. 9 

Now it proposes to explore a more positive way, recognizing behind the 
limited mode of human knowledge a content that is derivatively divine, a 
beginning to an end still far away, that implies, if not quite a promise, yet 
still a capacity to be filled by God's grace and swept to the glory of seeing 
him c just as he is', sicuti est, xaflc&c eoriv. 10 To St Thomas, as to his 
Augustinian contemporaries, the intelligible universe is bathed in God's 
light, though to him the first glimmers we see are not immediately recog- 
nized as divine. Essentia divina totaliter lux intelligibilis est^ God is 
wholly lucid in himself, yet not to us, creatures of the night, who blink at 

3 2a2ae. i, 4. cf la. 12, 9. The Bampton Lectures for 1928 remain the best general 
introduction to the subject: The Vision of God, the Christian Doctrine of the 
Sitmmum Bonum, by Kenneth E, Kirk, ist ed. London, 1931 
*ia. 2. Prologue 5 ia. 3, 5 & 7 8 e.g. la. 12, 7 7 ia. 2, i 8 ia. 4, 3 
ia. % i 10 i John 3, 2 ^Qtiodl. TO, I, I 

divine truth like owls in sunshine. 12 What Aristotle had said of rational 
divinity is still more to the point now that the mystery of the Godhead 
declared to us drives the mind into the deeper darkness of faith and there 
exposed to greater uncertainties. 13 

The difficulties arise from our side, although they are not entirely of our 
own making since they are ordained by divine Providence. The objective 
truth in creatures is turbid compared with limpid divinity if only we 
could see it. Why creatures should exist at all is sometimes hard to grasp, 
also how they exist, and what they are when they do exist, although the 
opaqueness in their natures and their tremulous intelligibility usually pass 
unnoticed because we are at home with them, or think we are. One feels 
that St Thomas regarded theology as profoundly an 'easier 3 subject than 
the other sciences, and that he would have us take God less anxiously 
than we do and that the problems we thrust into our relationship with him 
are really problems about us not that these are to be evaded by the simple 
abandon to God he counsels, for of all the spiritual masters he is the most 
profoundly Aristotelean in wrestling with the here and now. 

4. Question 12 treats of three types of knowing God; first, the immediate 
vision of him, sdentia beata (articles i-ii), second, the conclusions in- 
ferred about him by reasoning from this world, or natural theology (article 
12), and third, Christian Theology or the sacra doctrina outlined in the 
first Question of the Summa> which springs from faith cleaving to him 
without intermediary and yet as unknown (article 13). It is important that 
the second and the third should not be disconnected from one another, but 
taken together as parts of a single process that comes to a head in the first : 
grace is planted in nature and is the seed of glory. It will be noticed that 
the affective or mystical knowledge of divine things mentioned in the 
opening Question is not included: 14 this is reserved for later treatment 
under the gifts and charismata of the Spirit and the life of contemplation. 15 

5. The Question opens in the confidence that God himself can be seen 
by created minds (article i), and in a vision that is not a theophany 
through the intermediary of likenesses or of bodily images (articles 2 & 3). 
Nevertheless a creaturely element is present, for this act of seeing, though 
beyond our unaided natural powers (article 4), remains our act of seeing 
and issues from the mind enhanced by the lumen glorue, which is a new 
likeness to God (article 5). 

Dominated by the Christian conviction that nothing less than God 
himself is objectively our joy *to say otherwise is foreign to faith', 

12e Owls% ia. i, 5 ad i : an echo of Metaphysics n> i. 993bio. Elsewhere *as blind as 

bats*; e.g. la. 12, i 

13 cf 2a2ae. 4, 8 14 ia. i> 6 ad 3 

16 ia. 43. ia2ae. 68-70. 2a2ae. 85 9; 45; 52; 171-5; 179-82 


alienum aftde^ the study fastens on the subjective requirements of the 
act elicited in the beatific vision. There the interplay of cognitive and 
affective factors should be noted. For while St Thomas insists that the 
decisive act of happiness, beatitudo, is an act of knowing, not of loving, 
that is, an act of mind which, unlike the will, is the power of 'holding' an 
object, 17 he is not an intellectualist in the mentalistic style who sharply 
separates conscious from biological processes, which may or may not run 
parallel to one another. On the contrary he regards knowing as an exten- 
sion of being, an activity of a participant not of an uncommitted spectator, 
a thrust of life, an effort of freedom breaking out from the solitude of the 
self into the wide world. 18 Knowing is innermostly modulated by loving 
from its first impulse to its final delight, and accordingly the Summa grounds 
the possibility of the vision of God on the natural desire for it, 19 and 
measures the degree of the seeing by the intensity of our loving friend- 
ship. 20 

6. We have therefore to consider the famous and controversial argument 
from natural desire. 21 What is in question is the face to face vision 
of God as he is in himself, not an exalted philosophical contemplation 
of the divine reasons for things. 22 The matter is delicate because, in 
the words of a modern scholastic theologian, it concerns the point of 
insertion, agitwr de puncto insertions, of supernatural life into human 
nature. 23 Does this desire mean that we have a natural aptness, aptitudo> to 
receive grace ? What is this capacity or capability to be acted on from a 
higher plane? It is called a potentia obedientialis^ but is this purely sub- 
missive, like the power of Balaam's ass to prophesy, or is an active human 
contribution called for? 24 Does grace become part of us and is our charity 
really ours? Such questions will be discussed elsewhere. 25 As for the 
validity of the argument from the natural desire for grace it has been urged 
that it proves either too much or too little: too much if it suggests that the 
sight of God can be claimed by created minds as somehow their natural 
due which would be forward; too little, if it refers to mere velleity 
which would be idle. 

18 ia. 12, I 17 ia2ae. 3, 4. A key-article in the Summa 

18 cf la. 5, i & 4; 14, i; 1 6, 3; iS y 3 19 ia. 12, i 

20 ia. I2 3 6. cf 2a2ae. 24^ 5, on variations within charity. Also Vol. i, Appendix 10, 

The Dialectic of Love in the Summa 

21 See also ia2ae. 3, 8. CG m, 50. De veritate vm, i 

* 2 cf ia2ae. 3, 6 & 7 

23 R. Garrigou-Lagrange s De Revelatione 1, 12, 4 

24 3a, ii a i. Compend. Theol. 104. De virtutibus io 3 ad 2, 13 

* 6 ia2ae. 109 & no, on natural preparation for grace. 2a2ae. 23, 2> on charity as 

friendship with God, against Peter Lombard's view that charity was the Holy 



There is no dilemma for St Thomas. He is explicit that sharing in God's 
own life by grace exceeds the natural reach of any creature whatsoever, 
supra faeultatem naturalem cujuslibet creatures:, it is by wholly undeserved 
mercy that men are lifted to a higher and supernatural level, born again of 
the Spirit into a new life, yet this is then their life, and the spontaneous 
activities that ensue are in no sense forced or unnatural, 26 On the other 
hand there is no abrupt chasm between nature and grace, and when he 
sees in natural desire a stretching out to God himself he is not indulging 
a wish-fulfilment fantasy, which is quite out of keeping with his cast of 
mind. All he is saying is that the vision is possible, not that it is likely, and 
that the yearning itself is a prophecy of what can be, not a promise of what 
will be. For it is not daydreaming or a sophisticated projection, but an 
inborn and inescapable craving, and this, he holds, cannot be pointless, 
inane> not because his was an optimistic temperament, apt to translate 
fiction into fact, but because quite dispassionately he reckoned that 
potentialities and 'intentions' could not be accounted for without cor- 
responding actualities and ends. Nothing would stir in time were there no 
complete possession of life in eternity: that in one phrase has been the 
dialectic of the preceding Questions. 

7. The meaning of this natural desire is debated. Is it appetittis natwralis 
in the precise or more general sense of the term? Let us recall the vocabu- 
lary. Amor, appetitus, desiderium, OQegt$, which can be taken here as 
synonymous, are analogical terms applying to every bent or inclinatio. 
The Scholastics found end-and-object-seeking love in both conscious and 
unconscious activity, and those who were faithful to the genius of Aristotle 
and read no outside plot into the world of nature, avoided the pathetic 
fallacy of ascribing human emotions to non-human things, although their 
language may be more animist than his, and of course their religion gave 
them a clearer picture of the history, hierarchy, and purpose of the uni- 
verse, so that they were more given to offering explanations of why things 
should act as they do. 27 They were aware that these often amounted only 
to recommendatory arguments, ex coiwenientiis> not to demonstrations, 
and their teleology was not committed to any particular theory about 
the design which linked different things together. 28 Aristotle had des- 
cribed a 'nature' as a principle of motion from within, and this functional 
development towards completed wholeness was observed principally in 
living things. 29 From the 'forward-directedness' of acting for an end they 
inferred that a governing intelligence existed somewhere, but this was not 

2 *ia. I2 3 4. cf Vol. I, Appendix 8, Natural and Supernatural 

27 cf Vol. I, Appendix 2, Method of the Summa 

* 8 cf Vol. 2, Appendix 10, The Fifth Way; Appendix n, The Single Causal Origin 

29 cf3a. 2, i 

an element within the action; biological appetite was not treated as itself 
voicing psychic purpose. 30 It could be appetitus naturalis in the precise 
sense of the term, also called appetitus innatus, an inborn drive towards 
completion in things without consciousness and unconsciously at work 
even in things with consciousness. In sentient and intelligent natures, 
however, it develops into the desire for an object through perceiving it, 
and is then called appetitus animalis or appetitus elicitus, manifested in 
feeling, wishing, willing, and deliberately choosing. Yet voluntary desire is 
natural as issuing from within the acting subject, and is therefore classed 
under appetitus naturalis or, better perhaps, desiderium naturale in its 
general sense. 31 

Dominic Soto (d. 1560), a master of the Golden Age of Spanish Thorn- 
ism, seems to take the desire to see God back to a stage behind thought 
and deliberation. The Franciscan Scotus, the idiosyncratic Dominican 
Durandus, and the Jesuit Gregory of Valencia are cited in support; these, 
with Noris and Berti, both Augustinians, represent an impressive con- 
junction, and we are likelier nowadays than their contemporaries were to 
warm to their tribute to the unconscious load of immortality*. To the 
majority view, however, represented by Ferrariensis, Banez, and John of 
St Thomas, the desire is conscious, though, apart from grace, conditional 
and ineffective: 'were it possible I would want to see God, but as it is the 
vision is beyond my powers and reasonable claims'. Cajetan, characteris- 
tically, refuses to speculate on a hypothetical state of pure nature, and goes 
straight to the existing situation: God's providential intervention in 
human history has appeared from the beginning, and his deeds and pro- 
mises, effectus gratue et glorice y awaken a desire for him that is natural 
given his revealing action, supposita revelatione talium effectuum. 

8. The discussion then turns from the possibility to the conditions for 
the face to face vision of God to be realized. The subject of the act is the 
creature, the object is God. The creature remains, though raised to greater 
likeness to God by the lumen glorue; the human personality is not extin- 
guished, for its identity with God is not effected by a fusion of substance, 
but by a complete identity in knowledge and love: of this more later. Yet 
though God is seen by us, that is by what is like him, he is not seen in or 
through any likeness; it is he himself who is known and loved in immediate 
contact. 32 

9. This is a staggering truth, and yet it is all said so quietly. St Thomas 
gives little hint of his wonder, and we too perhaps follow him best by 

30 ia22e* i, 2 

31 ia* 6, 1 ad 2; 19, i; 78, I ad 3; 80, 1. ia2e. 6, i; 8, 2 & 3; 10, i; 13, 3. 33. 18, 

2-4. In De amma m, lea. 5 82 ia. i2 3 2 & 5 


plodding at the terms of his statements. Since the language of the Summa 
is deceptively simple about the problem of knowledge a preliminary out- 
line may be helpful. 

Its theory of knowledge is not an indirect realism according to which 
impressions from an outside world are the first objects known by the 
mind, which then may undertake the effort of seeking to establish their 
correspondence with it. Even so, while not to be compared to a camera 
which registers the likeness of objects, the human mind does, at least 
under its present conditions, perform a kind of doubling when the thing 
which is, ens, becomes the thing which is known, verum. Ultimately being 
and knowing are identical, for God is his knowing and his knowing is what 
he knows, but in the mixed reality of a creature existence is distinct from 
essence, and essence from the power of knowing, and the power of knowing 
from the act of knowing, and the act of knowing from the being known. 33 
These are fine distinctions, not splits into separate pieces; they shade the 
'divideness* suffered in consciousness and which the mind strives to break 
down by rejoining its beginning and finding its end. We have touched on 
the appetitus naturalis at the spring of knowledge, a Godward bent already 
in motion before it is knowingly formulated, and at the term of knowledge, 
as we shall see, the mind is identified with its object in a realization beyond 
representation. In between St Thomas favours no dissociation in the 
Cartesian manner, and never loses hold of Aristotle's principle that the 
knower somehow becomes the known: a hedging 'somehow*, quodammodo, 
it may seem, since the human mind is not yet immediately united to the 
very being of its object. 34 

For we do not literally become stony or wet by thinking of rocks and 
water, though St Thomas is gentle with the Ionian theory of physical 
affinity, and indeed echoes it when discussing knowledge through love 
and sympathy, not merely through notions. What is possessed by the mind 
is not the natural being of other things, but, more or less imperfectly, 
their intelligible forms, communicated and shared in after the manner of a 
representation, likeness, 'look' or species. 25 

Such representing can be considered under two aspects: first, as a 
modification of the knowing subject, and as such, to speak precisely, it is 
the concern of that part of natural philosophy called psychology; second, 
as a relation to or signification of the object known, and as such it is the 
concern of epistemology or the theory of knowledge. Though these two 
merge into one another, as during the discussion of man's cognitive 

38 cfe.g. la. 14, 2 & 4; 79, i 

S4 cf la. 14, i 

S5 cf la. 12, 2; 56, 3; 84, I, 2, 6. In De amma n, lect. 24 


powers/ 6 they represent distinct considerations. For notice, the form that 
shapes a bodily thing, the inner idea that makes it intelligible, has there a 
material manner of being, whereas this form when taken into the mind is 
invested with a spiritual manner of being. Notice as well, that if we speak 
of this form as a species, then it exists in the thing as substance, whereas 
in the mind it exists as a quality. Were we to stay in natural philosophy 
there would be no joining a thing and a think; were we to treat the pre- 
dicaments each as the appropriate compartment for entities that were like 
litde absolutes or atoms then this double opposition, namely material- 
spiritual and substantial-accidental, could not be resolved. But as it is, 
when we move into the world of 'relation', the difference of merely enti- 
tative status between the thing outside the mind and the thing inside the 
mind sets up no barrier to knowledge. For the identity established between 
knower and known is not reducible to physical assimilation, and in this 
identity spirit can possess body and a mental species, itself a quality, can 
contain substance by objective reference. 37 

10. This may become less obscure when we come to consider the iden- 
tity between God and man in the beatific vision. At this stage we merely 
note that psychology is one interest and epistemology another, and that 
St Thomas's theory of knowledge amounts to more than the pieces of his 
psychological apparatus. Mental species, for instance, should not be treated 
as psychic items resembling non-psychic things. For knowledge their true 
bearing is as relationships opening out to others, not as events which take 
place in us, and it is so, as beckonings or stretchings out, intentiones (hence 
the Scholastic term intentionalis, weakly translated 'intentional'), not as 
qualities of a psychological power, that they signify their object or have 
objective content. A species is not that which is known, id quod intelligitur, 
but that by which a thing is known, ut quo intelligitur, it is not an idol, but 
an image on which the mind does not stay but passes through. 38 

Only one of the many refinements on this teaching need be mentioned 
here. In the quickening of the mind by the object two stages are distin- 
guished, as it were of impregnation and conception, corresponding to the 
species impressa, the form by which the mind comes to perceive, quo 
videtur, and to the species expressa, the form in which it perceives the object, 
in qua videtur. 

11. Now to apply this outline to the doctrine of the beatific vision. No 
representation can match the very being of God. Hence all signs are past 

8 ia. 84-8 

87 cf la. 12, 6 ad 2, 13, 12 ad 3; 84, 2; 85, i ad i. Cajetan, In lam. 12, 2 

88 ia. 85, 2. cf 3a. 25, 2 

8 *ia. 79, 2; 87, i. De potentia vra, i. In De anima m, lect. 7-9 


and done with if we know Him face to face even as we are known; then no 
likeness objectively mirrors him and divinity itself supplies the episte- 
mological role of a species: of the species impressa, for God's very essence 
clasps the mind closely, copuletwr ei> and is there the intelligible form, ipsa 
essentia divina fit forma intelligibilis intellects i and of the species expressa, 
for the mind does not conceive a word of its own, for the divine essence is 
so united to the mind as to be what is actually seen, through its very self 
making the mind actually seeing, ut intellectus in actu per seipsam faciens 
intellectum in actuJ And so we know, not the last ebb of things in the 
evening light of our own mental words, but their full tide in the dawn 
light of the Word of God. 41 

12. The union is immediate, the vision direct, its objective content the 
uncreated being of God. Yet since by knowing the knower becomes the 
known without ceasing to be itself, this epistemological union with God 
blots nothing out. He is not the exclusive One, but the simple cause of the 
Many, not a devouring flame, but the Father of lights; his zeal, says 
Dionysius, does not consume, but cherishes. All is God, as known and 
loved, yet the psychological identity of the creature is not absorbed or 
destroyed; substance and accidents remain, in a heightened likeness to 
God, the lumen glorue, which strengthens the creature to see and delight 
in his presence. 42 

So we return to the distinction between the psychological and the 
epistemological. The creaturely self is happy by holding another in mind 
and heart, not by the blank fact of just being itself. It is not born happy, 
but may become so when its nature is enlarged to possess a life which 
is not its own; what it is as a thing is subordinate to what it 'has' as 
happiness, and this derives from what it knows and loves. 43 If we are to 
put interests in their proper order we should recognize that human 
physiology is capped by human psychology, and that by a philosophy of 
the true and the good, and that again by theology. And within theology 
itself the mechanics should be held in the Gospel light and the scholas- 
ticism read in terms of a personal encounter with God who reveals him- 
self as our lover. 

13. St Thomas was certainly not one to evade a proximate reality in the 
name of a remote ideal or to decry the effort of starting with the lower and 
clambering up to the higher. The very texture of the Summa's dialectic is 
woven from causality, nevertheless it is discerned that causal relationships 
themselves descend from the non-causal relationships of knowledge and 

*ia. 12, 2, c. & ad 3; 5. 3a. 9, 3 ad 3. CG m, 53 

ia. 12, 95 34> i; 59, 6 "la. 12, 2 & 5 

* 8 cf lazae. 49, 3 & 4; 50, 2: on habitus as complements to nature 


love within the Blessed Trinity, and it is into these that we are invited to 
enter. 44 For happiness is constituted on the plane of knowing and loving, 
and thence, full measure and pressed, overflows into the psycho-physical 
organism. This spill from the epistemological into the natural St Thomas 
calls redundantia'^ he discovers it in the modest functions of daily experi- 
ence, but the supreme example is the lumen glorice called for by the vision 
of God, by which the human physique is transfigured, so that it is no 
longer vulnerable, lumpish, stiff, or dull. 46 Could there be a closer har- 
mony and fusion of esse cognitum and esse naturale, of knowing and being 
in its most physical sense? 

14. Some medieval theologians entertained the hypothesis of a visio 
clara in which God might be perceived through some bright appearance 
of his glory. Yet the visio beatifica of Christian teaching surpasses this 
since God's very essence is seen. Not that he is contained by a created 
mind, or is known as he knows himself, for he remains incomprehensible; 
our capacity is limited, and it suffices for happiness that our desire is 
completely satisfied. 47 The Summa respects the venerable Greek tradition 
that the Godhead cannot be comprehended; 48 yet its forthright Latin 
statement was ratified by the Apostolic See nearly sixty years later. The 
blessed see God by no abstractive knowledge but by insight and face to 
face, visione intuitiva et etiam facially without intermediary, nulla mediante 
creatura in ratione visi se habente^ for the divine esse immediately shows it- 
self nakedly, clearly, and openly, sed divina essentia immediate se nude, dare 
et aperte eis ostendente^ Out of reverence Greeks and Armenians were 
reluctant to claim more than a special vision of God's glory or refulgentia, 
and a tension of moods and terminologies within the Church still persisted 
a century later, at the time of the Council of Florence (1439-45). 

15. A side issue was the nature of the vision granted to St Paul when he 
was rapt to the third heaven. 50 For St Augustine this seemed more im- 
mediate than the Greek divines were disposed to allow. St Thomas 
touches on the point in this Question, but postpones fuller discussion until 
later when he examines the miraculous elements that may accompany 
the life of grace. 51 His instinct is to side with St Augustine, and like other 
medieval Latin theologians he allowed for an exceptional vision of God 
having been granted to Moses, St Benedict, and to Enoch and Elias when 

**cf ia. 33, i; 43, 3, 5 & 6 46 cf ia2ae. 3, 3; 4, 6. 33. 45, 2 

* 6 For the dowry of impassibilitas 3 subtilitas, agilitas 3 and daritas brought to the 

body by the vision, see Supplementwn 82-5 

47 ia. 12, 7 & 8 48 ia. 12, i ad i. Note the reference to St John Chrysostom 

"Benedict XII, Constitution Benedictus Deus, 1336. Denzinger 530 

60 n Corinthians 12, 4 

61 ia. 12, ii. 2a2ae. 175, 3 & 4 


they were swept to heaven. 52 Yet he makes two reservations; first, no man 
shall see me and live., the vision could not be supported so long as a man is 
committed to the conditions of our present existence; 53 and second, 
whereas the beatific vision floods the whole man and cannot be lost, St 
Paul's ecstasy, while momentarily transcending the activity of faith, was 
only a prophetic anticipation of heaven that left him afterwards still under 
the necessity of believing. 54 

1 6. The present Question is not engaged with extraordinary and transi- 
tory exceptions, but with the ordinary ways of Providence and with the 
flowering of the seed of grace into glory; ordinary, not as commonplace, 
but as conforming to God's general, though wonderful, invitation of all 
men to himself in a union beyond their unaided powers to achieve. Some 
may think that St Thomas's humdrum style scarcely rises to the mystery 
and grandeur of his theme. His was not the rhetoricof St Augustine, though 
he echoes it here and there, yet perhaps his manner is all the more telling 
for being so matter of fact. 55 His sobriety is reassuring when hebrings home 
a conclusion that otherwise might strike us as too good to be true, or per- 
haps as too extravagant to be good. 

Plato may seem extreme enough with his teaching that the mind's home 
is in the heaven of pure Ideas, but St Paul and St John are much more 
startling. For now we see through a glass^ darkly, hit then face to face; now 
I know in part, but then shall I know even also as I am known Beloved, 
now we are the sons of God, and it doth not appear what we shall be; but we 
know that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him just 
as he w. 57 That this teaching should be literally accepted by a man of St 
Thomas's hard-headedness is impressive, and not only accepted but taken 
into the heart of reasoned speculation, the Scriptural language being 
translated into terms of severe epistemology. 

17. The general tenor of the Summa is to help us keep our wits about 
the present rather perhaps than to raise our hopes for the future, and it is 
in keeping that Question 12 ends by commending, modestly yet firmly, 
the working knowledge about God obtainable through the senses and 
reason and carried further by faith. 58 While recognizing its limitations 
for by reasoning out our experience of the world God is signified not 
realized, inferred as a conclusion not directly apprehended, known in his 
effects not in himself, and by faith, though he speaks to us in person he is 

S2 2a2se. 174, 4 & 5> 180, 5 ad 3. cf la. 102, 2 ad 3. 33. 49, 5 ad 2, Genesis 22, 24. 

Hebrews 11, $. n Kings 2, n. Luke 9, 31 

58 Exodus 33* 20. l<u 12, n 54 2a2se. i?5> 3 ad 2, 3 

"e.g. la. % i & 12* i ad 2 confronting the objection that infinity does not bear 

thinking about 

6 i Corinthians 13, 12 67 i>A 3> 2 58 ia. 12, 12 & 13 

strained to in darkness and clutched at through sacramental images St 
Thomas is by no means content to treat the words of theology merely as 
gestures towards the unknown, which may relieve our feelings yet without 
having any objective bearing on the truth living there. He thinks half-a- 
loaf is better than no bread at all, and the two concluding articles intro- 
duce us to the next Question, which is a close examination of the relevance 
of theological thinking and language to the true and living God. 

Thoughts about Divinity 

18. The Question entitled, De divinis nominibus^ on the names of God, 
neql Osovo^drcov^ which holds a key-position in the general logic of the 
Summa, like that of the discussion of essential and personal terms in the 
treatise on the Trinity, and of the discussion of the interchange of terms 
referring to God and to man, the communicatio idiomatum^ in the treatise 
on the Incarnation, 60 asks in effect whether we can make statements that 
are really theological, not merely anthropological tinctured by religious 
faith or sentiment. 

19. The realist theory of knowledge supposed can be roughly indicated 
as follows: words signify ideas and convey a communicable and intelli- 
gible meaning; they do more than express, like a moan, a sensation or 
emotion arising from a particular situation. Ideas signify things, that is, 
they are not self-contained but point to a reality outside themselves, at 
least by implication. When I say, C I can hear you,' you rightly expect, per- 
haps after some preliminary adjustments on my part, that I am not talking 
to myself, or mainly about myself, but that you are the thing I am refer- 
ring to. Note in passing, that a 'word' as used here may stand for the 
meaning of a whole sentence, not for an isolated dictionary term; thus 'I 
can hear you' is one word, not four. 61 

20. St Thomas steers a careful course between the extremes of anthro- 
pomorphism and of agnosticism; he speaks of finding a middle mode of 
community between the simply univocal and the purely equivocal in our 
use of terms about God and creatures. 62 On the one hand he tacks away 
from the position of those who would apply words in exactly the same 
sense in either case, and on the other hand away from those for whom 
words seem to have so creaturely a meaning that they are empty when 
applied to God. 

21. By his first tack he followed the course set by Scripture and by all 

69 ia. 13. Treated in more detail by the disputations De potentia vn, 3-11 dating 

from about the same time 

60 ia. 39 & 3a. 16 61 ia. 133 i; cf i6 3 2 62 ia. 13^ 5 

the auctaritates he respected: God infinitely transcends creatures, and in 
no sense is to be made according to their image, not even in thought and 
language. Still ^images formed from experience of the world about us play 
a vital part in religion, and his first concern is to chart their bearing. 
Already the introductory Question of the Summa has marked the impor- 
tance of metaphor and symbolism for sacra doctrinal it could scarcely 
do otherwise considering that its sources are not formal charters or analy- 
tic resumes, not even the creeds, but the inspired Scriptures in all their 
undocketed wealth. It is these that tell us of the revealing act of God's own 
truth, a truth which cannot be articulated in created words, though in our 
response to it, in the Christian theology springing from faith, we are bound 
to make statements, enuntiabilia^ 

These statements, however, are not purely intellectual; they are made 
by flesh and blood through faith in the Word made flesh. The body is 
essentially part of us, and even were feeling and love to be left out of 
account, we would still need imagery in order to be brought to the truth. 
Here an earthy tang in St Thomas's theology proves a salutary check to the 
priggishness to which religious philosophism is liable. Living with God 
is not a matter of an educated taste or elevated thinking, and so the Summa 
accepts the preference of Dionysius for the vulgar instead of the precious 
as the vehicle of divine truth. The slang ofjigura corporum vilium is less 
likely to beguile us than the fine writing offigura corporum nobilium^ and 
by its unpretentiousness is more reverent to God's mystery, 65 

The Bible lies closer than systematic theology to God's revelation in 
history; it is, moreover, literature of a kind that the scholastic method does 
not and should not attempt to write, imaginative and emotive, the record of 
human prostitution and divine mercy, racy of the soil and lit by the spirit, 
dreary and exciting, instructive yet able to be careless of human pro- 
prieties , andthroughout charged with the sacramental power of God's word. 
It would be an etiolated theology that avoided making pictures of God 
from the bitter-sweet experience of his world, and that, for example, dealt 
only with the meaning of omnipotence and neglected the finale to Job. 

Nevertheless reflection shows that the proper meanings evoked by such 
images are verified primarily and literally of creatures, and can be ex- 
tended to God only in a secondary and metaphorical sense, *as when he is 
compared to the sun, to the bright and morning star, to fixe, water, wind, 
dew, cloud, to the corner-stone and to the rock'. 66 Can the human mind 
get closer to the proper meaning of divine things? That was the effort 
made by St Thomas. 

s ia, i, 9 "2022. I, i, 2, 6 & 9 ad i. "ia. I, 9 ad 3 
66 / De div. nom. r, lect. 3. cf la, I, 10 ad 3; 13, 6 

22. By his second tack he sets a course of his own, away from the cur- 
rent theologia negativa. Nourished by the writings of Dionysius, who had 
declared that God c was not an existent but above existence 5 -, 67 a long tra- 
dition of devotion and theology hesitated to attach positive notes to the 
divinity. A sharper edge had been put to its dialectic by the Cistercian, 
Alan of Lille (d. 1202), and by Moses Maimonides (d. 1204). To the 
medievals Dionysius was one of the greatest auctoritates, Alan had written 
a standard work on the rules of theological grammar, 68 and Maimonides 
was deeply respected 'from Moses to Moses there was none like Moses 9 . 69 

It amounted to a sort of agnosticism, not indeed in the Victorian mood, 
unconvinced about God yet wistful, but from a deliberate choice of the 
path of unknowing for the sake of purification and reverence; it harboured 
no doubts about God himself, but many about the propriety of saying this 
or that about him. Such speech, it held, would limit the infinite and 
make determinate what is beyond all the categories. Is he a being? 
well, he is not a thing 'out there'. Is he a substance? well, he is not a 
subject that can be modified. Is he good? well, he is not ethical or 
good-natured, as we use the terms. Instances can be multiplied from the 
classical texts of mysticism of the steady e no' to all the creature finds clear 
or dear. 

23. Observe in parenthesis that the metaphysical problem of the One 
and the Many is here involved. Stated either in a Heraclitan or in a 
Parmenidean setting, it could be taken to cut both ways in favour of the 
theologia negativa: for if all about us is flux then we can find nothing in 
common there with the 'uncreated beyond'; alternatively if this flux be 
illusion then like the passing vanity of creatures it cannot lead us to God. 
Happily Aristotle's synthesis of the lonians and Eleatics was carried by 
St Thomas into the heart of reality by his philosophy of creation. Being 
was not manifested hi various modes emanating from the One, but in 
diverse substances produced and dependent in their entire reality. His 
indeed should be called a metaphysics of beings, rather than of being, of 
things, rather than of reality. 

Like Aristotle he held that 'isness' cannot be mixed with 'nothingness'. 
All the same the mind should not stop at the confrontation of sheer 
affirmation and negation, but, hardy, subtle, responsive to the multiplicity 
disclosed in experience, and too much in love with things to dismiss par- 
ticularity as surface glitter, should sound the depths and discover there, 
not a blank absolute, but distinctions and oppositions held together in 

* 7 ia. 12, I obj. I **Regul<z de sacra theologia. PL 2I0 3 621-31 

**The Guide for the Perplexed. Translated from the Arabic by M. Friedlander. 2nd 

ed. 5th impression. London, 1928 

singleness, 70 a discovery confirmed by the scientiafidei of the contrasting 
relations of the Persons in the Godhead. 71 

'Nothing 1 , nihily signified being null, nullum ens> yet 'not a thing', non ens, 
is not so empty a term, for it can be applied both to a being that is really 
potential though not really actual and to a being which is not this or that. 72 
In this last sense the denial that God was 'anything' or 'something* need 
not be interpreted to mean that God was nought. Hence St Thomas did not 
equate infinity with indeterminateness, or distinctness with limitation, 
except when it was achieved by adding differentiating notes to a generic 
subject. This is not the case with our knowledge of God, which becomes 
clearer by opening out our ideas, not by narrowing them down. 73 The 
discussion on the attribution of different names to God can be followed 
without pursuing this parenthesis; its ideas still lurk nevertheless, and will 
reappear when analogy is translated from language into being. 74 

24. To return to the main argument. Terms that are taken to express 
specifically creaturely characteristic are not in dispute; as already sug- 
gested, when we speak of the arm of God, or his hands, or his fire, we are 
using metaphors, and signifying him by what properly belongs elsewhere, 
namely to his creatures. 75 God, St Teresa says, has no hands but our 
hands, no lips but our lips. Nor are wider terms with a negative or rela- 
tional sense in dispute: 'unchanging* may be applied literally to God, but 
it tells us what he is not; 'creator* refers him to other things, or rather, 
refers them to Mm. In neither case is there any pretence of expressing some- 
thing of what he is. 76 The debate is about terms such as 'good' or 'wise', 
which are positive and absolute, and in themselves denominate no par- 
ticular mode of existence. 

Maimonides held that although we take such terms into affirmative 
sentences the effect is really negative, for instance, when we talk about the 
living God we mean that he is not like an inanimate thing, and when we 
say that he is good we mean that in no sense is he evil. Alan of Lille took 
the same line and gave it another slants when we use words that seem to 
signify absolute values our meaning is really relative, for instance, when 
we say that God is good we mean that he is the cause of good. 

25. St Thomas's close argumentation against these views can be read for 
itself in this volume and calls for no paraphrase here. He judged they were 
not far-reaching enough and failed to meet the occasion; the case for them 
was insuffidens and incanveniens? 7 Unconsciously he was trying to recover 

ia. 4, 2 ad i 71 ia. 28, 3 

7S cf la. 12, 1 ad 3; 45, 1. In Physic. I, lect. 6, 15; v, lect. 2 

78 cf la. 7, 15 12, i ad 2; 13, 11; 14, 91 i6 a 7 ad 4. In Meta. VI, lect. 2; xn, lect. 2. 

De potentia rrr, 4. De veritate m, 4 ad 6 

Par. 30 below 7B ia. 13, 7 7 ia. 13, 2; 45. 3 " Ia - *3 2. De potentia VH, 5 


Plato from the Neo-Platonist mystics, consciously he was affirming with 
St Augustine and St Anselm that the mind can entertain ideas that at 
heart signify pure and divine perfections, though as an Aristotelean he laid 
more stress on the ambiguous conditions in which they are discovered and 
the creaturely manner in which they are wrapped up, 

Already in the Summa he has attributed to God all perfections of being 
without reserve, not, as it were, by laying them on flat or applying them, 
like pieces of mosaic, but respecting their suppleness and interpenetration 
and rejoicing in their living reality at full stretch and intensity. 1S He has 
shown that God's infinity is not indefiniteness, and has indicated that he is 
non-determinate in the sense that he is not one sort of thing. 79 He has 
agreed that God cannot be represented in the concrete if that means that 
he is a composite thing, nor in the abstract if that means that he does not 
subsist in himself. 80 

He now sets himself to show how words can tell us something about 
what God really is. For, first they can be used of him substantialiter, that 
is with reference to his essential being, not accidentaliter, that is with 
merely extrinsic reference, as when the Prince Regent was called the 
First Gentleman of Europe. 81 Then he shows how they can be used 
literally, not metaphorically, 82 and without prejudice to the idea of divine 
simplicity even when each has its own distinct meaning. 83 Next, how such 
terms applied to God and creatures in common are neither univocal nor 
equivocal but analogical. 84 Moreover when they stand for pure perfections 
they apply primarily to God and secondarily to creatures; in him they 
have their full and original strength, though we do not find in him their 
initial verification. 85 Finally he shows that we can use terms inflected by 
time, but what is then expressed is our real relationship to him. 86 

26. His approach takes the way of analogy. Terms are used to express a 
like meaning of diverse objects at a varying pitch or with a varying refer- 
ence to the object which possesses it fully. Metaphor is a kind of analogy, 
yet analogy also goes beyond literary usage into philosophical thought. 
In fact it is as a corollary to his teaching on the diverse participations of 
being, esse, that St Thomas treats such terms as 'true' and 'good 5 as cor- 
responding to ideas that are no less elastic than the images that go with 
them. Indeed for hitn all metaphysical meanings are analogical. 

78 ia. 4, 2. cf Vol. 2j Appendix 13, Perfection and Goodness 

7e ia. 7, I & 2; II) 4; I2 3 i ad i 80 ia. 13, i ad 2 81 ia. 13, 2 

82 ia. 13, 3 83 ia, 13, 4 84 ia. 13, 5 

85 ia. 13, 6. cf the distinction between the first truth in itself and the first truth we 

come to know; la. 2 3 i. Also that between priority of discovery, inventio, and of 

understanding, judictum; la, 79, 8. Also that between etymology and meaning; 

la. 13, i ad 2 86 ia. 13, 7 


This is the way between the anthropomorphism and agnosticism found 
in religious writing and sometimes thinly disguised by faith, the way of 
analogy between the univocal and the equivocal, between terms that are 
used to convey the same sort and mode of meaning when transferred 
from creatures to God and terms that are allowed no more than the same 
shape or ring, or at most some imaginative or conventional association. 
In both cases theology ceases to be a science and becomes story telling or 
rhetoric, sometimes recognized as such, sometimes not. 

St Thomas has suffered the fate of being caricatured towards one extreme 
or the other. A past fashion presented him as though he were a computer 
handling ideas like numbers, or like a supreme organizer moving quasi- 
juridical pieces on the board of Christian doctrine in effect a univocal 
thinker, if perhaps a highly complex one. In protest against the drill of 
Scholasticism and a merely brainy theology, an opposite tendency has 
set in which exaggerates the significance of the Saint's confessing towards 
the end of his life that on looking back his arguments now seemed like so 
much straw, sicut palea\ to construe this as dismissing the past efforts of 
his rationalism is to forget the qualification he added, 'compared with the 
glimpse of heaven that has been granted me'. The effect is to minimize 
the metaphysical quality of his theology, and to confine his use of analogy 
to a grammar of terms. In fact he was a thoroughgoing philosophical theist 
if ever there was one, though he was more than that as well, and while it 
may well be that the subject of analogy has been overblown by some of his 
followers he certainly did not leave it at the level of linguistics. 

27. Question 13 is of the piece with the whole Simma, and a careful 
reading brings out, first, the controlled moderation of his rationalism, and 
second, its resoluteness. He never thought that the reason alone could get 
to ultimate being, yet it could edge nearer than is allowed by some moods of 
religious awe. 87 Although quite explicit that creaturely likeness can never 
copy the essence of God, he recognizes in the perfections discovered in the 
world a true reflection of their author. From them it is possible to trace 
some of his lineaments. The reasoning is confident but not pretentious, 
and well aware of the limits it is working within when from infinitely lower 
effects it attributes certain characteristics to their cause, secunditm kabi- 
tudinem principii: a judgment that breaks out of the mode of apprehension 
is careful to remove them from any touch of the creaturely and to afBrm 
them, though it cannot grasp them, in the purity of their full strength, 
et per modum remotionis et excellent^. 89 

87 cf la. i, 7 & 8; 12, 12, 13; 79> 8; 83, 4 

88 ia. 12, 2; 13, i. Remotio and negatio amount to the same, yet the preference here 

for the first term may help to indicate that St Thomas does not simply follow the 

Hence the distinction, when we use terms for these characteristics, 
between the form signified, ratio significationis, and the human style of 
signifying it, modus sigmficandi.* 9 By this last they are clothed with a cer- 
tain imperfection, for if we want to show how real they are we render 
them as concrete terms which imply a composition between the subject 
possessing and the quality possessed, or between the thing referred to and 
the predicate signified (so that a rational elucidation of the exclamation 
*oh! you beautiful* becomes e you are a thing having beauty*, which of 
course is not its ring to the man admiring the horse), whereas if we want 
to show how sheer they are we render them as abstract terms which imply 
an apartness from any existing substance (as when 'beauty 5 is praised 
without individual exemplification). 90 Both suggestions are corrected by a 
later judgment, for we are aware of our mental joinings and dividings, and 
need not be misled by them, Nevertheless our mode of representing the 
thing we are talking about does not match its real mode of being, whether 
in a sense we improve on it, as when we spiritualize the material, or 
whether we materialize the spiritual, which we tend to do with things 
beyond the categories of natural philosophy. 91 

28. Such are the perfections or values that are not restricted to a class of 
things, but, like being itself, exist at various degrees of intensity, and 
admit of a more and less and a most within their inner meaning, ratio 
signification-is ?* They are unlike numerical or specific forms, which are; so 
fixed that any variation within them changes their nature, as when a frac- 
tion is subtracted from 5 or the specific difference 'rational' is added to the 
genus 'animal*. Such meanings are represented by univocal terms. 93 One 
trout is not more i nor less I than one otter or one fisherman; similarly if 
'animal' is kept to its strictly generic sense the trout, and otter, and the 
fisherman are all equally animal. However if 6 one' be extended to signify 
more than a mathematical unit, namely the singleness and coherence of a 
thing, 94 then the more being it has there the greater unity it will possess. 
Hence we can allow for degrees of unity. It is not necessary, though it may 

classical via negativa. He takes the single way of causality (or analogy), and his 
findings are then doubly corrected by the modus remotionis and the modus excellently 
Some commentators speak of his following a threefold way, of causality^ of nega- 
tion, and of eminence (excellentia and eminentia also amount to the same) 3 but it 
seems more accurate to speak of a single way, though starting from five points, cf 
i a. 2, 3. Vol. 2, Appendices 3, 5, u & 12 
88 cf Vol. 2, Appendices 2 (7) & 3 (2). 
9 *ia. 13, i ad 2, 3; 18, 2; 32, 2. 33. 16, i ad 2, 3. CG i, 30 
81 cf Par. 9 above. 

82 cf la. 2 3 3. Vol. 2> Appendix 9, The Fourth Way 

93 The comparison of specific natures to numbers is taken from Aristotle^ e.g. 
Metaphysics vni 3 3. 1043 b34 94 ia. II 3 ij 30, 3 


help, for us to be scientific naturalists and appreciate the complexity of 
factors that conspire in a design for function,, it is enough that we are 
nature-lovers in order to rate the otter's unity higher than the trout's, and 
the man's unity higher than either. Similarly if we take 'animal 3 , or 
'animate'., or 'living' in a sense wider than that of a heading for classifica- 
tion, then the otter may be reckoned more alive than the trout, and the 
man more alive than either: indeed we speak of higher forms of life, under 
which some of us include purely spiritual beings. There are other simi- 
larly ranging ideas, such as 'true*, 'good', and 'beautiful 5 * Differences of 
opinion about the order in the scale, for instance about the relative merit of 
trout and otter, do not question the existence of a scale. Most would agree 
that a certainty is truer than a probability, and that a well-founded cer- 
tainty about the whole purpose of human life would be truer than one 
about how we should vote at the next election: truer, that is, there is more 
there to be true and more there to fill the mind. 

The modern climate of specialist thought is not favourable to such 
generalizations;, which once formed the stock-in-trade for high specula- 
tion and are still taken for granted in unaffected intercourse. Admittedly, 
like metaphysics itself, they can be used lazily as substitutes for sharpened 
thought; and they have occasioned nonsense discussion, well parodied by 
critics of Scholasticism from the sixteenth century onwards. It can be idle 
to debate in a vacuum whether a is better than b when what should be 
asked is 'better for what?* Recall, however, that the Swima had been pre- 
ceded by more than a century of classical controversy about the status of 
universal ideas, and the force of nominalism, which was to gain ascen- 
dancy in the next century, was well appreciated. 

The dialectic of generalization, which to the Platonists was not without 
a system of reference, was keyed by the Aristoteleans to the world of 
nature. It is more transcendental than that employed by the grammar of a 
particular science, or group of particular sciences, since it attempts to deal 
with ideas that lie too deep for a specialized technique, or that break out 
from, or rather pass through its close and wiry mesh. The sweep has to be 
wider, the pursuit more versatile, for being and its properties cannot be 
analysed into atoms nor held to one position on a minutely calibrated 
screen: they have to be rendered more totally, even at the risk of incurring 
the criticism of over-indulgence in rhetoric and metaphor, by the method of 
analogy into concepts that can give a glancing and opalescent light, and 
not, as it were, a fixed and glassy stare. 

29. Note in passing that in some contexts 'equivocal' is used instead of 
'analogical', notably in referring to 'equivocal causes'. Equivocal terms are 
of two types, the agtiwocum a caw> when the same term happens to stand 
for diverse things that have nothing to do with one another, and the 


cequivocum a consilio, when the same term is designedly applied to things 
diverse in themselves, but somehow proportionate or related/ 5 or, as we 
should say, analogical. Note further, that pure or chance equivocation 
relates only to words, and that there are no purely equivocal ideas. As 
soon as some likeness in diversity is signified we move into analogy; this 
may be far-fetched or mistaken, and lapse into the fallacy of ambiguity. 96 

30. To what extent variations within one common mental form are 
judged to correspond to variations in a common real form will depend on 
the theory of knowledge that is accepted. St Thomas held that words 
expressed meanings that related to what really existed, allowances having 
been made for the special mental and linguistic mode of human articula- 
tion. This calls for a suppler adaptation to being, that is to things at depth, 
than by imposing a grid and reading them off according to sections. 
Philosophical analogy does not classify things by pointing to a patch where 
they agree and to a patch where they differ; its process is not like dividing 
things into mineral, vegetable, animal, and human, all having something 
in common as to their generic nature, but distinguished by the addition of 
specific differences. Indeed at its most ambitious, as in Question 13, it 
tackles the relationship between diverse things, not merely between 
different things. 97 For there is no substance common to creatures and to 
God, no common ground on which to move from one to the other; 
furthermore, the distinction between creatures as individual substances, 
and certainly as personal substances, goes deeper than any specific or 
numerical distinction. It is this diversity that analogy must engage. 

It is not that all things belong, so to speak, to the same sea of being, 
which is broken up by some outside factor into different waves. For being 
itself is analogical. More being, or more truth, or more good, or more life 
is not attributed to one thing compared with another by introducing a new 
note; there is nothing outside being to differentiate it, no non-truth to 
make a truth truer, no good that is heightened by contact with non- 
good, no additive to life that changes a plant into an animal, and an animal 
into a man. Accordingly philosophical analogy must always stay within 
the idea with which it is working, varying its strength by stripping off 
incidental limitations, per modum remotionis, and by expanding its force, 
per modum excellentice. 

85 ia. 5, 6 ad 3; 13, 5 ad i, 10 ad 4. CG I, 33. De potentia vn> 7. De veritate II, 3 ad 
4; II. In Physic. vn 3 lect. 8. In Meta. IV, lect. I. In Ethic. I, lect. I 
9 6 cf Aristotle, De sophisticis elenchis 4. 165023. St Thomas's opusculum, Defallaciis 
ad guosdam nobiles artistas* was modelled on this work. Ambiguity of a term is 
called aequivocatto, 6fj,(Dvvfj,ia 3 of a proposition amphibologia, d[i<p$oMa 
97 Diversity> a distinction of complete otherness; difference, a distinction of specific 
nature on a common generic foundation, cf Vol. i, Appendix 9 (21) 


It addresses itself to objects by taking their complete entity in the round. 
As such they are wholly diverse from one another, and yet at the same 
time like; it is not that they are as it were decomposed into elements, some 
of which are found to be proper and others common; it is not that the 
objects are divided into parts at all. And so the philosophical theology of 
the Summa starts from creatures, but not by separating them into different 
layers, of the spiritual and the material let us say, or of the sacred to which 
they may aspire and of the profane to which they are prone, and then find- 
ing a resemblance to God in one but not in the other. Such a method serves 
the practical and pictorial theology of preaching, where metaphor is called 
for, whereas philosophical analogy, like philosophical causality, engages 
the whole of a creature's being, truth, goodness, and life. This whole is 
from God, is wholly diverse from him, and all that is real there is like him. 
Far from attempting to put God inside human categories, it is the genius 
of the analogia entis to acknowledge that he transcends them all. 98 

It involves the metaphysics of creation, the non-monist doctrine that 
pure being is not every being, and that self-subsistent being can produce 
other beings, since being, esse, can be diversely participated. Things are 
distinct as real beings or substances : it is not that pure reality lapses some- 
how into a lower phenomenal order of mutability and multiplicity, or that 
the world-stuff gets parcelled out by some demiurge or cosmic separator 
into different genera and species and individuals; it is because being, not as 
purely actual but as potential, admits diversity within itself, that purely 
actual being can produce diversity outside itself, and that it was the in- 
tention of the first cause of being, fons totitis esse, to create objects distinct 
from one another as things^ not shadows." 

To be created is a creature. 100 To be a creature is first of all really to be. 
As earlier on, when using effects to infer a first cause, St Thomas does not 
work from one item to another in a series, or from one link to another in a 
chain, or from one specific note to an antecedent of the same sort, but 
through a wholly dependent being to the principle which sustains it, 101 so 
now, still continuing the way of causality and using analogy to show what 
the first cause is like, he does not take concepts that are restricted to a 
particular manner of being, or that are predicated only as specific natures 
or qualities, or that belong only to subjects lying within the same system or 
series. Consequently his argument by analogy from creatures to God is not 
like sifting a mixture to discover one valuable element which, purified and 
enriched, is then retained. It is not performed by the type of abstraction 

98 ia. 45, 1-5. Vol. 2, Appendices 3, 7, 8 3 9 & n 

"ia. 47, i & 2 

100 ia. 45, 3 ad 2 

101 Vol. 2, Appendix 3 (8), 6 (6), & 7 (4) 

that separates one part of a thing from another j but by an abstraction that 
lifts the whole of a thing into new dimensions. 102 

31. To sum up. All perfections whatsoever belong to God down to 
every glint and every appearance; all that is good and all that seems to be 
good is his* 

Some perfections are essentially creaturely, thus to be an angel> or 
they suppose being in a kind of thing, thus the gloss on a horse, or a 
peculiarly individual genius, thus to be Haydn or Gainsborough, or are 
exclusive of another, thus treading a stately measure is not a Highland 
Fling. These are found literally only in their proper subjects, yet they must 
be attributed also to God by metaphor and inference, since he is their cause 
and somehow must possess what he gives. Yet as applied to him their 
terms are relational; they directly express, not what he is, but what we are 
in relation to his power or virtus: as such they are said by the Scholastics 
to be predicated of him mrtualiter eminenter. 

Other perfections, however, essentially imply nothing creaturely, 
specific, individual, or exclusive. Then the term for it is applied to God 
literally and in its fullest and primary sense. If it is negative, thus 'un- 
changing' or 'deathless', it does not directly tell us what he is, but what he 
is not. If, however, it is positive, thus 'knowing', 'loving', 'living*, then it 
tells us something about what he is, and is said to be predicated of him 
formaHter eminenter. 


The two Questions we have been introducing hang together. St Thomas 
sees no abrupt discontinuity between 'this 3 life and the 'next*. The assent 
of faith flows from the knowledge of the blessed and into the terms of 
reason. 103 God's truth already enfolds us, and though our faith is in the 
dark about what he is in himself, our reason has light enough to make 
statements about what he is in his effects, statements which are really 
about him and not merely about us. Question 12 adumbrates the mystery, 
Question 13 bids us not call it too soon nor mistake where it lies. Religious 
awe should not numb our faculties, and so St Thomas moves naturally 
from a consideration of the vision of heaven to the correct usage of theolo- 
gical terms. Here let us be warned by Newman, There cannot be a more 
fatal mistake than to suppose we see what the doctrine means as soon as we 
can use the words which signify it.' 104 THOMAS GILBY o.p. 

102 cf la. 40> 3; 85, I ad I. [This is not the place to follow the debate, conducted 
with verve and acumen, about the nature and respective merits of the two types of 
analogy^ analogia proportionalitatis and analogia attributionis, and about which is 
mainly used by St Thomas.] 103 ia, 12, 13 ad 3. 2a2ae. i, 2 & 6; 2, I & 5 

*Parochial Sermons, n, "The Immortality of the Soul* 


I a. 12. how God is known 
(pp. 2-45) 

i a. 13. theological language 
(pp. 46-97) 


Quaestio 12. quomodo Deus a nobis cognoscatur 

Quia in superioribus consideravimus qualiter Deus sit secundum se ipsum, 
restat considerandum qualiter sit in cognitione nostra, idest quomodo 
cognoscatur a creaturis^ et circa hoc quaerunter tredecim: 

1. utrum aliquis intellectus creatus possit videre essentiam 


2. utrum Dei essentia videatur ab intellectu per aliquam 

speciem creatam; 

3. utrum oculo corporeo Dei essentia possit videri; 

4. utrum aliqua substantia intellectualis creata ex suis natura- 

libus sufficiens sit videre Dei essentiam; 

5. utrum intellectus creatus ad videndum Dei essentiam 

indigeat aliquo lumine creato; 

6. utrum videntium essentiam Dei unus alio perfectius 


7. utrum aliquis intellectus creatus possit comprehendere 

Dei essentiam; 

8. utrum intellectus creatus videns Dei essentiam omnia in 

ipsa cognoscat; 

9. utrum ea quae ibi cognoscit per aliquas similitudines 


10. utrum simul cognoscat omnia quse in Deo videt; 

11. utrum in statu hujus vitae possit aliquis homo essentiam 

Dei videre; 

12. utrum per rationem naturalem Deum in hac vita possimus 


13. utrum supra cognitionem naturalis rationis sit in praesenti 

vita aliqua cognitio Dei per gratiam. 

articulus I. utrum aliquis intellectus creatus possit Deum videre per essentiam 

AD PRIMUM sic proceditur: 1 i. Videtur quod nullus intellectus creatus 
possit Deum per essentiam videre. Chrysostomus enim exponens illud 
quod dicitur Joan. i y Deum nemo vidit unquam, sic dicit, Ipsum quod estDeus> 
non solum prophetce, sed nee angeli viderunt> nee archangeli. Quod enim creabilis 
est natura, qualiter videre potent quod increabile est?* Dionysius etiam 
loquens de Deo dicit a Neque sensus est ejus, neque phantasia, neque opinio^ 
nee ratio., nee sciential 

2. Prseterea^ omne irninitum 5 in quantum hujusmodi, est ignotum. Sed 
Deus est irtfinirus 5 ut supra ostensum est. 4 Ergo secundum se est ignotus. 


Question 12. how God is known by his creatures 

Having considered what God is in himself we turn now to consider what 
our minds can make of him; how in fact is he known by his creatures? 
Here there are thirteen points of inquiry: 

1. can any created mind see the essence of God? 

2. does the mind see the essence of God by means of any 

created likeness? 

3. can we see the essence of God with our bodily eyes? 

4. can any created intellect see the essence of God by its 

own natural powers? 

5. does the created mind need a created light in order to see 

the essence of God? 

6. is the essence of God seen more perfectly by one than by 


7. can a created mind comprehend the essence of God? 

8. does it in seeing the essence of God see all things? 

9. is it by means of any likeness that it knows what it sees 


10. is all that is seen in God seen together? 

11. can any man in this life see the essence of God? 

12. can we know God through our natural reason in this life? 

13. besides the knowledge we have of God by natural reason, 

is there in this life a deeper knowledge that we have 
through grace? 

article i. can any created mind see the essence of God? 

THE FIRST POINT: 1 It seems that no created mind can see God in his 
essence. For commenting on St John's words, God no man has ever seen, 
Chrysostom says> It is not only the prophets who have never seen what God 
is; neither have the angels or the archangels seen him, for how could created 
nature see the uncreated?* Dionysius, too, says : Sense cannot attain to him, 
nor imagination, nor opinion, nor reasoning, nor knowledge? 

2. The unlimited is, as such, unknowable. But we have already shown 
that God is unlimited, 4 so he must be in himself unknown. 

a cf ia. 12, 4 ad 3. ia2ae 3 3, 8; 5> i- rv Sent. 46, 2, i. CG m, 51, 54, 57. De veritate 

vrn, i. Quodl. x, 8 (vn, i s i). Compend. Theol. 104; n 3 9-10. In Matt. 5. In Joan. 

i, lect. ii 

*HondL super Joannem 15. (John I, 18.) PG 59, 98 

*De divinis normnibus I. PG 3, 593- (St Thomas, lect. 3) *ia. 7, 1 


3. Praterea, intellectus creatus non est cognoscitivus nisi existentium. 
Primum enim quod cadit in apprehensione intellectus est ens. Sed Deus 
non est existens, sed supra existentia, ut dicit Dionysius. 5 Ergo non est 
intelligibiH$5 sed est supra omnem intellectum. 

4. Pr^terea., cognoscentis ad cognitum oportet esse aliquam propor- 
tionem^ cum cognitum sit perfectio cognoscentis. Sed nulla est proportio 
intellectus creati ad Deum; quia in inJSniturn distant. Ergo intellectus 
creatus non potest videre essentiam Dei. 

SED CONTRA est quod dicitur I Joan. Videbimus eum sicuti est. 6 

RESPONSIO: Dicendum^quod cum unurnquodque sit cognoscibile secundum 
quod est in actu, Deus., qui est actus purus absque omni permixtione 
potentise, quantum in se est maxime cognoscibilis est. Sed quod est maxim e 
cognoscibile in se alicui intellectui cognoscibile non est 5 propter excessum 
intelligibilis supra intellectum ; sicut sol, qui est maxime visibilis, videri non 
potest a vespertilione propter excessum luminis. Hoc igitur attendentes 
quidam posuerunt quod nullus intellectus creatus essentiam Dei videre 

Sed hoc inconvenienter dicitur. Cum enim ultima hominis beatitudo in 
altissima ejus operatione consistat^ quae est operatic intellectus.) si nunquam 
essentiam Dei videre potest intellectus creatus 3 vel nunquam beatitudinem 
obtinebit vel in alio ejus beatitudo consistet quam in Deo; quod est 
alienum a fide. In ipso enim est ultima perfectio rationalis creaturae, quod 
est ei principium essendi in tantum enim unurnquodque perfectum est 
in quantum ad suum principium attingit. 

Similiter etiam est prseter rationem. Inest enim homini naturale desi- 
derium cognoscendi causam cum intuetur effectum et ex hoc admiratio in 
hominibus consurgit. Si igitur intellectus rationalis creaturse pertingere 
aon possit ad primam causam rerum 3 remanebit inane desiderium naturae. 
Unde simpliciter concedendum est quod beati Dei essentiam videant. 

1. Ad primum ergo dicendum 3 quod utraque auctoritas loquitur de 
divisione comprehensionis. Unde prsemittit Dionysius immediate ante 
verba proposita dicens, Omnibus ipse est unwersaliter incomprehensibility et 
neque sensus efus est? etc. Et Chrysostomus parum post verba praedicta 
subdit, Visionem hie dicit certissimam Patris considerationem et compre- 
hensionem tantam > quantam Pater habet de Fitio.* 

2. Ad secundum dicendum 3 quod infinitum quod se tenet ex parte 

*De div. nom. 4. PG 3* 697. (St Thomas, lea. 2) 
6 i John 3,2 7 loccit 8 Ioc cit (PG 59s 99) 
a cf Appendix I 3 Knowledge 


3. The created mind only knows what is already there to be known, for 
the first thing the mind grasps of anything is that it is something or other. 
God, however, is not there: he is beyond what is there, as Dionysius says, 5 
hence he is not intelligible, he is beyond understanding. 

4. Since in knowledge the thing known is some sort of perfection of the 
knower, it cannot be altogether out of proportion to the knower. But there 
is no proportion whatever between the created mind and God, they are 
infinitely distant from each other, hence such a mind cannot see the essence 
of God. 

ON THE OTHER HAND we read in I John, We shall see him just as he s. 6 

REPLY: In so far as a thing is realized it is knowable ; a but God is wholly 
realized there is nothing about him which might be but is not and so in 
himself he is supremely knowable. What is in itself supremely knowable 
may, however, so far exceed the power of a particular mind as to be 
beyond its understanding, rather as the sun is invisible to the bat because 
it is too bright for it. With this in mind some have said that no created 
mind can see the essence of God. 

This view, however, is not admissible in the first place on theological 
grounds as being inconsistent with faith. The ultimate happiness of man 
consists in his highest activity, which is the exercise of his mind. If there- 
fore the created mind were never able to see the essence of God, either it 
would never attain happiness or its happiness would consist in something 
other than God. This is contrary to faith, for the ultimate perfection of the 
rational creature lies in that which is the source of its being each thing 
achieves its perfection by rising as high as its source. 1 * 

The view is also philosophically untenable, for it belongs to human 
nature to look for the causes of things that is how intellectual problems 
arise. If therefore the mind of the rational creature were incapable of 
arriving at .the first cause of things, this natural tendency could not be 
fulfilled. So we must grant that the blessed do see the essence of God. 

Hence: i. Both these authorities are speaking not simply of seeing 
God's essence but of comprehending it. Thus Dionysius introduces the 
words quoted by saying, All find it completely impossible to comprehend him > 
for sense cannot attain to him, etc. 7 and Chrysostom, soon after the passage 
quoted says, By vision is meant contemplation of the Father and perfect 
comprehension of him such as the Father has of the Son. 8 

2. The unlimited in the sense of indeterminate matter not perfected by 

b cf Appendix 2, Causes. For happiness as an act of mind see ia2ae. 3, 4; somehow 
possessing God himself, ia2ae. 2, 8; 3, 8. 


material non perfects per formam ignotum est secundum se, quia omnis 
cognitio est per formam; sed inj&nituin quod se tenet ex parte formse non 
limitatse per materiam est secundum se maxime notum. Sic autem Deus 
est iiifinitus, et non primo modo, ut ex superioribus patet. 9 

3. Ad tertium dicendum, quod Deus non sic dicitur non existens quasi 
nullo modo sit existens, sed quia est supra omne existens, inquantum est 
suum esse. Unde ex hoc non sequitur quod nullo modo possit cognosci; 
sed quod omnem cognitionem excedat; quod est ipsum non comprehendi. 

4. Ad quartum dicendum, quod proportio dicitur dupliciter. Uno modo 
certa habitudo unius quantitatis ad alteram, secundum quod duplum, 
triplum, et aequale sunt species proportionis. Alio modo quaelibet habitudo 
unius ad alterum proportio dicitur. Et sic potest esse proportio creaturae ad 
Deum, inquantum se habet ad ipsum ut effectus ad causam, et ut potentia 
ad actum: et secundum hoc intellectus creatus proportionatus esse potest 
ad cognoscendum Deum. 

articulus 2. utrum Dei essentia videatur db intellectu per aliquam speciem creatam 

AD SECUNDUM sic proceditur: 1 i. Videtur quod essentia Dei ab intellectu 
create per aliquam similitudinem videatur. Dicit enim I Joan, Scimus 
quoniam cum apparueriU similes ei erimus, et mdebimus eum sicuti est. 2 

2. Prseterea, Augustinus 6idt,CumDeum novimus^fit aliqua Dei similitude 
in nobis. z 

3. Prseterea, intellectus in actu est intelligibile in actu; sicut sensus in 
actu est sensibile in actu. Hoc autem non est, nisi inquantum informatur 
sensus similitudine rei sensibilis, et intellectus similitudine rei intellectae. 
Ergo si Deus ab intellectu create videtur in actu, oportet quod per aliquam 
similitudinen videatur. 

SED CONTRA est quod dicit Augustinus quod cum Apostolus dicit, 'Videmus 
nunc per speculum, et in cenigmatej speculi et cenigmatis nomine qucecumque 
similitudines db ipso significata intelligi possunt qua accommodate sunt ad 
intelligendum Deum* Sed videre Deum per essentiam non est visio 
senigmatica, vel specularis,* sed contra earn dividitur. Ergo divina essentia 
non videtur per similitudines. 

*ms. vel speculative as a theory in a puzzle 

8 ia. 7, i 

*cf ni Sent. 14, i, 3; rv, 49, 2 3 i. De veritate vm> i; X 3 u. CG nr, 49, 51; iv, 7. 

Quodl. vn, i, i. Compend. Theol 105; n, 9. In Joan. I, lect. n; 14, lect. 2. In I Cor. 

13, lect. 4. In De div. nom. i, lect. I. In De Trin. I, 2 

2 I John 3, 2 

*De Trinitate rx, II. PG 42, 969 


form is^ as such, unknowable because it is through the form that anything 
is known. But the unlimited in the sense of a form not confined by matter 
is in itself supremely knowable. It is in this latter sense that God is un- 
limited or infinity and not in the first sense 3 as is clear from what has been 
said. 9 

3. God is not said to be 'not there' in the sense that he does not exist 
at all, but because being his own existence he transcends all that is there. 
It follows from this not that he cannot be known but that he is beyond all 
that can be known of him this is what is meant by saying that he cannot 
be comprehended. 

4. When we say one thing is in proportion to another we can either 
mean that they are quantitatively related in this sense double., thrice and 
equal are kinds of proportion or else we can mean just any kind of relation 
that one thing may have to another. It is in this latter sense that we speak 
of a proportion between creatures and God, in that they are related to him 
as effects to cause and as the partially realized to the absolutely real; in 
this sense it is not altogether disproportionate to the created mind to know 

article 2. does the mind see GotFs essence by means of any created likeness? 

THE SECOND POINT: 1 1. It seems that the created mind sees the essence of 
God by means of a likeness. We read in I John, We know that when he 
appears we shall be like him and we shall know him just as he is.* 

2. Augustine says-, When we know God a likeness of him comes to be in us? 

3. Actual thought is the realized intelligibility of what is known, just as 
actual sensation is the realized sensibleness of what is known. a But this 
only occurs when the sense is formed by a likeness of the sensible thing or 
the mind by a likeness of the intelligible thing. Hence if God is actually 
seen by the created mind he must be seen through some likeness. 

ON THE OTHER HAND St Paul's words 3 we see now in a mirror by dull reflec- 
tion^ Augustine says, refer to any likeness that may help us to understand 
God* But to see God in his essence is not to see hirn c in a dull mirror' but 
is contrasted with this 3 hence the divine essence is not seen through any 

*op cit sVj 9. (i Corinthians 13, 12.) PG 42, 1069 

c Creature$i as inadequate effects of God, do not display his power to the full Since 
the *form" which is characteristic of God's causality is existence itself s whatever is 
not sheer existence (i.e. whatever is not God) is potential -with respect to God. 
a cf Appendix I. 


RESPONSIO: Dicendum quod ad visionem tarn sensibilem quam intel- 
lectualem duo requiruntur, scilicet virtus visiva et unio rei visas cum visu: 
non enim fit visio in actu nisi per hoc quod res visa quodammodo est in 
vidente. Et in rebus quidem corporalibus apparet quod res visa non 
potest esse in vidente per suam essentiam, sed solum per suam simili- 
tudinem: sicut similitudo lapidis est in oculo per quam fit visio in actu, non 
autem ipsa substantia lapidis. 

Si autem esset una et eadem res quae esset principium visivse virtutis, 
et quae esset res visa, oporteret videntem ab ilia re et virtutem visivam 
habere et formam per quam videret. Manifestum est autem quod Deus et 
est auctor intellectivas virtutis et ab intellectu videri potest. Et cum ipsa 
intellectiva virtus creatures non sit Dei essentia, relinquitur quod sit aliqua 
participata similitudo ipsius, qui est primus intellectus. Unde et virtus 
intellectualis creaturae lumen quoddam intelligibile dicitur, quasi a prima 
luce derivaturn, sive hoc intelligatur de virtute naturali sive de aliqua 
perfectione superaddita gratiae vel glorias. Requiritur ergo ad videndum 
Deum aHqua Dei similitudo ex parte visivas potentias, qua scilicet intel- 
lectus sit efficax ad videndum Deum. 

Sed ex parte rei visas, quam necesse est aliquo modo uniri videnti, per 
nullam similitudinem creatam Dei essentia videri potest. Primo quidem 
quia, sicut dicit Dionysius, Per similitudines inferioris ordinis rerum, nullo 
modo superior a possunt cognosci; 5 sicut per speciem corporis non potest 
cognosci essentia rei incorporeas. Multo igitur minus per speciem creatam 
quamcumque potest essentia Dei videri. Secundo quia essentia Dei est 
ipsum esse ejus, ut supra ostensum est, 6 quod nulli formse creatas com- 
petere potest. Non potest igitur aliqua forma creata esse similitudo 
repraesentans videnti Dei essentiam. Tertio, quia divina essentia est 
aliquod incircumscriptum, continens in se supereminenter quidquid potest 
significari vel intelligi ab intellectu creato. Et hoc nullo modo per aliquam 
speciem creatam repraesentari potest, quia omnis forma creata est deter- 
minata secundum aliquam rationem vel sapientise, vel virtutis, vel ipsius 
esse, vel alicujus hujusmodi. Unde dicere Deum per similitudinem videri 
est dicere divinam essentiam non videri; quod est erroneum. 

Dicendum ergo quod ad videndum Dei essentiam requiritur aliqua 
similitudo ex parte visivas potentias, scilicet lumen divinas glorias confortans 
intellectum ad videndum Deum; de quo dicitur in PsaL, In lumine tuo 
videbimus lumen? Non autem per aliquam similitudinem creatam Dei 
essentia-videri potest, quas ipsam divinam essentiam repraesentet ut in se est. 

i. Ad primum ergo dicendum, quod auctoritas ilia loquitur de simili- 
tudine quae est per participationem luminis gloriae. 

& De div. nom. 4. PG $ 3 588 (St Thomas, led. i) 


REPLY: In order to see, whether with the senses or the mind, two things 
are needed; there must be a power of sight and the thing to be seen must 
come into sight: for we do not see unless the thing is somehow in our sight. 
Obviously the visible corporeal thing is not by its essence in the one who 
sees, but only by its image: we see a stone not because the stone itself is in 
the eye but because its image is. 

If, however, one and the same thing were both the thing seen and the 
source of the power of sight, then the seer would receive from that thing 
both the power of sight and the image by which it sees. Now it is clear 
that God is the author of the power of understanding and also can be an 
object of the understanding. The power of understanding in the creature 
(since it is not itself the essence of God), must be a sharing by likeness in 
the nature of him who is the primordial intelligence. Thus we could call 
it a sort of intelligible light derived from the primordial light, and we could 
say this both of the natural power of understanding and of any additional 
power that comes from grace or glory. It is the power of sight itself, there- 
fore, that needs, in order to be capable of seeing God at all, a certain 
likeness to him. 

When, however, we consider the essence of God as an object of sight, 
it is impossible that it should be united with the power of sight by any 
created image. Firstly, because as Dionysius says, things of a higher order 
cannot be known through likenesses of an inferior order 5 we cannot even 
know the essences of incorporeal things through bodily likenesses, much 
less could we see the essence of God through any kind of created likeness. 
Secondly, because, as we have said, 6 the essence of God is to exist, and 
since this could not be the case with any created form no such form could 
represent the essence of God to the understanding. Thirdly, the divine 
essence is beyond description, containing to a transcendent degree every 
perfection that can be described or understood by the created mind. This 
could not be represented by any created likeness since every created form 
is detenninately this rather than that 3 whether it be wisdom, power, exist- 
ence itself, or anything else. Hence to say that God is seen by means of a 
likeness is to say that his essence is not seen, which is erroneous. 

Accordingly we should say that for the seeing of God's essence some 
likeness is required on the part of the power of sight, namely the light of 
divine glory strengthening the mind, of which the Psalm speaks, In thy 
light shall we see light. 7 It is not that God's essence can be seen by means 
of any created likeness representing him as he is. 

Hence: I. This authoritative text is speaking of the likeness which 
comes through sharing in the light of glory. 

8 ia. 3, 4 7 Psalms 35 (36), 10 


2. Ad secundum dicendum quod Augustinus ibi loquitur de cognitione 
Dei quae habetur in via. 

3. Ad tertium dicendum quod divina essentia est ipsum esse. Unde sicut 
alias formae intelligibiles 3 quae non sunt suum esse,, uniuntur intellectui 
secundum aliquod esse quo informant ipsum intellectum et faciunt ipsum 
in actu; ita divina essentia unitur intellectui create^ ut intellectum in actu, 
per seipsam faciens intellectum in actu. 

articulus 3. utrum essentia Dei videri possit oculis corporalibus 

AD TERTIUM sic proceditur: 1 I. Videtur quod essentia Dei videri possit 
oculo corporali. Dicitur enim Job, In carne mea videbo Deum, etc.; et 
Auditu auris audivi te, nunc autem oculus meus videt te.* 

2. Praeterea^ Augustinus dicit. Vis itaque prcepollentior oculorum erit 
illorum (scilicet glorificatorum), non ut acutius videant, quam quidam per- 
hibentur videre serpentes vel aquilce (quantalibet enim acrimonia cernendi 
eadem animalia vigeant, nihil aliud possunt videre quam corpora), sed ut 
videant et incorporalia* Quicumque autem potest videre incorporalia, 
potest elevari ad videndum Deum. Ergo oculus glorificatus potest videre 

3. Praeterea, Deus potest videri ab hormne visione imaginaria. Dicitur 
enim Isa., Vidi Dominum sedentem super solium, etc. 4 Sed visio imaginaria a 
sensu originem habet; phantasia enim est motus factus a sensu secundum 
actum, ut dicitur in ill De Animal Ergo Deus sensibili visione videri 

SED CONTRA est quod dicit Augustinus,, Deum nemo vidit unquam, vel in hac 
vita, sicut ipse est, vel in Angelorum vita, sicut visibilia ista qua corporali 
visione cernuntur. 6 

RESPONSIO: Dicendum quod impossible est Deum videri sensu visus, vel 
quocumque alio sensu^ aut potentia sensitivae partis. Omnis enim potentia 
hujusmodi est actus corporalis organi a ut infra dicetur. 7 Actus autem pro- 
portionatur ei cujus est actus. Unde nulla hujusmodi potentia potest se 
extendere ultra corporalia. Deus autem incorporeus est 3 ut supra ostensum 
est. 8 Unde nee sensu^ nee imaginatione videri potest, sed solo intellectu. 

i. Ad primum ergo dicendum quod cum dicitur^ In carne mea videbo 
Deum Salvatorem meum, non intelligitur quod oculo carnis sit Deum 
visurus 3 sed quod in carne existens post resurrectionem visurus sit Deum. 
Similiter quod didtur 5 Nunc oculus meus videt te, intelligitur de oculo 

a cf ia. I2 3 4 ad 3. 2a2e. 175, 4. rv Sent. 49, 2, 2. In Matt. 5 

*Job 19, 26 j 42, 5 *De dvitate Dei xxn a 29. PL 41, 799 ^Isaiah 6, I 



2. Augustine is here speaking of the knowledge we can have of God in 
this life. 

3. The divine essence is existence itself. Hence as other intelligible 
forms 3 which are not identical with their existence, are united to the mind 
according to a sort of mental existence by which they inform and actualize 
the mind, so the divine essence is united to a created mind so as to be 
what is actually understood and through its very self making the mind 
actually understanding. 

article 3. can we see God's essence with our bodily eyes? 

THE THIRD POINT: 1 I. It seems that we could see the essence of God with 
our bodily eyes. For Job says In my flesh I shall see God, and, With the 
hearing of the ear I have heard thee, but now my eye sees thee. z 

2. Augustine says, The eyes (of the blessed) are made dearer, not in the 
sense that they become more piercing than those of eagles or serpents for 
however acutely these beasts see, they see nothing but material things but in 
the sense that they can see incorporeal things? But whatever can see in- 
corporeal things could be raised up to see God, hence the eyes of the 
glorified body could see God. 

3. A man can see God in the imagination, for we read in Isaiah., I saw 
the Lord seated on his throned But what we imagine has its origin in the 
senses, for the imagination, according to Aristotle, is a change brought about 
by the activity of the senses f hence God can be seen by bodily vision. 

ON THE OTHER HAND Augustine says, No man has ever seen God whether in 
this present life or in the angelic life in the way that our bodily eyes see visible 

REPLY: It is impossible to see God by the power of sight or by any other 
sense or sensitive power. Any power of this kind is, as we shall be seeing 
later, the proper activity of some corporeal organ. 7 Such activity must 
belong to the same order as that of which it is the activity, hence no such 
power could extend beyond corporeal things. God, however, is not cor- 
poreal, as has been shown, 8 hence he cannot be seen by sense or imagina- 
tion but only by the mind. 

Hence: I. In my flesh I shall see God does not mean that I shall see God 
by means of the bodily eye, but that I shall see him when I am in the 
flesh, i.e., after the resurrection. Now my eye sees thee refers to the eye of 

*De Anima m, 3. 42921. (St Thomas, lect. 6) 

6 De videndo Deum ad Pcadinam> Epist. 147, II. PL 33, 609 

7 ia. 12, 4; 78, 1 8 ia. 3, 1 



mentis; sicut dicit Apostolus 3 Det vobis spiritum sapientite in agnitione ejus, 
illuminatos oculos cordis vestri. 9 

2. Ad secundum dicendum, quod Augustinus loquitur inquirendo in 
verbis illis^ et sub conditione. Quod patet ex hoc quod ibidem praemittitur, 
Longe itaque potentice alterius erunt (scilicet oculi glorificati) 3 si per eos 
videbitur incorporea ilia natural sed postmodum hoc determinat dicens, 
Valde credibile est, sic nos visuros mundana tune corpora cceli novi et terrce 
novce, ut Deum ubique prcesentem, et universa etiam corporalia gubernantem> 
darissima perspicuitate videamus; non sicut nunc invisibilia Dei per ea qua 
facta sunt, intellecta conspiciuntur y sed sicut homines, inter quos viventes 
motusque vitales exercentes vivimus, max ut aspicimus, non credimus vivere, sed 
videmus. Ex quo patet quod hoc modo intelligit oculos glorificatos Deum 
visuros sicut nunc oculi nostri vident alicujus vitam. Vita autem non 
videtur oculo corporali sicut per se visibile, sed sicut sensibile per accidens; 
quod quidem a sensu non cognoscitur> sed statim cum sensu ab aliqua alia 
virtute cognoscitiva. Quod autem statim visis illis corporibus divina prae- 
sentia ex eis cognoscatur per intellectum ex duobus contingit, scilicet ex 
perspicuitate* intellect*^ et ex refulgentia divinse claritatis in corporibus 

3. Ad tertium dicendum, quod in visione imaginaria non videtur Dei 
essentia., sed aliqua forma in imaginatione formatur^ repreesentans Deum 
secundum aliquem modum similitudinis; prout in Scripturis divinis divina 
per res sensibiles metaphorice describuntur. 

aniculus 4. utrum aliquis intellectus creatus per sua naturalia divinam essentiam 

videre possit 

AD QUARTUM sic proceditur i 1 i . Videtur quod aliquis intellectus creatus per 
sua naturalia divinam essentiam videre possit. Dicit enim Dionysius 3 
Angelus est speculum purum, clarissimum, suscipiens totam, si fas est dicere, 
pulchritudinem Dei. 2 Sed unumquodque videtur dum videtur ejus specu- 
lum. Cum igitur angelus per sua naturalia intelligat se ipsum, videtur 
quod etiam per sua naturalia intelligat divinam essentiam. 

2. Prseterea 3 illud quod est maxime visibile fit minus visibile nobis 
propter defectum nostri visus 5 vel corporalis vel intellectualis. Sed intel- 
lectus angeli non patitur aliquem defectum. Cum ergo Deus secundum se 
sit maxime intelligibilis, videtur quod ab angelo sit maxime intelligibilis. 
Si igitur alia intelligibilia per sua naturalia intelligere potest, multo magis 

*Leonine: perspicacitate, perspicacity 

9 Ephesians i, 17 10 loc cit end of chapter (Romans I 3 20). PL 41, 800 

x cf la. 64, i ad 2. lazae. 5 3 5. n Sent. 4, i ; 23, 2, i ; rv 3 49, 2, 6. CG I 5 3; ill, 49* 5^. 

De veritate vin, 3. De anvma 17 ad 10. In I Tim. 6 3 lect. 3 



the mind, as when St Paul says, May he grant you a spirit of wisdom in 
knowing him., may he enlighten the eyes of your mind. 9 

2. Augustine here is merely making a suggestion and not committing 
himself to a definite position. This is clear from what he says immediately 
afterwards; They (the eyes of the glorified body) would have to have an 
altogether different power if they were to see incorporeal things. Later he 
finds his own solution; It is extremely likely that we shall then see the bodies 
that make up the new heaven and the new earth in such a way as to see God 
present everywhere in them, governing everything, even material things. We 
shall not merely see him as we now do when 'the invisible things of God are 
made known to us by the things he has made* but rather as we now see the life 
of the living breathing people we meet. The fact that they are alive is not 
something we come to believe in but something we see. 10 Hence it is evident 
that our glorified eyes will see God as now they see the life of another. For 
life is not seen by bodily eyesight as though it were visible in itself as a 
proper object of sight; it is an indirect sense-object, not itself perceived 
by sense, yet straightway known in sensation by some other cognitive 
power. That divine presence is instantly perceived by the mind on the 
sight of and through bodily things comes from two causes, from its own 
penetrating clearness and from the gleaming of divine brightness in our 
renewed bodies. 

3. The essence of God is not seen in the imagination. What appears 
there is an image representing God according to some likeness, as is the 
way with the divine Scriptures which describe God metaphorically by 
means of material things. 

article 4. can any created intellect see God's essence by its own natural powers? 

THE FOURTH POINT: 1 1. It seems that a created mind might see the essence 
of God by its own natural powers. Dionysius says that an angel is a pure 
and most clear mirror, reflecting, if one may dare to say it> the whole beauty 
of God. 2 But to see something in a mirror is really to see it; since therefore, 
the angel by its own natural powers understands itself, it would seem that 
by these powers it must understand the divine essence. 

2. What is supremely visible only becomes less visible to us through 
some defect in our vision, whether bodily or intellectual. An angel's mind 
does not suffer from any defect and therefore since God is in himself 
supremely intelligible he must be supremely intelligible to the angel. Since, 
therefore, the angel can understand less intelligible things by its own 
powers, much more will it be able to understand God. 

*De div. nom. 4. PG 3, 724 (St Thomas, lea. 18) 



3. Prseterea^ sensus corporeus non potest elevari ad intelligendam sub- 
stantiam incorpoream, quia est supra ejus naturam. Si igitur videre Deum 
per essentiam sit supra naturam cujuslibet intellectus creati, videtur quod 
nullus intellectus creatus ad videndum Dei essentiam pertingere possit; 
quod est erroneum, ut ex supradictis patet. 3 Videtur ergo quod intellectui 
creato sit naturale divinam essentiam videre. 

SED CONTRA est quod dicitur Rom. y Gratia Dei vita ceterna.^ Sed vita seterna 
consistit in visione divinae essentiae, secundum illud Joan., Hcec est vita 
tetema, ut cognoscant te solwn verum Deum, etc. 5 Ergo videre Dei essentiam 
convenit intellectui creato per gratiam., et non per naturam. 

RESPONSIO : Dicendum quod impossibile est quod aliquis creatus intellectus 
per sua naturalia essentiam Dei videat. Cognitio enim contingit secundum 
quod cognitum est in cognoscente; cognitum autem est in cognoscente 
secundum modum cognoscentis. Unde cujuslibet cognoscentis cognitio est 
secundum modum suae naturae. Si igitur modus essendi alicujus rei 
cognitae excedat modum naturae cognoscentis oportet quod cognitio illius 
rei sit supra naturam illius cognoscentis. 

Est autem multiplex modus essendi rerum. Quaedajtn enim sunt quorum 
natura non habet esse nisi in hac materia individuali; et hujusmodi sunt 
omnia corporalia. Quaedam vero sunt quorum naturae sunt per se sub- 
sistentes, non in materia aliqua, quae tamen non sunt suum esse, sed sunt 
esse habentes : et hujusmodi sunt substantial incorporeae, quas angelos di- 
cimus. Solius autem Dei proprius modus essendi est ut sit suum esse 

Ea igitur quae non habent esse nisi in materia individuali cognoscere est 
nobis connaturale, eo quod anima nostra, per quam cognoscimus, est 
forma alicujus materiae. Quae tamen habet duas virtutes cognoscitivas; 
unam, quae est actus alicujus corporei organi; et huic connaturale est 
cognoscere res secundum quod sunt in materia individuali; unde sensus 
non cognoscit nisi singularia. Alia vero virtus cognoscitiva ejus est intel- 
lectus, qui non est actus alicujus organi corporalis. Unde per intellectum 
connaturale est nobis cognoscere naturas, quae quidem non habent esse 
nisi in materia individuali; non tamen secundum quod sunt in materia 
individuali, sed secundum quod abstrahuntur ab ea per considerationem 

8 ia. 12, i 

^Romans 6, 23 

*John 17, 3 

a All the forms we know, whether substantial or accidental, are forms of something 

that exists, the forms themselves do not exist. But supposing there were such a 

thing as whiteness or humanity, there could only be one of it a second whiteness 



3. The reason why the bodily senses cannot be raised up to understand 
incorporeal being is that it is beyond their natural scope. If therefore seeing 
the essence of God were beyond the natural scope of a created mind it 
would seem that no such mind could attain to the essence of God; but 
this, as we have seen, 3 is erroneous. It would seem therefore that it must 
be natural to the created mind to see God. 

ON THE OTHER HAND we read in Romans, The grace of God is eternal life.* 
Now eternal life, as we know from John, consists in seeing the divine 
essence; This is eternal life, their knowing thee> the only true God. 5 Hence 
to know the essence of God belongs to the created mind by grace and not 
by nature. 

REPLY: It is impossible that any created mind should see the essence of 
God by its own natural powers. A thing is known by being present in the 
knower; how it is present is determined by the way of being of the knower. 
Thus the way something knows depends on the way it exists. So if the 
way of being of the thing to be known were beyond that of the knower, 
knowledge of that thing would be beyond the natural power of the knower. 

But what is meant by the Vay of being 3 of a thing? Some things are of 
a nature that cannot exist except as instantiated in individual matter all 
bodies are of this kind. This is one way of being. There are other things 
whose natures are instantiated by themselves and not by being in matter. a 
These have existence simply by being the natures that they are: yet exist- 
ence is still something they have, it is not what they are the incorporeal 
beings we call angels are of this kind. Finally there is the way of being 
that belongs to God alone, for his existence is what he is. 

Knowledge of things that exist in the first way is connatural to us 3 for 
the human, soul, through which we know, is itself the form of some matter. 
There are two ways in which we know such things, by sensing them and 
by understanding them. Sensing consists in the proper activity of certain 
bodily organs, and it is connatural to this power to know things precisely 
in so far as they are in individual matter; thus by sense we know only 
individual things. The power of understanding does not consist in the 
activity of corporeal organs and so, although the natures that it con- 
naturally knows cannot exist except in individual matter, it knows them 
not merely as they are in such matter, but as made abstract by the 

could only differ from the first by being a different colour. Such forms would be 
instantiated by themselves. We know no such forms, but St Thomas thought that 
the angels of Scripture, being immaterial beings, must be like this. Thus there 
could never be two angels of the same species, cf la. 50, 4. 



intellectus; unde secundum intellectum possumus cognoscere hujusmodi 
res in universali, quod est supra facultatem sensus. 

Intellectui autem angelico connaturale est cognoscere naturas non in 
materia existentes; quod est supra naturalem facultatem intellectus animae 
humanae secundum statum praesentis vitae quo corpori unitur. 

Relinquitur ergo quod cognoscere ipsum esse subsistens sit connaturale 
soli intellectui divino, et quod sit supra facultatem naturalem cujuslibet 
intellectus creati, quia nulla creatura est suum esse, sed habet esse partici- 
patum. Non igitur potest intellectus creatus Deum per essentiam videre, 
nisi inquantum Deus per suam gratiam se intellectui create conjungit ut 
intelligibile ab ipso. 

1. Ad primum ergo dicendum quod iste modus cognoscendi Deum est 
angelo connaturalis, ut scilicet cognoscat eum per similitudinem ejus in 
ipso angelo refulgentem. Sed cognoscere Deum per aliquam similitudinem 
createm non est cognoscere essentiam Dei, ut supra ostensum est. 6 Unde 
non sequitur quod angelus per sua naturalia possit cognoscere essentiam 

2. Ad secundum dicendum quod intellectus angeli non habet defectum, 
si defectus accipiatur privative, ut scilicet careat eo quod habere debet. Si 
vero accipiatur negative, sic quselibet creatura invenitur deficiens Deo 
comparata, dum non habet illam excellentiam quae invenitur in Deo. 

3. Ad tertium dicendum quod sensus visus, quia omnino materialis est, 
nullo modo elevari potest ad aliquid immateriale. Sed intellectus noster, vel 
angelicus, quia secundum naturam a materia aliqualiter elevatus est, potest 
ultra suam naturam per gratiam ad aliquid altius elevari. Et hujus signum 
est, quod visus nullo modo potest in abstractione cognoscere id quod in 
concretione cognoscit; nullo enim modo potest percipere naturam nisi ut 
kanc. Sed intellectus noster potest in abstractione considerare quod in 
concretione cognoscit. Etsi enim cognoscat res habentes formam in materia, 
tamen resolvit compositum in utrumque, et considerat ipsam formam per 
se. Et similiter intellectus angeli, licet connaturale sit ei cognoscere esse 
concretum in aliqua natura, tamen potest ipsum esse secernere per intel- 
lectum, dum cognoscit quod aliud est ipse et aliud est ejus esse. Et ideo, 
cum intellectus creatus per suam naturam natus sit apprehendere formam 
concretam et esse concretum in abstractione per modum resolutionis 
cujusdam, potest per gratiam elevari ut cognoscat substantiam separatam 
subsistentem et esse separatum subsistens. 

articulus 5. utrum intellectus creatus ad videndum Dei essentiam aliquo creato 
lumine indigeat 

AD QUINTUM sic procedituri 1 i. Videtur quod intellectus creatus ad 
videndum essentiam Dei aliquo lumine creato non indigeat. Illud enim 



operation of the mind. Thus by understanding we can know things univer- 
sally, something that is beyond the scope of the senses. 

Knowledge of things that exist in the second way is connatural to an 
angel's mind, which can know natures that are not in matter : this is beyond 
the natural scope of human understanding in this life while the soul is 
united to the body. 

Finally, only to the divine intellect is it connatural to know subsistent 
existence itself. This is beyond the scope of any created understanding, for 
no creature is its existence, it has a share in existence. Hence no created 
mind can see the essence of God unless he by his grace joins himself to 
that mind as something intelligible to it. 

Hence: i. It is indeed connatural to the angel to know God by his like- 
ness shining forth in the angel itself, but to know God by any kind of 
created likeness is not to know his essence, as we have seen. 6 Hence it does 
not follow that the angel knows the essence of God by its natural powers. 

2. The angel's mind has no defect, if by 'defect' is meant a deprivation, 
a lack of what should be present. But if it means simply the absence of 
some perfection, then any creature is defective by comparison with God 
since it does not have all the excellence that is to be found in God. 

3. Since eyesight is altogether corporeal it cannot be raised to what is 
immaterial. The human or angelic mind., however, already by its nature 
to some extent transcends the material and so can be raised by grace 
beyond its nature to something higher than the material. An indication of 
this is that bodily sight is confined to knowing a nature as in this concrete 
thing, it cannot in any way come to know it in abstraction. The mind on 
the other hand can consider in abstraction what it knows in the concrete, 
for although we know things that have their forms in matter it can never- 
theless untie the two and consider the form as such. Similarly, although it 
is connatural to the angelic mind to know existence as concrete in a parti- 
cular nature, nevertheless it can so far distinguish the two as to know that 
the thing and its existence are not identical. Hence since the created mind 
has the capacity by nature to see the concrete form or concrete act of 
existence in abstraction by analysis, it can by grace be raised so that it 
may know unmixed subsistent being and unmixed subsistent existence. 

article 5. does the created mind need a created light in order to see God's essence? 

THE FIFTH POINT: 1 I. It seems that the created mind does not need a 
created light in order to see God. For amongst sensible things what is 

6 ia. 12, 2 

*cf m Sent. 14, i, 3; 49, 2, 6. CG in, 53, 54- &* veritate vm 3 3$ xvm, i; xx, 2. 

Quodl. VII, i, i. Compend. TheoL 105 

SUMMA THEOLOGI^ 13. 12, 5 

quod est per se lucidum in rebus sensibilibus alio lurnine non indiget, ut 
videatur. Ergo nee in intelligibilibus. Sed Deus est lux inteiligibilis. Ergo 
non videtur per aliquod lumen creatum. 

2. Prseterea, cum Deus videtur per medium, non videtur per suam 
essentiam. Sed cum videtur per aliquod lumen creatum., videtur per 
medium. Ergo non videtur per suam essentiam. 

3. Praaterea, illud quod est crearum, nihil prohibet alicui creaturse esse 
naturale. Si ergo per aliquod lumen creatum Dei essentia videtur, poterit 
illud lumen esse naturale alicui creaturse; et ita ilia creatura non indigebit 
aliquo alio lumine ad videndum Deum; quod est impossibile. Non est ergo 
necessarium quod omnis creatura ad videndum Dei essentiam., lumen 
superadditum requirat. 

SED CONTRA est quod dicitur in PsaL, In lumine tuo videbimus lumen* 

RESPONSIO: Dicendum quod omne quod elevatur ad aliquid quod excedit 
suam naturam, oportet quod disponatur aliqua dispositione, quse sit supra 
suam naturam sicut si aer debeat accipere formarn ignis, oportet quod 
disponatur aliqua dispositione ad talem formam. Cum autem aliquis 
intellectus creatus videt Deum per essentiam, ipsa essentia Dei fit forma 
inteiligibilis inteilectus. Unde oportet quod aliqua dispositio supernaturalis 
ei superaddatur ad iioc quod elevetur in tantara sublimitatem. Cum igitur 
virtus naturalis intellectus creati non sufficiat ad Dei essentiam videndam, 
ut ostensum est, 3 oportet quod ex divina gratia superaccrescat ei virtus 
intelligendi, Et hoc augmentum virtutis intellectivse illuminationem intel- 
lectus vocamus; sicut et ipsum intelligibile vocatur lumen, vel lux. Et 
istud est lumen de quo dicitur Apoc.> quod daritas Dei illwnindbit earn* 
scilicet societatem beatorum Deum videntium. Et secundum hoc lumen 
efficiuntur deiformes, id est, Deo similes, secundum illud ijom.* Cum 
apparuerit, similes ei erimus^ et videbimus eum sicuti est. 5 

i. Ad primurn ergo dicendum quod lumen creatum est necessarium ad 
videndum Dei essentiam, non quod per hoc lumen Dei essentia inteiligibilis 
fiat, qua; secundum se inteiligibilis est, sed ad hoc quod intellectus fiat 
potens ad intelligendum, per modum quo potentia fit potentior ad operan- 
dum per habitum. Sicut etiam et lumen corporale necessarium est in visu 
exteriori, inquantum facit medium transparens in actu, ut possit moved a 

*Psedm 35 (36), 10 s ia. 12, 4 

*ReveIation 21, 23 

*I John 3 3 2 

*When a thing develops in accordance with its nature (for example -when a child 



luminous of itself does not need any extra light in order to be visible. 
Neither therefore should this be the case with intelligible things. But God 
is intelligible light. Hence he is not to be seen by any created light. 

2. When God is seen through some medium he is not seen in his essence. 
Yet if he were seen by some created light he would be seen through a 
medium, hence his essence would not be seen. 

3. Whatever is itself a creature could belong to some creature by nature. 
If therefore there is a created light through which God's essence is seen, 
this light could belong by nature to some creature and such a creature at 
least would not need any additional light in order to see God: this however 
is a contradiction. Hence it is not necessary that every creature should 
require additional light in order to see God. 

ON THE OTHER HAND we read in the Psalm, In thy light we shall see light. 2 

REPLY: Whatever is raised beyond its own nature must be made apt to this 
by a disposition beyond its own nature** as air, if it is to receive the form 
of fire, needs to be predisposed to it. When however a created intellect sees 
the essence of God, that very divine essence becomes the form through 
which the intellect understands. Hence there must be some disposition 
given to the understanding beyond its own nature so that it can be raised 
to such sublimity. Since as we have shown, 3 the natural power of the 
intellect is not sufficient to see the essence of God, this power of under- 
standing must come to it by divine grace. This increase in the power of 
understanding we call 'illumination 9 of the mind, as also we speak of the 
intelligible form as 'light'. This is the light that is spoken of in the 
Apocalypse, The brightness of God will illuminate herf i.e., the community 
of the blessed enjoying the vision of God. By this light we are made 
'deiform', that is, like to God, as is said by John, When he shall appear we 
shall be like to him y and we shall see him just as he is J* 

Hence : i . The function of the created light is not to make the essence of 
God intelligible, for it is intelligible of itself; its purpose is to strengthen 
our minds in understanding, rather as a skill increases the effectiveness of 
any of our powers. As also light in bodily vision makes the medium 
actually transparent so that it can be altered by colour. 

grows up) it fulfils capacities or potentialities that it has by nature. It is because of 
this that the adult characteristics belong to the same person as did those of child- 
hood. If a thing is to rise to a state beyond its nature, this too must be a fulfilment 
of capacities that it has, otherwise the higher condition would not really belong to 
the thing but would merely be, so to speak, stuck on to it. These capacities which it 
cannot of course have by nature are the predispositions of which St Thomas is 


SUMMA THEOLOGI^ la. 12, 6 

2. Ad secundum dicendum quod lumen istud non requiritur ad viden- 
dum Dei essentiam quasi similitude in qua Deus videatur^ sed quasi 
perfectio quaedam intellectus confortans ipsum ad videndum Deum. Et 
ideo potest did, quod non est medium in quo Deus videatur 3 sed quo* 
videtur; et hoc non tollit immediatam visionem Dei, 

3. Ad tertium dicendum quod dispositio ad formam ignis non potest 
esse naturalis nisi habenti formam ignis. Unde lumen gloriae non potest 
esse naturale creature nisi creatura esset naturae divinae; quod est im- 
possibile. Per hoc enim lumen fit creatura rationales deiformis ^ ut dictum est. 6 

artiadus 6. utrum videntium essentiam Dei unus olio perfecting videat 

AD SEXTUM sic procedituT : x r. Videtur quod videntium essentiam Dei unus 
alio perfectius non videat. Dicitur enim ljoan.> Videbimuseumsicutiest* 
Sed ipse uno modo est. Ergo uno modo videbitur ab omnibus; non ergo 
perfectius et minus perfecte. 

2. Prseterea 3 Augustinus dicit 3 quod unarn rem non potest unus alio plus 
intelligere. 3 Sed videntes Deum per essentiam intelligunt Dei 
essentiam; intellects enim videtur Deus 3 non sensu,, ut supra habitum est. 4 
Ergo videntium divinam essentiam unus alio non clarius videt. 

3. Preterea 3 quod aliquid altero perfectius videatur 5 ex duobus con- 
tingere potest, vel ex parte obfecti visibilis, vel ex parte potentiae visivse 
videntis. Es parte autem objecti, per hoc quod objectum perfectius in 
vidente retipitur, scilicet secundum perfectiorem similitudinem; quod in 
proposito locum non habet, Deus enim non per aliquam similitudinem, 
sed per ejus essentiam prsesens est intellectui essentiam ejus videnti. 
Relinquitur ergo quod^ si unus alio perfectius eum videat, hoc sit secundum 
differentiam potential hitellectivce; et ita sequitur quod cujus potentia in- 
tellectiva naturah'ter est sublimior, clarius eum videat: quod est incon- 
veniensj cum hominibus promittatur in beatitudine eequalitas angelorum. 

SED CONTRA est qiiod vita seterna in visione Dei consistit^ secundum illud 
Joan^ Hac est vita aterna ut cognoscant te solum Deum, etc. 5 Ergo si omnes 
aequaliter Dei essentiam vident in vita acterna, omnes erunt aequales: cujus 
contrarium dicit Apostolus, Stella differt a stella in daritatef 

RESPONSIO: Dicendum quod videntium Deum per essentiam unus alio 
perfectius eum videbit. Quod quidem non erit per aliquam Dei similitudi- 
nem perfectiorem in uno quam in alio, cum ilia visio non sit futura per 

*Piana: sub quo, under which 

*In the body of the article 1 cf la. 62 S 9. CG m> 58. iv Sent. 49, 2, 4 

z John 3, 2 *Lib. 83 Qu&st. 32. PL 40, 2Z 



2. The light is not needed as a likeness in which the essence of God 
may be seen, but to perfect the mind and strengthen it so that it may see 
God. It is not the medium in which God is seen, but the means by which 
he is seen; so it makes the vision of God no less immediate. 

3. A disposition to the form of fire could only belong by nature to 
something that has the form of fire. Hence the light of glory could be 
natural to a creature only if that creature were by nature divine, which is 
self-contradictory. It is by this light that the creature becomes godlike or 
deiform as we have already said. 6 

article 6. is God's essence seen more perfectly by one than by another? 

THE SIXTH POINT: 1 i. It seems that., of those who see the essence of God, 
one does not see it more perfectly than another. We read in I John., We 
shall see him just as he zs, 2 but he is in only one way. Hence he will only be 
seen in one way; not therefore more by some and less by others. 

2. Augustine says that the same thing cannot be better understood by one 
than by another. z Now all who see God's essence understand it, for it is 
by the mind that we see him., not by the senses, as already noted. 4 Hence 
in seeing the divine essence one sees no better than another. 

3. When a thing is seen more perfectly it is because of something either 
to do with the thing seen or with the power of sight. In the former case it 
might be that the object is more perfectly present to the one who sees 
present in a more perfect likeness: this has no relevance to the present 
discussion, for God is present to the mind not by any likeness but by his 
own essence. So if someone sees God more perfectly than another it can 
only be because of a difference in the power of understanding; from this 
it would follow that he who is more intelligent would see God more clearly : 
this however is theologically awkward, for in beatitude man is promised 
equality with the angels. 

ON THE OTHER HAND eternal life consists in the vision of God, as we know 
from John, This is eternal life, that they might know thee> the only true God. 5 
If therefore all saw the essence of God equally, all would be equal in 
eternal life; but this is contrary to what St Paul says, Star differs from star 
in brightness* 

REPLY: Of those who see the essence of God one will see him more per- 
fectly than another. This is not because of a likeness of God which is more 
perfect in one than in the other, for the vision of God is not through any 

4 ia. 12, 3 *John 17, 3 6 i Corinthians I5 3 41 



aliquam similitudinem ut ostensum est, 7 sed hoc erit per hoc quod intel- 
iectus unius habebit majorem virtutem seu facultatem ad videndum Deum, 
quam alterius. Facultas autem videndi Deum non competit intellectui 
creato secundurn suam naturam, sed per lumen glorise, quod intellectum in 
quadam deiformitate constituit, ut ex superioribus patet. 8 

Unde inteliectus plus participans de lumine glorias perfectius Deum 
videbit. Plus autem partitipabit de lumine glorias qui plus habet de 
charitate; quia ubi est major charitas ibi est majus desiderium, et desider- 
ium quodammodo fecit desiderantem aptum et paratum ad susceptionem 
desiderati. Unde qui plus habebit de charitate perfectius Deum videbit, et 
beatior erit. 

1. Ad primum ergo dicendum quod cum dicitur, videbimus eum sicuti est., 
hoc adverbium sicuti determinat modum visionis ex parte rei visas, ut sit 
sensus, videbimus eum ita esse sicuti est, quia ipsum esse ejus yidebimus, 
quod est ejus essentia. Non autem determinat modum visionis ex parte 
videntis, ut sit sensus, quod ita erit perfectus modus videndi, sicut est in 
Deo perfectus modus essendi. 

2. Et per hoc etiam patet solutio ad secundurn. Cum enim dicitur, quod 
rem unam unus alio melius non intelligrt 5 hoc habet veritatem si referatur 
ad modum rei intellects, quia quicumque intelligit rern esse aliter quam sit 
non vere intelligit; non autem si referatur ad modum intelligendi, quia 
intelligere unius est perfectius quam intelligere alterius. 

3. Ad tertium dicendum quod diversitas videndi non erit ex parte 
objecti, quia idem objectum omnibus praesentabitur, scilicet Dei essentia; 
nee ex diversa participatione objecti per differentes simiHtudines; sed erit 
per diversam facultatem inteliectus, non quidem naturalem sed gloriosara, 
ut dictum est* 9 

articulus j, utrum videntes Deum per essentiam ipsum comprehendant 

AD SEPTIMUM sic proceditur. 1 1 . Videtur quod videntes Deum per essentiam 
ipsum comprehendant. Dicit enim Apostolus, Seguor autem y si quo modo 
comprehendam* Non autem frustra sequebatur; dicit enim ipse, Sic curro 
non quasi in incertum? Ergo ipse comprehendit, et eadem ratione alii, quos 
ad hoc invitat dicens ibid, Sic currite, ut comprehendatis. 

2. Praeterea, ut dicit Augustinus, Illud comprehenditur quod ita totum 
videtur, ut nihil ejus lateat mdentem* Sed si Deus per essentiam videtur 

7 ia. 12, 2 8 ia. i2 3 5 
fl ln the body of the article 

J cf ia2ae. 4, 3- sa. 10, i. rn Sent. 14, 2, 1 ; 27, 3> 2; rv, 49, 2, 1. CG m, 55. De veritate 
n, I ad 3; vni a 2; xx a 5, Gompend* Theol 106. In Joan, i, lect. 6. In Ephes. 5, 
ect. 3 



likeness, as we have seen. 7 It is because one mind has a greater power or 
ability to see God than has the other. This ability to see God does not 
belong to the mind by its own nature but by the light of glory which 
renders the mind in some sense like to God., as we have said. 8 

Hence the mind that has a greater share in the light of glory will see 
God more perfectly. Those share more in the light of glory who have 
more charity; because a greater charity implies a greater desire, and this 
itself in some way predisposes a man and fits him to receive what he 
desires. So that he who has greater charity will see God more perfectly, 
and will be more blessed. 8 - 

Hence: i. The adverbial 'just as' in We shall see him just as he is refers 
not to the manner in which we shall see him but to what we shall see. The 
sentence means that we shall see his existence which is his essence; it does 
not mean that the manner we shall see Hm is as perfect as the manner in 
which God is. 

2. The same solution applies to the second objection, for if you say, C A 
thing cannot be thought better by one than by another without error,' this 
is true if 'better' refers to the thing thought, for to think of a thing as being 
better or worse than it actually is is to be mistaken, but not if it refers to 
the mode of knowing, for without error the thinking of one can be better 
than the thinking of the other. 

3. The diversity between those who see God has nothing to do with the 
thing seen, for this, God's essence, is the same for all. Nor is it a diversity 
in likenesses through which the object is seen; it is due to a diversity of 
intellectual capability, not inborn, but, as stated above, 9 given by the light 
of glory. 

article 7. can a created mind comprehend God's essence? 

THE SEVENTH POINT: 1 i. It seems that those who see the essence of God 
comprehend him. For St Paul says, I press on, seeking to comprehend^ He 
does not do this in vain, for he says elsewhere, / do not run as one uncertain 
of my goaL z Moreover in the same place he bids others do the same, . . . so 
run that you may comprehend* 

2. Augustine says. We say that something is comprehended when the 
whole of it is so visible that nothing of it is hidden** But when God is seen 

z Philippians 3, 12 

8 I Corinthians 9, 26 

*De videndo Dewn, Epist. 147, 9. PL 33, 606 

a Most of all the mind of Christ united in person with the Word of God ; see 33. 10, 4. 

a This point turns merely on the Latin word comprehendere which can have the sense 

of 'attain* or 'obtain' or 'apprehend* as well as that of 'contain* or 'comprehend*. 



totus videtur, et m'hil ejus latet videntem, cum Deus sit simplex. Ergo a 
quocumque videtur per essentiaiE., comprehenditur. 

3. Si dicatur quod videtur totus, sed non totaliter: contra. Totaliter vel 
dicit modum videntis vel modum rei visae. Sed ille qui videt Deurn per 
essentiam videt eum totaliter si significetur modus rei visas, quia videt eum 
sicuti est, ut dictum est; 5 sirniliter videt eum totaliter si significetur modus 
videntis, quia tota virtute sua intellectus Dei essentiam videbit. Quilibet 
ergo videns Deum per essentiam, totaliter eum videbit; ergo eum com- 

SED CONTRA est quod didtux Jerem,, Fortissime^ magne et patens, Domintis 
exerdtuum nomen tibi, Magnus consiHo y et incomprehensibilis cogitatu. 6 Ergo 
comprehend! non potest. 

RESPONSIO: Dicendum quod comprehendere Deum impossibile est cui- 
cumque intellectui creato; attingere vero mente Deum quaKtercumque, 
magm est beatitude, ut dicit Augustinus. 7 Ad cujus evidentiam sciendum 
est quod illud comprehenditur quod perfecte cognoscitur: perfecte autem 
cognoscitur quod tantuni cognoscitur quantum est cognoscibile. Unde si 
id quod est cognoscibile per scientiam demonstrativam opinione teneatur 
ex aliqua ratione probabili concepta non comprehenditur: puta, si hoc 
quod est triangulum habere tres angulos aequales duobus rectis aliquis sciat 
per demonstrationem comprehendit illud; si vero aliquis ejus opinionem 
accipiat probabiliter per hoc quod a sapientibus, vel pluribus ita dicitur 5 
non comprehendet ipsum, quia non pertingit ad ilium perfectum modum 
cognitionis quo cognoscibile est. 

Nullus autem intellectus creatus pertingere potest ad ilium perfectum 
modum cognitionis divins essentise quo cognoscibilis est. Quod sic patet: 
unumquodque enim sic cognoscibile est^ secundum quod est ens actu. 
Deus igitur^ cujus esse est infinitum, ut supra ostensum est, 8 infinite 
cognoscibilis est. Nullus autem intellectus creatus potest Deum infinite 
cognoscere. Intantum enim intellectus creatus divinam essentiam per- 
fectius vel minus perfecte cognoscit a inquantum majori vel minor! lumine 
gloriae perfunditur* Cum igitur lumen gloriae creatum in quocumque 
intellectu creato recepturn non possit esse infiniturn, impossibile est quod 
aliquis intellectus creatus Deum infinite cognoscat; unde impossibile est 
quod Deum comprehendat. 

i* Ad primum ergo dicendum quod comprehensio dicitur dupliclter: 
uno modo stricte et proprie, secundum quod aliquid induditur in com- 
prehendente a et sic nnllo modo Deus comprehenditur nee intellectu, nee 

5 ia, 12, 6 ad i 



in his essence, the whole of him is seen and nothing is hidden since 
God is altogether simple. Hence whoever sees his essence comprehends 

3. It might be argued 'Yes, we see the totality of God but we do not 
see him totally.' But this will not do, for 'totally' here is meant to apply 
either to him or to the seeing. But certainly it is him in his totality that 
we see for we shall see him just as he is, as has been said. 5 Moreover we see 
him totally for the mind sees God with its whole power. Whoever, there- 
fore, sees God in his essence sees him totally, and this is to comprehend 

ON THE OTHER HAND we read in Jeremiah, O God most powerful, great and 
strong, Lord of armies is thy name, mighty in thy designs, incomprehensible in 
thy thoughts.* 

REPLY: Augustine says that for the mind to attain God in any way is a 
great happiness, 7 but it is impossible for any created mind to comprehend 
him. To comprehend is to understand perfectly: a thing is perfectly under- 
stood when it is understood as well as it can be. Thus we do not com- 
prehend a proposition that could be proved scientifically if all we have is 
a probable opinion about it: a man, who can prove that the angles of a 
triangle equal two right angles may be said to comprehend this fact; but 
one who is merely of the opinion that it is so on the grounds that learned 
men say so or that it is commonly accepted, does not comprehend it 
because he has not attained the most perfect sort of understanding available 
in this case. 

Now no created mind can attain the perfect sort of understanding that 
is intrinsically possible of God's essence. This is made evident as follows: 
each thing can be understood to the extent that it is actually realized. God, 
therefore, whose actual being is infinite, as noted above, 8 can be infinitely 
understood. The created mind, however, understands God more or less 
perfectly according to the degree of the light of glory that floods it. Since 
no matter what mind it is received in the created light of glory cannot be 
infinite, it is impossible for any created mind to understand God infinitely; 
impossible, therefore, to comprehend him. 

Hence: i. 'To comprehend' can mean two things. Strictly and properly 
it means to contain something, and in this sense God cannot be com- 
prehended either by the mind or by anything else. The infinite cannot be 

*Jeremiah 32, 1 8 

^Sermones adpopulwn 117, 9. PL 38, 663 

8 ia. 7, i 

3-B 2 5 


aliquo alio; quia cum sit infinitus, nullo finito includi potest, ut aliquid 
finitum eum infimte capiat sicut ipse infinitus est. Et sic de comprehen- 
sione nunc quseritur. 

Aiio modo comprehensio largius sumitur a secundum quod comprehensio 
insecutioni opponitur : qui enim attingit aliquem quando jam tenet ipstim 
comprehendere eum dicitur. Et sic Deus comprehenditur a^beatis, 
secundum illud Cant., Tenui eum, nee dimittam? et sic intelliguntur 
auctoritates Apostoli de comprehensione. Et hoc modo comprehensio est 
una de tribus dotibus animas quse respondet spei, sicut visio fideL, et fruitio 
charitati. Non enim apud nos omne quod videtur jam tenetur vel habetur, 
quia videntur interdum distantia a vel quae non sunt in potestate nostra. 
Neque iteruni omnibus quse habemus fruimur 3 vel quia non delectamur in 
eis vel quk non sunt ultimus finis desiderii nostri^ ut desiderium nostrum 
impleant et quietent. Sed haec tria habent bead in Deo; quia et vident 
ipsum, et videndo tenent sibi pr^sentem in potestate habentes semper 
eum videre, et tenentes fruuntur, sicut ultimo fine desiderium implente, 

2. Ad secundum dicendum quod non propter hoc Deus incomprehensi- 
bilis dicitur, quasi aliquid ejus sit quod non videatur, sed quia non ita 
perfecte videtur sicut visibilis est; sicut cum aliqua demonstrabilis pro- 
positio per aliquam probabilem rationem cognoscitur^ non est aliquid 
ejus quodnoncognoscatur,nec subjectum^nec pradicatum^nec compositio; 
sed tota non ita perfecte cognoscitur sicut cognoscibilis est. Unde August- 
inus 3 definiendo comprehensionem, dicit quod totum comprehenditur videndo> 
quod ita videtur^ ut nihil ejus lateat videntem, aut cujus fines circumspid 
possunt'* tune ^n?m fines alicujus circumsplduntur, quando ad finem 
in modo cognoscendi illam rem pervenitur. 

3. Ad tertium dicendum quod totaliter dicit modum objecti 3 non 
quidem ita quod torus modus object! non cadat sub cognitione, sed quia 
modus objecti non est modus cognoscentis. Qui igitur videt Deum per 
essentiam, videt hoc in eo quod infinite esistit et infinite cognoscibilis est; 
sed Me infinitus modus non competit ei, ut scilicet ipse infinite cognoscat; 
sicut aliquis probabiliter scire potest aliquam propositionem esse demon- 
strabilem 3 licet ipse earn demonstrative non cognoscat. 

articultts 8. vtrutn videntes Deum per essentiam omnia in Deo videant 

AD OCTAVUM sic proceditur: 1 1* Videtur quod videntes Deum per essentiam 
omnia in Deo videant, Dicit enim Gregorius, Quid est quod non videant^ 

*ms circumspid vel drcumscribipossunt; can be surveyed or marked off 

* 'Song of Songs 3, 4 
10 & dx in arg. 



contained in the finite; God exists infinitely and nothing finite could grasp 
him infinitely. It is of comprehension in this sense that we are now 

In a broader sense, however, comprehending is the opposite of letting 
something slip: anyone who attains anything, when he lays hold on it 
could be said to comprehend it. It is in this sense that God is compre- 
hended by the blessed, I held him and will not let him go. 9 It is in this sense 
that St Paul's authoritative texts use the word. And thus comprehension is 
one of the three endowments of the blessed, corresponding to hope as does 
vision to faith and fruition or enjoyment to charity. For in this life not 
everything in our vision is in our grasp for we see some things in the 
distance and we see things that are not in our power, nor have we enjoy- 
ment of all we grasp either because it does not please us or because it is 
not what ultimately we are seeking, the satisfaction and quiescence of all 
our desires. But the blessed have this triple gift in God, for they see him 
and seeing him they possess him, holding him for ever in their sight, and 
holding him they enjoy him as their ultimate goal fulfilling all their desires. 

2. When we say that God is not comprehended we do not mean there is 
something about him that is not seen, but that he cannot be seen as per- 
fectly as intrinsically he is visible. When a man has only a probable opinion 
about a proposition that could be proved, there is no part of the proposition 
hidden from him, he understands both subject and predicate and the fact 
that they are conjoined, nevertheless he does not understand the pro- 
position as well as it could be understood. Thus Augustine, defining com- 
prehension, says something is totally comprehended when it is so seen that 
no part of it is hidden, or so that all its limits can be seen 10 for all the limits of 
a thing are reached when we reach to the limit in our way of knowing it. 

3. The word 'totally 5 applies to the object, but it is not that we do not 
know of the whole way of being of the thing, but that our way of knowing 
does not measure up to this. Whoever sees God in his essence sees some- 
thing that exists infinitely and sees it to be infinitely intelligible, but he 
does not understand it infinitely. It is as though a man might be of the 
opinion that a certain proposition could be proved without himself being 
able to prove it. 

article 8. does a created mind in seeing God's essence see all things? 

THE EIGHTH POINT: 1 1. It seems that those who see God in his essence see 
all things in him. Gregory says. What is it that he does not see who sees the 

J cf ia. 55, 5; 106, i ad i. 33. 10, 2. n Sent, n, 2, in, 14* 2> 2; rv> 45* 3, 1 j 49, 2 3 5. 
CG m, 56, 59. De veritate vm 3 4; XX, 4, 5 


qui videntem omnia vident?* Sed Deus est videns omnia- Ergo qui vident 
Deum> ntrmia vident. 

2. PrsEterea, quicumque videt speculum videt ea quae in speculo re- 
splendent. Sed omnia qusecumque fiunt* vel fieri possunt, in Deo re- 
splendent sicut in quodam speculo; ipse enim omnia in seipso cognoscit. 
Ergo quicumque videt Deum 3 videt omnia quae sunt, et quae fieri possunt. 

3. Prseterea, qui intelligit id quod est majus, potest intelligere minima, 
ut dicitur in De Anima* Sed omnia quae Deus facit vel facere potest sunt 
minus quam ejus essentia. Ergo quicumque intelligit Deum, potest intel- 
ligere omnia quae Deus fecit vel facere potest. 

4. Frseterea 5 rationalis creatura omnia naturaliter scire desiderat. Si 
igitur videndo Deum non omnia sciat non quietatur ejus naturale deside- 
rium; et ita videndo Deum non erit beata; quod est inconveniens. Videndo 
igitur Deum omnia scit. 

SED CONTRA est quod angeli vident Deum per essenttani, et tamen non 
omnia sciunt, Inferiores enim Angeli purgantur a superioribus a nesdentia^ ut 
dicit Dionysius. 4 Ipsi etiam nesciunt jfutura contingentia et cogitationes 
cordium; hoc enim solius Dei est, Non ergo quicumque vident Dei 
essentiaio, vident omnia. 

KESPONSIO: Dicendum quod intellectus creatus videndo divinam essentiam 
non videt in ipsa omnia quse facit Deus vel facere potest, Manifestum est 
enim quod sic aliqua videntur in Deo secundum quod sunt in ipso. 
Omnk autem alia sunt in Deo sicut effectus sunt virtute in sua causa. Sic 
igitur videntur omnia* in Deo sicut effectus in sua causa. Sed manifestum 
est quod quanto aliqua causa perfectms videtur tanto plures ejus efifectus 
in ipsa videri possunt. Qui enim habet intellectum elevatum^ statim uno 
principio demonstrativo proposito^ ex ipso multarum conclusionum 
cognitionem accipit; quod non convenitf ei qui debilioris intellectus est 3 
sed oportet quod ei singula explanentur. Ille igitur intellectus potest in 
causa cognoscere omnes cams effectuSj et omnes rationes effectuum^ qui 
causam totaliter comprehendit. Nullus autem intellectus creatus totaliter 
Deum comprehendere potest^ ut ostensum est. 5 Nullus igitur intellectus 
creatus videndo Deum potest cognoscere omnia quae Deus facit vel potest 
facere; hoc enim esset comprehendere ejus virtutem. Sed horum quae Deus 
facit vel facere potest, tanto aliquis intellectus plura cognoscit quanto 
perfectius Deum videt. 

i. Ad primum ergo dicendum quod Gregorius loquitur quantum ad 
sufikientiam objecti 3 scilicet Dei, quod 3 quantum in se est a sufficienter 

*Leonine: aUa^ other things fmss: contingit* which does not happen with a 
duller mind 



seer of all things?* But God sees all things. Hence he who sees God sees all 

2. Whoever sees a mirror sees what is reflected in it. But everything 
that is or could be is reflected in God as in a mirror, for he himself 
knows all things in himself. Hence whoever sees God sees all that is or 
could be. 

3. He who understands the greater thing can understand the lesser, as 
Aristotle says, 3 but everything that God has done or can do is a lesser 
thing than his essence, therefore whoever understands God can under- 
stand all that God has done or can do. 

4. The rational creature naturally wishes to know everything. If there- 
fore in knowing God he were not to know all things his desires would not 
be satisfied and hence in seeing God he would not be happy, but this is 
not in accordance with the faith. In seeing God, therefore, he sees all 

ON THE OTHER HAND the angels see the essence of God and yet do not know 
everything. According to Dionysius the lesser angels are purified of their 
unknowing by the greater. 4 Moreover angels do not know future con- 
tingents or the secrets of the heart, for knowledge of these things belongs 
to God alone. Hence it cannot be true that whoever knows the essence of 
God knows all things. 

REPLY: The created mind seeing the divine essence does not see in it all 
that God does or can do. It is obvious that how things are to be seen in 
God depends on how they are in him. Everything other than God, how- 
ever, is in him as an effect is in its cause, so that all things are seen in God 
as effects in their cause. Now the more perfectly a cause is seen the more of 
its effects can be seen in it. A man of sharp intelligence who grasps a 
principle can see at once what is implied in it, whereas a duller man has to 
have each conclusion explained to him. Only a man who wholly com- 
prehends a cause will see in it all its effects and everything about its 
effects. But no created mind can wholly comprehend God, as we have 
shown. 5 Thus no created mind seeing God sees all that God does or can 
do, for this would be to comprehend his power. But the more perfectly God 
is seen the more of what he does or can do is seen in him. 

Hence: i. Gregory is thinking of sufficiency from the point of view of 
what is seen; in himself God is sufficient to contain and show forth all 

*Lib. Dialogorwn IV, 33. cf Moraliian Lib. n, 3. PL 77, 376 

*De Arwna in, 4- 4^9^3 

*De c&lesti kierarMa 7. PG 3, 208 8 ia. 12, 7 



conduct omnia et demonstrat: non tamen sequitur quod unusquisque 
videns Deum omnia cognoscat, quia non perfecte comprehendit ipsum. 

2. Ad secundum dicendum quod videns speculum non est necessarium 
quod omnia in speculo videat, nisi speculum visu suo comprehendat. 

3. Ad tertium dicendum quod licet majus sit videre Deum quam omnia 
alia, tamen majus est videre sic ipsum quod omnia in eo cognoscantur 
quam videre sic ipsum quod non omnia, sed pauciora vel plura cognoscantur 
in eo. Jam enim ostensum est 6 quod multitudo cognitorum in Deo con- 
sequitur modum videndi ipsum vel magis perfectum, vel minus perfectum. 

4. Ad quartum dicendum quod naturale desiderium rationalis creaturae 
est ad sciendum omnia ilia quae pertinent ad perfectionem intellectus : et 
haec sunt species et genera rerum, et rationes earum, quae in Deo videbit 
quilibet videns essentiam divinam. Cognoscere autem alia, singularia et 
cogitata et facta eorum, non est de perfectione intellectus creati; nee ad 
hoc ejus naturale desiderium tendit, nee iterum cognoscere ilia quae non- 
dum sunt sed fieri a Deo possunt. Si tamen solus Deus videretur, qui est 
fons et prindpium totius esse et veritatis, ita repleret naturale desiderium 
sciendi quod rn'MI aliud quaereretur, et beatus esset. Unde dicit Augustinus, 
Infelix homo, qui scit omnia ilia (scilicet creaturas), te tamen nescit: beatus 
autem qui te scit etiamsi ilia nesciat. Qui vero te et ilia novit, non propter ilia 
beatior est, sed propter te solum beatus? 

aniculus 9. utrum ea ques videntur in Deo a videntibus divinam essentiam, per aliquas 
similitudines videantur 

AD NONUM sic proceditur: 1 i. Videtur quod ea quae videntur in Deo a 
videntibus divinam essentiam, per aliquas similitudines videantur. Omnis 
enim cognitio est per assimilationem cognoscentis ad cognitum; sic enim 
intellectus in actu fit intellectum in actu, et visus in actu visibile in actu:* 
inquantum ejus similitudine informatur, ut pupilla similitudine coloris. 
Si igitur intellectus videntis Deum per essentiam intelligat in Deo aliquas 
creaturas, oportet quod earum similitudinibus informetur. 

2. Praeterea, ea quae prius vidimus memoriter tenemus. Sed Paulus 
videns in rapru essentiam Dei, ut dicit Augustinus, 2 postquam desiit 
essentiam Dei videre, recordatus est multorum quae in illo raptu viderat; 
unde ipse dicit, quod audwi arcana verba qiue non licet homini loqui? Ergo 
oportet dicere quod aliquae similitudines eorum quae recordatus est in ejus 

*Leonine: sensus in actu sensibile in actu t sense realized becomes the sense-object 


6 In the body of the article ^Confessions v, 4. PL 32, 708 

2 cf m Sent. 14, I 5 4-5, De veritate vm, 5 

*$uper Genesim ad liner am xn, 28. PL 34, 478. cf 483, also 33, 611 

8 n Corinthians 12, 4 



things: it does not follow from this that anyone who sees God sees all 
things, for he would not perfectly comprehend him. 

2. A triqp who sees a mirror does not necessarily see everything that is 
in it unless he sees it perfectly. 

3. Although it is a greater thing to see God than to see all other things, 
nevertheless it is also a greater thing to see God in such a way that all other 
things are seen in him, than to see him in such a way that only a certain 
amount is seen in him. We have already shown 6 that the amount we see in 
God depends on how perfectly we see him. 

4. As to the fourth: the natural desire of the rational creature is to 
know all things that belong to the perfection of the mind. He seeks to know 
the natures of things and the laws that govern their behaviour; this much 
is seen by anyone who sees the divine essence. But to know particular 
individuals and their thoughts and deeds, does not of itself belong to the 
perfection of the created mind., nor does the mind naturally seek after this; 
nor again, does it need to know the things that have not yet happened but 
can be brought about by God. Simply to see God who is the fount and 
source of all being and truth would so satisfy the creature's desire for 
knowledge that he would seek no further for his happiness. As Augustine 
says. Unhappy the man who knows all (creatures) and knows not thee: 
blessed is he who knows thee, even though he knows them not. And he who 
knows both thee and them is not the happier because of them but is simply 
happy because of thee. 7 

article 9. is it by means of any likeness that a created mind knows what it sees in 

God's essence? 

THE NINTH POINT: 1 1. It seems that what is seen in God is seen through a 
likeness. For knowledge comes about through the assimilation of the 
knower to the known; the mind in its realization becomes the realized 
intelligibility of the thing to be known, and the sight in its realization 
becomes the realized visibility of the thing to be seen: a this happens 
because the knowing power is formed by a likeness of the thing known, as 
the pupil of the eye is formed by the likeness of colour. If therefore the 
minds of those who see God in his essence are to understand other 
creatures they must be formed by the likenesses of these creatures. 

2. We remember what we have previously seen* but St Paul who, 
according to Augustine, 2 saw the essence of God when he was rapt in his 
ecstasy, still remembered -many things after he had ceased to see it; for he 
said, / have heard secret words which it is not given to man to speak* Some 
likeness, therefore, of the things he remembered must have remained in 

a See Appendix i. 



intellect!! remanserint; et eadem ratione, quando prsesentialiter videbat 
Dei essentiam, eorum quae in ipsa videbat aliquas similitudines vel species 

SED CONTRA est quod per imam speciem videtur speculum et ea quae in 
speculo apparent. Sed omnia sic videntur in Deo sicut in quodam speculo 
intelligibili. Ergo si ipse Deus non videtur per aliquam simiKmdinem, sed 
per suam essentiam, nee ea quas in ipso videntur, per aliquas similitudines 
sive species videntur. 

RESPONSIO : Dicendum quod videntes Deum per suam* essentiam, ea quse 
in ipsa essentia Dei vident, non vident per aliquas species, sed per ipsam 
essentiam divinam intellectui eorum nnitam. Sic enim cognoscitur 
unumquodque secundum quod similitude ejus est in cognoscente. Sed hoc 
contingit dupliciter. Cum enim qusecumque uni et eidem sunt similia 
sibi invicem sint similia, virtus cognoscitiva dupliciter assimilari potest 
alicui cognoscibili. Uno modo secundum se, quando directe ejus simili- 
tudine informatur, et tune cognoscitur illud secundum se. Alio modo 
secundum quod informatur specie alicujus quod est ei simile; et tune non 
dicitur res cognosci in seipsa, sed in suo simili. AHa enim est cognitio qua 
cognoscitur aliquis homo in seipso, et alia qua cognoscitur in sua imagine. 
Sic ergo cognoscere res per earum similitudines in cognoscente existentes 
est cognoscere eas in se ipsis, seu in propriis naturis; sed cognoscere eas, 
prout earum similitudines praeexistunt in Deo est videre eas in Deo. Et 
hae duae cognitiones differunt. Unde secundum illam cognitionem qua res 
cognoscuntur a videntibus Deum per essentiam, in ipso Deo non videntur 
per aliquas similitudines alias, sed per solam essentiam divinam intellectui 
praesentem, per quam et Deus videtur. 

1. Ad primum ergo dicendum quod intellectusf videntis Deum assimi- 
latur rebus quae videntur in Deo, in quantum unitur essentise divinse in 
qua rerum omnium similitudines praeexistunt. 

2. Ad secundum dicendum quod aliquae potentiae cognoscitivae sunt 
quae ex speciebus primo conceptis aHas formare possunt, sicut imaginatio 
ex praeconceptis speciebus montis et auri format speciem montis aurei; 
et intellectus ex praeconceptis speciebus generis et differentiae format 
rationem speciei; et similiter ex similitudine imflgir>i formare possumus 
in nobis similitudinem ejus cujus est imago. Et sic Paulus, vel quicumque 
alius, videns Deum, ex ipsa visione essentias divinae potest formare in se 
similitudines rerum quae in essentia divina videntur, quae remanserunt in 
Paulo etiam postquam desiit Dei essentiam videre. Ista tamen visio qua 
videntur res per hujusmodi species sic conceptas est aHa a visione qua 
videntur res in Deo. 



his mind and so these likenesses must have been there when he was actually 
seeing God. 

ON THE OTHER HAND it is with one view that we see the mirror and what is in 
it; but everything we see in God is seen as in a sort of intelligible mirror. 
Hence since God himself is not seen through any likeness but by his 
essence, neither are the things seen in him seen by any likeness. 

REPLY: The things seen in the essence of God by those who see it are not 
seen through any likeness but through the essence of God itself in their 
minds. Each thing is known in so far as its likeness is in the knower. This 
can happen in two ways : since things which are like to the same thing are 
like to each other the power of knowing can be conformed to the thing 
known either by being formed directly by the likeness of the known thing, 
and then the thing is known in itself, or else by being formed by the like- 
ness of something which is itself like to the known thing, and then the 
thing is known in a likeness. It is one thing to know a man himself and 
another to know him from his picture. Thus to know things through their 
own likenesses in the mind is to know them in themselves, or in their own 
natures; but to know them through their likenesses pre-existing in God is 
to see them in God. These two knowledges are different. Hence when 
things are known in God by those who see his essence, they are not seen 
through any likeness but in the same way that God himself is known, just 
by the essence of God present in the mind. 

Hence : I. The mind is assimilated to what it sees in God by being united 
to the divine essence in which the likenesses of all things pre-exist. 

2. There are some powers of knowing which from likenesses first con- 
ceived can form others as in the imagination we can form the image of a 
golden mountain from those of gold and a mountain, and as in the mind 
from genus and difference we can form the notion of a species; likewise, 
from the likeness of a picture we can form a likeness of him whose picture 
it is. This is how St Paul or anyone else who sees the essence of God could 
form, from his vision of the divine essence, the likenesses of the things that 
he sees there and in St Paul's case these would remain after the vision 
itself had ceased. But to see things through likenesses formed in this way 
is not to see them as they are seen in God. 

*Leonine: omits snam, his 

a: intellectus creatus, the created mind 



artictdw 10. wtrum etdentes Deton per essentiam dmul videant omnia qu& in ipso vident 

AD DEOMUM sic proceditur: 1 I. Videtur quod videntes Deura per essen- 
tiam non simul videant omnia quae in ipso vident. Quia secundum Philo- 
sophum 3 contingit multa scire? intelligere vero unum. 2 Sed ea quae videntur 
in Deo intelliguntur; intellectu enim videtur Deus. Ergo non contingit a 
videntibus Deum simul multa videri in Deo. 

2. Prseterea, Augustinus dicit quod Deus movet creaturam spiritualem per 
tempus* hoc est., per intelligentiam et affectionem. Sed creatura spiritualis 
est angelusj qui Deum videt. Ergo videntes Deum successive intelligunt, et 
aflSciuntur; tempus enim successionem importat* 

SED CONTRA est quod Augustinus dick, Non erunt volubiks nostra cogita- 
ticnes, ab aliis in alia etmtes y atque redeuntes; sed ornnem scientiam nostram uno 
simul conspectu 

KESPONSIO: Dicendum quod ea quae videntur in Verbo non successive sed 
simul videntur. Ad cujus evidentiam considerandum est 5 quod ideo nos 
simul non possumus multa intelligere quia multa per diversas species 
intelligimus. Diversis autem speciebus non potest intellectus unius simul 
actu informari ad intelligendum per eas; sicut nee unum corpus potest 
simul diversis figuris figurari. Unde contingit quod quando aliqua multa 
una specie intelligi possunt simul intelliguntur; sicut diversae partes 
alicujus totius 3 si singulse propriis speciebus intelligantur successive intel- 
ligunturj et non simul; si autem omnes intelligantur una specie totius simul 
intelligentur. Ostensum. est autem 5 quod ea qua? videntur in Deo non 
videntur singula per suas similitudines 5 sed omnia per unam essentiam Dei. 
Unde simul et non successive videntur. 

1. Ad primum ergo dicendum quod sic unum tantum intelligimus in 
quantum nn^ specieintelligimus, sed multa una specie intellecta simul intel- 
Iiguntur 3 sicut in specie hominis intelligimus animal et rationale, et in 
specie domus parietem et tectum. 

2, Ad secundum dicendum quod angeli^ quantum ad cognitionem 
naturalem qua cognoscunt res per species diversas eis inditaSj non simul 
omnia cognoscunt; et sic moventur secundum intelligentiam per tempus. 
Sed secundum quod vident res in Deo 3 simul eas vident. 

a cf i a. 583 2. n Sent. 3, 2 > 45 m> 14^ 2, 4. CG ni 3 60. De veritate vin, 14. 

VII, I, 2 

z Tcpic3 n, 10. ri4b34 

*$uper Genesim ad Ktteram vni a 20. PL 34^ 388. cf 389 

4 De Trimtate xv, 16. PL 42. 1079 

*ia. 12, 9 



article 10. is all that is seen in God seen together? 

THE TENTH POINT: 1 i. It seems that what is seen in God is not seen all at 
once. For Aristotle says that we may know many things but we understand 
only one thing at a time. 2 It is however by our understanding that we see 
God and hence the things we see there are understood, they cannot there- 
fore be seen all at once. 

2. Augustine says, God moves spiritual creatures in time* i.e. he moves 
them to know and love. But the angel who sees God is a spiritual creature, 
hence since time implies succession, some who see God know and love 
things successively. 

ON THE OTHER HAND Augustine says. Our thoughts will not fly back and 
forth) first to one thing then to another , but we shall see all our knowledge in a 
single view.* 

REPLY: The things that are seen in the Word are not seen successively but 
together. The reason why we cannot think of many things at once is that 
to think of them we need many likenesses in the mind, and one mind 
cannot be formed by many likenesses at once, any more than a body can 
be many shapes at once. When many things can be thought of through one 
likeness as with the parts of a whole they can be thought of together, 
but when each thing requires a different likeness they can only be thought of 
successively. Now if all things were to be thought of through one likeness 
of them all, they could all be thought of together. Now it has been shown 5 
that all the things seen in God are seen not each by its own likeness but by 
the one essence of God, hence they are seen together and not successively. 

Hence: I . We understand one thing at a time in the sense that we under- 
stand through one concept at a time, but many things may be understood 
at once if they are understood through the same concept as in under- 
standing the concept of man we understand both animality and rationality, 
and in the concept of a house both walls and roof. 

2. Angels in their natural knowledge (in which they know things 
through different concepts that are innate in them) do not know everything 
at once. In this sense their minds are moved through time. a But in so far 
as they see things in God they see them all at once. 

*Not that purely spiritual beings are in time like transmutable material beings 
(la. 10, 5), or that they think successively from one object to another (la. 58, 3)>^ut 
that by nature they do not have one concept which, like eternity, holds all things 
completely all at once (la. 58, 2). 


anicuhis n. utrian aliquis in hac vita possit viders Deum per essentiam 

AD UNDECIMUM sic proceditur: 1 i. Videtur quod aliquis in hac vita possit 
Deum per essentiam videre. Dicit enim Jacob, Vidi Deum facie adfaciem* 
Sed videre facie ad faciem est videre per essentiam., ut patet per illud quod 
dicitur I Cor. 3 Videmus nuncper speculum, et in &nigmate> tune autem facie ad 
faciem? Ergo Deus in hac vita per essentiam videri potest. 

2. Praeterea, Num., dicit Dominus de Moyse: Ore ad os loquor ei> et 
palam, et non per cenigmata et figuras videt Deum. 4 ' Sed hoc videre, est 
videre Deum per essentiam. Ergo aliquis in statu hujus vitae potest Deum 
per essentiam videre. 

3. Prseterea, illud in quo alia omnia cognoscimus, et per quod de aliis 
judicamus, est nobis secundum se notum. Sed omnia etiam nunc in Deo 
cognoscimus; dicit enim Augustinus, Si ambo videmus verum esse quod diets; 
et ambo videmus verum esse quod dico; ubi> quceso y illud videmus ? nee ego in te, 
nee tu in me; sed ambo in ipsa, qua supra mentes nostras est, incommutabili 
veritate. B Idem etiam dicit quod secundum veritatem divinam de omnibus 
judicamus'f et dicit quod rationis estjudicare de istis corporalibus secundum 
rationes incorporates et sempiternas y qua nisi supra mentem essent, incom- 
mutabiks profecto non essent. 7 Ergo et in hac vita ipsum Deum videmus. 

4. Praeterea, secundum Augustinurn, visione intellectuali videntur ea 
quas sunt in qrnma per suam essentiam. 8 Sed visio intellectualis est de 
rebus intelligibilibus, non per aliquas simih'tudines, sed per suas essentias, 
ut ipse ibidem dicit. Ergo cum Deus sit per essentiam suam in arrima 
nostra, per essentiam suam videtur a nobis. 

SED CONTRA est quod dicitur Exod., Non videbit me homo, et vwet? Glossa, 
Quamdiu hie mortaliter vivitur, videri per quasdam imagines Deus potest, sed 
per ipsam naturce sua speciem non potest 

RESPONSIO: Dicendum quod ab homine puro Deus videri per essentiam 
non potest, nisi ab hac vita mortali separetur. Cujus ratio est quia, sicut 
supra dictum est, 11 modus cognitionis sequitur modum naturae rei cognos- 
centis. Anima autem nostra, quamdiu in hac vita vivimus, habet esse in 
materia corporali; unde naturah'ter non cognoscit aliqua, nisi quae habent 
form am in materia, vel quse per hujusmodi cognosci possunt. Manifestum 
est autem quod per naturas rerum material mm divina essentia cognosci 

x cf 2a2ae. 175, 4 & 5; 180, 5. ra Sent. 27, 3, i; 35, 2 3 2, 2; rv, 49, 2, 7. CG m, 47. 

De veritate X, u. In Ad H Cor. 12, hct. I. QuodL I, I 

^Genesis 32, 30 8 I Corinthians 13, 12 *Ntanbers 4, 8 

^Confessions XH 3 25. PL 32 3 840 *De vera religions XXX 3 31. PL 34, 146-7 


article II. can any man in this life see God's essence? 

THE ELEVENTH POINT: 1 1. It seems that a man in this life could see God in 
his essence. For Jacob says, / saw God face to face.' 2 ' But we know from 
I Corinthians that to see God face to face means to see his essence, Now 
we see in a mirror by dull reflections but then we shall see face to face. 3 Hence 
it is possible in this life to see the essence of God. 

2. The Lord said of Moses, / spoke to him mouth to mouthy he saw God 
clearly and not through images and signs.* But this is to see God in his 
essence. Therefore someone in this life can see God in his essence. 

3. That in which all other things are known and by which all other 
things are judged, must be known to us through itself. But even now we 
know all things in God, for Augustine says. If we both see that what you say 
is true> and we both see that what I say is true; where do we see this? neither I 
in you nor you in me., but both of us in the immutable truth itself above our 
minds. 5 Again he says that we judge things according to divine truth. 6 Also 
that the business of reason is to judge these corporeal things by incorporeal and 
eternal standards, and these must be beyond the mind if they are to be im- 
mutable. 1 Hence we see God in this life. 

4. Augustine says that by our intellectual vision we see what is in the 
soul by its essence. 8 But intellectual vision does not see intelligible things 
by any likeness but by their essences, as he also says in the same place. 
Since therefore God is in our souls by his essence, he must be seen by us 
in his essence. 

ON THE OTHER HAND on Exodus* No man shall see me and live, the Gloss 
says, So long as we live in this mortal life we can see God by certain images, 
but we cannot see him by that likeness which is his very nature. 

REPLY: A mere man a cannot see the essence of God unless he be uplifted 
out of this mortal life. The reason for this is that, as we have said, 11 the way 
in which a thing knows depends on the way it has its being. Our souls, so 
long as we are in this life, have their being in corporeal matter, hence they 
cannot by nature know anything except what has its form in matter or 
what can be known through such things. It is obvious, however, that the 
divine essence cannot be known through the natures of material things, for 

7 De Trimtate xn, 2. PL 42, 999 

*Super Genesim ad tttteram xn, 24 & 31. PL 34, 474 & 479 

*Exodus 33* 20 

Glos$a ordinaria ex S. Gregorio. PL 76, 91 "la. 12, 4 

*'Mere r"^' this phrase is used to distinguish other men from Christ who is God 

and man, and who had the beatific vision during his earthly life. 



non potest. Ostensum est em'm supra/ 2 quod cognitio Del per quamcumque 
similitudinem creatam non est visio essentiae ipsius. Unde impossible est 
animse hominis secundum hanc vltam viventis essentiam Dei videre. Et 
hujus signum est quod gnfma nostra quanto magis a corporalibus ab- 
strahitur tanto intelligibilium abstractorum fit capacior. Unde in somniis 
et alienationibus a sensibus corporis magis divinse r evelationes percipiuntur^ 
et praevisiones fiiturorum. Quod ergo anima elevetur usque ad supremum 
hitelHgibiliunij quod est essentia divina, esse non potest quamdiu hac 
mortali vita utitur. 

1. Ad primum ergo dicendum quod secundum Dionysium, la sic in 
Scripturis dicitur aliquis Deum vidisse inquantum formatae sunt aliqua; 
figurse vel sensibiles vel imaginariae, secundum aliquam similitudinem 
aliquod divinum reprassentantes. Quod ergo dicit Jacob, Vidi Deum facie ad 
faciern^ referendum est non ad ipsam divinam essentiam, sed ad figuram in 
qua reprsesentabatur Deus. Et hoc ipsum ad quamdam prophetiae eminen- 
tiam peninet ut videatur loquens Deus^* licet imaginaria visione, ut infra 
patebit, 14 cum de gradibus prophetic loquemur. Vel hoc dicit Jacob ad 
designandam quamdam eminentiam intelligibilem contemplationis supra 
communem statum. 

2. Ad secundum dicendum quod sicut Deus miraculose aliquid super- 
natoraliter in rebus corporeis operatur, ita etiam supernaturaliter., et 
praster communem ordinem, mentes aliquorum in hac carne viventiumj 
sed non sensibus carnis utentium^ usque ad visionem suse essentiae elevavit; 
ut dicit Augustinus de Moyse qui ruit magister Judaeorum, et de Paulo qui 
fuit magister gentium. 15 Et de hoc plenius tractabitur, cum de raptuf 
agemus. 16 

3. Ad tertium dicendum quod omnia dicimur in Deo videre^ et secun- 
dum ipsum de omnibus judicare^ in quantum per participationem sui 
luminis omnia cognoscimus et dijudicamus; nam et ipsum lumen naturale 
rationis participatio quaedam est divini Iuminis 3 sicut etiam omnia sensi- 
bilia dicimur videre et judicare in sole.> idest per lumen solis. Unde dicit 
Augustinus, Disdplmarum spectamina vidmnonposswt, nisi aliquo velut suo 
sole illustrentur^ 1 videlicet Deo< Sicut ergo ad videndum aliquid sensi- 
biliter non est necesse quod videatur substantia solis 5 ita ad videndum ali- 
quid intelligibiHter non est necessarium quod videatur essentia Dei. 

4 Ad quartum dicendum quod visio intellectualis est eorum quae sunt 
in ^r>ima per suam essentiam^ sicut intdligibilia in intellects. Sic autem 
Deus est in anjma beatorum, non autem in anima nostra; sed per prsesen- 
tjam, essentiam et potentiam. 

*Piana: persona Dei loquentis^ God speaking in person 
fPiana: de raptu ejus? of Paul's ecstasy 



we have shown 12 that any knowledge of God that we have through a 
created likeness is not a knowledge of his essence. Hence it is impossible 
for the human soul,, as it is in this life, to see the essence of God. An indica- 
tion of this is that the more the soul is abstracted from material things the 
greater capacity it has for understanding abstract intelligible things. Thus 
divine revelations and foresights of the future come more often during 
dreams and ecstasies. It is impossible, therefore, that the soul while it lives 
normally on earth should be raised to an understanding of that which is 
most intelligible of all, the divine essence. 

Hence: i. As Dionysius says, in the Scriptures God is said to be seen 
when certain images of the divine are formed, whether these be sensible 
or imaginary. 13 When he says, / saw God face to face, Jacob refers not to the 
essence of God but to an image representing it. It belongs to an especially 
high form of prophecy to see God represented as one speaking, even 
though it be only in a vision of the imagination as we will explain later 
when we speak of the degrees of prophecy. 14 An alternative explanation 
would be that Jacob refers to a high and extraordinary degree of con- 

2. God can work miracles with minds as well as bodies, in either case 
raising them beyond the normal order of things to a supernatural level. 
Thus he may raise up certain minds to see his essence in this life but not by 
making use of their bodily senses. Augustine says 15 that this is what hap- 
pened to Moses, the teacher of the Jews and to St Paul, the teacher of the gen- 
tiles. We will deal with this more fully when we come to speak of ecstasy. 16 

3. We see everything in God and judge everything by him in the sense 
that it is by sharing in his light that we are able to see and judge, for the 
natural light of reason is a sort of sharing in the divine light. We might 
say in the same sense that we see and judge all sensible things in the sun 
i.e. by the light of the sun. Hence Augustine says, The lessons of instruction 
can only be seen as it were by their own sim^ namely God. Just as we can 
see sensible things without seeing the essence of the sun, so we can see 
things intellectually without seeing the essence of God. 

4. By intellectual vision we see what is in the soul as a thought in the 
mind. God is in the souls of the blessed in this way but not in ours. He is 
in us by essence, presence and power. b 

12 ia. 12, 2 13 De cadesti kierarckia 4. PG 3, 180 14 2a2se. 174, 3 

**Super Genesim ad litteram xn, 26-8. PL 34, 476-82. De videndo Deum s Epist. 147, 

13. PL 33, 610 Ia 2a2. I75> 3 ^ Soliloqidorum I, 8. PL 32, 877 

^'Essence (or substance), presence and power* is a traditional phrase attributed to 

St Gregory. St Thomas explains it in i a. 8, 3 : *God is in all things by power in that 

all things are subject to his power, by presence in that all things are bare and open 

to his view, and by essence in that he is with all things as the cause of their being/ 



anictdus 12. utrwn per rationem naturalem Deum in hoc vita cognoscere possimus 

AD DUODECIMUM sic proceditur: 1 1. Videtur quod per naturalem rationem 
Deum in hac vita cognoscere non possimus. Dicit enim Boetius quod ratio 
non capit simplicem formam* Deus autem maxime est simplex forma, ut 
supra ostensurn est. 3 Ergo ad ejus cognitionem ratio naturalis pervenire 
non potest. 

2. Praeterea, ratione naturali sine phantasmate nihil intelligit anima, ut 
dicitur in in De Anima, habetur etiam De Mem. et Remind Sed Dei, cum 
sit incorporeus, phantasma in nobis esse non potest. Ergo cognosci non 
potest a nobis cognitione naturali. 

3. Praeterea, cognitio quae est per rationem naturalem, com munis est 
bonis et malis, sicut natura eis communis est. Sed cognitio Dei competit 
tantum bonis; dicit enim Augustinus quod humance mentis acies invalida 
in tarn excellenti luce non figitur, nisi per justitiam fidei emundetur. 5 Ergo 
Deus per rationem naturalem cognosci non potest. 

SED CONTRA est quod dicitur Rom., Quod notum est Dei, manifestum est in 
illisf idest quod cognoscibile est de Deo per rationem naturalem. 

KESPONSIO: Dicendum quod naturalis nostra cognitio a sensu principium 
sumit. Unde tantum se nostra naturalis cognitio extendere potest in quan- 
tum manuduci potest per sensibilia. Ex sensibilibus autem non potest 
usque ad hoc intellectus noster pertingere quod divinam essentiam videat; 
quia creaturae sensibiles sunt effectus Dei virtutem causse non adaequantes. 
Unde ex sensibilium cognitione non potest tota Dei virtus cognosci, et per 
consequens nee ejus essentia videri. Sed quia sunt effectus* a causa 
dependentes, ex eis in hoc perduci possumus ut cognoscamus de Deo an 
est, et ut cognoscamus de ipso ea quae necesse est ei convenire, secundum 
quod est prima omnium causa excedens omnia sua causata. 

Unde cognoscimus de ipso habitudinem ipsius ad creaturas, quod 
scilicet omnium est causa; et differentiam creaturarum ab ipso, quod 
scilicet ipse non est aliquid eorum quae ab eo causantur; et quod haec non 
removentur ab eo propter ejus defectum, sed quia superexcedit. 

1. Ad primum ergo dicendum quod ratio ad formam simplicem 
pertingere non potest, ut sciat de ea quid est; potest tamen de ea cognos- 
cere, ut sciat an est. 

2. Ad secundum dicendum quod Deus naturali cognitione cognoscitur 
per phantasmata effectus sui. 

*Leonine, Piana: eftts effectu$ y his effects 

^ ia, 32, i j 82, 2 ad 1. 1 Sent. 3, 1, i; m^ 27, 3, i. CG rv, i. In Ad Rom. i, lect. 6 



article 12. can we know God by our natural reason in this life? 

THE TWELFTH POINT: 1 1. It seems that we cannot in this life know God by 
natural reason. For Boethius says the reason cannot grasp simple forms* 
Now God, as has been shown, 3 is supremely a simple form. Therefore 
natural reason cannot attain to knowledge of him. 

2. According to Aristotle the soul understands nothing by natural 
reason without images. 4 But since God is incorporeal there can be no 
image of him in our imagination. So then he cannot be known to us by 
natural reason. 

3. Natural reason is common to the good and the bad, for human nature 
is common to both. Knowledge of God, however, belongs only to the good, 
for Augustine says, The weak eye of the hitman mind is not fixed on that 
excellent light unless purified by the justice of faith. 5 Therefore God cannot 
be known by natural reason. 

ON THE OTHER HAND we read in Ramans, What may be known about God is 
manifest to themf i.e. what can be known about him by natural reason. 

REPLY: The knowledge that is natural to us has its source in the senses and 
extends just so far as it can be led by sensible things; from these, however, 
our understanding cannot reach to the divine essence. Sensible creatures 
are effects of God which are less than typical of the power of their cause,* 
so knowing them does not lead us to understand the whole power of God 
and thus we do not see his essence. They are nevertheless effects depend- 
ing from a cause, and so we can at least be led from them to know of God 
that he exists and that he has whatever must belong to the first cause of 
all things which is beyond all that is caused. 

Thus we know about his relation to creatures that he is the cause of 
them all; about the difference between him and them that nothing 
created is in him; and that his lack of such things is not a deficiency in him 
but due to his transcendence. 

Hence: i. The reason can know that a simple form is, even though it 
cannot attain to understanding what it is. 

2. God is known to the natural reason through the images of his effects. 

z De consolations philos. V, 4. PL 63, 847 

*De Anima m, 7. 4312.16 (St Thomas, lect. 12). cf De Memona et Remiruscentia I. 

449b3O-45oai4 (St Thomas, lect. 2) 

*De Trinitate I, 2. PL 42, 822 

^Romans I, 19 

*See Appendix 2, Causes. 

3 F 4 1 


3. Ad tertium dicendum quod cognitio Dei per essential^ cum sit per 
gratiam, non competit nisi bonis; sed cognitio ejus quae est per rationem 
naturalem, potest competere bonis et mails; unde dicit Augustinus, retrac- 
tans quod dixerat I Solil^ Non approbo quod in oratione dixi; Deus, qui non 
nisi mundos verum scire voluisti. Responderi enim potest multos etiam non 
mundos multa scire vera? scilicet per rationem naturalem. 

aniculus 13. utrum per gratiam habeatur ahior cognitio Dei quam ea quce habetur per 

rationem naturalem 

AD DECIMUM TERTIUM sic proceditur: 1 I. Videtur quod per gratiam non 
habeatur altior cognitio Dei quam ea quae habetur per naturalem rationem. 
Dicit enim Dionysius quod ille qui melius unitur Deo in hac vita unitur 
ei sicut omnino ignoto. 2 Quod etiam de Moyse dicit; qui tamen excel- 
lentiam quamdam obtinuit in gratise cognitione. Sed conjungi Deo, igno- 
rando de eo quid est, hoc contingit etiam per rationem naturalem. Ergo per 
gratiam non plenius cognoscitur a nobis Deus quam per rationem naturalem. 

2. Prseterea, per rationem naturalem in cognitionem divinorum per- 
venire non possumus, nisi per phantasmata, similiter etiam* nee secundum 
cognitionem gratia*. Dicit enim Dionysius quod impossibile est nobis aliter 
lucere divinum radium nisi varietate sacrorum velaminum drcumuelatum* 
Ergo per gratiam non plenius cognoscimus Deum quam per rationem 

3. Prseterea, intellectus noster per gratiam fidei Deo adhseret. Fides 
autem non videtur esse cognitio; dicit enim Gregorius quod ea quce non 
videntur fidem hdbent et non agnitionem^ Ergo per gratiam non additur 
nobis aliqua excellentior cognitio de Deo. 

SED CONTRA est quod dicit Apostolus^ Nobis revelavit Deus per Spiritum 
suum, ilia scilicet qtue nemo principum hujus seculi novitf idest philoso- 
phorum, ut exponit glossa. 6 

RESPONSIO: Dicendum quod per gratiam perfectior cognitio de Deo 
habetur a nobis quam per rationem naturalem. Quod sic patet: cognitio 
errim quam per naturalem rationem habemus, duo requirit, scilicet 
phantasmata ex sensibilibus accepta, et lumen naturale intelligibile 3 cujus 
virtute intelligibiles conceptiones ab eis abstrahimus. 

Et quantum ad utrumque juvatur humana cognitio per revelationem 
gratiae. Nam et lumen naturale intellectus confortatur per infusionem 
luminis gratuiti; et interdum etiam phantasmata in imaginatione hominis 

*I-eonine: sic eiiam y so also 



3. Knowledge of God in his essence is a gift of grace and belongs only 
to the good, yet the knowledge we have by natural reason belongs to both 
good and bad. Augustine says in his Retractations, I do not now approve what 
I said in a certain prayer, O God who hast wished only the clean of heart to 
know truth . . .' for it could be answered that many who are unclean know 
many truths, 1 i.e., by natural reason. 

article 13. besides the knowledge we have of God by natural reason is there in this life 
a deeper knowledge that zee have through grace? 

THE THIRTEENTH POINT: 1 i. It seems that by grace we do not have a 
deeper knowledge of God than we have by natural reason. For Dionysius 
says that he who is best united to God in this life sees him as utterly 
unknown., 2 and he refers to Moses who received such great graces of 
knowledge. But by natural reason we come to know God without knowing 
what he is. Hence grace gives us no greater knowledge of God than does 
natural reason. 

2,. With natural reason we only come to know God through images in 
the imagination. Yet the same is true of the knowledge we have through 
grace, for Dionysius says. It is impossible for the divine ray to shine upon us 
except as screened round about by the many-coloured sacred veils? So by 
grace we have no fuller knowledge of God than we have by natural reason. 

3. By grace our minds are united to God in faith; but faith is not 
knowledge, for Gregory says we have faith and not knowledge of the un- 
seen.* Therefore grace adds nothing to our knowledge of God. 

ON THE OTHER HAND St Paul says, God has revealed to us through his Spirit, 5 
a wisdom which none of this world's rulers knew 5 and a gloss says that this 
refers to philosophers. 6 

REPLY: By grace we have a more perfect knowledge of God than we have 
by natural reason. The latter depends on two things: images derived from 
the sensible world and the natural intellectual light by which we make 
abstract intelligible concepts from these images. 

In both these respects human knowledge is helped by the revelation of 
grace. The light of grace strengthens the intellectual light and at the same 
time prophetic visions provide us with God-given images which are better 

iRetractationum I, 4. PL 32, 589. (cf SoliLoqmomm I, I. PL 32, 870} 
a cf la. 32, 1. 1 Sent. 3, I, 4- De veritate X 3 13. In De Trin. I, 4 
*De mystica theologia i. PG 3, 1001 *De c&lesti hierarchia I. PG 3, 121 
*HomiL XXVI in Evang. PL 76, 1202 *i Corinthians 2, 8, 10 
^Interlinear gloss from St Jerome. PL 30, 752 



formantur divinitus, magis exprimentia res divinas quam ea quae natura- 
liter a sensibilibus accipimus, sicut apparet in visionibus prophetalibus; et 
interdum etiam aliquse res sensibiles formantur divinitus, aut etiam voces, 
ad aliquid divinum exprimendum; sicut in baptismo visus est Spiritus 
sanctus in specie columbae, et vox Patris audita est, Hie est Filius meus 

1. Ad primum ergo dicendum quod licet per revelationem gratise in hac 
vita non cognoscamus de Deo quid est, et sic ei quasi ignoto conjungamur; 
tamen plenius ipsum cognoscimus, inquantum plures et excellentiores 
effectus ejus nobis demonstrantur, et inquantum ei aliqua attribuimus ex 
revelatione divina, ad quae ratio naturalis non pertingit, ut Deum esse 
trinum et unum. 

2. Ad secundum dicendum quod ex phantasmatibus vel a sensu acceptis 
secundum naturalem ordinem, vel divinitus in imaginatione formatis 3 
tanto excellentior cognitio intellectualis habetur quanto lumen intelligi- 
bile in homine fortius fuerit; et sic per revelationem ex phantasmatibus 
plenior cognitio accipitur ex infusione divini luminis. 

3. Ad tertium dicendum quod fides cognitio quaedam est, in quantum 
intellectus detenninatur per fidem ad aliquod cognoscibile. Sed haec 
determinatio ad unum non procedit ex visione credentis, sed a visione ejus 
cui creditur. Et sic in quantum deest visio deficit a ratione cognitionis quae 
est in scientia a nam scientia detenninat intellectum ad unum per visionem 
et intellecrum primorum principiorum. 




suited to express divine things than those we receive naturally from the 
sensible world. Moreover God has given us sensible signs and spoken 
words to show us something of the divine^ as at the baptism of Christ when 
the Holy Spirit appeared in the form of a dove and the voice of the Father 
was heard saying. This is my beloved San? 

Hence: i. Although in this life revelation does not tell us what God is, 
and thus joins us to him as to an unknown, nevertheless it helps us to 
know him better in that we are shown more and greater works of his and 
are taught certain things about him that we could never have known through 
natural reason, as for instance that he is both three and one. 

2. The stronger our intellectual light the deeper the understanding we 
derive from images 3 whether these be received in a natural way from the 
senses or formed in the imagination by divine power. Revelation provides 
us with a divine light which enables us to attain a more profound under- 
standing from these images. 

3. Faith is a sort of knowledge in that it makes the mind assent to some- 
thing. The assent is not due to what is seen by the believer but to what is 
seen by him who is believed. In that it lacks the element of seeing, faith fails 
to be genuine knowledge^ for such knowledge causes the mind to assent 
through what is seen and through an understanding of first principles . a 

*Cajetan notes that in this life the knowledge of God through grace is not a higher 
manner of knowledge than that through reason, which offers evidence; it is higher 
by its object^ see 2a2ae. 4, 8. For God's own knowledge given to the blessed in 
heaven as the principle of faith and sacra doctrina see la. i, 2 & 2a2se. 2, 3. 



Quaestio 13. de nominibus Dei 

Consideratis his quse ad divinam cognitionem* pertinent, procedendum 
est ad considerationem divinorum nominum. Unumquodque enim 
nominatur a nobis, secundum quod ipsum cognoscimus. 
Circa hoc ergo quseruntur duodecim: 

1. utrinn Deus sit nominabilis a nobis; 

2. utrum aliqua nomina dicta de Deo prsedicentur de ipso 


3. utrum aliqua nomina dicta de Deo proprie dicantur de 

ipso, an omnia attribnantur ei metaphorice; 

4. utrum multa nomina dicta de Deo sint synonyma; 

5. utrum nomina aliqua dicantur de Deo et creaturis univoce 

vel sequivoce; 

6. supposito quod dicantur analogice, utrum dicantur de Deo 

per prius , vel de creaturis ; 

7. utrum aliqua nomina dicantur de Deo ex tempore; 

8. utrum hoc nomen, Deus> sit nomen naturae, vel operationis ; 

9. utrum hoc nomen, Deus^ sit nomen communicabile; 

10. utrum accipiatur univoce vel sequivoce secundum quod 

significat Deum per naturam, et per participationem, et 
secundum opinionem;f 

11. utrum hoc nomen, qui est y sit maxim e proprium nomen 


12. utrum propositions affirmative possint formari de Deo. 

ariicidus I. utrum aliquod nomen Deo conveniat 

AD PRIMUM sic proceditur: 1 1. Videtur quod nullum nomen Deo conveniat. 
Dicit enim Dionysius quod neque nomen ejus est> neque opinio^ et Prov. 
dicitur. Quod nomen efus, et quod nomen Filii ejus, si nosti? z 

2. Praeterea, omne nomen aut dicitur in abstracto, aut in concreto. Sed 
nomina significantia in concreto non competunt Deo, cum simplex sit; 
neque nomina significantia in abstracto, quia non significant aliquid per- 
fectum subsistens. Ergo nullutn nomen potest dici de Deo. 

3. Prseterea, nomina significant substantiam cum qualitate, verba autem 
et participia significant cum tempore 3 pronomina autem cum demons- 
tratione vel relatione. Quorum nihil competit Deo, quia sine qualitate est, 

*Piana: perfectionem 3 perfection 

f 2 mss: etper comparationem, of a God made up by men. 4 mss: etper operationem* 

of what acts divinely 


Question 13. theological language 

Having considered how we know God we now turn to consider how we 
speak of him, for we speak of things as we know them. Here there are 
twelve points of inquiry: 

1. can we use any words to refer to God? 

2. do any of the words we use express something that he is? 

3. can we say anything literally about God or must we always 

speak metaphorically? 

4. are all the words predicated of God synonymous? 

5. are words used both of God and of creatures used uni- 

vocally or equivocally? 

6. given that they are in fact used analogically, are they 

predicated primarily of God or of creatures? 

7. in speaking of God can we use words that imply temporal 


8. does 'God' mean a thing of a certain kind or a thing having 

a certain operation? 

9. i s the name { God* peculiar to God or not? 

10. when it is used of God,, of what shares in divinity and of 

what is merely supposed to do so, is it used univocally or 

11. is c He who is' the most appropriate name for God? 

12. can affirmative statements correctly be made about God? 

article I. can we use any words to refer to God? 

THE FIRST POINT: 1 i. It seems that we can use no words at all to refer to 
God. For Dionysius says. Of him there is no naming nor any opinion^ and 
we read in Proverbs, What is his name or the name of his son if thou knowest ? s 

2. Nouns are either abstract or concrete. The concrete noun is in- 
appropriate to God because he is altogether simple; and the abstract noun 
is also ruled out because it does not signify a complete subsistent thing. 
Hence no noun can be used to refer to God. 

3. A noun signifies a thing as coming under some description, verbs 
and participles signify it as enduring in time fl pronouns signify it as being 
pointed out or as in some relationship. None of these is appropriate to God : 

*cf I Sent, i, 6; 22, i. In De div. nom. i, lect. I & 3 
*De dw. nom. I. PG 3, 593 
^Proverbs 30, 4 



et sine omni accidente^ et sine tempore, et sentiri non potest ut demons- 
trari possit; nee relative signifrcari, cum relativa sint aliquorum ante- 
dictorum recordativa s vel nominum, vel participionim, vel pronominum 
demonstrativorum. Ergo Dens nullo modo potest nominari a nobis. 

SED CONTRA est quod dicitur Exod^ Dominus quasi virpugnator; Omnipotent 

RESPONSIO: Dicendum quod secundum Philosophum, I Perihermeneias, 
voces sunt signa intellectuum, et intellectus sunt rerum similitudines'^ et sic 
patet quod voces referuntur ad res significandas mediante conceptione 
intellectus. Secundum igitur quod aliquid a nobis intellectu cognosci 
potest sic a nobis potest nominari. Ostensum est autem supra 6 quod Deus 
in hac vita non potest a nobis videri per suam essentiam, sed cognoscitur 
a nobis ex creaturis secundum habitudinera principii, et per modum ex- 
cellentie et remotionis. Sic igitur potest nominari a nobis ex creaturis; non 
tamen ita quod nomen significans ipsumexprimatdivinamessentiam secun- 
dum quod est; sicut hoc nomen, horno^ exprimit sua significatione essentiam 
hominis secundum quod est significat enim ejus definitionem declarantem 
ejus essentiam; ratio enirn 5 quam significat nomen, est definitio. 7 

1. Ad primum ergo dicendum quod ea ratione dicitur Deus non habere 
nomen vel esse supra nominationenx, quia essentia ejus est supra id quod 
de Deo inteUigirnus, et voce significamus. 

2. Ad secundum dicendum quod quia ex creaturis in Dei cognitionem 
venimus, et ex ipsis eum nominamus; nomina quae Deo tribuimus, hoc 
modo significant secundum quod competit creaturis materialibus, quarum 
cognitio est nobis connaturalis ut supra dictum est. 8 Et quia in hujusmodi 
creaturis ea quse sunt perfecta et subsistentia sunt composita; forma 
autem in eis non est aliquid complerum subsistens, sed magis quo aliquid 
est. Inde est quod ornnia nomina a nobis imposita ad significandum aliquid 
completum subsistens significant in concretione, prout competit compositis* 
Quse autem imponuntur ad significandas formas simplices significant 
aliquid non ut subsistens, sed ut quo aliquid est; sicut albedo significat ut 
quo aliquid est album. 

^Exodus I5 3 3 *De Interpretations I, I. 1633 6 ia. 12, 1 1 
7 cf Metaphysics iv a 7. ioraa22 (St Thomas, lea. 16) 8 ia. 12, 4 
a Definition 3 definitio, does not mean for St Thomas primarily the explanation of the 
meaning of a word A definition shows forth the essence of a thing by giving its 
genus and difference. St Thomas^ of course, thought that there were real kinds 
and that one aim of science should be to construct an 'ideal language* in which the 
meanings of nouns would correspond to the definitions of species. Such a technical 
scientific language would make the order of nature more perspicuous. Sometimes 


we have no definition of him nor has he any accidental attributes by which 
he might be described; he is non-temporal and cannot be pointed to 
because he is not available to the senses; moreover he cannot be referred 
to by relative pronouns since the use of these depends on the previous use 
of some other referring term such as a noun, participle or demonstrative 
pronoun. Hence there is no way of referring to God. 

ON THE OTHER HAND we read in Exodus, The Lord is a great warrior; 
Almighty is his name.* 

REPLY: Aristotle says that words are signs for thoughts and thoughts are 
likenesses of Things/ so words refer to things indirectly through thoughts. 
How we refer to a thing depends on how we understand it. We have seen 
already 6 that in this life we do not see the essence of God, we only know 
htm from creatures; we think of him as their source, and then as surpassing 
them all and as lacking anything that is merely creaturely. It is the know- 
ledge we have of creatures that enables us to use words to refer to God, and 
so these words do not express the divine essence as it is in itself. In this 
they differ from a word like *man' which is intended to express by its 
meaning the essence of man as he is for the meaning of e man' is given by 
the definition of a man which expresses his essence; what a word means is 
the definition. 7a 

Hence : i. God is said to have no name, or to be beyond naming because 
his essence is beyond what we understand of him and the meaning of the 
names we use. 

2. Since we come to know God from creatures and since this is how we 
come to refer to him, the expressions we use to name him signify in a way 
appropriate to the material creatures we ordinarily know. 8 Amongst such 
creatures the complete subsistent thing is always a concrete union of form 
and matter; for the form itself is not a subsistent thing, but that by which 
something subsists. Because of this the words we use to signify complete 
subsistent things are concrete nouns which are appropriate to composite 
subjects. When, on the other hand, we want to speak of the form itself we 
use abstract nouns which do not signify something as subsistent, but as 
that by which something is: 'whiteness', for example, signifies the form 
as that by which something is white. b 

he talks as though this scientific ideal had been already achieved and the meanings 
of the words in actual use always expressed the definition of essences. 
b ln St Thomas's view, 'man' and 'humanity 5 have the same meaning and differ only 
in their manner of signifying, modus sigmficandi. 'Humanity 5 does not stand for a 
form (or c an abstraction*) in the way that 'man* may stand for a man. Both signify 
the nature of man, but one signifies it concretely as instantiated, the other as that by 
which an instance of r"a*i occurs, cf la. 32, 2. 



Quia igitur et Deus simples estj, et subsistens est., attribuimus ei nomina 
abstracts, ad significandam simpliritatem ejus, et nomina concreta ad 
significandam subsistentiam et perfectionem ipsius; quamvis utraque 
nomina deficiant a modo ipsius., sicut intellectus noster non cognoscit eum 
ut est secundum hanc vitam. 

3. Ad tertium dicendum quod significare substantiam cum qualitate est 
significare supposition cum natura vel forma determinata in qua subsistit. 
Undej sicut de Deo dicuntur aliqua in concretione ad significandum sub- 
sistentiam et perfectionem ipsius 3 sicut dictum est 3 9 ita dicuntur de Deo 
nomina significant^ substantiam cum qualitate. Verba vero et participia 
consignrficantia tempus dicuntur de ipso ex eo quod seternitas includit 
omne tempus. Sicut enim simplicia subsistentia non possumus appre- 
hendere et significare nisi per modum compositorum; ita simplicem 
aEternitatem non possumus intelligere vel voce exprimere nisi per modum 
temporalium rerum: et hoc propter connaturalitatem intellectus nostri ad 
res corapositas et temporales, Pronomina vero demonstrativa dicuntur de 
Deo secundum quod faciunt dernonstrationem ad id quod intelligitur^ non 
ad id quod sentitur. Secundum enim quod a nobis intelligitur secundum 
hoc sub demonstratione cadit, Et sic secundum illntn modum quo nomina 
et participia et pronomina demonstrativa de Deo dicuntur, secundum hoc 
et pronominibus et nominibus relativis significari potest. 

artlculus 2. utrum atiquod nomen dicatur de Deo substantialiter 

AD SECUNBUM sic proceditur: 1 I. Videtur quod nullum nomen dicatur de 
Deo substantialiter. Dicit enim Damascenus, Oportet singula eorum qzta 
de Deo diamtur 9 non quid est secundum substantiam significare y sed quid non 
est ostendere s aut hdbitudinem guamdam^ aut aliquid eorum qua assequuntur 
naturam vel operatwnem. 2 

2, Praeterea 5 dicit Dionysius, Omnium sanctorum theologorum hymnum 
mvenies ad beatos thearchice processus manifestative et laudative Dei nomina- 
tiones dividentem.* Et est sensus quod nomina quas in divinarn laudem 
sancti doctores assumunt^ secundum processus ipsius Dei distinguuntur. 

9 Reply to preceding argument 
x cf i Sent. 2, 2. CG I, 31. De potentia vn, 5 
z De Fide orthodoxa I, 9. PG 94 835 
*De div. nom* I. PG 3, 589 (St Thomas, led. 2) 

The literal translation of the inquiry is whether words can be used of God 'sub- 
stantially*. The question concerns the logical form of our statements about God. St 
Thomas is not asking whether we can give an account of the substance or nature of 
God a for he has already insisted that we do not know what God is. He is asking 
whether we can use the logical form of giving-an-account-of-a-nature when speak- 



Now God is both simple, like the form, and subsistent, like the concrete 
thing, and so we sometimes refer to him by abstract nouns to indicate his 
simplicity and sometimes by concrete nouns to indicate his subsistence and 
completeness; though neither way of speaking measures up to his way of 
being, for in this life we do not know him as he is in himself. 

3. To signify a thing as coming under some description is to signify it as 
subsisting in a certain nature or definite form. We have already said that 
the reason we use concrete nouns for God is to indicate his subsistence 
and completeness; 9 it is for the same reason that we use nouns signifying 
a thing under some description. Verbs and participles can be used of him 
although they imply temporal succession because his eternity includes all 
time. Just as we can understand what is both simple and subsistent only 
as though it were composite, so we can understand and speak of the sim- 
plicity of eternity only after the manner of temporal things : it is composite 
and temporal things that we ordinarily and naturally understand. Demon- 
strative pronouns can be used of God in so far as they point, not to some- 
thing seen, but to something understood, for so long as we know some- 
thing, in whatever way, we can point it out. And thus according as nouns 
and participles and demonstrative pronouns can signify God, so in the 
same way relative pronouns can be used. 

article 2. do any of the words we use of God express something of what he is? 

THE SECOND POINT: 1 I. It seems that no word is used of God to express 
what he is. a For John Damascene says, The words used of God signify not 
what he is but what he is not, or his relationship to something else> or something 
that follows from his nature or operations* 

2. Dionysius says, You will find a chorus of holy teachers seeking to 
distinguish clearly and laudably the divine processions in the naming of God* 
This means that the names which the holy teachers use in praising God 
differ according to his different causal acts. However, to speak of the causal 

ing of God. If not, our statements about God would all have to be either negative or 

St Thomas's main theme here is that our ignorance of God's nature is not such 
that some forms of statement are admissible and others not, but that all language is 
quite inadequate. Substantial predication, which looks as if it were saying what God 
is, is neither more nor less appropriate than any other kind. It is the same notion 
that underlies his contention that we can speak of God literally as well as meta- 
phorically. To penetrate the mystery of God is not, for St Thomas, Hke passing 
from metaphor to literal statement, or from negative to substantial predication, it is 
to pass beyond language altogether. The possibility of speaking about God rests on 
the possibility of using words to 'try to mean* more than we can understand by 



Sed quod significat processum alicujus rei nihil significat ad ejus essentiam 
pertinens. Ergo nomina dicta de Deo noa dicuntur de ipso substantialiter. 
3. Prseterea s secundum hoc nominator aliquid a nobis secundum quod 
intelligitur. Sed non intelligitur Deus a nobis in hac vita secundum suam 
substantial ergo nee aliquod nomen impositum a nobis dicitur de Deo 
secundum suam substantiam. 

SED CONTRA est quod dicit Augustinus, Deo, hoc est esse quad f orient esse, vel 
sapientem esse, et si quid de ilia simplidtate dixeris, quo ejus^ substantia 
significatur.* Ergo omaia nomina hujusmodi significant divinam sub- 

RESPONSIO: Dicendum quod de nominibus quse de Deo dicuntur negative, 
vel quse relationem ipsius ad creaturam significant^ manifestum est quod 
substantiam ejus nullo modo significant, sed remotionem alicujus ab ipso, 
vel relationem ejus ad alium, vel potius alicujus ad ipsum. Sed de nomi- 
nibus quse absolute et affirmative de Deo dicuntur^ sicut bonus, sapiens,, et 
hujusmodi, multipliciter aliqui sunt opinati- 

Quidani cmin dixerunt quod hsec omnia nomina 3 licet affirmative de Deo 
dicanturj tamen magis inventa sunt ad aliquid removendum a Deo quam 
ad aliquid ponendum in ipso. Unde dicunt quod, cum dicimus Deum 
esse viventemj significamus quod Deus non hoc modo est sicut res in- 
animatse; et similiter accipiendum est in aliis^ et hoc posuit Rabbi Moyses^ 
in lib. qui dicitur doctor dulnorum? 

Alii vero dicunt quod hsec nomina imposita sunt ad significandum 
habitudinem ejus ad creata> ut cum dicimus, Deus est bonus, sit sensus: 
Deus est causa bonhatis in rebus; et eadem ratio est in aliis. 

Sed utrumque istorum videtur esse inconveniens propter tria: primo 
qiiidem^ quia secundum neutram harum positionum posset assignari ratio 
quare quaedana nomina magis de Deo dicerentur quam alia. Sic enim est 
causa corporum, sicut est causa bonorum; unde si aliud significatur 
cum dicitur Deus est bonus nisi Deus est causa bonorum, poterit similiter 
did quod Deus est corpus quia est causa corporum. Item per hoc quod 
dicitur quod est corpus, removetur quod non sit ens in potentia tantum, 
sicut materia prima. 

Secundo quia sequeretur quod omnia nomina dicta de Deo, per posterius 
dicerentur de ipso; sicut sanum per posterius dicitur de medicina, eo quod 
sigmficat hoc tantum quod sit causa sanitatis in animali, quod per prius 
dicitur sanum. 

Tertio, quia hoc est contra intentionem loquentium de Deo, Aliud enim 
intendunt dicere cum dicunt Deum viventem quam quod sit causa vitae 
nostrae vel quod differat a corporibus inanimatis* 


activity of a thing is not to speak of its essence, hence such words are not 
used to express what he is. 

3. We speak of things as we understand them. But in this life we do not 
understand what God is, and so we can use no words to say what he is. 

ON THE OTHER HAND Augustine says, The being of God is to be strong^ to be 
wise or whatever else we say of his simplicity in order to signify his essence.* 
All such names then signify what God is. 

REPLY : It is clear that the problem does not arise for negative terms or for 
words which express the relationship of God to creatures; these obviously 
do not express what he is but rather what he is not or how he is related to 
something else or, better, how something else is related to him. The 
question is concerned with words like 'good' and 'wise' which are neither 
negative nor relational terms, and about these there are several opinions. 

Some have said that sentences like 'God is good', although they sound 
like affirmations are in fact used to deny something of God rather than to 
assert anything. Thus for example when we say that God is living we 
mean that God is not like an inanimate thing, and likewise for all such 
propositions. This was the view of the Rabbi Moses. 513 

Others said that such sentences were used to signify the relation of God 
to creatures, so that when we say 'God is good' we mean that God is the 
cause of goodness in things, and likewise in other such propositions. 

Neither of these views seem plausible, and for three reasons. Firstly, on 
neither view can there be any reason why we should use some words about 
God rather than others. God is just as much the cause of bodies as he is of 
goodness in things; so if 'God is good' means no more than that God is the 
cause of goodness in things, why not say c God is a body 3 on the grounds 
that he is the cause of bodies? So also we could say 'God is a body* because 
we want to deny that he is merely potential being like primary matter. 

Secondly it would follow that everything we said of God would be true 
only in a secondary sense, as when we say that a diet is 'healthy 3 , meaning 
merely that it causes health in the one who takes it, while it is the living 
body which is said to be healthy in a primary sense. 

Thirdly, this is not what people want to say when they talk about God. 
When a tngrt speaks of the 'living God' he does not simply want to say that 
God is the cause of our life, or that he differs from a lifeless body. 

*De Trimiate vi, 4, PL 42, 927 

^Doctor Perplexorum J, 58. (The Guide for the Perplexed, ed. Friediander, London, 


b Moses Maimonides, d. 1204. 

cAlan of Lille, d. 1202, is among these 'others', cf PL 210, 631-3. 


SUMMA THEOLOGIH-, 13. 13, 2 

Et ideo aliter dicendum est quod hujusmodi quidem nomina significant 
substantiam divinam, et praedicantur de Deo substantialiter, sed deficiunt 
a repraesentatione ipsius. Quod sic patet. Significant enim sic nomina Deum 
secundum quod intellectus noster cognoscit ipsum. Intellectus autem 
noster cum cognoscat Deum ex creaturis, sic cognoscit ipsum, secundum 
quod creaturae ipsum repraesentant. Ostensum est autem supra 6 quod Deus 
in se praehabet omnes perfectiones creaturarum, quasi simpliciter et 
universaliter perfectus. Unde quaelibet creatura intantum eum reprassentar, 
et est ei similis, inquantum perfectionem aliquam habet, non tamen ita 
quod reprassentet eum sicut aliquid ejusdem speciei vel generis, sed sicut 
excellens principium, a cujus forma effectus deficiunt, cujus tamen 
aliqualem similitudinem effectus consequuntur sicut formae corporum 
inferiorum reprassentant virtutem solarem. Et hoc supra expositum est 7 
cum de perfectione divina agebatur. Sic igitur praedicta nomina divinam 
substantiam significant, imperfecte tamen, sicut et creaturae imperfecte 
earn repraesentant. 

Cum igitur dicitur Deus est bonus, non est sensus, Deus est causa bonitatis, 
vel Deus non est malus, sed est sensus, Id quod bonitatem dicimus in creaturis 
pr&existit in Deo., et hoc quidem secundum modum altiorem. Unde ex hoc 
non sequitur quod Deo competat esse bonum inquantum causat bonitatem, 
sed potius e converse quia est bonus bonitatem rebus difiundit, secundum 
illud Augustini, Inquantum bonus est y sumus? 

1. Ad primum ergo dicendum quod Damascenus ideo dicit quod haec 
nomina non significant quid est Deus 5 quia a nullo istorum nominum 
exprimitur quid est Deus perfecte, sed unumquodque imperfecte eum 
significatj sicut et creaturae imperfecte eum repraesentant. 

2. Ad secundum dicendum quod in significatione nominum aliud est 
quandoque a quo imponitur nomen ad significandum et aliud ad quod 
significandum nomen imponitur; sicut hoc nomen, lapis^ imponitur ab eo 
quod lasdit pedem, non tamen imponitur ad hoc significandum quod 
significet laedens pedem, sed ad significandam quamdam speciem cor- 
porum, alioquin omne Isedens pedem esset lapis. Sic igitur dicendum est 
quod hujusmodi divina nomina imponuntur quidem a processibus deitatis ; 
sicut enim secundum diversos processus perfectionum creaturae Deum 
repraesentant, licet imperfecte, ita intellectus noster secundum unum- 
quemque processum Deum cognoscit, et nominat. Sed tamen haec nomina 
non imponuntur ad significandum ipsos processus, ut cum dicitur: Deus 
est moenSy sit sensus, ab eo procedit vita, sed ad significandum ipsum 
rerum principium, prout in eo prxexistit vita, licet eminentiori modo 
quam intelligatur vel signMcetur. 

ia. 4, 2 



So we must find some other solution to the problem. We shall suggest 
that such words do say what God is; they are predicated of him in the 
category of substance, but fail to represent adequately what he is. The 
reason for this is that we speak of God as we know him, and since we know 
him from creatures we can only speak of him as they represent him. Any 
creature, in so far as it possesses any perfection, represents God and is like 
to him, for he, being simply and universally perfect, has pre-existing in 
himself the perfections of all his creatures, as noted above. 6 But a creature 
is not like to God as it is like to another member of its species or genus, 
but resembles him as an effect may in some way resemble a transcendent 
cause although failing to reproduce perfectly the form of the cause as in a 
certain way the forms of inferior bodies imitate the power of the sun. This 
was explained earlier when we were dealing with the perfection of God. 7 
Thus words like 'good* and 'wise* when used of God do signify something 
that God really is, but they signify it imperfectly because creatures 
represent God imperfectly. 

'God is good' therefore does not mean the same as 'God is the cause of 
goodness* or 'God is not evil'; it means that what we call 'goodness* in 
creatures pre-exists in God in a higher way. Thus God is not good because 
he causes goodness, but rather goodness flows from him because he is good. 
As Augustine says. Because he is goody we exist? 

Hence: I. John Damascene says that these words do not signify what 
God is, because none of them express completely what he is; but each 
signifies imperfectly something that he is, just as creatures represent him 

2. Sometimes the reason why a word comes to be used is quite different 
from the meaning of the word. Thus the word 'hydrogen' derives from 
what produces water, but it does not mean something that produces water, 
it means a particular chemical element, otherwise everything that produced 
water would be hydrogen.** In the case of words used of God we may say 
that the reason they came to be used derives from his causal activity, for 
our understanding of him and our language about hin> depends on the 
different perfections in creatures which represent him, however imperfectly, 
in his various causal acts. Nevertheless these words are not used to mean 
his causal acts. 'Living* in 'God is living* does not mean the same as 
'causes life'; the sentence is used to say that life does pre-exist in the 
source of all things, although in a higher way than we can understand 
or signify. 

7 ia. 4, 3 

*De doctrina Christiana I, 32. PL 34, 32 

d See Translator's Note, p. xvii. 



3. Ad tertium dicendum quod essentiam Dei in hac vita cognoscere non 
possumus secundum qucxi in se est, sed cognoscimus earn secundum quod 
reprsesentatur in perfectionibus creaturarum; et sic nomina a nobis im- 
posita earn significant. 

aniculus 3. utrum aliquod nomen dicatur de Deo proprie 

Ai> TERTIUM sic proceditur: 1 i. Videtur quod nullum nomen dicatur de 
Deo proprie. Omnia enim nomina quze de Deo dicimus, sunt a creaturis 
accepta, ut dictum est. 2 Sed nomina creaturarum metaphorice dicuntur de 
Deo, sicut cum dicitur Deus est lapis, vel leo, vel aliquid hujusmodi. Ergo 
nomina dicta de Deo dicuntur metaphorice. 

2. Praeterea, nullum nomen proprie dicitur de aliquo a quo verius 
removetur quam de eo prsedicetur. Sed omnia hujusmodi nomina, bonus, 
sapiens, et similia, verius removentur a Deo quam de eo praedicentur, ut 
patet per Dionysium. 3 Ergo nullum istorum nominum proprie dicitur de 

3. Praeterea, nomina corporum non dicuntur de Deo nisi metaphorice, 
cum sit incorporeus. Sed omnia hujusmodi nomina implicant quasdam 
corporales conditiones; significant enim cum tempore, et cum composi- 
tione, et cum aliis hujusmodi, quae sunt conditiones corporum. Ergo 
omnia hujusmodi nomina dicuntur de Deo metaphorice. 

SED CONTRA est quod dicit Ambrosius, Sunt quadam nomina qua evidenter 
proprietatem Divinitatis ostendunt, et quadam qua perspicuam divines 
majestatis exprimunt veritatem; alia vero sunt qua translative per similitu- 
dinem de Deo dicuntur. 4 ' Non igitur omnia nomina dicuntur de Deo meta- 
phorice, sed aliqua dicuntur proprie. 

RESPONSIO: Dicendum quod, sicut dictum est, 5 Deum cognoscimus ex 
perfectionibus procedentibus in creaturas ab ipso, quse quidem perfec- 
tiones in Deo sunt secundum eminentiorem modum quam in creaturis. 
Intellectus autem noster eo modo apprehendit eas secundum quod sunt in 
creaturis, et secundum quod apprehendit, ita significat per nomina. In 
nominibus igitur quae Deo attribuimus, est duo considerare, scilicet 
perfectiones ipsas significatas, ut bonitatem, vitam, et hujusmodi, et 
modum significandi. Quantum igitur ad id quod significant hujusmodi 
nomina, proprie competunt Deo, et magis proprie quam ipsis creaturis, et 
per prius dicuntur de eo. Quantum vero ad modum significandi, non 
proprie dicuntur de Deo; habent enim modum significandi qui creaturis 

*cf I Sent. 4,1, i ; 22, 2, 35, I ad 2. CG i, 30. Depotentia vn, 5 2 ia. 13, I 



3. In this life we cannot understand the essence of God as he is in him- 
self, we can however understand it as it is represented by the perfections 
of his creatures; and this is how the words we use can signify it. 

article 3. can we say anything literally about God? 

THE THIRD POINT: 1 i. It seems that no word can be used literally of God. 
For we have already said that every word used of God is taken from our 
speech about creatures , as already noted, 2 but such words are used meta- 
phorically of God, as when we call him a 'rock' or a *lion'. Thus words are 
used of God metaphorically. 

2. A word is not used literally of something if it would be more accurate 
not to use it than to use it. Now according to Dionysius it would be truer to 
say that God is not good or wise or any such thing than to say that he is. 3 
Hence no such thing is said literally of God. 

3. Words for bodily things can only be used metaphorically of God 
because he is incorporeal. All our words, however, belong to a bodily con- 
text, for all imply such conditions as temporal succession and composition 
of matter and form which belong to the material world. Therefore such 
words can only be used metaphorically. 

ON THE OTHER HAND Ambrose says, There are some ways of referring to God 
which show forth clearly what is proper to divinity r , and some which express the 
luminous truth of the divine majesty ', but there are others which are used of God 
metaphorically and through a certain likeness*' Hence not all words are used 
of God metaphorically; some are used literally. 

REPLY: As we have said, 5 God is known from the perfections that flow from 
him and are to be found in creatures yet which exist in him in a trans- 
cendent way. We understand such perfections, however, as we find them in 
creatures, and as we understand them so we use words to speak of them. 
We have to consider two things, therefore, in the words we use to attribute 
perfections to God, firstly the perfections themselves that are signified 
goodness, life and the like and secondly the way in which they are 
signified. So far as the perfections signified are concerned the words are 
used literally of God, and in fact more appropriately than they are used of 
creatures, for these perfections belong primarily to God and only secon- 
darily to others. But so far as the way of signifying these perfections is con- 
cerned the words are used inappropriately, for they have a way of signifying 
that is appropriate to creatures. 

*De ccelesti hierarchia 2. PG 3, 41 - *&* Fide H, proL PL i6> 583 6 ia. 13, 2 
3-G 57 


1. Ad primum ergo dicendum quod quaedam nomina significant hujus- 
modi perfectiones a Deo procedentes in res creatas, hoc modo quod ipse 
modus imperfectus, quo a creatura parricipatur divina perfectio, in ipso 
nominis significato includitur, sicut lapis significat aiiquid materialiter ens. 
Et hujusmodi nomina non possunt attribui Deo nisi metaphorice. QuEedam 
vero nomina significant ipsas perfectiones absolute absque hoc quod 
aliquis modus participandi claudatur* in eorum significatione, ut ens, bonum, 
vivens, et hujusmodi. Et talia proprie dicuntur de Deo. 

2. Ad secundum dicendum quod ideo hujusmodi nomina dicit Diony- 
sius 6 negari a Deo, quia id quod significatur per nomen non convenit eo 
modo ei quo nomen significat, sed excellentiori modo. Unde ibidem dicit 
Dionysius quod Deus est super omnem substantiam et vitam. 

3. Ad tertium dicendum quod ista nomina quse proprie dicuntur de 
Deo, important conditiones corporales non in ipso significato nominis , sed 
quantum ad modum significandi; ea vero quae metaphorice de Deo 
dicuntur, important conditionem corporalem in ipso suo significato. 

articulus 4. utntm nomina dicta de Deo sint nomina synonyma 

AD QUARTUM sic proceditur: 1 I. Videtur quod ista nomina dicta de Deo 
sint nomina synonyma. Synonyma enim nomina dicuntur quaa omnino 
idem signiiicant. Sed ista nomina dicta de Deo omnino idem significant in 
Deo; quia bonitas Dei est ejus essentia, et similiter sapientia. Ergo ista 
nomina sunt omnino synonyma. 

2. Prscterea, si dicatur quod ista nomina significant idemf secundum 
rem sed secundum rationes diversas; contra, ratio cui non respondet 
aliquid in re est vana. Si ergo istse rationes sunt multae, et res est una, 
videtur quod rationes istse sint vanae. 

3. Praeterea, magis est nmim quod est unum re et ratione, quam quod 
est unum re et multiplex ratione. Sed Deus est maxime unus. Ergo videtur 
quod non sit unus re, et multiplex ratione; et sic nomina dicta de Deo non 
significant rationes diversas, et ita sunt synonyma. 

SED CONTRA^ nrrmia synonyma sibi invicem adjuncta nugationem adducunt^ 
sicut si dicatur vestis, indumentum. Si igitur omnia nomina dicta de Deo 
sunt synonyma, non posset convenienter did Deus bonus, vel aliquid 
hujusmodi; cum ram en scriptum sit, Fortissime, magne, potens> Dominus 
exerdtuttm nomen tibi. 2 

*nissi includituT) a manner of sharing is held in their meaning 
jross: wnan 3 one thing 




Hence: i. Some words that signify what has come forth from God to 
creatures do so in such a way that part of the meaning of the word is the 
imperfect way in which the creature shares in the divine perfection. Thus 
it is part of the meaning of 'rock' that it has its being in a merely material 
way. Such words can be used of God only metaphorically. There are other 
words, however, that simply mean certain perfections without any indica- 
tion of how these perfections are possessed words, for example, like 
'being', 'good', 'living' and so on. These words can be used literally of 

2. The reason why Dionysius says that such words are better denied of 
God is that what they signify does not belong to God in the way that they 
signify it, but in a higher way; thus in the same passage he says that God 
is beyond all substance and life* 

3. These words have a bodily context not in what they mean but in the 
way in which they signify it; the ones that are used metaphorically have 
bodily conditions as part of what they mean. 

article 4. are all the words predicated of God synonymous? 

THE FOURTH POINT r 1 1 . It seems, for three reasons, that all words applied to 
God are synonymous. For synonyms are words that mean exactly the 
same thing. Now whatever we say about God we mean the same thing, for 
his goodness and his wisdom and such-like are identical with his essence. 
Hence all these expressions are synonyms. 

2. It might be argued that although they signify the same thing they do 
so from different points of view; but this will not do, for it is useless to 
have different points of view which do not correspond to any difference in 
the thing viewed. 

3. One thing that can only be described in one way is more perfectly 
one than one thing that can be described in many ways. God is supremely 
one. Hence he cannot be describable in many ways, and so the many 
things said about him all have the same meaning: they are synonymous. 

ON THE OTHER HAND piling up synonyms adds nothing to the meaning; 
'clothing garments' are just the same as 'garments'. If therefore all the 
things said about God were synonymous it would be inappropriate to 
speak of c the good God' or anything of the kind. Yet Jeremiah says. Most 
strong^ mighty and powerful^ the Lord of Armies is thy name? 

l i Sent. 2, 3; 22, 3. CG i, 35. De potentia vn, 6. Campend. TheoL 25 
^Jeremiah 32, 18 



RESPONSIO: Dicendum quod hujusmodi nomina dicta de Deo non sunt 
synonyma' Quod quidem fadle esset videre si diceremus quod hujus- 
modi nomina sunt inducta ad removendam, vel ad designandam habitu- 
dinem causse respectu creaturarum. Sic enim essent diverse rationes 
horum noraimim secundum diversa negata, vel secundum diversos efFectus 
connotatos. Sed secundum quod dictum est, 3 hujusmodi nomina sub- 
stantiam divinam significare, licet imperfecte, etiam plane apparet., 
secundum pneraissa., 4 quod habent rationes diversas. 

Ratio enim quam significat nomen est conceptio intellectus de re 
significata per nomen. InteUectus autern noster, cum cognoscat Deum ex 
creaturis, format ad intelligendum Deum conceptions proportionatas 
perfectionibus procedentibus a Deo in creaturas. QUEB quidem perfec- 
tiones in Deo prseexistunt unite et simpliciter, in creaturis vero reapiuntur 
divise et multipliciter. Sicut igitur diversis perfectionibus creaturarum 
respondet unum simplex principium repraesentatum per diversas per- 
fectiones creaturarum varie et multipHciter, ita variis et multiplicibus con- 
ceptibus inteUectus nostri respondet unum omnino simplex, secundum 
hujusmodi conceptiones imperfecte intellecrum. Et ideo nomina Deo 
attribute, licet significent unam rem, tamen quia significant earn sub 
rationibus multis et diversis 5 non sunt synonyma. 

1, Et sic patet solutio ad primum; quia nomina synonyma dicuntur quas 
significant unum secundum "nam rationem. Quae enim significant rationes 
diversas unius rei non primo et per se unum significant^ quia nomen non 
significat rem nisi mediante conceptione intellectus 3 ut dictum est. 5 

2, Ad secundum dicendum quod rationes plures horum nominum non 
sunt cassse et vanae^ quia omnibus eis respondet unum quid simplex per 
omnia hujusmodi multipliciter et imperfecte repraesentatum. 

3, Ad tertium dicendum quod hoc ipsum ad perfectam Dei unitatem 
pertinet., quod ea quas sunt multipliciter et divisim in aliis in ipso sunt 
simpliciter et unite. Et ex hoc contingit quod est unus re et multiplex 
secundum rationem, quk intellecrus noster ita multipliciter apprehendit 
cum, sicut res multipliciter ipsum reprsesentant. 

articulus 5. utrwn nomina dicantur d& Deo et creaturis univoce vel aquivoce 

AD QUINTUM sic proceditur: 1 I. Videtur quod ea quse dicuntur de Deo et 
creaturis univoce de ipsis dicantur. Omne enim sequivocum reducitur ad 
univocum, sicut multa ad unum; r>^tn si hoc nomen a canis s aequivoce 

*ja. I3> 2 *ia- 13, 1 & 2 5 ia. 13, r 

*cf I Sent. PtoL 2 ad 2; 14, 5, 2 ad i; 35^ 4. CG I, 32, 33, 34. De veritate n, n. 

De potmtia vn, 7, Compend. TheoL 27 



REPLY: The words we use to speak of God are not synonymous. This is 
clear enough in the case of words we use to deny something of him or to 
speak of his causal relation to creatures. Such words differ in meaning 
according to the different things we wish to deny of him or the different 
effects to which we are referring. But it should be clear from what has been 
said 3 that even the words that signify what God is (although they do it 
imperfectly) also have distinct meanings. 4 

What we mean by a word is the concept we form of what the word 
signifies. Since we know God from creatures we understand him through 
concepts appropriate to the perfections creatures receive from him. What 
pre-exists in God in a simple and unified way is divided amongst creatures 
as many and varied perfections. The many perfections of creatures cor- 
respond to one single source which they represent in varied and complex 
ways. Thus the different and complex concepts that we have in mind cor- 
respond to something altogether simple which they enable us imperfectly 
to understand. 8 Thus the words we use for the perfections we attribute 
to God, although they signify what is one, are not synonymous 3 for they 
signify it from many different points of view. 

Hence: I. The solution of the first objection is then clear. Synonyms 
signify the same thing from the same point of view. Words that signify 
the same thing thought of in different ways do not* properly speaking, 
signify the same, for words only signify things by way of thoughts, as 
noted above. 5 

2. The many different points of view are not baseless and pointless, for 
they all correspond to a single reality which each represents imperfectly in 
a different way. 

3. It belongs to the perfection of God's unity that what is many and 
diverse in others should in him be unified and simple. That is why he is 
one thing described in many ways, for our minds learn of him in the many 
ways in which he is represented by creatures. 

article 5. are words used univocally or equivocally of God and creatures? 

THE FIFTH POINT: 1 1. It seems that words used both of God and of creatures 
are used univocally : a the equivocal is based on the univocal as the many 
is based on the one. A word such as 'dog 3 may be used equivocally of a 

a See Appendix 3, 'Signifying Imperfectly*. 

a A word is said to be used univocally when it has exactly the same meaning in 
different applications ; it is used equivocally when it lias different meanings in different 
applications, as with all puns. Thus 'tap' is used equivocally of a knock on the door 
and the thing on the barrel. 



dicitur de latrabili et marine, oportet quod de aliquibus uniyoce dicatur, 
scilicet de omnibus latrabiiibus; aliter enim esset procederc in infimtum. 
Inveniuntur autem qusedam agentia univoca quas conveniunt cum suis 
efiectibus in nomine et definitione, ut homo generat hominem; qusedam 
vero agentia sequivoca., sicut sol causat calidum, cum tamen ipse non sit 
calidus nisi sequivoce, Videtur igitur quod primum agens a ad quod omnia 
agentia reducuntur, sit agens univocum; et ita quae de Deo et creaturis 
dicuntur 5 univoce prsedicantur. 

2. Prxterea, secundum aequivoca non attenditur aliqua similitude. Cum 
igitur creatures ad Deum sit aliqua similitude, secundum illud Gen., 
Fadamus hwmnent ad imaginem et similitudinem nostrum^ videtur quod 
aliquid univoce de Deo et creaturis dicatur. 

3. Prseterea^ mensura est homogenea mensurato., ut dicitur in x Meta? 
Sed Deus est prima mensura omnium entium, ut ibidem dicitur. Ergo 
Deus est homogeneus creaturis; et ita aliquid univoce de Deo et creaturis 
did potest. 

SED CONTRA, quidquid prsedicatur de aliquibus secundum idem nomen 5 et 
non secundum eamdem rationem,, praedicatur de eis aequivoce. Sed nullum 
nomen convenit Deo secundum illam rationem, secundum quam dicitur 
de creatura, nam sapientia in creaturis est qualitas 3 non autem in Deo, 
Genus autem variatum mutat rationem, cum sit pars definitionis; et 
eadem ratio est in aliis. Quidquid ergo de Deo et creaturis dicitur aequivoce 

Fraerterea, Deus plus distat a creaturis quam quaecumque creaturae ab 
invicem. Sed propter distantiam quarumdam creaturarum contingit quod 
pihil univoce de eis prasdicari potest, sicut de his quae non conveniunt in 
aliquo genere. Ergo multo minus de Deo et creaturis aliquid univoce 
prsedicatur s sed omnia prsedicantur asquivoce. 

RESPONSIO: Dicendum quod impossibile est aliquid praedicari de Deo et 
creaturis univoce. Quia omnis effectus non adaequans virtutem causae 
agentis recipit similitudinem agentis 3 non secundum eamdem rationem, 
sed deficienter. Ita ut quod divisim et multipliciter est in effectibus in 
causa est simpliciter et eodem modo; sicut sol secundum imam suam 
virtutem multifbnnes et varias fonnas in istis inferioribus producit. Eodem 

^Genesis I, 26 

^Metaphysics x s I. 1053324 

b The pCHnt seems to be that a word used equivocally must first of all be a word* 
and hence must first of all have an univocal use. This xmconvincing objection 
seems to be based on nothing more than the fact that the distinction 'univocal 



hound and a fish, but only because it is first used univocally of hounds 
otherwise there would be nowhere to start from 13 and we should go back 
for ever. Now there are some causes that are called univocal because their 
effects have the same name and description as themselves what is 
generated by a man, for example, is also a man. Some causes, however, are 
called equivocal, as is the sun when it causes heat, for the sun itself is only 
equivocally said to be hot. Since, therefore, the equivocal is based on the 
univocal it seems that the first cause upon which all others are based must 
be an univocal cause, hence what is said of God and of his creatures must 
be said univocally. 

2. There is no resemblance between things that are only equivocally the 
same, but according to Genesis there is a resemblance between creatures 
and God; Let us make man in our own image and likeness* So it seems that 
something can be said univocally of God and creatures. 

3. Aristotle says that the measure must be of the same order as the thing 
measured, 3 and he also describes God as the first measure of all beings. 
God, therefore, is of the same order as creatures; and so something can be 
said univocally of both. 

ON THE OTHER HAND for two reasons it seems that such words must be used 
equivocally. First, the same word when used with different meanings is 
used equivocally, but no word when used of God means the same as when 
it is used of a creature. c Wisdom*, for example, means a quality when it is 
used of creatures, but not when it is applied to God. So then it must have a 
different meaning, for we have here a difference in the genus which is part 
of the definition. The same applies to other words; so all must be used 

And second, God is more distant from any creature than any two 
creatures are from each other. Now there are some creatures so different 
that nothing can be said univocally of them for example when they differ 
in genus. Much less, therefore, could there be anything said univocally of 
creatures and God. 

REPLY: It is impossible to predicate anything univocally of God and 
creatures. Every effect that falls short of what is typical of the power of its 
cause represents it inadequately, for it is not the same kind of thing as the 
cause. Thus what exists simply and in a unified way in the cause will be 
divided up and take various different forms in such effects as the simple 
power of the sun produces many different kinds of lesser things. In the 

equivocal* was then used when talking of causes as well as in discussion of 


SUMMA THEOLOGm a la. 13, 5 

raodo, ut supra dictum est/ omnes renim perfectiones quse sunt in rebus 
creatis divisim et multipliciter, in Deo prseexistunt unite et simpliciter. 

Sic igitur 3 cum aliquod nomen ad perfectionem pertinens de creatura 
dicitur, significat illam perfectionem distinctam secundum rationem dis- 
tinctionis ab aliis; puta, cum hoc nomen, sapiens, de homine dicitur, 
significamus aliquam perfectionem distinctam ab essentia horninis, et a 
potentia, et ab esse ipsius, et ab omnibus hujusmodi; sed cum hoc 
nomen de Deo dicimus, non intendimus significare aliqutd distinctum ab 
essentia, vel potentia, vel esse ipsius. Et sic cum hoc nomen, sapiens., de 
homine dicitur 3 quodammodo circumscribit et comprehendit rem signi- 
ficatam, non autem cum dicitur de Deo; sed relinquit rem significatam ut 
incomprehensam, et excedentem nominis significationem. Unde patet 
quod non secundum eamdem rationem hoc nomen a sapiens^ de Deo et de 
homine dicitur. Et eadem ratio est de aliis. Unde nullum nomen univoce 
de Deo et creaturis praedicatur. 

Sed nee etiam pure sequivoce ut aliqui dixerunt. Quia secundum hoc ex 
creaturis nihil posset cognosci de Deo, nee demonstrari, sed semper inci- 
deret fallacia squivocationis. Et hoc est tarn contra philosophos qui multa 
demonstrative de Deo probant,* quam etiam contra Apostolum dicentem^ 
Imrisibilia Dei, per ea qu&facta sunt, intellecta conspitiunturs* Dicendum est 
igirur quod hujusmodi nomina dicuntur de Deo et creaturis secundum 
analogiam, idest 5 proportionem. 

Quod quidem dupliciter contingit in nominibus : vel quia multa habent 
proportionem ad unum, sicut sanum dicitur de medicina et urina in 
quantum utrumque habet ordinem et proportionem ad sanitatem animal is; 
cujus hoc quidem signum est, illud vero causa: vel ex eo quod uaum habet 
proportionera ad alterum, sicut sanurn dicitur de medicina et animali^ in 
quantum medicina est causa sanitatis^ qus& est in am'mali. 

Et hoc modo aliqua dicuntur de Deo et creaturis analogice, et non 
aeqnivoce pure neque pure univoce. Non em'm possumus nominare Deum 
nisi ex creaturis, ut supra dictum est. 6 Et sic quidquid dicitur de Deo et 
creaturisj dicitur secundum quod est aliquis ordo creaturae ad Deum ut 
ad prindpium et causam, in qua praeesistunt excellenter omnes rerum 

Et iste modus comtrmnitatis medius est inter puram aequivocationem et 
simplicem univocatianem. Neque enim in iis quae analogice dicuntur est 
una ratio, sicut est in univocis ? nee totaliter diversaj sicut in aequivocis; sed 

*Piana: contra Philosophum qui . , . probat 3 against Aristotle who proves. Faucher 
refers to Physics vm and Metaphysics xn 
*ia. I3 3 4 ^Romans i 20 e ia. 13^ I 
c The reference is to Averroes and Maimanides, 
ranslator's Note 3 p. 


same way, as we said earlier/ the perfections which in creatures are many 
and various pre-exist in God as one. 

The perfection words that we use in speaking of creatures all differ in 
meaning and each one signifies a perfection as something distinct from all 
others. Thus when we say that a man is wise, we signify his wisdom as 
something distinct from the other things about him his essence, for 
example, his powers or his existence. But when we use this word about God 
we do not intend to signify something distinct from his essence,, power or 
existence. When 'wise 5 is used of a man, it so to speak contains and delimits 
the aspect of man that it signifies, but this is not so when it is used of God; 
what it signifies in God is not confined by the meaning of our word but 
goes beyond it. Hence it is clear that the word 'wise* is not used in the 
same sense of God and man, and the same is true of all other words, so they 
cannot be used univocally of God and creatures. 

Yet although we never use words in exactly the same sense of creatures 
and God we are not merely equivocating when we use the same word, as some 
have said, c for if this were so we could never argue from statements about 
creatures to statements about God any such argument would be in- 
validated by the Fallacy of Equivocation. That this does not happen we 
know not merely from the teachings of the philosophers who prove many 
things about God but also from the teaching of St Paul, for he says, The 
invisible things of God are made known by those things that are madeJ* 

We must say, therefore, that words are used of God and creatures in an 
analogical way, that is in accordance with a certain order between them. 
We can distinguish two kinds of analogical or 'proportional* uses of 
language. Firstly there is the case of one word being used of two things 
because each of them has some order or relation to a third thing. Thus we 
use the word 'healthy 5 of both a diet and a complexion because each of these 
has some relation to health in a man, the former as a cause, the latter as a 
symptom of it. d Secondly there is the case of the same word used of two 
things because of some relation that one has to the other as 'healthy* is 
used of the diet and the man because the diet is the cause of the health in 
the man. 

In this way some words are used neither univocally nor purely equivo- 
cally of God and creatures, but analogically, for we cannot speak of God 
at all except in the language we use of creatures/ and so whatever is said 
both of God and creatures is said in virtue of the order that creatures have 
to God as to their source and cause in which all the perfections of things 
pre-exist transcendently. 

This way of using words lies somewhere between pure equivocation and 
simple univocity, for the word is neither used in the same sense, as with 
univocal usage, nor in totally different senses, as with equivocation. The 


nomen quod sic multipliciter dicitur significat diversas proportiones ad 
aliquid unum; sicut sanum de urina dictum significat signum sanitatis 
animalis., de medicina vero dictum significat causam ejusdem sanitatis. 

1. Ad primum ergo dicendum quod licet in prsedicationibus oporteat 
sequivoca ad univoca reduci, tamen in actionibus agens non univocum ex 
necessitate praecedit agens univocum. Agens enim non univocum est 
causa universalis totius speciei, ut sol est causa generationis omnium 
hominumj agens vero univocum non est causa agens universalis totius 
speciei, alioquin esset causa sui ipsius, cum sub specie contineatur, sed est 
causa particularis respectu hujus individui, quod in participatione speciei 
constituit. Causa igitur universalis totius speciei non est agens univocum. 
Causa autem universalis est prior particulari. Hoc autem agens universale, 
licet non sit univocum, non tamen est omnino aequivocum, quia sic non 
faceret sibi simile; sed potest did agens analogicum., sicut in prsedicatio- 
nibus omnia univoca reducuntur ad rmnm primum non univocum^ sed 
analogicum, quod est ens. 

2. Ad secundum dicendum quod similitude creaturae ad Deum est 
imperfecta; quia etiam nee idem secundum genus reprsesentat, ut supra 
dictum est. 7 

3. Ad tertium dicendum quod Deus non est mensura proportionata 
mensuratis; unde non oportet quod Deus et creaturse sub uno genere 

Ea vero quse sunt in contrarium, concludunt quod non univoce hujus- 
modi nomina de Deo et creaturis praedicentur, non autem quod aequivoce. 

anicidus 6. utrum nomina per prius dicantur de creaturis quam de Deo 

AD SEXTUM sic proceditur: 1 1. Videtur quod nomina per prius dicantur de 
creaturis quam de Deo. Secundum enim quod cognoscimus aliquid, 
secundum hoc illud nominamus, cum nomina secundum Philosophum 5 
I Perihermeneiasy sint signa intellectuum* Sed per prius cognoscimus 
creaturam quam Deum. Ergo nomina a nobis imposita per prius con- 
veniunt creaturis quam Deo. 

2. Praeterea a secundum Dionysium, Deum ex creaturis nominamus.* Sed 
nomina a creaturis translata in Deunx, per prius dicuntur de creaturis 
quam de Deo 5 sicut lea^ lapis> et hujusmodi. Ergo omnia nomina quse de 
Deo et de creaturis dicuntur 3 per prius de creaturis quam de Deo dicuntur. 

J cf la. 13, 3. I Sent. 22, 2. CG I 3 34. Compend. TheoL 27. In Ad Epnes. 3, lect. 4 

*De Interpretations I, I, 1633 

*De dw. nom. i. PG 3^ 596. (St Thomas, lect. 3) 



several senses of a word used analogically signify different relations to some 
one thing, as 'health' in a complexion means a symptom of health in a man, 
and in a diet means a cause of that health. 6 

Hence : i . Even if it were the case that in speech the equivocal were 
based on the univocal, the same is not true of causality. A non-univocal 
cause is causal by reference to an entire species as the sun is the cause 
that there are men. An univocal cause,, on the other hand, cannot be the 
universal cause of the whole species (otherwise it would be the cause of 
itself, since it is a member of that same species), but is the particular cause 
that this or that individual should be a member of the species. Thus the 
universal cause which must be prior to the individual cause, is non- 
univocal. 1 Such a cause, however, is not wholly equivocal, for then there 
would be no resemblance in any sense between it and its effects. We could 
call it an analogical cause, and this would be parallel to the case of 
speech, for all univocal predications are based on one non-univocal, 
analogical predicate, that of being. 5 

2. The resemblance of creatures to God is an imperfect one, for as we 
have said, 7 they do not even share a common genus. 

3. God is not a measure that is proportionate to what is measured; so 
it does not follow that he and his creatures belong to the same order. 

The two arguments in the contrary sense do show that words are not 
used univocally of God and creatures but they do not show that they are 
used equivocally. 

article 6. are words predicated primarily of God or of creatures? 

THE SIXTH POINT r 1 1 . It seems that the words we use of God apply primarily 
to creatures. For we speak of things as we know them since, as Aristotle 
says, words are signs for things as understood. 2 But we know creatures 
before we know God, hence our words apply to creatures before they 
apply to God. 

2. Dionysius says that the language we use about God is derived from what 
we say about creatures* But when a word such as 'lion' or 'rock* is trans- 
ferred from a creature to God it is used first of the creature. Hence such 
words apply primarily to the creature. 

e See Appendix 4, Analogy. 
'See Appendix 2 > Cattses. 

*St Thomas means that whatever we say (affirmatively) of a thing, we say that it is 
such and such. In this sense every predication, in whatever category, is a predica- 
tion of being. But 'being* itself is used non-univocally, for being a man and being 
upside down and being happy are not all being in the same sense. 


SUMMA THEOLOGim, la. 13, 6 

3. Prseterea, omnia nomina quse communiter de Deo et creaturis dicun- 
tur, dicuntur de Deo sicut de causa omnium, ut dicit Dionysius. 4 Sed 
quod dicitur de aliquo per causam per posterius de illo dicitur; per prius 
enim dicitur animal sanum quam medicina^, quae est causa sanltatis. Ergo 
hujusmodi nomina per prius dicuntur de creaturis quam de Deo. 

SED CONTRA, est quod dicitur Ephes,, Flecto genua mea ad Patrem Domini 
ncstrijesu Christi, ex quo omnis patemitas in ccelo et in terra nominatur? et 
eadem ratio videtur de nominibus aliis quse de Deo et creaturis dicuntur. 
Ergo hujusmodi nomina per prius de Deo quam de creaturis dicuntur. 

RESPONSIO: Dicendum quod in omnibus nominibus quae de pluribus 
analogice dicuntur, necesse est quod omnia dicantur per respectum ad 
unum. Et ideo illud unum oportet quod ponatur in definitione omnium. 
Et quia ratio quam significat nomen est definitio, ut dicitur in IV Meta.f 
necesse est quod illud nomen per prius dicatur de eo quod ponitur in 
definitione aliorum, et per posterius de aliis secundum ordineni quo 
appropinquant ad illud primum vel magis vel minus; sicut sanum quod 
dicitur de animali, cadit in definitione sani quod dicitur de medicina, quae 
dicitur sana, inquantum causat sanitatem in arrimali; et in definitione sani 
quod dicitur de urina, quae dicitur Sana inquantum est signum sanitatis 

Sic ergo omnia nomina quae metaphorice de Deo dicuntur, per prius de 
creaturis dicuntur quam de Deo, quia dicta de Deo nihil aliud significant 
quam similitudines ad tales creaturas. Sicut enim ridere dictum de prato 
nihil aliud significat quam quod pratum similiter se habet in decore cum 
floret sicut homo cum ridet, secundum sirnilitudinem proportionis. Sic 
nomen Uonis dictum de Deo nihil aliud significat quam quod Deus simili- 
ter se habet ut fortiter operetur in suis operibus, sicut leo in suis. Et sic patet 
quod, secundum quod dicuntur de Deo, eorum significatio definiri non 
potest nisi per illud quod de creaturis dicitur. 

De aliis autem nominibus quse non metaphorice dicuntur de Deo, esset 
etiam eadem ratio, si dicerentur de Deo causaliter tantum, ut quid am 
posuerunt. Sic enim cum dicitur, Deus est bomts* nihil aliud esset quam, 
Deus est causa bonitatis creatwr&i et sic hoc nomen, bonum, dictum de 
Deo, clauderet in suo intellectu bonitatem creaturae. Unde bonum per 
prius diceretur de creatura quam de Deo. 

'De ntystica theologia I. PG 3, 1000 

*Ephesians 3 3 14-15 8 cf Metaphysics IV, 7. 1012023 

*See Translator's Note. 

*e,g. Alan of lille. cf PL 210, 631, 633. 



3. Words used of both God and creatures are used of him in that he is 
the cause of all things, as Dionysius says. 4 But what is said of something in 
a causal sense applies to it only secondarily as 'healthy 3 applies primarily 
to a living body and only secondarily to the diet that causes its health. 
Hence such words are applied primarily to creatures. 

ON THE OTHER HAND we read in Ephesians^ I "bow my knees to the Father of 
our Lord Jesus, from whom all fatherhood in heaven and on earth is named'., 5 
and the same seems to apply to other words used of God and creatures. 
These words, then, are used primarily of God. 

REPLY: Whenever a word is used analogically of many things, it is used of 
them because of some order or relation they have to some central thing. In 
order to explain an extended or analogical use of a word it is necessary to 
mention this central thing. 6 Thus you cannot explain what you mean by a 
'healthy 5 diet without mentioning the health of the man of which it is the 
cause; similarly you must understand 'healthy 3 as applied to a man before 
you can understand what is meant by a 'healthy complexion' which is the 
symptom of that health. 3 - The primary application of the word is to the 
central thing that has to be understood first; other applications will be 
more or less secondary in so far as they approximate to this use. 

Thus all words used metaphorically of God apply primarily to creatures 
and secondarily to God. When used of God they signify merely a certain 
parallelism between God and the creature. When we speak metaphorically 
of a meadow as 'smiling* we only mean that it shows at its best when it 
flowers, just as a man shows at his best when he smiles: there is a parallel 
between them. In the same way, if we speak of God as a 'lion' we only 
mean that, like a lion, he is mighty in his deeds. It is obvious that the mean- 
ing of such a word as applied to God depends on and is secondary to the 
meaning it has when used of creatures. 

This would be the case for non-metaphorical words too if they were 
simply used, as some have supposed, 1 * to express God's causality. If, 
for example, 'God is good' meant the same as 'God is the cause of goodness 
in creatures' the word 'good' as applied to God would have contained within 
its meaning the goodness of the creature; and hence 'good 5 would apply 
primarily to creatures and secondarily to God. c 

c'God is good' means according to St Thomas, la. 13, 2, that what we call goodness 
in creatures pre-exists in hi in a higher way. Our understanding of how to use 
'God is good' is a function of our understanding of goodness in creatures, but the 
goodness of God is not therefore a function of the goodness of creatures. In this 
sense 'good' as applied to God does not have contained within its meaning the 
goodness of the creature. 



Sed supra ostensum est 7 quod hujusmodi nomina non solum dicuntur 
de Deo causaliter, sed etiam essentialiter. Cum enim dicitur, Deus est 
bonus, vel sapiens., non solum significatur quod ipse sit causa sapientias vel 
bonitatis, sed quod haec in eo eminentius prseexistunt. Unde secundum 
hoc dicendum est quod quantum ad rem significatam per nomen per prius 
dicuntur de Deo quam de creaturis, quia a Deo hujusrnodi perfectiones in 
creaturas mariant; sed quantum ad impositionem nominis per prius a nobis 
imponuntur creaturis, quas prius cognoscimus. Unde et modum signi- 
ficandi habent qui competit creaturis, ut supra dictum est. 8 

1. Ad prirnum ergo dicendum quod objectio ilia procedit quantum ad 
impositionem nominis. 

2. Ad secundum dicendum quod non est eadem ratio de norninibus 
quae metaphorice de Deo dicuntur, et de aliis, ut dictum est. 9 

3. Ad tertium dicendum quod objectio ilia procederet, si hujusmodi 
nomina solum de Deo causaliter dicerentur a et non essentialker, sicut 
sanum de medicina. 

articulus 7. utrwn aliqua nomina dic&ntur de Deo ex tempore 

AD SEPTIMUM sic proceditur: 1 1. Videtur quod nomina quae important rela- 
tionem ad creaturas 3 non dicantur de Deo ex tempore. Omnia enim hujus- 
modi nomina significant divinam substantial^ ut communiter dicitur. 
Unde et Ambrosius dicit quod hoc nomen., Dominus, est nomen potestatis^ 
quse est divina substantial et creatio* significat Dei actionem quae est ejus 
essentia. Sed divina substantia non est temporah's, sed aeterna. Ergo 
hujusmodi nomina non dicuntur de Deo ex tempore^ sed ab aeterno. 

2. Praeterea^ cuicumque convenit aliquid ex tempore potest dici factum; 
quod enim ex tempore est album fit album, Sed Deo non convenit esse 
factum. Ergo de Deo niJi.fl prsedicator ex tempore. 

3. Fraeterea, si aliqua nomina dicuntur de Deo ex tempore 3 propter hoc 
quod important relatbnem ad creaturas, eadem ratio videtur de omnibus 
quae relationem ad creaturas important. Sed qusedam nomina importanria 
relationem ad creaturas dicuntur de Deo ab aeterno; ab sterno enim scivit 
creaturam et dilexit^ secundum illudjerew., In charitate perpetua dikxite^ 
Ergo et alia nomina quee important relationem ad creaturas, ut DominuS) et 
Creator^ dicuntur de Deo ab aeterno. 

4. Prasterea, hujusmodi nomina relationem significant; oportet igitur 

*Leonine: Creator^ the creator 

7 ia, 13, 2 *ia. I3> 3 *In the body of the article 
*cf la. 34 2, 3. 1 Sent. 30, i; 37, 2, 2 
*D^ Fide I, i. PL. l6 3 553 
, 3 



But we have already shown 7 that words of this sort do not only say how 
God is a cause, they also say what he is. When we say he is good or wise 
we do not simply mean that he causes wisdom or goodness, but that he 
possesses these perfections transcendently. We conclude, therefore, that 
from the point of view of what the word means it is used primarily of God 
and derivatively of creatures, for what the word means the perfection it 
signifies flows from God to the creature. But from the point of view of 
our use of the word we apply it first to creatures because we know them 
first. That, as we have mentioned already, 8 is why it has a way of signifying 
that is appropriate to creatures. 

Hence: i. This is valid so far as our first application of the words is 

2. Words used of God metaphorically are not in the same case as the 
others, as we have said, 9 

3. This objection would be valid if all words were used to express the 
causality of God and not to say what he is, as 'healthy* expresses the 
causality of a diet and not what it consists in. 

article 7. in speaking, of God can we use words ihat imply temporal succession? 

THE SEVENTH POINT: 1 i. It seems that we cannot apply to God words that 
imply temporal succession, even when we are speaking of his relation to 
creatures. 3 - It is generally agreed that such words signify what God is in 
himself. Thus Ambrose says 2 that 'Lord* indicates his power, but this is 
the divine substance, and 'creation* indicates his action but this is his 
essence. But God in himself is not temporal but eternal. Hence these words 
are not said of him in a temporal sense but as applicable from eternity. 

2. Whatever is true of a thing in a temporal sense can be said to have 
been brought about what is white in a temporal sense is made white. But 
nothing in God could be brought about. Therefore nothing is said of him 
in a temporal sense. 

3. If the reason why we could use words of God in a temporal sense 
were that such words implied a relation to creatures then the same would 
be true of every word that implied such a relation. Now some of these are 
applied as from eternity; we say, for example, that from eternity he knew 
creatures and loved them With an everlasting love have I loved thee* 
Hence all other words, such as 'Lord* or ^Creator*, are applicable from 

4. These words signify a relation, and this must be a reality in God or in 

*The question is whether you can say that God began or ceased to have certain 
relationships to creatures. 


SUMMA THEOLOGI/a, la. 13, 7 

quod relatio ilia vel sit aliquid in Deo vel in creatura tantum. Sed non 
potest esse quod sit in creatura tantum, quia sic Deus denominaretur 
Dominus a relatione opposita, quae est in creaturis; nihil autem denomi- 
natur a suo opposite, Relinquitur ergo quod relatio est aliquid in Deo. Sed 
in Deo nihil potest esse ex tempore, cum ipse sit supra tempus. Ergo 
videtur quod hujusmodi nomina non dicantur de Deo ex tempore. 

5, Pratterea, secundum relationem dicitur aliquid relative^ puta secun- 
dum dominium dominus > sicut secundum albedinem albus, Si igitur 
relatio dominii non est in Deo secundum rem, sed solum secundum 
rationem, sequitur quod Deus non sit realiter dominus, quod patet esse 

6. Prseterea, in relativis quse non sunt simul natura^ iinnm potest esse., 
altero non existente; sicut scibile esistit non existente scientia 3 ut dicitur in 
Pr&dic.*' Sed relativa qua? dicuntur de Deo et creaturis, non sunt simul 
natura. Ergo potest aliquid dici relative de Deo ad creator am, etiam 
creatura non existeate. Et sic hujusmodi nomina, Dominus et Creator,, 
dicuntur de Deo ab seternO;, et non ex tempore. 

SED CONTRA est quod dicit Augustinus quod hsec relativa appellatio, Domi- 
nus, Deo convenit ex tempore. 6 

RESPONSIO: Dicendum quod qusedam nomina importanria relationem ad 
creaturam ex tempore de Deo dicuntur 3 et non ab aeterno. 

Ad cujus evidentiam sciendum est quod quid am posuerunt relationem 
non esse rem naturae, sed rationis tantum. Quod quidem apparet esse 
falsum ex hoc quod ipsae res naturalem ordinem et habitudinem habent ad 
invicem, Verumtamen sciendum est quod 3 cum relatio requirat duo ex- 
trema > triplicdter se habet ad hoc quod sit res naturae aut rationis. 

Quandoque enim ex utraque parte est res rationis tantum-, quando 
scilicet ordo vel habitudo non potest esse inter aliqua nisi secundum appre- 
hensionem rationis tantum^ utpote cum dicinius idem eidern idem* Nam 
secundum quod ratio apprenendit bis aliquod unum statuit illud ut duo 5 et 
sic apprehendit quamdam habitudinem ipsius ad seipsum. Et similiter est 
de omnibus relationibus qua sunt inter ens et non ens quas format ratio, 
inquantum apprehendit non ens ut quoddam extrenmm. Et idem est de 

*Categarue 7. ybso & De Trirdtate V, 1 6. PL 42, 922 

^Ordinarily St Thomas does not see a relationship as something that subsists 
between two or more terms s he sees it as something in each of the terms. Thus the 
relationship between a and b consists of a*s relation to b and &*s relation to a* In 
order to be clear I have had to be somewhat freer in translating this article than in 
the others, St Thomas does not make use of the variables x andj. For St Thomas 
on the category 'relation* see ra. z8 5 1-3. 


the creature alone. It cannot, however, be only in the creature., for if this 
were so God would be called 'Lord' in virtue of the opposite relation exist- 
ing in the creature; nothings however, is named from its opposite. The 
relation, therefore, must be something real in God. Yet, since he is beyond 
time, it cannot be temporal. Such words, then, are not used of God in a 
temporal sense. 

5. Something is said to be relative in virtue of some relationship it has. 
A man is called a lord because of the lordship he has, just as a thing is 
called white because of the whiteness it has. If, therefore, the relation of 
lordship were something that God did not really have, but were merely a 
way of triinking of him, it would follow that God is not truly Lord, which 
is clearly false. 

6. When the two terms of a relationship are not of the same order, one 
may exist without the other for example, the knowable can exist without 
knowledge, as is pointed out in the Categories.* But in the case of relations 
between God and creatures, the two terms are not of the same order, and 
so something could be said relatively of God even though the creature did 
not exist. In this way words like 'Lord' and 'Creator' can apply to God from 
eternity and are not used in a temporal sense. 

ON THE OTHER HAND Augustine says that the relative term 'Lord* is applic- 
able to God in a temporal sense. 5 

REPLY: Some words that imply a relation to creatures are said of God in a 
temporal sense and not as applicable from eternity. 

In order to explain this we must first say something about relations. 1 * 
Some c have said that being related to something is never a reality in 
nature, it is something created by our way of thinking about things. But 
this is false for some things do have a natural order or relation to others. 
Since whenever we can say of x that it is related to 3;, we can also say of y 
that it is related to a;, there are three possibilities here. 

Sometimes both what we say of x and what we say of y is true of them 
not because of any reality in them, but because they are being thought of in 
a particular way. Thus when we say a thing is identical with itself, the two 
terms of the relation only exist because the mind takes one thing and thinks 
of it twice, thus treating it as though it had a relation to itself. Similarly any 
relation between a thing and nothing is set up by the mind treating 
nothing as though it were a term. The same is generally true of all relations 

c e.g. disciples of Gilbert de la Porree, d. 1154. cf De potentia vm 3 2. (Also for 
discussion on substance and relation.) 

3-H 73 


omnibus relationibus quae consequuntur actum rationis, ut genus et 
species, et hujusmodL 

Quffidam vero relationes sunt quantum ad utrumque extremum res 
naturae, quaado scilicet est habitude inter aliqua duo secundum aliquid 
realiter conveniens utrique; sicut patet de omnibus relationibus qua con- 
sequuntur quantitatem, ut magnum et parvum> duplum et dimidium, et 
hujusmodi; nam quantitas est in utroque extremorum. Et simile est de 
relationibus quae consequuntur actionem et passionem, ut motivum et 
mobile^ pater et filius, et similia. 

Quandoque vero relatio in uno extremorum est res naturae et in altero 
est res rationis tantum: et hoc contingit quandocumque duo extrema non 
sunt unius ordinis. Sicut sensus et scientia referuntur ad sensible ^et 
scibile, quse quidem, in quantum sunt res quaedam in esse natural! exis- 
tentes sunt extra ordinem esse sensibilis et intelHgibilis. Et ideo in scientia 
quidem et sensu est relatio realis, secundum quod ordinantur ad sciendum 
vel sentiendum res. Sed res ipsas in se considerate sunt extra ordinem 
hujusmodi; unde in eis non est aliqua relatio realiter ad scientiam et 
sensum^ sed secundum rationem tantum, in quantum intellectus appre- 
hendit ea ut tenninos relationum scientist et sensus. Unde Philosophus 
dicit in v Meta* quod non dicuntur relative eo quod ipsa referantur ad 
alia ? sed quia alia referuntur ad ipsa. Et similiter dextrum non dicirur de 
columnaj nisi inquantum ponitur animali ad dexteram. Unde hujusmodi 
relatio non est realiter in columna, sed in animali. 

Cum igitur Deus sit extra totum ordinem creaturse^ et omnes creaturas 
ordinentur ad ipsum 3 et non e converso, manifestum est quod creaturae 
realiter referuntur ad ipsum Deum; sed in Deo non est aliqua realis relatio 
ejus ad creaturas ? sed secundum rationem tantum,, in quantum creaturaa 
referuntur ad ipsum. Et sic alM prohibet hujusmodi nornina importantia 
relationem ad creaturam praedicari de Deo ex tempore 5 non propter 
aliquam mutationem ipsius^ sed propter creaturae mutationem, sicut 
columna fit dextera animal ij nulla mutatione circa ipsam existente^ sed 
a-QJmaH translato. 

i. Ad primum ergo dicendum quod relativa qusedam sunt imposita ad 
signi&candum ipsas habitudines relativas, ut dominus et servus, pater et 
filius, et hujusmodi; et haec dicuntur relativa seamdum esse, Quaedam vero 
sunt imposita ad sigrdficandas res quas consequuntur qusedam habitudines, 
sicut rnovens et motum, caput et capitatum, et alia hujusmodi; quae dicun- 
tur relativa secundum did. Sic igitur et circa nornina divina haec differentia 
est consideranda. Nam quaedam significant ipsam habitudinem ad crea- 
ut Dommus^ et hujusmodi non significant substantiam divinam 

^Metaphysics V, 15. !O2ia29 



that are set up as part of our thinking, for instance the relation of being a 
species of a certain genus. 

In the second case both what we say of x and what we say of j> is true of 
them because of some reality in x and y. They are related because of some- 
thing that belongs to both quantity, for example, as with the relations of 
being bigger than and being smaller than, being double and being half., and so 
forth. It is the same with the relations that result from causal activity as 
being what is changed by and being what changes, being father 0/"and being son 
of and so forth. 

In the third case the truth about x that it is related to y is due to some- 
thing real in x, but the truth about y that it is related to x is not due to 
Anything real injy. This happens when x and y are not of the same order. 
Take, for example, the relation of being knowable by and knowing (whether 
we mean knowledge by the senses or by the mind). When x is knowable by 
jy, x is not in and by itself something knowable. In so far as it exists in its 
own right it lies outside the order of knowledge ; d hence while the relation 
of knowing x is a reality in the senses or mind of y for knowing is what 
makes a real difference to these being knowable by y is not a reality in x. 
Thus Aristotle says that some things are said to be relative not because 
they are related to others but because others are related to them. 6 One side 
of the pillar is said to be the right side because it is at somebody's right 
hand; the relation of being on the right of is real in the man but not in the 

Now since God is altogether outside the order of creatures, since they 
are ordered to him but not he to them, it is clear that being related to God is 
a reality in creatures, but being related to creatures is not a reality in God, 
we say it about him because of the real relation in creatures. So it is that 
when we speak of his relation to creatures we can apply words implying 
temporal sequence and change, not because of any change in him but 
because of a change in the creatures; just as we can say that the pillar has 
changed from being on my left to being on my right, not through any 
alteration in the pillar but simply because I have turned round. 

Hence: i. Some relative words signify simply a relationship, others 
signify that on account of which there is a relationship. Thus 'lord 5 says 
nothing more about a lord except that he stands in some relationship. To be 
a lord precisely is to be related to a servant the same is true of words like 
'father' and 'son' and so forth. Other relative words, however, such as 
'motor' and 'moved', 'head* and 'being headed', signify something on 
account of which there is a relationship. Some of the words we use of God 
are of the first kind and some of the second. 6 'Lord* for instance signifies 

d See Appendix I, Knowledge. e cf Glossary under 'relation'. 


SUMMA THEOLOGY, la. 13, 7 

directe, sed indirecte, in quantum praesupponunt ipsam, sicut dominium 
praesupponit potestatem, quas est divina substantia. Quaedam vero signi- 
ficant directe essentiam divinam, et ex consequent! important habitudinem, 
sicut Salvator, Creator, et hujusmodi significant actionem Dei quse est 
ejus essentia. Utraque tamen nomina ex tempore de Deo dicuntur quan- 
tum ad habitudinem quam important vel principaliter vel consequenter, 
non autem quantum ad hoc quod significant essentiam vel directe vel 

2. Ad secundum dicendum quod sicut relationes quse de Deo dicuntur 
ex tempore non sunt in Deo nisi secundum rationem; ita nee fieri nee 
factum esse dicitur de Deo nisi secundum rationem, nulla mutatione circa 
ipsum existente sicut est id, Domine, refugium factus es nobisS 

3. Ad tertium dicendum quod operatic intellectus et voluntatis est in 
operante. Et ideo nomina quse significant relationes consequentes ac- 
tionem inteilectus vel voluntatis dicuntur de Deo ab Eeterno. Quae vero 
consequuntur acdones procedentes secundum modum intelligendi ad 
exteriores efiectus, dicuntur de Deo ex tempore-, ut Salvator, Creator., et 

4. Ad quartum dicendum quod relationes significatae per hujusmodi 
nomina quae dicuntur de Deo ex tempore sunt in Deo secundum rationem 
tantum; opposite autem relationes in creaturis sunt secundum. rem. Nee 
est inconveniens quod a relationibus realiter existentibus in creatura Deus 
denominetur 3 tamen secundum quod cointelliguntur per intellectum 
nostrum oppositae relationes in Deo; ut sic Deus dicatur relative ad crea- 
turam quia creatura refertur ad ipsunij sicut Philosophus dicit quod 
scibile dicitur relative, quia scientia refertur ad ipsum. 8 

5. Ad quintum dicendum quod cum ea ratione referatur Deus ad 
creaturam qua creatura refertur ad ipsum 5 cum relatio subjectionis realiter 
sit in creatura, sequitur quod Deus non secundum rationem tantum, sed 
realiter sit Dominus; eo enim niodo dicitur Dominus quo creatura ei 
subjecta est. 

6. Ad sextuni dicendum quod ad cognoscendum utrum relativa sint 
simul natura vel non, non oportet considerare ordinem rerum de quibus 
relativa dicuntur, sed significationes ipsorum relativorum. Si enim unum 
in sui intellectu ciaudat aliud, et e converse, tune sunt siniul natura; sicut 
duplum et dimdmm^ et pater et fifius, et similia. Si autem unum in sui 
intellectu daudat aliud, et non e converse, tune non sunt simul natura. 
Et hoe modo se habent scientia et sabile? nam scibile dicitur secundum 

7 Psabn 89 (90), I 
^Metaphysics V, 15. !O2ia3o 


nothing but a relation to creatures., though it presupposes something about 
what he is, for he could not be lord without his power which is his essence. 
Others such as 'Saviour' or 'Creator' which refer directly to an action of 
God which is his essence are of the second kind and signify something on 
account of which he has a relationship. Both sorts of word, however, are 
used of God in a temporal sense in so far as they convey expressly or by 
implication a relation to creatures; they are not said temporally in so far 
as they signify directly or indirectly the divine essence. 

2. The relations attributed to God in a temporal sense are not real in 
him but belong to him as a way of speaking of him. The same is true of 
any becoming that we attribute to him as when we say, Lord., thou hast 
become a refuge to us? 

3. Thinking is not something we do to other things, but remains within 
us, and the same is true of willing. Hence expressions signifying relations 
that ensue from God's thinking and willing are applied to him from 
eternity. When, however, they signify relations that ensue from acts which, 
according to our way of thinking of God, proceed from him to external 
effects they can be used of him in a temporal sense. This is the case with 
such words as 'Creator' and 'Saviour'. 

4. God's temporal relations to creatures are in him only because of our 
way of thinking of him, but the opposite relations of creatures to him are 
realities in the creatures. It is quite admissible to attribute a relation to God 
because of something that takes place in the creature, for we cannot 
express the reality in creatures without talking as though there were 
matching relations also in God, so that God is said to be related to a 
creature because the creature is related to him, just as, according to Aris- 
totle, the knowable is said to be related to knowledge because knowledge is 
related to it. 8 

5. God is related to creatures in so far as creatures are related to him. 
Since the relation of subjection to God is really in the creature, God is 
really Lord. It is the relationship of lordship in him that is supplied by our 
minds, not the fact of his being the Lord. 

6. When we ask whether the terms of a relation are of the same order or 
not, we are not asking about the things that are said to be related but about 
the meaning of the relative words used. If one entails the other and vice 
versa then they are of the same order as with being double and being half of 
or with being father of and being son of. 1 If, however, one entails the other 
but not vice versa then they are not of the same order. This is the case 
with knowing and being knowable by. For x to be knowable by y it is not 

f This is inaccurate, *x is the father of y does not entail 'y is the son of x 9 ; St Thomas 
has forgotten about mothers and daughters. 



potentiam, scientia autem secundum habitum, vei secundum actum. 
Unde stibile secundum modum suae significationis praeexistit sciential sed 
si accipiatur scibile secundum actum tune est simul cum scientia secundum 
actum; nam scitum non est aHquid nisi sit ejus scientia. Licet igitur Deus 
sit prior creaturis, quia tamen in significatione domini clauditur quod 
habeat servum et e converse, ista duo relativa, dominus et servus, sunt 
simul natura. Unde Deus non fuit dominus antequam haberet creaturam 
sibi subjectam. 

articulus 8. ulrum hoc nomen Deus sit nomen natures 

AD OCTAVUM sic proceditur: 1 i. Videtur quod hoc nomen Deus non sit 
nomen naturae, Dicit enim Damascenus quod Deus dicitur a theein^ quod 
est curare* etfovere universe^ -Del ab &thein> id est., ardere; Deus enim noster 
ignis consumensest: vel a theasthaifi quod est considerare omnia.* Hsc autem 
omnia ad operationem pertinent. Ergo hoc nomen Deus operationem 
significat, et non naturam. 

2. Prxterea,, secundum hoc aliquid nominatur a nobis secundum quod 
cognoscing. Sed divina natura est nobis ignota. Ergo hoc nomen Deus non 
significat naturam divinam. 
SED CONTRA est quod dicit Ambrosius quod Deus est nomen naturae. 3 

RESFONSIO: Dicendum quod non est semper idem id a quo imponitur 
nomen ad sigrnficandunx, et id ad quod significandum nomen imponitur, 
Sicut enim substantiam rei ex proprietatibus vel operationibus ejus cog- 
noscimus, ita substantiam rei denominamus quandoque ab aliqua ejus 
operatione vei proprietate; sicut substantiam lapidis denominamus ab 
aJiqua actione ejus quia laedit pedem; non tamen hoc nomen impositum est 
ad significandum hanc actionem^ sed substantiam lapidis. Si qua vero sunt 
quae secundum se sunt nota nobis ? ut calor^frigus^ albedo, et hujusmodi, non 
ab aliis denominantur. Unde in talibus idem est quod nomen significat., et 
id a quo imponitur nomen ad significandum. 

Quia igitur Deus non est notus nobis in sui natura^ sed irmotescit nobis 
ex operationibus vel effectibus ejus, ex his possumus eum nominare, ut 
supra dictum est. 4 Unde hoc nomen Deus est nomen operationisj quantum 
ad id a quo imponitur ad significandum. Imponitur enim hoc nomen ab uni- 
versali renim providentia. Omnes enim loquentes de Deo hoc intendunt J 

*So most mss and printed editions, possibly by confusion -with ddco, to suckle or 

feed. Leonine, however, rightly corrects to currere y to hasten 

fPiana transliterates the Greek theyn . . . ethyn . . . theasthe; mss have theym . . . 


s: inteUigunt} everyone understands 

Sent. 2. Expos, lit. 



necessary that y should be knowing x; it is sufficient that it should have 
the power to know x. Thus 'being knowable 5 signifies intelligibility as 
something prior to actual knowledge. If, however, we take 'being know- 
able' to mean being actually here and now intelligible;, then it is coincident 
with the actual exercise of knowledge, for a thing cannot so be known 
unless someone is knowing it. In a parallel way although God is prior to 
creatures (as being knowable is prior to knowing) since 'x is lord of y and 
*y is subject to x' entail each other, being lord of and being subject to are of 
the same order. Hence God was not lord until he had a creature subject 
to him. 

article 8. does 'God* mean a thing of a certain kind? 

THE EIGHTH POINT: 1 i. It seems that 'God' does not mean a being of a 
certain kind. For John Damascene says that God (feo^) is derived from 
BelVy which means to take care of or foster all things; or else from aWetv, 
which means to burn for our God is afire burning up all wickedness; or from 
BsacrOai, which means to consider all things*** All these refer to activity. 
Hence 'God' means an activity, not a thing. 

2. We name things as we know them. We do not know what kind of 
thing God is. Therefore the name 'God' cannot signify what he is. 

ON THE OTHER HAND Ambrose says that 'God' is a name signifying the 
divine nature. 3 

REPLY: What makes us use a word is not always what the word is used to 
mean. We come to understand what a thing is from its properties and its 
behaviour, and often it is from some piece of its behaviour that we take our 
name for the sort of thing it is. Thus the word 'hydrogen* is derived from 
the fact that this gas when burnt produces water, but the word does not 
mean something that produces water but a particular sort of gas. b Things 
that we recognize immediately like heat or cold or whiteness are not named 
from anything else, and so in their case what makes us use the word is the 
same as what it is used to mean. 

Now God is not known to us in his own nature, but through his works 
or effects, and so, as we have seen, 4 it is from these that we derive the 
language we use in speaking of him. Hence 'God* is an operational word 
in that it is an operation of God that makes us use it for the word is 

*De Fide orthodoxa I, 9. The reference is to Deuteronomy 4, 24. PG 94, 835, 838 
3 De Fide I, I. PL 16, 553 *ia. 13, I 

*Qa) s to run; aWa> 3 to light up, kindle^^ to view, gaze at, behold. 
*>See Translator's Note, p. xvii. 



nominate Deum, quod habet providentiam universalem de rebus; unde 
dicit Dionysius quod Deltas est quce omnia videt providentia et bonitate 
perfecta.^ Ex hac autem operatione hoc nomen, Deus, assumptum, imposi- 
tum est ad significandum divinam naturam. 

1. Ad primum ergo dicendum quod omnia quae posuit Damascenus, per- 
tinent ad providentiam, a qua imponitur hoc nomen, Deus, ad signi- 

2. Ad secundum dicendum quod secundum quod naturam alicujus rei 
ex ejus proprietatibus et effectibus cognoscere possumus, sic earn nomine 
possumus significare, Unde quia substantiam lapidis ex ejus proprietate 
possumus cognoscere secundum se ipsam, sciendo quid est lapis, hoc 
nomen lapis ipsam lapidis naturam, secundum quod in se est, significat. 
Significat enim definitionem lapidis, per quam scimus quid est lapis; ratio 
enim quam significat nomen est definitio, ut dicitur in rv Meta^ Sed ex 
effectibus divinis divinam naturam non possumus cognoscere secundum 
quod in se est, ut sciamus de ea quid est, sed per modum em inentise, et 
causalitatis, et negationis, ut supra dictum est. 7 Et sic hoc nomen, Deus, 
significat naturam divinam: impositum est enim nomen hoc ad aliquid 
significaadum supra omnia existens, quod est principium omnium, et 
remotum ab omnibus. Hoc enim intendunt significare nom in antes Deum. 

articidus 9. utrum hoc nomen, Deus., sit communicabile. 

AD NONUM sic proceditur : l i. Videtur quod hoc nomen, Deus, sit communi- 
cabile. Cuicumque enim communicatur res significata per nomen, com- 
municatur et nomen ipsum. Sed hoc nomen, Deus^ ut dictum est, 2 signi- 
ficat divinam naturam, quae est communicabilis aliis, secundum illud 
n Pet.* Magna et pretiosa promissa nobis donavit^ utper hoc effidamur divinte 
consorts natural Ergo hoc nomen, Deus, est communicabile. 

2. Prseterea, sola nomina propria non sunt communicabilia. Sed hoc 
nomen, Deus y non est nomen proprium, sed appellativum; quod patet ex 
hoc quod habet plurale, secundum illud PsaL, Ego dim, dii estis^ Ergo hoc 
nomen, Deus^ est communicabile. 

3. Praeterea, hoc nomen, Deus> imponitur ab operatione, ut dictum est. 5 
Sed alia nomina quae irnponuntur Deo ab operationibus, sive ab efiectibus, 
sunt communicabilia, ut bonus , sapiens > et hujusmodi. Ergo hoc nomen, 

s^ est communicabile. 

*De dw. nom. 12. PG 3 3 969. (St Thomas 3 lect. i) 

^Metaphysics rVj 7. 1012023 

7 ia, 12, 12 

J cf la, 39, 4 ad r. I Sent. 4, i, 2 ad 35 21, 2, r ad 4. De potentia vn, 3 ad I 

*ia. 13, 8 



derived from his universal providence: everyone who uses the word 
'God' has in mind one who cares for all things. Thus Dionysius says, 
The Deity is what watches over all things in perfect providence and goodness.^ 
But although derived from this operation the word 'God' is used to mean 
what has the divine nature. 

Hence: I. Everything John Damascene says here refers to divine 
Providence, which is what makes us use this word in the first place. 

2. The meaning of the name we give to something depends on how much 
of its nature we understand from its properties and effects. Since from its 
properties we can understand what a stone is in itself, the word c stone' 
signifies the nature of the stone as it is in itself. Its meaning is the definition 
of a stone, in knowing which we know what a stone is; for e what a word 
means is the definition 5 . 60 But from divine effects we do not come to under- 
stand what the divine nature is in itself, so we do not know of God what 
he is. We know of him only as transcending all creatures, as the cause of 
their perfections and as lacking in anything that is merely creaturely, as 
already noted. 7 It is in this way that the word 'God' signifies the divine 
nature: it is used to mean something that is above all that is, and that is 
the source of all things and is distinct from them all. This is how those 
that use it mean it to be used. 

article 9. is the name 'God" peculiar to God alone? 

THE NINTH POINT: 1 1. It seems that 'God* is not peculiar to God, but can 
be used of other things. For whatever shares in what a name signifies can 
share in the name, but we have just said 2 that 'God* signifies the divine 
nature and this is something that can be communicated to others, according 
to II Peter , He has bestowed upon us precious and very great promises . . . that 
by this we may become partakers of the divine nature? Hence 'God' may be 
applied to others besides God. 

2. Only proper names are altogether incommunicable. But 'God' is not 
a proper name as is clear from the fact that it can be used in the plural, as 
in the Psalm., I say you shall be gods.* Hence the word 'God' is applicable 
to many things. 

3. The name 'God' is applied to God, as we have just seen, 5 because of 
his operations. But other words that are used of God because of his opera- 
tions such as 'good', 'wise' and such-like, are all applicable to many things. 
So 'God 7 is as well. 

3 n Peter I 9 4 
^Psalms 81 (82), 6 
5 ia. 13, 8 
c See la. 13, i, note i. 


SUMMA THEOLOGI^ la. 13, 9 

SED CONTRA est quod dicitur Sap., Incommunicabile nomen lignis et lapidibus 
imposuenwt'f et loquitur de nomine Deitatis. Ergo hoc nomen 3 Deu$> est 
nomen incornmunicabile. 

RESPONSIO: Dicendum quod aliquod nomen potest esse communicabile 
dupliciter, uno modo proprie, aiio modo per similitudinem. Proprie 
quidem communicabile est quod secundum totam significationem nominis 
est communicabile multis; per similitudinem autem communicabile est 
quod est communicabile secundum aliquid eorum quae includuntur in 
nominis significatione. Hoc enim nomen, ko> proprie communicatur 
omnibus illis in quibus invenitur natura quam significat hoc nomen, leOy 
per sunilitudinem vero communicabile est illis qui participant quid 
leoninum, ut puta audaciam vel fortitudinem 5 qui metaphorice leones 

Ad sciendum autem quse nomina proprie sunt commimicabilia, con- 
siderandum est quod omnis forma in supposito singular! existens, per 
quod individuatur, communis est multis vel secundum rem vel secundum 
rationern saltern; si cut natura humana communis est multis secundum rem 
et rationern; natura autem solis non est communis multis secundum rem 
sed secundum rationem tantum; potest enim natura solis intelligi ut in 
pluribus supposMs existens. Et hoc ideo quia intellectus intelligit naruram 
cujuslibet speciei per abstractionem a singulari. Unde esse in uno sup- 
posito singular! vel in pluribus est praeter intellectum naturse speciei, 
Unde servato inteilectu naturse speciei potest intelligi ut in pluribus exis- 

Sed singulare ? es hoc ipso quod est singulare, est divisum ab omnibus 
aliis. Unde omne nomen impositum ad significandum aliquod singulare 
est incommunicabile et re et ratione. Non enim potest nee in apprehen- 
sionem cadere pluralitas hujus individui. Unde nullum nomen sign ifi cans 
aliquod individuum est communicabile multis proprie^ sed solum secun- 
dum similitudinem; sicut aliquis metaphorice potest did Achilles^ in 
quantum habet aliquid de proprietatibus Achillis, scilicet fortitudinem. 

Formse vero qu non individuantur per aliud* suppositum sed per se 
ipsas 3 quia scilicet sunt formae subsistentes a si intelligerentur secundum 
quod sunt in se ipsis 5 non possent communicari nee re neque ratione^ sed 
forte per similitudinem 3 sicuti dictum est de individuis. Sed quia formas 
simplices per se subsistentes non possumus intelligere secundum quod 
sunt, sed intelligimus eas ad modum rerum compositarum habentium 
formas in materia^ ideo ? ut dictum est, 7 imponimus eis nomina concreta 


^Leonine: atiquodz some 
*Wi$dom 14, 21 


ON THE OTHER HAND we read in Wisdom, They gave the incommunicable name 
to sticks and stonesfznd the reference is to the name of the Godhead. Hence 
the name *God ? is incommunicable. 

REPLY: A noun may be used of many things in two ways, either properly or 
by metaphor. It is properly used of many when the whole of what it means 
belongs to each of them; it is used metaphorically when some part of what 
it means belongs to each. The word c lion*, for example, properly speaking 
applies only to the things that have the nature it signifies, but it is also 
applied metaphorically to other things that have something of the lion 
about them. The courageous or the strong can be spoken of in this way as 

To understand which nouns properly speaking apply to many things we 
must first recognize that every form that is instantiated by an individual 
either is or at least can be thought of as being common to many; human 
nature can be thought of, and in fact is, common to many in this way; the 
nature of the sun, on the other hand, can be thought of as being, but in 
fact is not, common to many. The reason for this is that the mind under- 
stands such natures in abstraction from the individual instances, hence 
whether it be in one individual or in many is irrelevant to our under- 
standing of the nature itself; given that we understand the nature we can 
always think of it as being in many instances. 

The individual, however, from the very fact of being individual, is 
divided from all others. Hence a word that is used precisely to signify an 
individual cannot be applicable to many in fact, nor can it be thought of as 
applicable to many. It is impossible to think that there could be many of 
this individual. Hence no proper name is properly speaking communicable 
to many, though it may be communicable through some resemblance as a 
man may metaphorically be called c an Achilles' because he has the bravery 
of Achilles. 

But consider the case of forms which are not instantiated by being the 
form of an individual, but by themselves (inasmuch as they are subsistent 
forms). If we understood these as they are in themselves it would be clear 
that they are not common to many in fact and also cannot be thought of as 
being common to many except perhaps by some sort of resemblance as 
with individuals. 4 In fact, however, we do not understand such simple 
self-subsistent forms as they are in themselves, but have to think of them on 
the model of the composite things that have their forms in matter. For this 
reason, as we said earlier, 7 we apply to them concrete nouns that signify 

'ia. 13, i ad 2 

See ia. 12, 4, note a. 

SUMMA THEOLOGI^ la. 13, 9 

significantia naturam in aliquo supposito, Unde, quantum pertinet ad 
rationem nominum, eadem ratio est de nominibus quas a nobis imponuntur 
ad significandum naturas rerum compositarum et de nominibus quae a 
nobis imponuntur ad significandum naturas simplices subsistentes. 

Unde cum hoc nomen> Deus^ impositum sit ad significandum naturam 
divinam., ut dictum est/ natura autern divina multiplicabilis non sit, ut 
supra ostensum est,, 9 sequitur quod hoc nomen, Deus, incommunicabile 
quidem sit secundum rein, sed communicabile secundum opinionem,, 
quemadmodum hoc nomen, Sol, esset communicabile secundum opini- 
onem ponentium multos soles. Et secundum hoc dicitur Galat^ His qui 
natura nan sunt dii, serviebatisi glossa ibi, Non sunt dii natura^ sed opinione 
hominutn. 10 

Est nihilominus communicabile hoc nomen 3 Deus., non secundum suam 
totarn significationem, sed secundum aliquid ejus per quamdam simili- 
tudinem, et dii dicantur qui participant aliquid divinum per similitu- 
dinenij secundum illud Psal^ Ego dixi, dii estis.^ 

Si vero esset aliquod nomen impositum ad significandum Deum non ex 
parte naturae, sed ex parte suppositi secundum quod consideratur ut hoc 
aliquid^ illud nomen esset omnibus modis incornmunicabilej sicut forte 
est nomen tetragrarnmaton apud Hebr^os: et est simile^ si quis imponeret 
nomen Soli designans hoc individuum. 

1. Ad primum ergo dicendum quod natura divina non est communi- 
cabilis nisi secundum similitudinis participationem, 

2. Ad secundum dicendum quod hoc nomen, Deus., est nomen appella- 
tivum 3 et non proprium a quia significat naturam divinam ut in habente^ 
licet ipse Deus secundum rem non sit nee universalis, nee particularis. 
Nomina enim non sequuntur modum essendi qui est in rebus^ sed modum 
essendi secundum. quod in cognitione nostra est* Et tamen secundum rei 
veritatem est incommunicabilej secundum quod dictum est de hoc 
nomine, SoL 1 * 

3. Ad tertium dicendum quod hsec nomma 3 bonus > sapiens., et similia 5 
imposita quidem sunt a perfectionibus procedentibus a Deo in creaturas. 
Non tamen sunt imposita ad significandum divinam naturam, sed ad 
significandum ipsas periectiones absolutes et ideo etiam secundum rei 
veritatem sunt comirnmicabilia multis. Sed hoc nomen a Deus^ impositum 
est ab operatione propria Deo, quam esperimur continue^ ad signifi- 

divinam naturam. 

8 ia, 13, S 
s ia. n 5 3 
^Galatians 4, 8. Interlinear Gloss. PL 192^ 139 


a nature as instantiated in an individual. Thus the nouns we use to signify 
simple subsistent natures are grammatically the same as those we use to 
signify the natures of composite things. 

Now 'God' is used, as we saw, 8 to signify the divine nature, and since this 
nature cannot have more than one instance/ it follows that from the point 
of view of what is in fact signified., the word cannot be used of many, 
although it can mistakenly be thought of as applying to many rather as a 
man who mistakenly thought there were many suns would think of c sun' 
as applying to many things. Thus we read in Galations, You were slaves 
to gods who by nature were notgods> and a gloss says, not gods by nature but 
according to the opinion ofmen. IQ 

Nevertheless the word 'God' does have several applications, though not 
in its full meaning. It is applied metaphorically to things that share some- 
thing of what it means. Thus "gods' can mean those who by resembling 
God share in some way in the divine, as in the Psalm., I say you shall be 
gods. 11 

If, however, a name were given to God, not as signifying his nature but 
referring to him as this thing, regarding him as an individual, such a proper 
name would be altogether incommunicable and in no way applicable to 
others perhaps the Hebrew name of God, the Tetragrammaton b was 
used in this way: it would be as though someone were to use the word 
'Sun' as a proper name designating this individual. 

Hence: i. The divine nature can be communicated to others only in the 
sense that they can share in the likeness of God. 

2. 'God' is a common noun and not a proper name because it signifies in 
the concrete the divine nature, although God himself is neither universal 
nor particular. We do not, however, name things as they are in themselves 
but as they are to our minds. In actual fact the name 'God' is incommuni- 
cable rather as we said of the word *Sun'. 12 

3. Words like c good' and 'wise' are applied to God because of the per- 
fections that flow from God to creatures. They do not mean the divine 
nature, they mean these perfections; and so not only can they be thought 
of as applicable to many things but they actually are in fact. But the word 
'God' is applied to him because of the operation peculiar to him which we 
constantly experience, and it is used to signify the divine nature. 

^Psalms 81 (82), 6 

12 In the body of the article 

&The Hebrew name of God, *Yahweh% so called because it is written in Hebrew 

with four consonants, cf la. 13, n ad i. 


articultts 10. utrum hoc nomen Deus univoce dicatur de Deo secundum naturam, per 
participationenty et secundum opinioneni 

AD DECIMUM sic proceditur: 1 i. Videtur quod hoc nomen, Deus, univoce 
dicatur de Deo per naturam, et per participarionem, et secundum opini- 
onem. Ubi enim est diversa significatio non est contradictio affirmantis 
et negantis; sequivocatio enim impedit contradictionem. Sed catholicus 
dicens, Idolum nan est Deus, contradicit pagano dicenti, Idolum est Deus. 
Ergo Deus utrobique sumprum univoce dicitur. 

2. Praeterea, sicut idolum est Deus secundum opinionem et non secun- 
dum veritatem, ita fruitio carnalium delectationum dicitur felicitas secun- 
dum opinionem et non secundum veritatem. Sed hoc nomen^ beatitude, 
univoce dicitur de hac beatitudine opinata et de hac beatitudine vera, 
Ergo et hoc nomen, Deus, univoce dicitur de Deo secundum veritatem, et 
de Deo secundum opinionem. 

3. Preeterea, univoca dicuntur quorum est ratio una. Sed catholicus, 
cum dicit unum esse Deum, intelligit nomine Dei rem omnipotentem, et 
super omnia venerandam; et hoc idem intelligit gentilis cum dicit, idolum 
esse Deum. Ergo hoc nomen univoce dicitur utrobique. 

SED CONTRA. 4, Illud quod est in intellect^ est similitudo ejus quod est in 
re, ut dicitur in I PerihermJ* Sed animal dictum de animali vero et de 
animali picto sequivoce dicitur. Ergo hoc nomen, Deus> dictum de Deo 
vero et de Deo secundum opinionem sequivoce dicitur. 

5. Praeterea, nullus potest significare id quod non cognoscit. Sed gentilis 
non cognoscit naturam divinam.* Ergo cum dicit, Idolum est Deus^ non 
significat veram deitatem. Hanc autem significat catholicus dicens unum 
esse Deum. Ergo hoc nomen, Deus> non dicitur univoce, sed a^quivoce de 
Deo vero et de Deo secundum opinionem. 

RESPONSIO: Dicendum quod hoc nomen, Deus, in praanissis tribus signi- 
ficationibus non accipitur neque univoce neque sequivoce, sed analogice. 
Quod ex hoc patet: quia univocorum est omnino eadem ratio, sequivo- 
conim est omnino ratio diversa^ in analogicis vero oportet quod nomen 
secundum imam significationem acceptum ponatur in definitione ejusdem 
nominis secundum alias significationes accepti. Sicut ens de substantia 
dictum ponitur in definitione entis secundum quod de accidente dicitur; et 
sanum dictum de animaH, ponitur in definitione sard secundum quod 

*mss: veram deitatem* the real Deity 

J cf la. 29> 4. n Sent. 35, 4. CG I, 32, 333 34. De veritaie II, n. De potentia 

vn, 7 



article 10. is the name used in the same sense of God, of what shares in divinity, and of 
what is merely supposed to do so? 

THE TENTH POINT: 1 I. It seems for three reasons that 'God' is used uni- 
vocally of what has the divine nature, what shares in this nature and what is 
supposed to have it. For when men have not the same meaning for the 
same word they cannot contradict each other, equivocation eliminates con- 
tradiction. But when the Catholic says 'The idol is not God' he contradicts 
the pagan who says 'The idol is God', hence 'God' is being used univocally 
by both. 

2. An idol is supposed to be God but is not so in fact, just as the enjoy- 
ment of the delights of the flesh is supposed to be felicity but is not so in 
fact. But the word 'happiness 5 is used univocally of this supposed happi- 
ness and of true happiness. So also the word 'God' must be used univocally 
of the supposed and the real God. 

3. A word is used univocally when its meaning is the same. But when the 
Catholic says there is one God he understands by 'God' somerh ing almighty, 
to be revered above all things, but the pagan means the same when he 
says that his idol is God. Hence the word is used univocally in the two 

ON THE OTHER HAND for two reasons it seems that the word is used equi- 
vocally. 4. What is in the mind is a sort of picture of what is in reality, as is 
said in De Interpretatione^ but when we say 'That is an animal', both of the 
real animal and of the one in a picture, we are using the word equivocally. 
Hence the word 'God' used of the real God and of what is thought to be 
God is used equivocally. 

5. A man cannot mean what he does not understand, but the pagan does 
not understand the divine nature, so when he says, 'The idol is God*, he 
does not mean true divinity. But when the Catholic says that there is one 
God he does mean this. Hence 'God' is used equivocally of the true God 
and of what is supposed to be God. 

REPLY: The word 'God' in these three cases is used neither univocally nor 
equivocally but analogically. When a word is used univocally it has exactly 
the same meaning in each application, when it is used equivocally it has an 
entirely different meaning in each case, but when it is used analogically its 
meaning in one sense is to be explained by reference to its meaning in 
another sense. Thus to understand why we call accidents 'beings' we have 
to understand why we call substances beings; and we need to know what 
it means for a man to be healthy before we can understand a 'healthy* 

2 De Interpretatione i. 


dicitur de urina et de meditina. Hujus enim sani quod est in animali., urina 
est signnicativa et medicina factiva. 

Sic accidit in proposito. Nam hoc nomen, Deus, secundum quod pro 
Deo vero sumitur 3 in ratione Dei sumitur secundum quod dicitur Deus 
secundum opinionem, vei participationem. Cum enim aliquem nomi- 
namus Deum secundum participationem a intelligimus nomine Dei aliquid 
habens simiHtudinem veri Dei. Similiter cum idolum nominamus Deum 3 
hoc nomine, Deus, intelligimus signMcari aliquid de quo homines opi- 
nantur quod sit Deus. Et sic rnanifestum est quod alia et alia est signi- 
ncatio nominis, sed una illarum signincationum clauditur in signiiica- 
tionibus aliis; unde manifestum est quod analogice dicitur. 

i. Ad primum ergo dicendum quod nominum multiplicitas non atten- 
ditur secundum nominis praedicationem, sed secundum significationem. 
Hoc enim nomen, homo> de quocumque prsedicetur., sive vere sive false,, 
dicitur uno mode. Sed tune multipliciter diceretur si per hoc nomen, 
homOy intenderemus significare diversa; puta, si unus intenderet signifi- 
care per hoc nomen, homo, id quod vere est homo^ et alius intenderet sig- 
nifkare eodem nomine lapidem vel aliquid aliucL Unde patet quod 
catholicus dicens idolum non esse Deum, contradicit pagano hoc asserenti, 
quia uterque utitur hoc nomine^ Dem., ad significandum verum Deum. 
Cum enim paganus dicit idolum esse Deum, non utitur hoc nomine secun- 
dum quod significat Deum opinabilem; sic enim verum diceret, cum etiam 
catholici interdum in tali significatione hoc nomine utantur^ ut cum 
dicirur, Omnes dii gentium dc&nonia. 3 

2 3 3. Et similiter dicendum ad secundum et tertium. Nam illse rationes 
procedunt secundum diversitatem praedicationis nominis 9 et non secundum 
diversam signiricationem. 

4. Ad quartum dicendum quod animal dictum de animali vero et de 
picto non dicitur pure aequivoce. Sed Philosophus 4 largo modo accipit 
aequivoca^ secundum quod includunt in se analoga; quia et ens* quod 
analogice dicitur, aliquando dicitur aequivoce praedicari de diversis prse- 

5. Ad quintum dicendum quod ipsam naturam Dei, prout in se est a 
neque catholicus neque paganus cognoscit; sed uterque cognoscit earn 
secundum aliquam rationem causalitatis, vel excellentise vel remotionis. 5 
Et secundum hoc in eadem significatione accipere potest gentilis hoc 
nomen 5 Deus, cum dicit 5 Idolum est Deus y in qua accipit ipsum catholicus 
dicenSj Idolum nan est Deus. Si vero aliquis esset qui secundum nullam 
rationem Deum cognosceret, nee ipsum nominate^ nisi forte sicut pro- 
ferimus nornina quorum significationes ignoramus. 



complexion, or a 'health/ diet, for such a complexion is indicative and 
such a diet is productive of the health that belongs to a man. 

It is the same with the case we are considering. For we have to refer to 
the use of 'God 3 to mean the true God in order to explain its use in applica- 
tion to things that share in divinity or which are supposed to be gods. 
When we say that something is a 'god 3 by sharing in divinity we mean that 
it shares in the nature of the true God. Similarly when we say that an idol 
is a god, we take this word to mean something that men suppose to be the 
true God. Thus it is clear that while 'God 3 is used with different meanings 
one of these meanings is involved in all the others; the word is therefore 
used analogically. 

Hence : i . We say a word has different uses not because it can be used in 
different statements but because it has different meanings. Thus the word 
'in an* has one meaning and one use whatever it is predicated of, whether 
truly or falsely. It would be said to have several uses if we meant it to 
signify different things if, for instance, one speaker used it to signify a 
m^n and another to signify a stone or something else. Thus it is clear that 
the Catholic, when he says the idol is not God, is contradicting the pagan 
who affirms that it is, for both are using 'God 3 to signify the true God. 
When the pagan says c The idol is God' he is not using 'God 3 to mean that 
which is merely supposed to be God; if he were he would be speaking 
truly, as the Catholic does when he sometimes uses the word in that way, 
e.g., 'All the gods of the pagans are demons 3 . 3 

2, 3. The same reply can be made to the second and third objections, for 
these arguments have to do with the different statements that can be made 
with a word, not with a difference in meaning. 

4. As to the fourth argument which takes the opposite point of view: the 
word 'animal 3 is not used wholly equivocally of the real animal and the 
animal in the picture. Aristotle uses the word 'equivocal' in a broad sense 
to include the analogical; 4 thus he sometimes says that 'being 3 which is 
used analogically, is used equivocally of the different categories. 

5. Neither the Catholic nor the pagan understands the nature of God as 
he is in himself, but both know him as in some way causing creatures, 
surpassing them and set apart from them, as we have said. 5 In this way when 
the pagan says, 'The idol is God* he can mean by 'God 3 just what the 
Catholic means when he declares, 'The idol is not God 3 . A man who knew 
nothing whatever about God would not be able to use 'God 3 at all, except 
as a word whose meaning he did not know. 

*Psalms 95 (96), 5 ^Categories I, la. I *ia. 12, 12 

SUMMA THEOLOGI-ffi^ la. 13, II 
artiadus II. vtrum hoc nomen, QTJI EST, sit maxime nomen Dei proprium 

AD UNDECIMUM sic proceditur: 1 I. Videtur quod hoc nomen 3 qui est, non 
sit maxime proprium nomen Dei. Hoc enim nomeii, Deus, est nomen 
inoxmmunicabile, ut dictum est. 2 Sed hoc nomen, gui est, non est nomen 
incommunicabile. Ergo hoc nomen, qui est, non est maxime proprium 
nomen Dei. 

2. Prseterea., Dionysius dicit quod boni nominatio excellenter est manijes- 
tativa omnium Dei processionum* Sed hoc maxime Deo convenit quod sit 
universale rerum principium. Ergo hoc nomen a bonum, est maxime pro- 
prium Dei, et non hoc nomen, gui est. 

3. Prxterea, omne nomen divinum videtur importare relationem ad 
creaturas, cum Deus non cognoscatur a nobis nisi per creaturas. Sed hoc 
noraen, qui est> nullarn importat habitudinem ad creaturas. Ergo hoc 
nomen 5 qui e$t> non est maxime proprium nornen Dei. 

SED CONTRA est quod dicitur Exod. quod Moysi qu^renti^ Si dixerint mihi s 
Quod est nomen ejus? quid dicam eis? respondit ei DominuSj Sic dices eis, 
Qui est, misit me ad vos.* Ergo hoc nomen, gui est, est maxime proprium 
nomen Dei. 

RESPONSIO: Dicendum quod hoc nomen, QUI EST 3 triplici ratione est 
maxime proprium nomen Dei. 

Primo quidenx propter sui signlficationem. Non enim significat formam 
aliquam, sed ipsum esse. Unde cum esse Dei sit ipsa ejus essentia 5 et hoc 
nulM alii conveniat, ut supra ostensum est> 5 manifestum est quod inter 
alia nomina hoc maxime proprie nominat Deum; unumquodque enim 
denominatur a sua forma. 

Secundo propter ejus universalitatem. Omnia enim alia nomina vel sunt 
minus cornmuniaj vel si convertantur cum ipso tamen addunt aliquid 
supra ipsum secundum rationem. Unde quodammodo informant et 
determinant ipsum, Intellectus autem noster non potest ipsam Dei essen- 
tjam cognoscere in statu vise secundum quod in se est s sed quemcumque 
modum determinet circa id quod de Deo intelligit deficit a modo quo 
Deus in se est. Et ideo quanto aliqua nomina sunt minus determinate;, et 
rnagfe communia et absoluta, tanto magis proprie dicuntur de Deo a nobis. 
Unde et Damascenus dicit quod prindpalius omnibus^ qua de Deo dicuntur 
nomnibuS) est 9 QUI EST; totum enim in se ipso comprehendens habet ipsum esse 
velut quoddam peJagus substantia inftnitum et indetertmnatum* Quolibet 
enim alio nomine determinatur aliquis modus substantial rei; sed hoc 
nomen Qtn EST 5 nullum modum essendi determinat, sed de habet indeter- 
minate ad onxneSj et ideo nominat ipsum pelagus substantise infinftum, 


article 11. is HE WHO IS r/ze TTZOS? appropriate name for God? 

THE ELEVENTH POINT: 1 I. It seems that 'He who is' is not the most appro- 
priate name for God: the name e God : is incommunicable, as we have said, 2 
but the name 'He who is' is not. Therefore it is not the most appropriate 
name for God. 

2. Dionysius says. To call God good is to show forth all that flows from 
him* But what is supremely characteristic of God is to be the source of all 
things. Therefore the most appropriate name for God is 'The Good' 
rather than 'He who is'. 

3. Every name of God should imply some relation to creatures since he is 
only known to us from creatures. But e He who is' implies no such relation. 
It is not then the most appropriate name for God. 

ON THE OTHER HAND we read in Exodxts that when Moses asked. If they ask 
me, What is his name? what shall I say to them? the Lord replied. Say this 
to them. He who is has sent me to you.* Therefore 'He who is 5 is the most 
appropriate name for God. 

REPLY : There are three reasons for regarding HE WHO is as the most appro- 
priate name for God. 

Firstly because of its meaning; for it does not signify any particular 
form, but rather existence itself. Since the existence of God is his essence 
and since this is true of nothing else, as we have shown, 5 it is clear that 
this name is especially appropriate to God, for the meaning of a name is 
the form of the thing named. 

Secondly because of its universality. All other names are either less 
general or, if not, they at least add some nuance of meaning which re- 
stricts and determines the original sense. In this life our minds cannot 
grasp what God is in himself; whatever way we have of thinking of him is a 
way of failing to understand him as he really is. So the less determinate 
our names are and the more general and simple they are, the more appro- 
priately they may be applied to God. That is why John Damascene says, 
The first of all names to be used of God is HE WHO is for he comprehends aU in 
himself * he has his existence as an ocean of being., infinite and unlimited* Any 
other name selects some particular aspect of the being of the thing, but 
HE WHO is fixes on no aspect of being but stands open to all and refers 
to him as to an infinite ocean of being. 

*c I Sent. 8, I, I & 3. Depotentia n, x; TO, 5', ** I ad 9- / D* <* v => z 

ia. 13, 9 *De div. nom. 3. FG 3, 680. (St Thomas, lect. i) 

'Exodus 3, 13 & 14 5 ia. 3, 4 *De Fide onhodoxa i> 9- ?G 94* 836 



Tertio vero ex ejtis consignificatione; slgnificat enim esse in prassenti, et 
hoc maxime proprie de Deo dicitur, cujus esse non novit prsteritum vel 
futurum, ut dicit Augustinus. 7 

1. Ad primtun ergo dicenduni quod hoc nomen, qui est, est magis pro- 
prium nomen Dei quam hoc nomen, Deus, quantum ad id a quo imponitur, 
scilicet ab esse, et quantum ad modum significandi et consignlficandi, ut 
dictum est. 8 Sed quantum ad id ad quod significandum imponitur nomen 
est magis proprium hoc nomen, Deus, quod imponitur ad significandum 
naturam divinam; et adhuc magis proprium nomen est tetragrammatonf 
quod est imposition ad significandam ipsam Dei substantiam incom- 
municabilem, et (ut sic Hceat loqui) singularem. 

2. Ad secundum dicendum quod hoc nomen, bonum, est principale 
nomen Dei, in quantum est causa, non tamen simpliciter; nam esse 
absolute preeintelligitur causas. 

3. Ad tertium dicendum quod non est necessarium quod omma nomina 
divina importent habitudinem ad creaturas, sed suffitit quod imponantur 
ab aliquibus perfectionibus procedentibus a Deo in creaturaSj inter quas 
prima est ipsum esse, a qua sumitur hoc nomen, qui est. 

articulus 12. utntm propositions* affirmatives possint formari de Deo 

AD DUODECIMUM sic proceditur: 1 i. Videtur quod propositions affirma- 
tivae non possint formari de Deo. Dicit enim Dionysius quod negations 
de Deo sunt vera^ affirmationes autem incompact^ 

2. Prseterea, Boetius dicit quod forma simplex subjectum esse nan potest. 3 
Sed Deus maxime est forma simplex, ut supra ostensum est.* Ergo non 
potest esse subjectum. Sed omne illud de quo propositio afnrmativa 
formatur accipitur ut subjectum; ergo de Deo propositio anirmativa 
formari non potest. 

3. Praeterea ? omnis intellectus intelligens rem aliter quam sit est falsus. 
Sed Deus habet esse absque omm compositione, ut supra probatum est. 5 
Cum igitur omnis intellectus affirmativus intelligat aliquid cum compo- 
sitione, videtur quod propositio afErmativa vere de Deo formari non possit. 

SED CONTRA est quod fidei non subest Msum. Sed propositions quaedam 
affirmativae subduntur fidei, utpote quod Deus est trinus et unus, et quod 
est omnipotens. Ergo propositiones affinnativse possunt vere formari de 

*De Trimtate v, 2. cf Peter Lombard, I Sent, 8 
*In the body of the article 


a cf I Sent. 4, z, r; 22, 2 ad i. CG I, 36. Depotentia vn, 5 ad 2 



Thirdly it is appropriate because of its tense: for it signifies being in 
the present and this is especially appropriate to God whose being knows 
neither past nor future, as Augustine says. 7 

Hence: i. 'He who is* is more appropriate than 'God' because of what 
makes us use the name in the first place, i.e., his existence, because of the 
unrestricted way in which it signifies him, and because of its tense, as we 
have just said. 8 But when we consider what the word is used to mean, we 
must admit that 'God 5 is more appropriate, for this is used to signify the 
divine nature. Even more appropriate is the Tetragrammaton 93 - which 
is used to signify the incommunicable and, if we could say such a thing, 
individual substance of God. 

2. 'The Good* is a more fundamental name for God in so far as he is a 
cause, but it is not simply speaking more fundamental, for to be is pre- 
supposed to being a cause. 

3. The names of God need not necessarily imply a relation to creatures; 
it is enough that they should come to be used because of the perfections 
that flow from God to creatures, and of these the primary one is existence 
itself, from which we get the name 'He who is*. 

article 12. can affirmative propositions be correctly formed about God? 

THE TWELFTH POINT: 1 i. It seems that affirmative propositions cannot 
correctly be made about God. For Dionysius says, Negative propositions 
about God are true, but affirmative ones are loose* 

2. Boethius says, A simple form cannot be a subject? But God supremely is 
a simple form, as noted above, 4 hence he cannot be a subject. But whatever 
an affirmative proposition is about is its subject, therefore we cannot make 
such propositions about God. 

3. Whenever the way something is understood is other than the way that it 
is we have error. Now God is altogether without composition in his being, 
as has been proved, 5 since therefore an affirmative statement is a con- 
joining of subject and predicate it would seem that they cannot be made 
about God without error. 

ON THE OTHER HAND what is of faith cannot be false. Now some affirmative 
propositions are matters of faith, as for example that God is three and one 
and that he is almighty. Therefore some true affirmative propositions can 
be made about God. 

*De azlesti hierarchia 2. PG 3, 140 
*De Trinitate 2. PL 64, 1250 

ft See ra. 13, 9 3 note 2. 



RESPONSIO: Dlcendum quod propositiones affirmative possum vere for- 
mari de Deo. Ad cujus evidentiam sciendum est quod in qualibet proposi- 
tione affirmativa vera oportet quod pradicatum et subjectum significant 
Idem secundum rem aliquo modo, et diversum secundum rationem. Et 
hoc patet tain in propositionibus quas sunt de prsedicato accidentali quam 
in iUis quse sunt de prsdicato substantial!* Manifestum est enim quod 
homo et albus sunt idem subjecto et differunt ratione; alia enim est ratio 
hominis et alia ratio albL Et similiter cum dico, Homo est animal., illud enim 
ipsum quod est homo vere animal est; in eodem enim supposito est et 
natura sensibilis, a qua dicitui animal, et natura rationalis, a qua dicitur 
homo; unde et hie etiam praedicatum et subjectum sunt idem supposito, 
sed diversa sunt ratione. 

Sed in propositionibus in quibus idem praedicatur de se ipso, hoc aliquo 
modo invenitur, inquantum intellectus id quod ponit ex parte subject! 
trahit ad partem supposing quod vero ponit ex parte prasdicati trahit ad 
naturam formse in supposito existentis, secundum quod dicitur quod 
preedicata tenentur formaliter> et subjecta materialiter. 

Huic vero diversitati quas est secundum rationem, respondet pluralitas 
praedicati et subjectij identitatem vero rei significat intellectus per ipsam 
compositionem, Deus autem in se consideratus est omnino unus et sim- 
plex; sed tamen intellectus noster secundum diversas conceptiones ipsum 
cognoscit 3 eo quod non potest ipsum, ut in se ipso est, videre. 

Sed quamvis intelligat ipsum sub diversis conceptionibus, cognoscit 
tamen quod omnibus suis conceptionibus respondet una et eadem res 
simpliciten* Hanc ergo pluraHtatem quae est secundum rationem, reprae- 
sentat per plurdHtatent\ praedicati et subjecti; unitatem vero repraesentat 
intellectus per cornpositionem. 

1, Ad primum ergo dicendum quod Dionysius dicit affirmationes de 
Deo esse incompactas (vel inconvenientes, secundum ah'am translationem) 
inquanmm nullum nonien deDeocompetit secundum modum significandi, 
ut supra dictum est 6 

2, Ad secundum dicendum quod intellectus noster non potest formas 
simpHces subsistentes, secundum quod in seipsis sunt, comprehendere, 
sed apprehendit eas secundum rnodum compositorum, in quibus est 
aHquid quod subjicitur et est aliquid quod inest. Et ideo apprehendit 
formam simplicem in ratione subjecti, et attribuit ei aHquid. 

3, Ad tertium dicendum quod haec propositio, Intellectus intelligens rem 
aliter quam sit s e$tfal$us est duplex, ex eo quod hoc adverbium, aliter^ 

*mss : simplex^ one and the same simple thing 

fmss : pluralitas^ the distinction between predicate and subject represents 
: omits est falsus 



REPLY: In every true affirmative statement, although the subject and pre- 
dicate signify what is in fact in some way the same thing, they do so from 
different points of view. This is true not only of statements in which the 
predicate means something that only happens to belong to the subject, it is 
also true of those in which it expresses part of what the subject is. Thus 
it is clear that in 'a man is white' although 'man' and c (a) white 5 a must 
refer to the same thing, they do so in different ways, for 'man' and 'white' 
do not have the same meaning. But it is also true for a statement such as 
e man is an animal'. That which is a man is truly an animal : in one and the 
same thing is to be found the sensitive nature which makes us call it an 
animal and the rational nature which makes us call it a man. 

There is even a difference in point of view between subject and pre- 
dicate when they have the same meaning, for when we put a term in 
the subject place we think of it as referring to something, whereas in 
the predicate place we think of it as saying something about the thing, 
in accordance with the saying 'predicates are taken formally (as mean- 
ing a form), subjects are taken materially (as referring to what has the 

The difference between subject and predicate represents two ways of 
looking at a thing, while the fact that they are put together affirmatively 
indicates that it is one thing that is being looked at. Now God considered 
in himself is altogether one and simple, yet we think of him through a 
number of different concepts because we cannot see him as he is in him- 

But although we think of him in these different ways we also know that 
to each corresponds a single simplicity that is one and the same for all. The 
different ways of thinking of him are represented in the difference of 
subject and predicate; his unity we represent by bringing them together in 
an affirmative statement. 

Hence: i. Dionysius says that what we assert of God is loose (or, accor- 
ding to another translation^ 'incongruous') because no word used of God 
is appropriate to him in its way of signifying^ as we have remarked. 6 

2. Our minds do not understand simple forms as they are in themselves, 
but as though they were concrete things in which there is duality of the 
thing and the form that it has. In this way we treat simple forms as though 
they were subjects to which something can be attributed. 

3. In the sentence, 'When the way something is understood is other 
than the way it is, we have error', 'other than' can refer either to the thing 

6 ia. 13, 6 

*AIbu$ here is used as we might use 'white* in speaking of the 'whites* ia South 




potest determinare hoc verbum, intelligens> ex parte intellect^ vel ex parte 
intelligentis. Si ex parte intellect!, sic propositio vera est; et est sensus, 
Qwcumque intellects intelligit rem esse aliter quam sit s falsus est. Sed hoc 
non habet locum in proposito, quia intellectus noster formans proposi- 
tionem de Deo non dicit eum esse compositurn a sed simplicem. Si vero 
ex parte intelligentis^ sic propositio falsa est. Alius est enim modus intel- 
lectus in intelligendo quam rei in essendo. Manifestum est enim quod 
intellectus noster res materiales inrra se existentes intelligit immaterialiter, 
non quod intelligat eas esse immateriales, sed habet modum immaterialem 
in intelligendo. Et similiter cum intelligit simplicia quae sunt supra se 
intelligit ea secundum modum suum, scilicet composite,, non tamen ita 
quod intelligat ea esse composita. Et sic intellectus noster non est falsus 
formans compositionem de Deo. 


understood or the way of understanding. Taken in the former sense the 
proposition means that when a thing is understood to be in a way other 
than it is, we have error. This is true but irrelevant., for when we make pro- 
positions about God we do not say that he has any composition, we under- 
stand him to be simple. If, however, we take 'other than' to apply to the way 
of understanding then the proposition is false, for the way of understanding 
is always different from the way the thing understood is. It is clear, for 
example, that our minds non-materially understand the material things 
inferior to them; not that they understand them to be non-material, but 
that we have a non-material way of understanding. Similarly when our 
minds understand the simple things superior to them we understand them 
in our own way, that is on the model of composite things; not that we 
understand the simple things to be composite, but that composition is 
involved in our way of understanding them. Thus the fact that our state- 
ments about God are composite does not make them false. 


Appendix I 1 

FORSTTHOMAS,we know material things by giving them the opportunity 
to be intelligible. What is intelligible about things is their form, what makes 
them unintelligible is their matter. Thus it is possible (pace Leibniz) to have 
two material things of exactly the same form i.e. which are the same in 
everything about them that can be understood or said, and which yet are 
two and not one. Ex hypoihesi what makes one not the other is not something 
intelligible about them, not their form, but their matter. It is only material 
things that can be multiplied in this way. Matter is the element in things in 
virtue of which they are not intelligible. 

The form, which is that in virtue of which a thing actually is what it is 
as distinct from the potentiality it may have to be different from what it is 
is, as such, intelligible. Thus St Thomas frequently says that in so far as 
a thing is actual, in so far as its potentialities are realized, it is intelligible. 
Some forms however, the only ones we know, the forms of material things, 
ran only exist in matter and thus seem condemned to perpetual darkness. 
What rescues them from this fate is knowledge. The mind provides a place 
where the forms can be without being the forms of matter. In knowledge the 
mind, so to speak, replaces matter, the form can be the form of the mind 
without being individuated. To know what a horse is is to have the form of a 
horse without actually being a horse. 

In understanding, the mind provides the form with a place in which it can 
realize its intelligibility. The same sort of thing, St Thomas thought, is true 
of sense-knowledge. The body is a complex organism in which each part is 
relevant to every other part. The eye is not just itself, it is also part of a 
higher order, the whole functional complex of the body. Thus it is the animal 
that sees with the eye. To discover whether there is sensation in a man's 
toe you may tread on it and watch his face. Thus each part of the body is in a 
sense raised beyond itself and in sensation other Things are given the oppor- 
tunity of sharing in this sensitive world. There is a mutual exchange here 
for the body cannot be actually sensitive without things to sense, nor can 
things be sensible except by being drawn into the sphere of the body. In 
sensing both the senses and the sensible thing are realized together. As St 
Thomas frequently puts it, 'The sense in act is the sensible in act*. 

But to return to the mind. A form is understood not as the form of this or 
that individual (this is the important difference between sense-knowledge 

ir Tlie notes that follow are not intended as technical essays on the topics with which 
they deal. Their purpose is merely to remove some obstacles which might hinder 
the modern reader in his understanding of the text of St Thomas. They are not 
detailed expositions but brief outlines of the kind of Thing St Thomas is talking 



and understanding) though of course it is understood as a form which can 
only be the form of some individual. A form made intelligible in this way is 
said to be 'abstract'. Knowledge consists in this kind of abstraction. 

There is a good deal of confusion about this because there is another sense 
of abstraction the sense in which we can abstract one thought from another, 
e.g. we can think of a policeman simply as a man, in abstraction from his 
being a member of the force, and so on. We have become accustomed to an 
empiricist view of knowledge according to which knowing consists in some- 
thing of the latter kind. Knowing on this view consists in isolating one aspect 
of things from the many presented to the senses. The 'abstract idea' is some- 
thing separated out from the manifold of sense, something as it were thinner 
and less fullblooded than actual sensation but more amenable to rational 
manipulation. Such a picture is entirely different from St Thomas's ; for him 
the abstract concept is something richer than the mere sensation which is 
still limited to some extent by matter. The nature as existing intelligibly in 
the mind is more realized than it is when it informs matter in things. 

In the mind the intelligible object is conceived (the metaphor is to be taken 
seriously) according to its form, as an animal is conceived according to its 
form in the material world. In order for the mind to conceive a concept in 
this way it must be informed (or formed) by the likeness of the nature it is 
to know. The form in the mind actualizes the mind itself. It is possible to 
think of a mind which does not need to be actualized, which is actually 
knowing just by being; the mind of God is, according to St Thomas, like 
this. But the human mind only knows potentially; before it can actually 
know it needs to be informed. St Thomas compares the human mind, the 
lowest kind of intelligence, to the lowest kind of being, primary matter, 
which before it can actually exist needs to be informed. Thus there is a 
mutual rendering of service between the mind and the nature it knows; the 
mind realizes its own capacity by realizing the capacity of the nature to be 
intelligible; *The understanding in act is the intelligible in act*. 

It is an important theme of Question 12 that when, in beatitude, a man 
understands the essence of God, the mind is not realized by a form which is a 
likeness of God, but by God himself. God will not simply be an object of our 
minds, but the actual life by which our minds are what they will have become. 


Appendix 2 

ONE OF the notions that the modern reader Is likely to find most puzzling in 
this section of the Summa^ and one quite fundamental to the argument of 
Question 13, is that effects are like their causes. We are accustomed to a 
notion of causality rather different from that of St Thomas, according to 
which cause and effect are events related by a 'causal law*. Such a law states 
that events of kind A are correlated with events of kind B. It is thought that 
statements of this kind are merely empirical generalizations, having a certain 
degree of probability, and that there is nothing in the meaning of 'A* and 
e jB* to make it self-evident or even likely that the statement should be true. 
Clearly, on such a view, the further proposition that B resembles A would be 
another empirical fact which might be true in some cases and not in others. 
It seems extremely odd to find St Thomas confidently asserting that effects 
always resemble their causes. 

St Thomas's typical causal proposition has, however, a different form. In 
the first place it is not concerned with two events but with a thing, a form 
and a subject into which the form is introduced by the thing. His general 
causal proposition would be something like *A brings it about that F is in J5% 
where A is a thing, the efficient cause, F is a form and B is the 'material 
cause*, the subject upon which A's causality is exerted. According to St 
Thomas what F is depends on the nature of A y so that if *A* is a name ex- 
pressing the nature of A 9 the meaning of C F* will be related to the meaning of 
'A*. What the effect will look like will depend not only on F but also on B. 
The same form may look quite different in two different subject matters: a 
sharp rise in temperature shows itself differently in petrol and in ice. Never- 
theless if F can be, so to speak, abstracted from the subjects which it informs, 
on St Thomas's view it will be closely related to the nature of A. This is to say 
that things of certain natures will behave in certain determinate ways. It is 
not a merely empirical fact that animals tend to avoid what hurts them, we 
should be puzzled if an animal did not. St Thomas's whole theory of causal 
explanation is based on the idea that things have certain natures and that 
having these natures they have certain activities which are natural to them. 
When you know what something is you already know what it is likely to do 
it is indeed the same thing fully to understand the nature of a thing and to 
know what it will naturally do. Puzzles (admiratid) arise because we expect 
certain behaviour and it does not happen, things seem to be behaving un- 
naturally. You dissolve such a puzzle by pointing to unnoticed elements in 
the situation whose natural behaviour is just such as will account for the 
apparent aberration. Thus a causal explanation is one in terms of the natural 
behaviour of things. When you have found the cause there is no further 
question about why this cause should produce this effect, to understand the 
cause is just to understand that it naturally produces this effect. 



A cause is thus a thing exerting itself, having its influence or imposing its 
character on the world. Ideally the form it induces in things is its own form. 
The perfection of the effect will depend upon the extent to which it measures 
up to the form that its cause naturally produces, the form 'intended* by the 
cause. It does not of course always happen that an effect is the characteristic 
effect of a cause, either because the cause has been impeded by other causes 
or for some other reason. When the effect is the characteristic effect of its 
cause then by understanding it we corne to understand the nature of the 
cause. Knowledge of F leads to, and in fact already is, knowledge of A, But 
this is only the case when the effect displays the full power of the cause. An 
examination paper is not a good indication of what a candidate knows unless, 
when he wrote it, he was doing his best. Now in a particular case a cause may 
not be doing all it can, and in such cases the effect will show only imper- 
fectly the nature of the cause. Such an effect St Thomas calls effectus non 
adtequans vinutem caus<z (which I have translated, 'an effect that falls short 
of being typical of the power of a cause 9 ). This matter is important for the 
present discussion because he regards all creatures as 'inadequate' effects of 
the divine power. God was not, so to speak, putting forth all his strength when 
he created the world, and so the world does not display his nature. It would 
in fact be impossible for God to display his infinite power in a mere work of 
creation, and hence it is impossible that there should be a world from which 
we could come to understand what God is. 

God, for St Thomas, is a cause only in an extended sense of the word. For 
one thing his characteristic effect is not any form in things but their existence. 
St Thomas held that existence is not itself a form, for a form is that by which 
a thing is a certain kind of thing, but an existent being is not a certain kind 
of being. Existence, he says, is the actuality of every form. It is by their 
forms that things exist. God alone does not have a form by which he exists, 
but is sheer existence. 

Moreover God, for St Thomas, is not a causal explanation of the world. In 
his view we arrive at a causal explanation when we detect something whose 
nature it is to have such and such effects. Finding a causal explanation is 
seeing the nature of some cause and seeing how the effects must flow from it* 
Nothing of this kind happens in our knowledge of God; what we know of 
Hm does not serve to explain the world, all that we know of him is that he 
must exist if the world is to have an explanation, St Thomas does not hold 
that if we knew nothing of God we would be unable to find explanations in 
the world, on the contrary for him explanation ends when we have found the 
natures of things. We do, however, need an explanation of how it is that 
the world exists, how it is that there are causal explanations in it. God is, for 
him, not mentioned in scientific explanations, but he is what must explain 
the fact that there is any science at all but these matters are dealt with in 
other parts of the Swnma (particularly za. 2 & 105). 

One further point which may puzzle the reader. According to St Thomas, 
following Aristotle, man is generated by man e and the sun*. It is not, he holds, 
an adequate explanation of the coming to be of a man that there should be 



another man if it is puzzling that there should be one man, it is no less 
puzzling that there should be two there is required a cause of higher order 
to account for the fact that there are men at all, a cause that there is such a 
species. Perhaps in modern terms we might substitute the whole order of 
nature, the course of evolution, and so on a for the sun, but it is in any case 
clear that it is one thing to ask how it happens that there is a particular 
species in the world and another to ask about the coming to be of a particular 
member of it. For St Thomas, each individual is, or may be, an adequate 
effect of his begetter, but is an inadequate effect of e the sun*. If he is born 
healthy and without defect he is like to his father in a simple and obvious 
way, but he is also in an extended sense 'like 5 to the sun, for he shows forth 
imperfectly some aspect of the power of the cause that is responsible for the 
whole species. The importance of this notion is, of course, that St Thomas 
makes a comparison between this general causality of the sun and that of 


Appendix 3 

IT WOULD ordinarily be supposed that you either signify something or you 
do not; the notion of signifying 'imperfectly 3 is a difficult one. Although in 
the thirteenth century there was much interest in language there was no 
recognized technical vocabulary of semantics; St Thomas is content to use 
the exceedingly misleading phrases of Priscian, e.g. that a noun signifies 
substantia own qualitate. He is, however, careful to distinguish between the 
thing that a noun may be used to refer to and the meaning of the noun. The 
ratios the meaning of the word, is the way in which we understand the thing 
that may be named by the word. Since he thought individuals as such un- 
intelligible, he did not think that the meaning of a name could ever be the 
individual it refers to. He says, for example, that the meaning of the word 
'Socrates* is human nature, although, of course, being a proper name it is 
intended to refer to only one individual and thus has no plural. 

In the case of our ordinary use of words St Thomas would agree with the 
modern philosophers who maintain that to know the meaning of a word is to 
know how to use it: it is the purpose of Question 13 to show in what way 
theological language must differ from ordinary usage. In particular, when we 
speak of God, although we know how to use our words, there is an important 
sense in which we do not know what they mean. Fundamentally this is be- 
cause of our special ignorance of God. We know how to talk about shoes and 
ships because of our understanding of shoes and ships. "We know how to talk 
about God, not because of any understanding of God, but because of what 
we know about his creatures. 

It is highly significant that almost the whole of Question 12, which is about 
the way we know God, is devoted to a discussion of the beatific vision; such 
knowledge of God as we have in this life is so exiguous as to be hardly worth 
discussing. The force of St Thomas's teaching on this point may be missed by 
the modern reader, for he puts his point by saying that we do not know the 
essence of God. We are accustomed to tliinking of the knowledge of an 
essence of anything as something highly elusive. Not to know the essence of 
God seems a small deficiency since the empiricists have taught us that we do 
not know the essence of anything. If St Thomas had said instead that we do 
not know what 'God* means, his point would have come across more strongly. 
St Thomas thought that things in some way pointed beyond themselves to 
something which is not a thing, which is altogether outside the universe of 
things and cannot be included in any classification with them. Given this idea 
it is not too difficult to understand his notion that words can point beyond 
their ordinary meanings, and this he thought is what happens when we talk 
about God. We can use words to mean more than we can understand. 

When he distinguishes, as he sometimes does, between id a quo nomen 
imponitur (that from which a word is taken) and id ad quod significandum 



nomen imponitur (that which it is used to mean) he is not simply pointing to 
the obvious fact that etymology is a poor guide to meaning. He is comparing 
the very odd difference between knowing how to use a word and knowing 
what it means when used of God to the difference between the etymology of 
a word and its meaning. The etymology is what makes us use it, but this need 
not be the same as what it means; similarly the perfection to be found in 
creatures is what makes us apply a word to God but this, he thinks, need 
not be the same as what it means in God. 

In this connection 13, 4 is most illuminating. The different predicates we 
might use of, say, a man that he is wise, for example, and poor, and in- 
toxicated, are heteronymous in spite of the fact that they all apply to the one 
man and they all apply to the whole of him, for each one means a different 
aspect of him. But this cannot be the case with God; the words we use of 
him cannot be heteronymous because they mean different aspects of him, 
for there are no different aspects to God. What these words mean in God is 
entirely one, nevertheless they have different meanings. This is because the 
meaning of the words what controls our use of them is their meaning in 
application to creatures. When we use them of God we are trying to mean 
more than this. 


Appendix 4 

IN THE opinion of the present translator too much has been made of St 
Thomas's alleged teaching on analogy. For him, analogy is not a way of 
getting to know about God, nor is it a theory of the structure of the universe, 
it is a comment on our use of certain words. 13, 5 presents the reader with a 
quite famous difficulty: having first distinguished two kinds of analogical 
usage illustrated respectively by the way 'healthy 5 is used of diet and com- 
plexion and of diet and man he seems to say that it is in the latter way that 
words are used of God and creatures. Then at the end of the article he seems 
to return to the first way. In our view this indicates that St Thomas did not 
attach very great importance to the distinction he had made. He probably 
introduced it merely to show that analogy need not be confined to the diet- 
complexion kind of case, for of course the case of God-creatures is not of this 
kind at all since they are not both related to any third thing. 

His real concern is to maintain that we can use words to mean more than 
they mean to us that we can use words to 'try to mean* what God is like, 
that we can reach out to God with our words even though they do not 
circumscribe what he is. The obvious objection to this is that in e.g. God is 
goody *good* must either mean the same as it means when applied to creatures 
or something different. If it means the same, then God is reduced to the level 
of creatures; if it does not mean the same then we cannot know what it 
means by knowing about creatures, we should have to understand God 
himself; but we do not, hence we do not understand it at all we only have 
an illusion of understanding because the word happens to be graphically 
the same as the 'good* we do understand. St Thomas wishes to break down 
this either-or. It is not true, he says, that a word must mean either exactly the 
same in two different uses or else mean something altogether different. 
There is the possibility of a word being used with related meanings. 

We might ask why he is not content to say simply that our language about 
God is metaphorical. He does not say this because he wants to distinguish 
between two different kinds of thing that we say about God; between 
statements like *The Lord is my rock and my refuge' and statements like 
*God is good*. The first of these is quite compatible with its denial *Of 
course the Lord is not a rock*, whereas the second is not. We would not 
say 'God is not good', though we are quite likely to say 'God is good, but not 
in the way that we are*. It is an important point about metaphor that while 
we can easily say God is not really a rock* we cannot so safely say 'The Lord 
is not a rock in the way that Gibraltar is*. For one thing there is only one 
way of being a rock, but more importantly, being a rock in the way that 
Gibraltar is is what the poet has in mind. Unless we think of God as being 
just like Gibraltar although of course not really being a rock we betray the 
poet*s meaning. Qualification emasculates his meaning in a way that flat 



contradiction does not. In the case of *good% however, since there are in any 
case many ways of being good amongst creatures, there is nothing incon- 
gruous in saying 'He is good, though not in our way'. What makes it possible 
to be confident that the word 'good' is in some meaning applicable to him is 
that he is the cause of the goodness of creatures. It does not, as St Thomas 
insists, follow from this that to call God good is to say that he is the cause of 
goodness, it is to say, he thinks, that there is something we can only call 
goodness in God goodness is the best word available for signifying this 
although it does so imperfectly. 

He attaches great importance to the idea that such words apply primarily' 
to God. The point of this seems to be that when you 'try to mean* God's 
goodness by using the word 'good' of him, you are not straying outside its 
normal meaning but trying to enter more deeply into it. His objection to the 
metaphor theory of theological language is that in metaphor the primary use 
of the word is a literal one, so that words would always apply primarily to 
creatures and to use them of God would be to move outside their ordinary 

No metaphor is the best possible metaphor you can always say C I don't 
really mean that*. But some things we say of God even though they are im- 
perfect cannot be improved on by denying them ; their imperfection lies in 
our understanding of what we are trying to mean. 



abstract^ abstraction: 'absolute* or considered in itself; also 'pure' or con- 
sidered without reference to a subject, that is, not in the concrete. 

abstraction^ abstractio: the formation in human knowledge of such an object 
from relative and mixed experience. Some abstraction is implied in sense- 
knowledge, but the term usually refers to intelligible meaning accompanied, 
however, by some imagery. 

accident 3 accidens: I. as a way of being real; what can exist only in a subject 
or not as part of a substance, one of the nine categories or pr&dicamenta 
of such a mode of being enumerated by Aristotle, and accordingly called a 
predicamental accident. 2. as a way of being predicated of a subject, what 
is not attributed to it necessarily, per se y but contingently or incidentally, 
per accidens> and accordingly called a predicable accident. 

analogical^ analogous ^ analogicum^ analogum: common to diverse objects by a 
likeness that is more than verbal (equivocal) yet does not amount to specific 
or generic sameness (urdvocdT). 

analogy > analogia: the method of predicating such meanings for literary 
effect (metaphor) or scientific advance, performed by a varying comparison 
to one rnaJTi term or between two or more sets of paired terms. See text- 
books for the controverted topic of the analogy of 'attribution* and of 
'proportionality 3 . 

appetitus corresponds to the Good as 'cognition* does to the True, and is 
wider since it is present even in unconscious activity. The 'bent* or ten- 
dency of any potentiality to its actuality, it is called 'natural appetite* when 
inborn and not requiring knowledge to be set in motion, 'elicited* or 
'animal* (i.e. psychic) appetite when its object is somehow apprehended. 
This last works at two levels, of emotion or 'sense-appetite* and of will or 
'rational-appetite* . 

Beatitude^ happiness: the final cause or end of an intelligent being; objective 
beatitude, the thing in which this completion is found; subjective beati- 
tude, the act of grasping it. 

causa* cause; a real principle on which the being of something depends. This 
'something* is 'another* in the case of two of the four main types of cause 
enumerated by Aristotle, namely I. the final cause or end, that on account 
of which something is and acts; and 2. the efficient cause or agens, the 
producer of the effect. The term is also applied 3. to that out of and in 
which something is made, the material cause 9 and 4. to its inner shaping 
principle, the. formal cause. This last as expressing an idea in I & 2 is called 
the exemplar cause. These rnain divisions are delicately subdivided by the 

causal term: one which c?n be attributed to I or 2 above from its attribution 
to an effect. 



comprehension: the knowledge of a thing as much as it is knowable. Compre- 
hensio is sometimes contrasted with apprehensio. 

definition; nominal definition explains the meaning of the word 3 perhaps also 
may touch on its etymology j real definition expresses what a thing is 
(gtdd est) by giving its proximate genus and specific difference when this is 
possible;, otherwise by getting as near as may be to a proper and peculiar 

demonstration: making clear and certain the connection between a predicate 
and a subject by exposing a necessary link between them. 

eminentiam, per: the method of treating a perfection when transferred from 
an effect to its true cause^ that is from a lower to a higher order of being. 

equivocal, aqwvocum: having the same name. Usually taken for what is 
purely equivocal, aquivocum a casu or happening to share the same term in 
common, sometimes for a designed equivocation^ czquivocum a consilio> 
when there is a real likeness or analogy between diverse things. Thus a full 
or universal cause is called an equivocal cause because although it is not 
the same sort of thing as its effect the effect is really related to it and like it 
in some way. 

equivocation: the fallacy of arguing from equivocal terms. 

essence; the qidd or what of a thing, signified by the definition; the intelli- 
gible reality of a thing, taken by the school of St Thomas in the case of 
creatures as being potential to. 

existence^ esse; the act of being real, and not merely a possible intelligible 
object of human consideration. Yet note that the classical essentia-esse 
distinction is not that between the ideal and the real^ but between the real 
as potential and the real as actual, 

fcuihy fides: here stands for the sort of knowledge in which the assent is 
certain but not determined by the recognized inner evidence of its object 
either immediate^ as in the case of understood principle^ or mediate, as in 
the case of a demonstrated conclusion. 

form, forma: primitively *shape% correlative of stuff or material, and then 
that by which a thing is what it is^ the formal cause or morpke determining 
the material, the factor of intelligibility or eidos^ hence extended to the 
knowledge-form^jforaa intentionalis, whereby the subject is 'informed by* 
or 'conformed to' an object. 

imagination^ phctntasia: taken in this volume no more widely than for the 
internal sense. 

individual* indtviduutn: also singular e> in general, stands for any complete 
subsisting thing, but properly speaking individuation is numerical and 
applies to material things that can be repeated and therefore counted. 

infinite^ infinitum: the non-determinate or unlimited, either the material 



infinite or indefinite, because of absence of form, or the formal infinite, 
because not contracted by matter. 

intellects can mean any power or act of mind, or more specifically the power, 
habit or act of insight or understanding when the discourse of proof is 
either not required or has been surpassed. 

matter, materia: what bodily things are made of; the subject and potentiality 
of substantial change. 

nature, natura: I. as essence, kind, species, thus 'human nature'; 'natural* in 
this sense is contrasted with 'supernatural'. 2. as the principle of motion 
from within, which is spontaneous motion in living things, voluntary 
motion in conscious things; 'natural' in this sense is contrasted with the 
'artificial' and 'violent'. 

object: sometimes said with reference to a grammatical subject, but more 
often to the action of a verb. The material object is what an action is about 5 
\htformal object is the special interest there engaged. 

perfection, perfectio: the quality of being finished, complete. A hierarchical 
word, associated with the order in the universe, and with degrees of per- 
fection; also a relative word, associated with purpose. 

reason, ratio: sometimes very difficult to translate, thus ratio bonitatis, the 
very meaning, the logos, or the precise point of goodness, but more often 
used of the mind in general and more properly of the human reason. 

relation, relatio: the 'being to another* in a thing. la. 13, 7 ad i draws a 
distinction between a relative secundum esse and relative secundum did. 
The being or esse of the first consists in being a relation, thus to be a 
father; the being of the second consists in being something which entails a 
relation, thus to be created. A real relation secundum esse is called a pre- 
dicamental relation, that is it is in the predicament or category of relation, 
an accident really distinct from the substance in which it is in. A real 
relation secundum dici is sometimes called a transcendental relation, that is 
not limited to one category, but present whenever any reality, whether 
substantial or accidental, has no grounds for being or acting within itself 
and has to be referred to another, thus created being to the create/, the 
activity of knowing to an object which may be known. 

remotionem, per: the method of applying a perfection from an effect to a 
cause, that is from a lower to a higher order of being, which eliminates 
incidental limitations. 

species: i. often, as in English, stands for a kind or class. 2. also, in the theory 
of knowledge, for the 'look' or form of a thing somehow present in mind 
and sense when knowing it. The translations 'sensible likeness* and 'intel- 
ligible likeness 5 can be misleading, for the species is not an object of know- 
ledge afterwards compared with the original. 



stibsistenty subsistens: existing as a complete substance, not as a partial sub- 
stance, e.g. an animal soul, nor as accident, e.g. a thought or a wilL 

substance, substanzia: that which has its own proper 'is* and does not exist in 
another as in a subject. The primary category of being, contrasted with 
'accident*. Also sometimes tantamount to essence, especially in its adjectival 
and adverbial forms. 

theology: in this volume means Christian theology, sacra doctrina, of which 
the premises are the truths of revelation. Philosophical or natural theology 
is subsumed. 

universal: common to many individuals of the same class, or, like universal 
cause, active in many classes without itself being in them. 

univocal, univocum: a common word applied to distinct objects which exhibit 
the same mathematical, generic, or specific meaning. 

vision: extended from eyesight to knowledge when the object is seen either 
from its own immediate presence or through its own proper likeness. 

T. G. 



abandon to God xxi 
abstract xxxiv, xxxvi, 47, 49, 51 
abstraction 17, 43, 83, 100 
accidental as incidental 95 
accidents 87 
affective theology xxi 
affirmative propositions 93, 95 
agnosticism xxx, xxxii 
Alan of Lille xxxii, xxxiii, 53, 69 
Ambrose, St 57, 71, 79 
analogical cause 67 
analogical usage xxxiv, 65, 67, 87, 89 
analogy xxxvi, xxxviii, xxxix, 65, 67. 
87, 106, 107 

Banez, D. xxiv 

beatific vision xxii, xxiv, xxvi, xxvii. 

object of xxii, xxiv, xxvii, 5, 9 
subjective requirements of xxii, 

xxiv, 9 
beatitude xxii, 27 

angels 15, 17, 29, 35 
Anselm, St xxxiv 
anthropomorphism xxv,, 57 
Apocalypse 19 
appetitus xxiii 3 5 
types of xxiv 
Aristotle xix, xxi 3 xxiiij xxv, xxxii, n, 

29, 35, 41, 43, 49, 63, 67, 69, 73, 75, 

77, 81, 87, 89, 91 
Armenians xxviii 
Augustine, St xxviii, xxxiv, 7, n, 13, 

21, 23, 25, 27, 31, 35, 37, 39, 41, 43, 

53> 55 3 73> 93 
Averroes 65 


beautiful, the xxxvii 

being, analogical xxxvii, xxxviii, xxxtx 

Benedict XII, Pope xxviii 

Benedict, St xxviii 

Berti, ]. ~L. xxiv 

Bible, the xxxf 

Boethius 41, 93 

Cajetan xxiv, 45 

causal terms 53, 55, 69, 71 

causality xxvii, xxxix, 41, 63, 67 

and knowledge 29 
causes 93, 101, 102, 103 
charity 23, 27 

Chrysostom, St John xxviii, 3, 5 
comprehension 23, 25, 27 
concrete xxxiv, xxxvi, 17, 47, 49, 51, 

consciousness xxv 
convenientiis, ex yxiii 
Corinthians., 1st Epistle to xxix, 7, 

37> 43 

creation xxxii, xxxix 
'creator' 67 

creatures xix, xxi, xxv, xxvii, xxxviii, 
xxxix, 7, 17, 3~L 3 4i> 77 
means of knowing God 41 , 49, 55, 57 
relation of to God 75 3 77 


Damascene, St John 51, 55, 79= 81,91 

Dante xix 

definition 48, 49, 69, 81, 87 

degrees of being xxxvi, xxxvii 

demonstration 25 

desire xxiii 

difference xxxviii 

Dionysius, the Pseudo- xxxi, xxxii, 

3> 5= 9, I3> 29, 39, 43, 47> 5i> 57, 59, 

67* 69, 81, 81, 91, 93, 95 
diversity xxxviii 
Durand de Saint-Porcain xxiv 



Eleatics xxxii 
Elias xxviii 

eminenter formaliter et virtualiter xl 
eminentia xx, xxxvi, xxxviii, 81 
Enoch xxviii 
ens 5, 86 
emmtiabilia xxxi 
Epkesians, Epistle to 69 
epistemology xxv, xxvi, xxvii, 49 
and psychology xxv, xxvii 

equivocal 63, 89 

causes xxvii, 633 67 

terms xxx, xxxvii, 61, 63, 65, 67, 


essence 5, 9 
etymology 79, 105 
excellentia, modus xxxviii 
existence 17, 91, 93 
Exodiis, Book of 373 49 

faith xxi, xxix, xl, 27, 45, 93 
Ferrariensis, Sylvester xxiv 
Florence^ Council of xxviii 


in mind xxvi 3 15, 33 
in thing xxvi 
subsisting 83 

ss Epistle to 85 
Garrigou-Lagrange, R. xxii 
Genesis^ Book of 37^ 63 
Gilbert de la Porree 73 
glory xxix 3 19, 25 
Gloss, the 37 
gloss, a 43, 85 

essence of 5, 7, 9, u, 39 
light of the world xx, 5, 29 

name of 79, 81, 83 

OUT joy xxi, 25, 31 
good, the 93 

an analogical xxxvii 
grace xxi, xxix 

and nature xxii, xxiii 

knowledge by 43, 45 
Greek theology xxviii 
Gregory of Valencia xxiv 
Gregory the Great, St 27, 29, 39, 53 

happiness xxvii, xxviii., 25 
Heraclitus xxxii 


hope 27 

idolatry 87, 89 
images and thought 41, 43 
imagination xxxi, n, 13, 33 
individual 83, 85 
infinite, the 3 

infinity xx, xxxiii, xxxiv, 5, 6, 25, 


'intentional' xxvi 
Ionian philosophers xxv, xxxii 
Isaiah n 

Jacob 39 
Jeremiah 25, 59, 71 


Job ii 

John of St Thomas xxiv 



John the Divine, St xxix, 3, 5, 15, judgment of simple object, complex 

19, 21 61, 95, 97, 83 


Kirk, K. E. xx knowing xxii, 5, 75, 77, 79 

knowledge, theory of xxv, xxvii, xxx, and loving xxii, 23 

xxxviii, 15, 99, 100 

Leibniz, G. W. 99 love xxiii 

light, divine xx, 9, 13, 19 loving and knowing 23 

literal theological attribution 57, 59, 61 lumen glories xxi, xxiv, xxvii, xxviii, 

'Lord' applied to God 73, 77 9, 19, 23 


Maimonides, Moses xxxii, xxxiii, 53, memory 31 

65 metaphor 57, 83, 107 

Matthew^ Gospel of St 45 metaphorical usage xxxi, xxxiii, 57, 

meaning 59, 69 

and etymology 55, 71, 79 miraculous, the xxix, 39 

and mode of meaning 49, 57, 59 Moses xxviii, 39 

medium in quo & quo 20 mystical theology xxi 

nature xxni 

and grace xxiii 

as specific 83 
natural yntt 

natural desire xxii, xxiv, 31 
negative terms yyyiii., 53 
negative theology xxxii 


negative way xx, xxxvi 
Newman, J. H. xl 
Noris, H. xxiv 
nothing xxxHi 
noun 47, 51, 83 
Numbers, Book of 37 

One and Many xxxii 


opinion 25, 27 


participle 47> 5* 

Paul, St xxviii, 7, 13, 21, 23, 27, 31, 


rapture of xxviii, 31^ 39 
perfection, attribution of from 

creatures to God 57 

mixed 59, 69 

'perfection word* 65 

pure 59, 69, 85 
Peters II Epistle of St 81 
Peter Lombard rail' 
Plato xxix, xxxiv 
Platonists-Neo xxxiv 


potentiality xxiii, xxxiii 
potentia obedientialis xxii 
predicate and subject 95 
predication 95 
presence of God 39 
pronoun 473 51 
prophecy 39 

proportion 7 
proposition 95 
Proverbs, Book of 47 
Providence, divine 79, 8 1 
Psalms, the 9, 19, 77,, 81, 85, 89 
psychology xxv 

rationalism of St Thomas xxxv 
reasoning in theology xxix 
redundantia xxviii 
relation xxvi, 73, 75 > 77 
real and logical 75 


relative terms xxviii, 53, 73 
remotio xx 3 xxvi, xxxviii 
resurrection 1 1 
revelation, divine xix, 43, 45 
Romans, Epistle to 15, 41 3 65 

'Saviour* applied to God 75 
Scholastic theology xxxi s xxxv 
Scotus, Duns xxiv 
Scriptural language xxix, xxxi, 13 
sense 9, n, 15, 17 
beginning of human knowledge 


sight xx s 9, II, 17 
5o?^ o/ Solomon 27 

Soto, D. xxiv 

species, in knowledge xxv, xxvi, 7, 9 

expressa, impressa xxvij xxvii 
subject and predicate 95 
subsistent existence 17 
substance 87 
'supernatural* xxii 
synonyms 59, 61 

teleology xxiii. 

temporal sense of terms 73, 77 
Teresa of Avila, St xxxiii 
Tetragrammaton, the 85, 93 
theological language xxx 
theology xxi, xxxi 

Christian xxi, xxvii 

natural xxi, xxix, 41 
theophany xxi 

thoughts, distinct for a single thing 61 
Trinity, the blessed xxviii, xxxiii 
true as analogies^ the xxxvii 

unconscious, the xxiv 
union with God xxvii 
universal cause 67 
universal ideas xxxvii 
universality 91 


univocal cause 63, 67 

univocal terms xxx, xxxvi, 61, 639 65, 

unity xvyvi 

verb 47, 51 
virtvs xl 

visio data xxviii 

vision of God xis, xxiv, 9 




Wisdom, Book of 83 word xxx, 49, 61 


Yahweh 85 


the general reader with an uiter^t i:\ 
the 'reasons' in Christianity. Though 
timeless in substance and spirit., the 
Summa, a masterpiece of the thir- 
teenth century,, provides both scholars 
and translators with special prob- 
lems. A working Latin text has been 
prepared for this edition, which has 
consulted the great Leonine edition 
of all St Thomas's works begun 
in 1882. The editors, many after 
long experience in teaching the 
text, have determined to put the 
thought of St Thomas into contem- 
porary English, so far as the tech- 
nicalities allow. They have recognized 
the fact that the style and many 
details of the Summons original pre- 
occupations are no longer ours, and 
do not lend themselves to rendering 
just as they stand. However, the 
difficulties facing the modern reader 
are here firmly grasped, rather than 
avoided by circumlocution. Hence a 
freer translation than its predecessor 
in English is offered, but held closely 
parallel to the Latin text. The result 
is a superb edition, for the twentieth- 
century scholar, of one of the greatest 
documents of the Christian Church. 

The introduction to each volume 
places the treatise at hand in its 
general setting and relates it to the 
total structure of the Summa. Each 
volume contains its own notes and 
glossary of technical terms, so that it 
is complete within itself. 

The form of the title, Summa 
Theologize^ follows that of the earliest 
manuscripts, and is hence used again 
in this twentieth-century edition, 

Fr Herbert McCabe O.P., 
Manchester University and 
Blackfriars, Oxford. 
Lecturer in Philosophy to the 
University of Manchester. 

In December 1963, His Holiness Pope 
Paul VI granted an audience at which 
he warmly commended this new 
edition of St Thomas Aquinas.