- The Primacy of Love: An Introduction to the Ethics of Thomas Aquinas by Paul J. Wadell, C.P., and: Friends of God: Virtues and Gifts in Aquinas by Paul J. Wadell, C.P. (review)
- The Thomist: A Speculative Quarterly Review
- The Catholic University of America Press
- Volume 59, Number 3, July 1995
- pp. 508-512
- View Citation
- Additional Information
508 BOOK REVIEWS Margerie tells us that Augustine surely held that Genesis contains such a plural sense, with the added affirmation that Moses, whom Augustine considers to be the author ofthe Pentateuch, thanks to a transient beatific vision, personally foresaw and intended all the interpretations that would later be given. In keeping with his careful and cautious approach, near the end of the book Father de Margerie admits the limitations of Augustine, limitations which Augustine himself often perceived. "First, Augustine's strictly exegetical works are rather limited.... His sustained commentaries are few, those which have reached us concern Genesis, Job, the Letters to the Galatians and part of that to the Romans, the Gospel, and the First Letter of John" (126). Secondly, Augustine had only a slight knowledge of Biblical Greek. He usually worked from the Latin Bible. He seldom referred systematically to the Greek. Further, he had "but a smattering of Hebrew, acquired indirectly through his familiarity with Punic" (126). Finally-a very large admission- "he, along with nearly all the Fathers, failed to analyze adequately the literal meaning of numerous texts he sought to interpret" (126). In spite of such limitations, Augustine and the other Fathers do provide us with many insights into sound doctrine. This is especially useful since so many of the errors of today, advertised as new, are merely ancient mistakes rejected centuries ago by the Fathers. Therefore we are all indebted to Father de Margerie for helping to call us back to what is so very good in the Fathers. Father de Margerie has rendered a singular service to scholarship in his first two volumes of study of Patristic exegesis. The present volume, the third, is a worthy successor to the first two. Notre Dame Institute Alexandria, Virginia WILLIAM G. MOST The Primacy of Love: An Introduction to the Ethics of Thomas Aquinas. By PAUL J. WADELL, C.P. Mahwah, N.J.: Paulist Press, 1992. Pp. 162. $11.95. Friends of God: Virtues and Gifts in Aquinas. By PAUL J. WADELL, C.P. American University Studies, Series VII: Theology and Religion, vol. 76. New York: Peter Lang, 1991. Pp. x + 148. Drawing from the virtue-ethics orientation of his earlier work, Friendship and the Moral Life (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1990), Paul Wadell has written two books that seek to accomplish two distinctly different BOOK REVIEWS 509 objectives: to produce a work that can serve as a general introduction to Thomas Aquinas's teaching about ethics, and to produce a monograph that urges a different approach to the interpretation of Thomas's ethical teaching. But both books share a common interest of Wadell's: showing that Thomas's ethics is an ethics of genuine affection. Whether he is judged to have reached the two objectives is a question that is likely to be answered differently by moralists, depending upon the issues and approaches that shape their own understanding of Thomistic moral theology. At the very least, Wadell has produced two well-crafted books that are trend-setting works in a long and promising career, works whose approach is surely to become familiar as more and more writers emphasize virtue ethics with regard to the moral teaching of Aquinas. And at most, Wadell has shown himself to be both a fine teacher of Thomas's ethical thought and an incisive scholar in identifying the subterranean movements of the Common Doctor's thought. I shall consider The Primacy ofLove first, which, although it appeared second, is a good intelligible backdrop for presenting the more sophisticated and important argument of Friends ofGod. Waddell's introduction to Thomas's ethics is not really a synopsis of the Secunda pars of the Summa theologiae, though the lion's share of the material he employs is from there, and in something of its original order. It is rather a sympathetic, almost affectionate, portrait of Thomas's ethical teaching. The book does not introduce the reader to the technicalities of Thomas's thought, or to the bewildering debates surrounding the practical syllogism and natural law that have characterized the secondary literature in the second half of this century. Wadell-and others, I imagine-would consider this a strength...