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BOOK REVIEWS Albert and Thomas: Selected Writings. Trans., ed., and intro. By SIMON TUGWELL, O.P., preface by Leonard E. Boyle, O.P. Classics of Western Spirituality. New York: Paulist Press, 1988. Pp. xv + 650. $17.95 {paper). In scope and size, Albert and Thomas is an unusually large work for the Classics of Western Spirituality Series-" really two books in one," as Leonard Boyle, Prefect of the Vatican Library, observes in his unusually brief but laudatory preface. Perhaps it is three books. Simon Tugwell not only provides lengthy critical introductions to the life and writings of both Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas but also translates the whole of Albert's commentary on the Mystical Theology of Pseudo-Dionysius, as well as providing a new translation of that short work itself (or rather the Latin version of it by John Sarracenus that Albert used with an eye to the previous translation by Eriugena) . Tugwell also provides first or new translations of several shorter works of St. Thomas and excerpts from longer ones: Thomas's Inaugural Lecture at the University of Paris, the Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard, De Veritate, the Commentary on Boethius, the scriptural commentaries on Paul, Matthew, John, and Romans and the Contra lmpugnantes , as well as the Summa contra Gentiles and the Summa Theologiae. Regent of studies of the English Dominican province, Simon Tugwell teaches at the House of Studies in Oxford; he is also on the faculty of theology at the University as well as at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas (the Angelicum) in Rome. He is a member of the Dominican Historical Institute and editor of Dominican Sources in English, and in the Classics of Western Spirituality series he previously edited the volume Early Dominicans. He brings to the present volume a wealth of scholarship that can truly be called prodigious, especially if measured in terms of documentation: the endnotes for the introductions alone number 1292! Despite the encompassing scope of Tugwell's introductions, which account for more than one-third of the book, the focus of his work and of the texts he selected is spirituality rather than dogmatic or moral theology, exegesis, philosophy, or natural science-which is to be ex· pected in a series of this kind. Of course, for both Albert and Thomas, " spirituality " can only mean " the theology of the spiritual life," not " devotional literature " of even a high scholastic tone. Thus a question 541 54~ BOOK REVIEWS may legitimately he posed regarding the volume's intended audience. The overall length, the extensive critical apparatus, and the often seemingly remote and abstract topics favored hy Albert, Thomas, and Tugwell are likely to overwhelm the casual or novice reader interested in the spiritual teaching of these Doctors of the Church. Conversely, academic theologians and historians might consider a series on spirituality an unlikely site for such a major, probably epoch-marking study of these giants of scholastic thought and method, especially in so limited a context. Both readerships would be sadly mistaken. Although not beyond cavil in some respects, the present volume is likely to be regarded in coming years as the most important study of Albert and Thomas published in the last several decades. It also contains spiritual theology of immense richness and profundity for anyone patient enough to look. The volume is divided unequally, two-thirds going to Thomas. Both parts are sharply, even narrowly focused (in respect to Thomas, I feel, narrowly enough to lead to some imbalance). The section on Albert centers on the corpus Areopagiticum, specifically on a single work. In light of Albert's role in generating a Christian Neoplatonic revival in the thirteenth century and the centrality of the Mystical Theology, this is appropriate, even necessary. Conversely, the influence of Dionysius on Thomas is passed over quickly, and instead of a single work, Aquinas is represented by a selection of chronologically-arranged texts covering his entire career, dealing with teaching, prayer, the contemplative life, and an assortment of medieval problems connected with the vows of obedience, poverty, the role of study, and rivalries between mendicant orders. To the casual reader, Tugwell's much briefer treatment of Albert might seem to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2473-3725
Print ISSN
0040-6325
Pages
pp. 541-545
Launched on MUSE
2017-04-05
Open Access
No
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