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THE CONCEPT OF POVERTY IN ST. THOMAS AQUINAS'S CONTRA IMPUGNANTES DE/ CULTUM ET RELIGIONEM JOHN D. ]ONES Marquette University Milwaukee, Wisconsin MEDIEVAL CONCEPTIONS of poverty have been given ongoing and serious attention by scholars during this century. The extensive literature on the nature and practice of poverty among the Franciscans bears witness to this. Serious investigation of St. Thomas Aquinas's understanding of poverty, however, is virtually nonexistent. Except for a very recent book by Ulrich Horst,' there are, so far as I know, no monographs or dissertations treating this aspect of Aquinas's thought. The most thorough discussion in English, which falls far short of sustained textual or critical analysis, is given by Philip Mulhern.2 Apart from an article by Silvana Spirito, which primarily focuses on historical issues, one finds only scattered references and notes in other works.3 1 Ulrich Horst, Evangelische Annut und Kirche: Thomas van Aquin und die Annutskontroversen des 13. und beginnenden 14. Jahrhunderts (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1992). This work was published after the present article was completed. : Philip Mulhern, Dedicated Poverty (Staten Island: Alba House, 1973), 116-31. "II problema della poverta e deIla perfezione religiosa nell'ambito delie polemiche tra clero secolare e ordini mendicanti," Atti Del Congresso Internazionale, ed. Congresso internazionale Tommaso d'Aquino (Napoli: Edizioni domenicane italiane, 1974), 49-57. Worthy of mention is Scott Swenson's concise, but detailed, note on poverty in the Contra impugnantes (Emerging Concepts of Jurisdiction, Sacramental Orders and Property Rights Among Dominican Thinkers From Thomas Aquinas to Hervaeus Natalis [Ph.D. Diss., Cornell University, 1988], 265, n.159). For a brief discussion of poverty in 409 410 JOHN D. JONES The absence of scholarship in this area stands in marked contrast to the lavish philosophical and theological attention given to many other aspects of Aquinas's thought. If Thomas gave only a cursory nod to the subject of poverty, this absence might be understandable. Over the course of his career, however, Thomas composed several extended discussions and numerous shorter notes pertaining to poverty, concentrating particularly on the nature and practice of poverty in religious life. In addition to the Contra impugnantes Dei cultum et religionem, a relatively early work devoted to a defense of the mendicant orders and mendicant poverty, there are extended discussions of poverty in the Contra pestiferam doctrinam retrahentium homines a religionis ingressu, cc. 14-16, the Summa contra gentiles, bk. III, c.131-35, and the Summa theologiae (51), II-II, q. 184, a. 7, q. 186, aa. 3&6, q. 188, a. 7, etc. There are also brief discussions and references to poverty (paupertas) and the poor (pauper) in nearly thirty other works ranging from the In Sententiarum to various Scripture commentaries.4 My purpose in this paper is to present a close, but by no means comprehensive, textual and critical analysis of Thomas's treatment of poverty in the Contra impugnantes, concentrating on the crucial sixth chapter.5 I am interested in Thomas's conception of Summa theologiae, 11-11, q. 188, a. 7, see John D. Jones, Poverty and the Human Condition (New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 1990), 317-320. Also see Jones, "Poverty and Subsistence: St. Thomas and the Definition of Poverty," Gregorianum 75 (1994): 135-49. 4 The Contra impugnantes dei cultum et religionem and Contra pestiferam doctrinam retrahentes homines a religionis ingressu are contained in the Leonine Opera Omnia, vol. XLI (Rome: St. Thomas Aquinas Foundation, 1970) and in Opuscula theologica, vol. 2, ed. RM. Spiazzi (Turin: Marietti, 1954). An English translation of both works is contained in An Apologyfor the Religious Orders, ed. John Procter (London: Sands and Co., 1902), 50-376 and 377-479 respectively. I am using the Blackfrairs edition of the Summa theologiae (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964-81). By and large, I have followed existing translations of Thomas's works, although for the sake of accuracy, I have occasionally modified them, especially Proctor's translations of the Contra impugnantes and Contra retrahentes. 5 The discussion of poverty is contained chiefly in chapter 6 (cited in the Marietti edition as 2.5[6]). All citations in my paper will be to this chapter unless otherwise noted. Following typical form, the chapter contains...


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