By way of a brief interlude from Psalm 3, I wanted to continue today with my series of notes on key commentaries on the psalms by the Fathers, Saints and Theologians, looking at the commentaries by St Thomas Aquinas.
St Thomas Aquinas is a saint who either needs no introduction or a lot - and indeed Pope Benedict XVI has devoted no less than three General Audiences to the Doctor Angelicus, including:
- an introduction to his life, given on 2 June 2010;
- a talk on the importance of his teaching for current day theological formation, given on 16 June 2010; and
- an introduction to the Summa Theologica and other key works of the saint, given on 23 June 2010.
St Thomas' Commentaries on the Psalms
But his psalm commentaries, which include a general introduction to the psalms and commentaries on Psalms 1-54, are amongst the less well-known of his works. Indeed, no complete translation of them in English is yet available (there is one in French), though work on a complete set of translations is in progress through the De Salles University Aquinas Translation Project. Some additional psalms are also available in translation through the Dominican Priory website.
St Thomas' writing style in these commentaries just begs for the modern invention of dots and dashes, paragraphs and sub-paragraphs - he constantly enumerates points and sub-points in a way that can be rather laborious to read through. But it is well worth the effort, for as with so much of the saints work, the commentaries are theologically and spiritually dense.
Given the reproduction restrictions the Translation Project puts on its material, I don't think I can reproduce a suitable extract here, but I do highly recommend, as a useful starting point a read of St Thomas' Introduction to the book of Psalms. And if you are working on or interested in a particular psalm, do take the time to read what St Thomas has to say on it.