St. Thomas Aquinas is one of the Catholic church’s greatest theologians. And he is known to be one of the best philosophers in history, especially during the middle ages. His contributions to natural law and western philosophy are as profound as Aristotle’s and Plato’s.
Just because Thomas wrote during the middle ages doesn’t mean he’s irrelevant to people today. The theology and philosophy he developed are as true today as they were back in his time. Despite what modern philosophy may say, human nature doesn’t change. And the lessons of Thomas Aquinas are timeless.
Saint Thomas wrote in the 1200s and was a member of the Dominicans. He spent most of his life teaching in universities around Europe. Back in those days, universities were places of debate and religious formation. Medieval universities produced great advances in philosophy, theology, law, politics, and science. These advancements would eventually become part of the scholastic movement.
There is so much more to be said about Saint Thomas. If you want to learn more about his life, we recommend the GK Chesterton biography below.
Books By Thomas Aquinas
The books in this article provide an overview of Saint Thomas Aquinas’ thought. It is not an exhaustive list, and we encourage you to read more than what’s listed. Saint Thomas was a prolific writer. This list will give you a good starting point either by reading Thomas Aquinas directly or by reading one of the books we recommend about Thomas Aquinas.
The Summa Theologiae, sometimes called the Summa Theologic, is Saint Thomas’ most famous work. It’s so famous it’s often just referred to as The Summa. The Summa Theologiae is a compendium of the main theological teachings of the Catholic Church. It is an instructional guide for theology students, including seminarians and the laity. This contrasts the Summa Contra Gentiles, which is more apologetic.
It’s been taught in Catholic schools for centuries and is the gold standard for catholic theology.
The Summa is written in an interesting style with arguments in favor and against certain positions. It reads more like an encyclopedia than a history book or modern textbook. But if you are interested in learning more about Catholic theology and natural theology there is no better book.
Saint Thomas is best known for his work on natural law. But he also wrote many insightful commentaries. He wrote commentaries on each of the Gospels–Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John. Each provides excellent lessons for anyone reading the Gospels. Saint Thomas is a model teacher; you can learn much from this spiritual master.
The Summa Theologiae gets all the attention for its exposition on natural reason. But the truth is that Saint Thomas’ Gospel commentaries can often provide more insight to the average person because they’re more accessible. Many people think that Saint Thomas only wrote dense books on metaphysics, but they forget that he had a mystical experience. As a philosopher Thomas Aquinas is unmatched, but he’s underappreciated as a mystic and commenter on the faith.
Thomas Aquinas, like his favorite philosopher Aristotle, wrote about everything. Not only did he have a profound impact on church history, but he also advanced natural law ideas about politics and morality. His book On Law, Morality, & Politics furthers philosophical ideas started by Plato and Aristotle making them Catholic and part of the Western world.
This short book represents a showcase of the beauty in Aquinas’ thinking. Aquinas wrote many hymns and prayers that were the highest expression of love for God. He wrote all his prayers in Latin. However, even translated into English they’re beautiful and show another side to Saint Thomas Aquinas that’s often never seen.
The prayers and hymns of Saint Thomas Aquinas will deepen your faith in God the father almighty.
Books About Thomas Aquinas
One could spend a lifetime reading Aquinas’ books and commentaries. However, Aquinas can be very technical and he wrote in Latin. This can be daunting and off-putting to the average person who wants to learn more about the Catholic church’s greatest theologians. So we recommend some books that are written for the average person.
Josef Pieper was a Catholic theologian who had an easy writing style. This short book is an excellent introduction to the life and theology of Thomas Aquinas. If you’re new to studying Thomism or Scholasticism, this book is an excellent place to start.
The Summa Theologiae is a long and technical book. In A Summa of the Summa, Peter Kreeft does his best to summarize and explain many of Aquinas’ points in an easy-to-digest manner. If reading the Summa Theologiae sounds too daunting, this book is the way to go.
This book by GK Chesterton is a fantastic biography of Saint Thomas Aquinas. In typical Chestertonian fashion he writes about Aquinas’ life with whimsy. And don’t worry; he doesn’t let the truth spoil too much of the story. If you love Chesterton and Aquinas, this book is for you.
Of all the books we recommend that are not by Aquinas, this book is the most technical. While it’s not an easy read, it’s easier than just diving straight into Aquinas. So if you’re ready to move on to a more advanced understanding of natural theology dive into this book by Edward Feser.
Thomas Aquinas Book FAQ
What is the famous book of St. Thomas Aquinas?
Thomas Aquinas’ most famous work is The Summa Theologica. It’s a compendium of the main theological teachings of the Catholic Church. It is an instructional guide for theology students, including seminarians and the laity.
Which Thomas Aquinas book should I read first?
One of the best places to start with Aquinas is The Summa Contra Gentiles, as it’s written for apologetics. This makes it an easier read and a great starting point for wannabe Thomists.
What is Thomas Aquinas best known for?
Thomas Aquinas is best known for being a doctor Communis and doctor angelicus of the Catholic Church. He is one of the most profound Catholic philosophers and a church Doctor.