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St. Thomas Aquinas notes in his own introduction to the Shorter Summa that faith, hope, and charity are the subjects of the text, which comprise "the whole perfection of this present life," according to St. Paul (c. 4 BCE–c. 63 CE). Aquinas began the text after his assistant, Father Reginald of Piperno, asked him to write a simple summary of the Catholic faith for those who could not navigate the massive Summa Theologica. The shorter text, although unfinished, provides an accessible summary of key elements of Aquinas's theology. The Catholic Church has consistently reiterated the central importance of Aquinas's work for understanding Church doctrine on revelation, or truths about salvation revealed by God, and the Summa Theologica is one of Aquinas's most important texts. The larger Summa is a prime example of later scholasticism, an academic approach to theology that incorporates into Catholic teaching elements of the philosophy of Aristotle, a Greek philosopher of the 4th century BCE. As a cultural artifact of the European Middle Ages, the Summa Theologica is unparalleled. It has been admired by both Christians and non-Christians for enriching their own religious and philosophical speculations, whether they agree or disagree with the theology of the Summa.
The original title for this condensed version of the Summa Theologica is The Compendium of Theology. Aquinas did not finish either text. The larger work ran to 1.5 million words, and the word compendium in the shorter text connotes that the author intended to provide a concise, shorter, and easier-to-read version of his original work. The editor renamed the work Aquinas's Shorter Summa: St. Thomas's Own Concise Version of His Summa Theologica in an effort to make the work more approachable to the common reader.
This study guide for Thomas Aquinas's A Summa of the Summa offers summary and analysis on themes, symbols, and other literary devices found in the text. Explore Course Hero's library of literature materials, including documents and Q&A pairs.