The Five Best Books on or by Saint Thomas Aquinas

Lennox Johnson Books

From beginner-friendly introductions to classic works by Saint Thomas Aquinas, this page features books to suit any learning style. It’s important to note that there is no single best book on Aquinas. The best book for you will depend heavily on your preferred learning style and the amount of time/energy you’re willing to spend reading. For example, if you tend to find classic works of philosophy difficult to understand, you might want to start with a short, beginner-friendly introduction. If you prefer more depth, you can choose a more comprehensive introduction or read Aquinas for yourself.

It’s also worth noting that it is not a list of personal recommendations. Personal book recommendations tend to be highly subjective, idiosyncratic, and unreliable. This list is part of a collection of over 100 philosophy reading lists which aim to provide a central resource for philosophy book recommendations. These lists were created by searching through hundreds of university course syllabi, internet encyclopedia bibliographies, and community recommendations. Links to the syllabi and other sources used to create this list are at the end of the post. Following these links will help you quickly find a broader range of options if the listed books do not fit what you are looking for.

Here are the best books on or by St. Thomas Aquinas in no particular order.

Aquinas: A Beginner’s Guide – Edward Feser

Category: Short Introduction | Length: 210 pages | Published: 2009 Aquinas: A Beginner's Guide - Edward Feser Book Cover

Publishers description: One of the most influential philosophers and theologians in history, St. Thomas Aquinas was the father of modern philosophy of religion, and is infamous for his “proofs” for God’s existence. In this cogent introduction to the great Saint’s work, Edward Feser argues that you cannot fully understand Aquinas’ philosophy without his theology and vice versa. Covering his thoughts on the soul, natural law, metaphysics, and the interaction of faith and reason, this will prove indispensable for students, experts or the general reader.

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The Thought of Thomas Aquinas – Brian Davies

Category: Comprehensive Introduction | Length: 408 pages | Published: 1993 The Thought of Thomas Aquinas - Brian Davies Book Cover

Publishers description: The works of Thomas Aquinas, one of the greatest Western philosophers as well as theologians of the Christian Church, are not only illuminating (for his questions as much as his answers) but surprisingly relevant to our concerns today. This book represents a long overdue modern comprehensive presentation of the total thought of Aquinas. While traditional studies of Aquinas invariably deal with either his philosophy or his theology, Davies introduces the full range of Aquinas’s thinking, relating it to writers earlier and later than Aquinas himself. The book will be of considerable interest to professional theologians and philosophers, as well as to those with particular interest in medieval thinking. It is designed to be accessible to the general reader who has no specialist knowledge of medieval thought or professional training in philosophy or theology.

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Aquinas: An Introduction to the Life and Work of the Great Medieval Thinker – F. C. Copleston

Category: Introduction | Length: 272 pages | Published: 1956 Aquinas: An Introduction to the Life and Work of the Great Medieval Thinker - F. C. Copleston Book Cover

Publishers description: Aquinas (1224-74) lived at a time when the Christian West was opening up to a wealth of Greek and Islamic philosophical speculation. An embodiment of the thirteenth-century ideal of a unified interpretation of reality (in which philosophy and theology work together in harmony), Aquinas was remarkable for the way in which he used and developed this legacy of ancient thought—an achievement which led his contemporaries to regard him as an advanced thinker.

Father Copleston’s lucid and stimulating book examines this extraordinary man—whose influence is perhaps greater today than in his own lifetime—and his trought, relating his ideas wherever possible to problems as they are discussed today.

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The Oxford Handbook of Aquinas – Brian Davies & Eleonore Stump

Category: Comprehensive Textbook | Length: 608 pages | Published: 2014 The Oxford Handbook of Aquinas - Brian Davies & Eleonore Stump Book Cover

Publishers description: Thomas Aquinas (1224/6-1274) lived an active, demanding academic and ecclesiastical life that ended while he was still comparatively young. He nonetheless produced many works, varying in length from a few pages to a few volumes.

The present book is an introduction to this influential author and a guide to his thought on almost all the major topics on which he wrote. The book begins with an account of Aquinas’s life and works. The next section contains a series of essays that set Aquinas in his intellectual context. They focus on the philosophical sources that are likely to have influenced his thinking, the most prominent of which were certain Greek philosophers (chiefly Aristotle), Latin Christian writers (such as Augustine), and Jewish and Islamic authors (such as Maimonides and Avicenna). The subsequent sections of the book address topics that Aquinas himself discussed. These include metaphysics, the existence and nature of God, ethics and action theory, epistemology, philosophy of mind and human nature, the nature of language, and an array of theological topics, including Trinity, Incarnation, sacraments, resurrection, and the problem of evil, among others. These sections include more than thirty contributions on topics central to Aquinas’s own worldview. The final sections of the volume address the development of Aquinas’s thought and its historical influence.

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Thomas Aquinas: Selected Writings – Thomas Aquinas

Category: Anthology | Length: 850 pages | Published: 1999 (3ed.) Thomas Aquinas: Selected Writings - Thomas Aquinas Book Cover

Publishers description: In his reflections on Christianity, Saint Thomas Aquinas forged a unique synthesis of ancient philosophy and medieval theology. Preoccupied with the relationship between faith and reason, he was influenced both by Aristotle’s rational world view and by the powerful belief that wisdom and truth can ultimately only be reached through divine revelation. Thomas’s writings, which contain highly influential statements of fundamental Christian doctrine, as well as observations on topics as diverse as political science, anti-Semitism and heresy, demonstrate the great range of his intellect and place him firmly among the greatest medieval philosophers.

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Additional Resources

If you want to learn more about St. Thomas Aquinas, you can find a collection of free articles, videos, and podcasts here.

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A History of Western Philosophy in 500 Essential Quotations is a collection of the greatest thoughts from history’s greatest thinkers. Featuring classic quotations by Aristotle, Epicurus, David Hume, Friedrich Nietzsche, Bertrand Russell, Michel Foucault, and many more, A History of Western Philosophy in 500 Essential Quotations is ideal for anyone looking to quickly understand the fundamental ideas that have shaped the modern world.

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