Bringing Saint Thomas Around the Globe

Juliana Bridge (STM exp. ‘14), helped with the translating work for the new edition of the works of St. Thomas Aquinas.

ITI graduates tackle the project of publishing the works of the Angelic Doctor in English/Latin parallel editions.

The Popes say, “Ite ad Thomam,” “Go to Thomas,” but how does one do so in today’s non-Latin-speaking world? Several members of the International Theological Institute (ITI) family have collaborated to address this problem and make the works of St. Thomas Aquinas easily accessible to scholars today. ITI graduates Dr. Jeremy Holmes (ITI STM ’01) and Dr. John Mortensen (ITI STL ’01), and former ITI professor, Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, all professors at Wyoming Catholic College, looked around and saw that high-quality versions of the works of St. Thomas Aquinas were expensive and hard to find. Moreover, certain works had never been translated into English.

This problem was brought to the attention of Kwasniewski, Holmes, and Mortensen when they founded the Aquinas Institute in 2008 to offer summer courses to graduate students and religious. Over the course of eight weeks, the three colleagues, along with several guest professors, led students in a careful study of St. Thomas’s commentaries on the letters of St. Paul. For this summer course, the Aquinas Institute developed editions of these commentaries using the unfinished translations of Fr. Larcher, O.P., which had been transcribed and revised by Ave Maria University students and faculty. Based on this experience, the Aquinas Institute launched its project in the summer of 2012 to publish the Opera Omnia of St. Thomas in hardcover Latin-English editions.

The Aquinas Institute’s announcement of the publishing project on June 13, 2012 attracted attention from around the globe. Although there was no formal publicity campaign at that time, preorders of the Pauline commentaries and the entire Opera Omnia poured in, not only from priests and academics, but from high school teachers, small business owners, and even a high school student.

Dr. Mortensen had written an online collaboration tool to facilitate international translating and editing of the texts of St. Thomas Aquinas. In cooperation with the online edition of the Latin texts of Corpus Thomisticum, the Aquinas Institute put together the entire collection of the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas and began the task of translating the missing pieces, revising older translations, and editing the texts for publication. The first five volumes of the commentaries of St. Thomas on the letters of St. Paul came out on the feast of Our Lady’s name day, September 12, 2012. The next eight volumes, the Summa Theologiae, were published on December 12, 2012. The Commentary on the Gospel of John was published on March 25, 2013, and the Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew on August 15th, 2013. After this, the Aquinas Institute will be systematically publishing the works of St. Thomas Aquinas until the whole 58 volume set is complete.

The Aquinas Institute has been seeking independent funding for a project to translate St. Thomas’s Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard, which has never before been translated into English. This translation project will take as its point of departure the two largest portions of the Sentences Commentary to appear in English to date; namely, Dr. Beth Mortensen’s (ITI STL ’01) translation of the sixteen distinctions that form St. Thomas’s treatise on marriage, and Dr. Peter Kwasniewski’s translation of certain articles on charity, which appeared in his book, On Love and Charity: Readings from the Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard (CUA Press, 2008). These texts were translated in conjunction with Fr. Thomas Bolin (ITI STL ’00) and Fr. Joseph Bolin (ITI STL ’07).

The worldwide importance of these Latin-English editions has already been evident in the interest they have generated in Hong Kong, Poland, and other non-Western cultures where English is increasingly more accessible than Latin, even in academic circles. For more information on this project go to www.theaquinasinstitute.org