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    Sale 7548

    Valuable Manuscripts and Printed Books

    12 November 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 19

    ST THOMAS AQUINAS O.P. (1225-1274): Summa theologica, prima secundae, in Latin, DECORATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM

    Price Realised  


    ST THOMAS AQUINAS O.P. (1225-1274): Summa theologica, prima secundae, in Latin, DECORATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
    [France, c.1300]
    322 x 237mm. iii paper + 144 + iii paper leaves: 12, 24, 3-412, 510, 6-712, 810, 9-1012, 1110, 12-1412, catchwords in lower margins of final versos, 47-49 lines in two columns written in black ink in a semi-cursive bookhand between four verticals, the outer verticals double-ruled, and 48-50 horizontals ruled in grey, justification: 212 x 73-12-74mm, rubrics in red, text capitals touched red, paragraph marks alternately in red and blue, running headings in red and blue, one-line initials in table of contents alternately in red and blue, two-line initials in red and blue flourished in the contrasting colour, one puzzle initial in red and blue extending with red and blue flourishing to fill the side margin (lacking gatherings after ff.30, 74, and 144, section cut from lower margins of ff.49-50, some original holes and repairs in vellum, slight staining to text ff.137-142, some margins slightly worn). 18th-century Italian half sheep and patterned paper over pasteboards, the spine lettered in gilt 'IX D THOM I. II. P. MS.' (scuffed).


    1. From script and decoration, the manuscript appears to have been made in France c.1300. Since Thomas Aquinas is referred to as frater in the incipits to the table of contents and the text, it can be dated before his canonisation in 1323. A few early marginal annotations and the 15th-century index show that it continued in use.

    2. Perhaps from the Dominican convent of San Domenico, Gaeta (see lot 16): bound uniformly with the manuscript from Gaeta (lot 22) and eleven others and similarly inscribed: 'D.4.' (ff.1 and 3) and 'foglie * 142 Segnato N. A P' (end pastedown); similar brief 19th-century description in French loosely inserted.

    3. HSA B2717; Faulhaber, pp.109-10


    St Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologica, prima secundae: added alphabetical index in 15th-century cursive hand, ff.1-2; table of contents, Incipiunt capitula prime partis secundi libri summe edite a fratre thoma de aquino ordinis pre [sic] fratrum predicatorum...Expliciunt capitula prime partis secundi libri, ff.3-6; Incipit secunda pars summe de theologia..., the text opening Quia sunt damacenus dicit..., breaking in Questio XV, art. 1, Praeterea consentire est simul sentire..., f.29v, and resuming in Questio XXXI, art. 4, ...et brutis. Ergo non est nisi in parte..., f.30, breaking in Questio LXII, art. 3, Oculus non vidit et auris non audivit..., f.74v, and resuming in Questio LXIX, art. 3, ...ut scilicet ferventi desiderio iustitiae opera..., f.75, breaking near the beginning of Questio CV, art. 5, ...quia frater tuus est nec egipcium quia advena fuisti in terra eius..., f.144v.

    For St Thomas Aquinas, see lot 18. His magnum opus, the Summa theologica, was enormously influential as the summation of his thinking, the basis of Thomist philosophy and theology. It has been repeatedly printed, this part first in Mainz by Schöffer in 1471. His own description of the Summa, that its three parts treat 'first of God, secondly of the journey to God of reasoning creatures, thirdly of Christ who, as man, is our road to God', is a disarmingly simple summary of a work of over 3,000 articles that constitiute an exposition of extrordinary scope and detail. It was left unfinished in the third part when Aquinas decided to abandon writing shortly before his death. The second part deals with how man through his own acts achieves, or loses, his goal of the possession of God. It was itself divided in two, so that the Prima secundae, completed in Rome in 1269, opens by proving that God is indeed the goal of man, Questions 1-5, then continuing to discuss human acts, their causes and consequences, Questions 6-21, the passions, Questions 22-48, habits and whether virtues are habits, Questions 49-70, vice and sin, Questions 71-89, human and divine law, Questions 90-108, and grace, Questions 109-114. This copy is lacking three sections, concerning human acts and the passions (15 art. i - 31 art. iv), vice and sin (62 art. iii - 69 art. iii) and the new law of the Gospel and grace (105 art. v - 114 art. x).

    Aquinas's intention was to produce a book that would help students by its clarity, logical order and focus on essentials. His structure was traditional: each Question is actually a series of related questions or articles that are debated through a series of objections (argumenta) and counter-arguments to arrive at a concise conclusion. The decoration here admirably elucidates this structure. A handsome puzzle initial opens the work; each question and article begins with a flourished initial; each objection and counter-argument is distinguished by a paragraph mark. The running headings give the number of the question and it is then easy to find the article followed by objection and counter-argument, which are all numbered within the text. This system provided references for the compiler of the index, who did not, therefore, need to foliate a volume that exemplifies the dual purpose of manuscript decoration by enhancing both form and content.

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