THOMAS AQUINAS (c.1225-1274), Summa theologica, secunda secundae, in Latin, DECORATED MANUSCRIPT ON PAPER.
310 x 215mm. 459 leaves, first five gatherings lacking, 114(first folio detached), 2-1112, 1214, 13-1412, 15-1816, 19-3214, 3313, 3414, parchment sewing guards at centres of gatherings, some taken from a book written in a formal gothic bookhand in black and red ink between lines ruled in black, gatherings numbered in upper right margin of first folio, from 7 on f.15, two columns of between 37 and 43 lines written in brown ink in a cursive hand between four verticals, justification: approx. 220 x 67-15-68mm, guide notes for headings intended to be in red in margins, paragraph marks and some arabic numbers to headings and margins in red, text capitals touched red, two-line initials, some with flourishing, in red, ONE LARGE DECORATED INITIAL in red (wear and tears to edges of some leaves, insect damage in some margins). Contemporary tawed leather over thick lightly bevelled wooden boards tooled to a stipple effect, sewn onto 5 tawed leather thongs, 5 brass round bosses on each side, central pin-fastenings on upper cover, 2 of 4 metal tacks affixed to lower board edges, chain staple hole at top of rear board (somewhat darkened, a few tiny wormholes, some wear and rubbing mainly to spine, lacking one leather fore-edge strap, the other detached).
1. Erfurt: colophon, f.436, states that it was completed in Erfurt in 1443 on the feast of St Nicholas, 6 December, in honour of the Lord's Passion and of the salvation of the faithful; it was left to a place of learning for the increase of knowledge and the augmentation of human felicity, presumably some part of Erfurt University. Small corrections and annotations were made by subsequent users: that on f.135 has offset on f.134v.
2. Fifteenth-century inscription inside upper cover: Pertinent ad... (illegible).
3. Gruss Gott pencilled in a modern hand on f.279; Thomas v. Aquino with title and 1443 pencilled inside lower cover.
Summa theologica, secunda secundae of Thomas Aquinas, lacking the opening Questions 1-24, beginning in 24, section 5, non aut aliam formam, ff.1-436. The scribe had to break in Question 87, section 2, leaving a space and the note ut hic deficit, f.150, resuming with the opening of section 3, f.150v. Index, crediting the work to Thomas Aquinas, f.436v-440; list of contents, marked by parchment tab, ff.441-446v; index, with explanation of its alphabetical organisation, ff.445v-459; list of writings of Thomas Aquinas f.459v.
The Summa theologica, regarded as the opus magnum of Thomist theology, is divided into three parts which Aquinas himself summarised as treating 'first of God, secondly of the journey to God of reasoning creatures, thirdly of Christ who, as man, is our road to God'. The second part was itself divided in two so that the secunda secundae returns to matters briefly discussed in the prima secundae: the three theological virtues, Faith, Hope and Charity, Questions 1-46; the four cardinal virtues, Prudence, Temperance, Fortitude and Justice, Questions 47-170; all discussed with their corresponding vices; different manners of life, ending with the contemplative, Questions 171-189. Composed in Paris in 1271-72, the secunda secundae rapidly became available as a separate text, in manuscript and then print, usually titled as in the index here De virtutibus et vitiis.
As part of one of the fundamental texts of scholastic theology, this copy may have been rushed into use as a tool for study and reference without waiting for the headings to be rubricated. Paper was presumably chosen as a cheaper support and the sewing guards suggest that heavy use was expected in a communal library, which necessitated the chain. The initial and supplementary indexes give references to the Questions, through which Aquinas structured his work, and employ arabic numerals in the early form in which they became current in western Europe. Roman and arabic numerals both appear within the body of the text; most of the red headings which give the Question, not the folio, number, use arabic numerals, whereas the original guides use roman numerals. The second index is prefaced by an explanation of alphabetical organisation.
It is of interest that there was apparently only a defective copy available as an exemplum. The Erfurt house of Aquinas's own order, the Dominicans, presumably furthered the circulation of his works and the university, where they were surely studied, had been founded in 1392. The university students and teachers who were the intended users of this book benefited from aids to learning which were still far from commonplace in 1443: arabic numerals and the alphabetical index. In the first years of the 16th century, one student at Erfurt, Martin Luther, was to be more influenced by Aquinas's critics than by the saint himself, so that it was the Dominicans, rooted in Thomist theology and methods, who led the intellectual opposition to the Lutheran revolution.