Summa (Questions ordinariae) art. LX-LXII

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Gordon Wilson, Girard Etzkorn, Bernd Goehring
  • Leuven, Belgium: 
    Leuven University Press
    , October
     400 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


Compiling a critical edition of any work is a long, arduous, and painstaking task. Often it is done with little recognition and even less reward. Yet, in Summa (Quaestiones ordinariae) art. LX-LXII, editors Gordon Wilson, Girard Etzkorn, and Bernd Goehring, have thankfully persevered in their work and have now provided us with the first critical edition of articles 60-62. For this feat alone, they should be greatly praised. The introduction to this fine volume provides copious detail concerning the effort involved in working from the multitude of peciae stemming from the first and second Parisian exemplars of Henry of Ghent’s Summa. For anyone interested in textual criticism, particularly of medieval texts, the introductory matter of this volume will be deeply satisfying. 

For the theologian, especially one interested in medieval Trinitarian theology, these articles of Henry’s Summa are essential. In these three articles, he treats of active spiration as the common property of the Father and the Son (in question five of this article, Henry treats of the filoque against the Greeks); the properties proper to the Holy Spirit; and identity, equality, and similitude as common properties of the three Persons of the Trinity. In this last article, one finds hints of the beginning of Henry’s thoughts on creation, as he expounds on common relations in God and creatures, and common relations in creatures alone. Unfortunately, as far as we can tell, Henry never composed a section De creaturis in his Summa, making article 62 of this volume of special importance.

In his examination of the Blessed Trinity, Henry draws deeply from St. Augustine. He does so, however, with an eye toward a metaphysical tradition received from both Aristotle and Averroes, which gives him fresh insight into the mystery of the three Persons in one Nature. His rich contemplation of the Trinity in these articles reveal Henry as one of the great medieval Trinitarian theologians, alongside of Richard of St. Victor, Thomas Aquinas, and St. Bonaventure.

The archaeologist interested in ecclesiastical artifacts will find particular delight in reading Henry’s discussion in questio 1 of article 60 concerning the Holy Spirit as the love pressed out (expressus) from the love existing essentially in the will of the Father and the Son, where he likens it to the impression of the face of Christ on Veronica’s veil, and the image of Christ’s body on the Shroud of Turin. The fascinating aspect is that here, as early as 1290 CE, Henry mentions these two items in passing with the assumption of their existence being known by all.

Another highlight of this volume is the exhaustive critical apparatus. Readers will be especially appreciative of the provision of references at the beginning of each quaestio to other authors who treat of the same topic. This allows for scholars to not only compare with ease what Henry has to say on these issues in relation to other writers, but it also provides a tool for comparing the writers listed among each other. Hopefully, this will lead to a greater increase in scholarship on Henry, situating his Trinitarian thought in dialogue with other contemporaneous authors. 

This volume is highly recommended for any scholar of Henry of Ghent, medieval Trinitarian theology—or Trinitarian theology in general—textual critical analysis, or all of the above. It not only fits in splendidly with the ongoing series of critical editions of the various articles that make up Henry of Ghent’s Summa, but, more importantly, it also stands alone as a volume of great value for medieval Trinitarian theology. Here’s hoping it won’t be too long before the release of the next volume.

About the Reviewer(s): 

Daniel M. Garland is a doctoral candidate in Systematic Theology at Ave Maria University.

Date of Review: 
June 25, 2019
About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Gordon Wilson is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina, Asheville.

Girard Etzkorn is Professor Emeritus at St. Bonaventure University.

Bernd Goehring is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame.


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