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St. Thomas Aquinas

4.16  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,208 Ratings  ·  132 Reviews
2011 Reprint of 1943 Edition. Full facsimile of the original edition, not reproduced with Optical Recognition Software. "St. Thomas Aquinas" is enriched by the author's unique ability to see the world through the saint's eyes, a fresh and animated view that shows us Aquinas as no other biography has. Acclaimed as the best book ever written on Aquinas by such outstanding Th ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published November 16th 2011 by Martino Fine Books (first published 1933)
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This is my second complete read of G.K.Chesterton’s classic treatment of the “Angelic Doctor” – as St. Thomas is sometimes referred to – and I do not plan on it being the last. In fact, I suspect subsequent reads to be even more fruitful than this one which was a significant improvement on my introduction to the work back in the 1990’s.

As St. Thomas is considered one of the greatest minds to have ever lived and his biographer, Chesterton, not a slacker himself when he puts pen to paper, the rea
Douglas Dalrymple
Mar 26, 2013 Douglas Dalrymple rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Chesterton has only a few things to say about Aquinas, really, but that’s the way it is with all his books: the ostensible subject is most of the time fondly neglected for the atmosphere surrounding it. And while from most writers behavior of this sort would be intolerable, from Chesterton, somehow, it’s better than tolerable; because almost no one else is this fun to read.

Chesterton’s Aquinas is no vague hypothesizer of miniature angels traipsing about in Nana’s sewing kit, but the champion of
Joe Dantona
Aug 29, 2011 Joe Dantona rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This isn't a biography; it is an adventure story!

Of course, Chesterton would have scoffed at calling this small book a biography in any case. But what it severely lacks in biographical data (which, of course, was not the author's aim) it makes up for in immense creative use of certain significant events in the great saint's life. Between dinner with St. Louis and his arguments against the Augustinians, to choosing the life of a poor Dominican monk instead of following the rich life of an abbot s
Mar 10, 2010 Monica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a huge Chesterton fan, and I've been wanting to read more about the men and women of faith who have come before us. This seemed the perfect book to fit the bill. I WISH, however, that I was far more well-read than I am, and that I had actually read St. Thomas Aquinas' work first. I own a copy of Summa Theologica, but it's rather daunting, and I have to admit that I've never taken the time to delve into it. Chesterton assumes you already know the work - this book, although it claims to be a ...more
Aug 07, 2010 Nefficus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religious, biography
Reminds me of the line in the movie "National Treasure" where the girl says to Nick Cage..."people don't talk like that any more." That is the case for Chesterton...authors don't write this way any more. Admittedly there were moments that I struggled with historical references that were unfamiliar, but that is a failure of the reader and not the author. A brilliant sketch of a brilliant saint. It seems impossible that one can do justice to a man as large as Aquinas in 110 pages, but GKC pulls it ...more
Webster Bull
Dec 02, 2015 Webster Bull rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: faith
Enrolled in a master's program and taking my first philosophy course in forty-five years, I suddenly found myself this fall plunged into the diamond mine that is Thomas Aquinas. No, we didn't read the Summa; this was a survey course on Faith and Reason, from Aquinas through Descartes, Kant, and Nietzsche, to JP II.

We read Thomas's very slim bit of Cliff Notes on being called De Ente et Essentia. Or rather the class read it and I listened to our brilliant professor explain language that I stared
Marcos Junior
Mar 27, 2016 Marcos Junior rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religi-o, filosofia, 2015

Entrega o que promete

Etienne Gilson, talvez o maior tomista do século 20, recebeu com assombro o despretensioso livro de um certo polêmico jornalista inglês. Conta-se que Gilson, depois de o ler, não conseguiu conter palavras para expressar sua admiração:

Considero-o, sem a menor possibilidade de comparação, o melhor livro jamais escrito sobre Santo Tomás… Chesterton foi um dos pensadores mais profundos de todos os tempos…

Pois li o dito livro de Chesterton sobre São Tomás. Na verdade, li duas vez
David Saxon
I've now read Heresy, Orthodoxy, and Saint Thomas Aquinas, desperately trying to enjoy Chesterton. He is so oft-quoted and admired. His writing is witty, elegant, and powerful (rhetorically). Unfortunately, I find myself rarely agreeing with him. His Catholicism dominates his reasoning. This was especially true of Aquinas. Chesterton presents Aquinas' recovery of Aristotle as a rescue of the Incarnation and the goodness of God manifest in creation from the negativity and hyper-spirituality of Au ...more
Kirk Lowery
I must admit that I had high expectations of this book. G. K. Chesterton has a huge reputation as a writer. Since he was a devout Catholic, I expected an excellent book on Thomas. I was disappointed.

First, the author does not give a coherent narrative of Thomas' life. He makes many references to events and people of the 13th century (a good thing), but he expects the reader to already know about them. You will get a great deal more out of this book if you have already read an encyclopedia articl
Jonathan B
Jan 29, 2011 Jonathan B rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
I started reading "Aquinas: A Beginner's Guide" by Edward Feser around the same time as this. Though I haven't finished Feser's book yet (I'm a little more than halfway through), I like his book much better than Chesterton's. It seems like Chesterton spends too much time talking about stuff that isn't very important to Aquinas or his philosophy or his theology. Had he spent less time going after Luther (just one of his many "rabbit trails"), he could have spent more time explaining the philosoph ...more
Feb 27, 2010 Tom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spirituality
This is a perfect book for someone like me: a lapsed but still interested Catholic who could never keep Aquinas and Augustine straight. Chesterton packs more theology and philsophy into this slim volume, and makes it much more accessible, than any massive tome on same subject. I don't think I've ever read any thing that combines brevity and challenging ideas like this book. It's confirms my belief that all such books should be written by intelligent laymen instead of academic specialists. And he ...more
Jon Stout
Jun 26, 2009 Jon Stout rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
G. K. Chesterton’s biography of Thomas Aquinas is so defensive and sarcastic in tone that it does not seem realistic. Chesterton’s arguments repeatedly take the form that St. Thomas was neither this extreme (Platonic, mystic, Buddhist, Hegelian) nor that extreme (Aristotelian. Manichean, Muslim, pragmatic), where the extremes range all over the board, including many never known by St. Thomas. The saint always occupies the middle ground of common sense and the essence of Christianity, according t ...more
Apr 27, 2015 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Chesterton at his most anti-pomo. The last two or three chapters alone worth the price of admission. Devastating, absolutely devastating. They are also the chapters that do the bulk of explaining Thomistic philosophy; beyond that most of it is autobiography, but for that reason, might even be good for the high school student.

That said, Chesterton gives some amazingly good descriptions of Luther the Augustinian monk; that's my guy. Of course, he's wrong, quite wrong, that Luther was against the u
Bobbi Martens
Sep 29, 2012 Bobbi Martens rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Chesterton may not make the life of Aquinas crystal and simple like we might expect a biographer to do, but he does illuminate much about the character and the philosophy of the man and make it very graspable. At the end of this book, I am not floundering for a light switch or buried under heaps of heavy intellectual thoughts. Chesterton has made me think clearly and in a new way in more than one place, and has made me smile in dozens; and he done so while teaching me about one of the greatest m ...more
Sep 27, 2015 Holly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian
Chesterton's biographical sketches of people are really beyond compare. I can't imagine a better read about Aquinas. His lumbering, slow, and massive person was clearly observed juxtaposed with Chesterton's wry wit and sparkling scenes. St. Thomas's interruption of the French king's party in Paris even made me want to stop talking and stare at him in surprise (and I wasn't even talking!). I also appreciate the examination of Aristotelian thought against that of the Platonists who thrived just be ...more
Apr 14, 2013 Noah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is certainly not a biography but more of a love letter to a revival of Thomism against modernism. Chesterton's biting sarcasm can grow tiresome, but one clearly picks up on his affection for Aquinas. The latter sections of he book are helpful for grasping the basics of Aquinas's ontology. Good introductory reading for Aquinas before digging into a monster like the Summa.
Christopher Rush
I know this is a highly-respected work, and I do respect it. The union of Thomas Aquinas and G.K. Chesterton is a Dream Team-like pairing. Chesterton indeed sets out to do precisely what he aims to do: an anecdotal bird's-eye survey of key moments in Aquinas's life and thought combined with terse practical suggestions on what to do with Aquinas's philosophy. The issue, though, if such an issue exists, is Chesterton accomplishes his goal: he even admits it is not a thorough, authoritative treatme ...more
Taylor Marshall
Nov 22, 2014 Taylor Marshall rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is, hands down, the best biography of Thomas Aquinas ever written. I recommend that all students of Saint Thomas Aquinas read this bio by Chesterton!
Jul 05, 2012 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gilbert Keith Chesterton—semi-officially known as “the oft-quoted G. K. Chesterton”—would have us believe this little volume is a sketch or an outline of Thomas Aquinas’ life and thought. It’s difficult for me, however, to classify this book as anything even roughly resembling a biography. Chesterton clearly places Aquinas in thirteenth-century Italy and France; otherwise, however, he mentions only one specific date or year in the entire book (and not until page 141!). There’s no real chronology ...more
Sherwood Smith
Chesterton is interesting even when I disagree. I picked up this book in hopes of a clearer picture of who Aquinas was. As it happens, very little is known about the details of his life, though he was related to half the big guns of the 1200s. He wanted to be a friar, rather than a monk (with an abbey and maybe higher as his assured post)--nowadays most won't discern the difference, but it seems to be akin to someone chosing to work in a soup kitchen, when the relatives want to make you the CEO ...more
Naomi Young
Like most Chesterton,I've read I think I've understood less than 10% of what was intended, but enjoyed the confusion, and feel an impulse to begin again at once, the better to get a little more. This is not so much a biography as a set of meditations, beginning with comparing the two friars Sts. Francis and Thomas; and concluding with a comparison of St. Thomas and Martin Luther. In between, there are anecdotes about Aquinas from which Chesterton spins off his commentaries and wild metaphors.

May 26, 2008 Benjamin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was one of those books that sat on my shelf for two years before I finally picked it up. Once I actually started it, I could not put it down. This is a fantastic introduction to the philosophy of St. Thomas. If you never got around to taking a medieval philosophy class in undergrad, or if (like me) everything you know about St. Thomas' philosophy comes from reading Dante, here is your chance to catch up. Chesterton was writing for his era, but based on all of the science v. religion talk we ...more
Jul 10, 2010 Bryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: thinkers, theologians
G.K. Chesterton + St. Thomas Aquinas = perfect combination

For people interested in philosophy, religion, the nature of man, and how to grow closer to God, I'd highly recommend this book. Chesterton does a great job of creating a portrait of the man who reconciled Aristotle with Christianity. Most memorable to me was his description of the ending of Aquinas' life, his humility, his recognition of how small and dependent we all are before God, and the honesty of Aquinas' heart as he prepared to fa
Dec 01, 2009 Keith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read two books recently with a Roman Catholic "bent." GK is known as a Christian apologist (among his many talents). This biography of Thomas Aquinas was written with entertaining and valuable insights. However, by the time you reach the end of the book you find yourself immersed in a polemic argument about the philosophical opinions of Aquinas and their value/weaknesses. That portion is not for the weak of heart (i.e. at least a little interested in philosophy). If you can make to the end, ...more
Ben De Bono
Chesterton is great. Aquinas is great. Chesterton writing about Aquinas is really, really great.

It took me a while to really get a handle on this book, but it's definitely another of Chesterton's masterpieces. My initial difficulty was that the book approaches its subject, Thomas Aquinas, from a more philosophical angle rather than a biographical one, and it only gives a brief sketch of the life of the saint. However, this is what Chesterton purports to do from the very beginning, maintaining that it is impossible to understand the man without understanding his philosophy, and that it is i ...more
Czarny Pies
Feb 08, 2015 Czarny Pies rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one. Chesterton does not do justice to the issues he raises.
Recommended to Czarny by: I am a solid Chesterton fan but this book was a disappointment.
I am in agreement with everything that G.K. Chesterton asserts in this book which is why it is such a great disappointment to me. Chesterton says things that I agree with and then fails to present any arguments in defence of his assertions.

While Saint Thomas Aquinas has typically been regarded as very old (or very medieval) for the last two hundred years. G.K. Chesterton rightly points out that in his time, he was revolutionary and was involved in fighting very contemporary errors.

Chesterton arg
Feb 02, 2016 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was so far over my head that I probably only understood about 1/4 of it. It was like reading C.S. Lewis to me. His books take me forever to read because I have to go back and re-read the sentences over and over to understand what he’s saying. Chesterton was the same, or maybe it was just Thomas Aquinas who was so hard to understand. My favorite thing I did get from it though was the idea that philosophers weren’t always the way I think of philosophers. Aquinas was definitely a philosop ...more
Brandon Rodriguez
Jan 10, 2015 Brandon Rodriguez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just finished "The Dumb Ox" loved it, every perplexing statement was following with a pleasant paradox. This read (like all of GK's) require more studying than reading if you want to really learn something and they get better with age, or repetition. I will be returning to this in a few years. His approach to St, Thomas is unusual which makes the book so different than others, he talks about everything but the history of the saint and the theology he held, saying "it would be a much bigger book" ...more
Jul 18, 2012 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are two things that will always cheer me up: Monty Python's 'Galaxy Song' and this book. It has a vein of optimism and common-sense running through it like nothing else on Earth and to me is the high point of Chesterton's work, never *too* partisan or twee-paradoxical or burdened with parochial minutiae. I cannot remember how many times I have re-read it. If you want a proper biography of Thomas Aquinas, it is no good at all, of course.
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Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) was born in London, educated at St. Paul’s, and went to art school at University College London. In 1900, he was asked to contribute a few magazine articles on art criticism, and went on to become one of the most prolific writers of all time. He wrote a hundred books, contributions to 200 more, hundreds of poems, including the epic Ballad of the White Horse, fi ...more
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“St Thomas (Aqinas) loved books and lived on books... When asked for what he thanked God most, he answered simply, ‘I have understood every page I ever read’.” 19 likes
“[Buddhism and Christianity] are in one sense parallel and equal; as a mound and a hollow, as a valley and a hill. There is a sense in which that sublime despair is the only alternative to that divine audacity. It is even true that the truly spiritual and intellectual man sees it as sort of dilemma; a very hard and terrible choice. There is little else on earth that can compare with these for completeness. And he who does not climb the mountain of Christ does indeed fall into the abyss of Buddha.” 11 likes
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