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St Thomas Aquinas

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  2,696 Ratings  ·  172 Reviews
For Chesterton, Thomas Aquinas is a man of mystery, who though born into a noble Neapolitan family chose the life of a mendicant friar. Shy and lumbering, his classmates dubbed him "the Dumb Ox". However he was to lead a revolution in Christian thought. Chesterton's portrayal will engage, enlighten and sometimes confound. His seminal sketch of the life and thought of this ...more
Paperback, 120 pages
Published September 23rd 2008 by House of Stratus (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 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
Webster Bull
Nov 16, 2015 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
Joe Dantona
Aug 22, 2011 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
May 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Chesterton has spoiled me with this enchanting story of the remarkable personality of St. Thomas Aquinas.
Mar 10, 2010 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
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
Jul 20, 2010 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
Taylor Marshall
Nov 18, 2014 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!
I did not know much about Aquinas before I read this book. I should not have started with this one.

One reviewer stated this is not a typical biography. I agree. Maybe because of that and not knowing much about Aquinas, I could not really get engaged with the book. I am not going to rate it because GK Chesterton is a Catholic icon. However, if I did, I would give it 2 stars... Just OK.
Marcos Junior
Aug 18, 2012 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
Jonathan B
Jan 24, 2011 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
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
Jon Stout
Jun 26, 2009 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
Feb 27, 2010 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
Apr 27, 2015 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 15, 2012 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
Sometimes very hard to follow. This was my first Chesterton book. He's incredibly smart and from what I've read about him, a very versatile and deep author. However, as much good information as he put in this book, he got very rambly and off-topic, and it took him a while to bring the topic around to being relevant to St Thomas, making it hard (for me at least) to follow. You might need to do some homework before you read this book...
Apr 14, 2013 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.
Jul 05, 2012 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
Sep 27, 2015 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
Mar 26, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Chesterton begins with a disclaimer that the book is a general panorama of the life, ideas, and writings of St. Thomas. He should have put the pen and paper down after the disclaimer. This book falls very very short of any hagiography and is plagued by agenda, opinion, and cheap shots at institutional threats to the Catholic Church. G.K. inserts snarky introductions and comments that characterize the tone of a hot tempered layman defending his religion, especially in chapter 7 The Permanent Phil ...more
Nov 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014

Chesterton's writing is a wonder. You can see his brilliantly intelligent mind, I mean, good grief, some of the stuff just took too much out of me to try to understand, so I'd pass through with my eyes glazed, but some of it was so crisply simple that you could tell it took someone really smart to say it that way. And FUNNY.

I learned about the medieval era and mind, very nice indeed. I learned about Aquinas and I like him. I think I wondered if he were even a Christian before I read this, so I'

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
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 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
Feb 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: catholic, saints
I had hoped to like this book more than I did, namely to give it the full five stars. I'm deeply deeply in love with St. Thomas. In high school I was a huge fan of Chesterton. Since becoming more attached to and immersed in the works of Thomas, though, I've found a proportionate falling way from Chesterton happening inside of me. His thought is brilliant, but stylistically he can tend towards a feeling of rambling and tangential thought. Having become accustomed to the clear and succinct approac ...more
Nov 08, 2009 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 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
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The Catholic Book...: 5. Quotes 17 9 Aug 28, 2017 12:53AM  
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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
More about G.K. Chesterton...
“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’.” 23 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.” 15 likes
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