The Kingdom of God in the Gospel Commentaries of St. Thomas Aquinas: Historical, Ecclesiastical and Eschatological Dimensions
The Kingdom of God in the Gospel Commentaries of St. Thomas Aquinas: Historical, Ecclesiastical and Eschatological DimensionsMatthew L. Martin, Ph.D.Director: Joshua C. Benson, Ph.D.The preaching of the Gospel opens with the proclamation that the Kingdom of God is at hand. For two millennia, Christian theologians have been exploring the depths of that proclamation through reflection on both the Scriptures and on their great predecessors in the tradition. St. Thomas Aquinas stands as one of the greatest theologians of the Church but his understanding of the Kingdom has not been a major subject of investigation. Instead, Thomas' thought on the subject has been ignored or criticized. When it has been addressed, it has been approached almost entirely from the direction of Aquinas as a systematic theologian or philosopher, rather than as an interpreter of Scripture. The Biblical commentaries of Thomas have only recently experienced a resurgence of scholarly interest, and while many great scholars have produced fine work on numerous topics, few have yet turned to the Kingdom.This dissertation seeks to correct that lacuna by examining the Kingdom in the light of Aquinas' scriptural works, especially his commentary on the Gospel of Matthew. After exploring the Kingdom as presented in that text, it looks into his other Biblical commentaries, his broader theological works, and the Matthew commentaries of his contemporaries to provide a full examination of Aquinas' kingdom doctrine in its historical and theological context. This approach not only gives us insight into how he approaches the Bible, but also reveals a fascinating, multifaceted interpretation of the Kingdom which builds on Scripture and, in conjunction with ideas from Aristotle, Pseudo-Dionysius, Johannine mysticism and the mendicant movement, constructs a vision of the Kingdom. This vision is contemplative and evangelical, internal and ecclesiastical, focused on God and others, and manifest in multiple dimensions. Yet the Kingdom for Aquinas remains fundamentally oriented towards an eschatological vision at which the full promise of humanity is revealed and God becomes all in all.
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