Holy Teaching

Introducing the Summa Theologiae of St. Thomas Aquinas

Cover Art Request Exam Copy

Where to Purchase

More Options


"Here is a book that, by rights, should transform the way that Aquinas is taught among undergraduates and seminarians. [Bauerschmidt] has introduced the Summa Theologiae, thoughtfully produced extracts of it, and then expanded on it with rich explanations and examples in footnotes. . . . Bauerschmidt is to be applauded for succeeding remarkably well in maintaining the mystery of this holy teaching."--Craig Hovey, Scottish Journal of Theology

Dante once wrote that Aristotle was "a master of those who know." This description applies equally to the great theologian St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), who was declared a doctor of the church in 1567. Along with St. Paul and St. Augustine, Aquinas stands as one of the towering figures in the history of Christian theology.

In the Summa Theologiae, Aquinas attempts to set forth the whole of Christian theology in summary form. It was written, he says, for "the instruction of beginners," but few Christians today have the time or inclination to reach for the five thick volumes that comprise the standard English-language edition. 

Frederick Bauerschmidt wants to change that. In Holy Teaching, he presents some choice selections from the Summa Theologiae, along with commentary that unpacks the selections and places them in context. 

With Bauerschmidt as a reliable guide, readers can follow Aquinas as he travels the length and breadth of Christian doctrine. Aquinas begins the Summa by proving the need for theology and then moves quickly to examine the attributes of God, vexing questions about living the Christian life, a study of the two natures of Christ, and the nature and purpose of the sacraments. 

Holy Teaching is an ideal introduction to the work of Aquinas that will give students, pastors, and interested laypeople a greater appreciation for our common Christian inheritance.


"This book represents a brilliant idea: select a number of key theses of Thomas's Summa theologiae and explain them in depth. Introduce the readers thereby to the main lines of Thomas's thought and at the same time give them a helpful and lucid commentary on the same. I recommend this book for its excellent pedagogy. The explanatory notes are thoroughly reliable, historically and theologically. Students will profit enormously on both counts and take away from Holy Teaching a faithful understanding of Thomas's mind."--Aidan Nichols, OP

"Holy Teaching insightfully guides readers into Thomas's oft-neglected trinitarian, christological, and sacramental theology. The vast scope and intricate movements of the Summa can be intimidating, but first-time readers will be grateful for such an accessible introduction to the riches of this scholastic masterpiece."--Stephen Spencer, North Park University

"Now that this book is here, I am just amazed that no one thought of writing it before! In the new wave of interest in the work of Thomas Aquinas, this is exactly the introduction that most students need to what is, after all, a pretty demanding text. I am semi-retired, but I would love to get back to running a seminar on the Summa with this splendid book as guide and stimulus--for myself, as well as for the students."--Fergus Kerr, OP, author of After Aquinas: Versions of Thomism

The Author

  1. Frederick Christian Bauerschmidt

    Frederick Christian Bauerschmidt

    Frederick Christian Bauerschmidt (PhD, Duke University) is professor of theology at Loyola University Maryland and a deacon of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. He is the author or coauthor of numerous books, including The Love That Is God: An Invitation to...

    Continue reading about Frederick Christian Bauerschmidt


"Bauerschmidt . . . here attempts to shape and present the essentials of Aquinas's greatest work, the Summa Theologiae. He does not so much paraphrase Aquinas's carefully logical statements about the Christian faith as to annotate them extensively. Many readers will benefit from Bauerschmidt's efforts, which approach both Aquinas and the reader with respect. For most collections."--Graham Christian, Library Journal

"Holy Teaching is an in-depth commentary on selective potions of Aquinas's greatest work. . . . Countering common portrayals of Aquinas as a slave to reason, an Enlightenment humanist before his time, Bauerschmidt concentrates on some of Aquinas's less-read writings, including those on the topic of grace. . . . The resulting Aquinas is one who is closer to Augustine and, yes, closer to Protestantism than is the know-it-all, answer-man who is sometimes conjured by Catholic supporters and derided by Protestant detractors. The insight offered by [this volume] is that there is much in the real Aquinas to please even his fiercest theological foes. . . . Few professional theologians have waded through the whole [Summa Theologica]. Fewer still have made sense of it all. Bauerschmidt's line-by-line commentary is called for precisely because these writings, filled as they are with obscure references to medieval Christian theology, Muslim philosophy and Greek thought, quite plainly demand it."--Timothy Renick, Christian Century

"This book is the rich fruit of an excellent idea. It will no doubt prove extremely useful, primarily to those studying the Summa for the first time, and a godsend for their teachers."--Philip McCosker, Reviews in Religion and Theology

"Provides a significant introduction for individuals aspiring to discover what is arguably Thomas Aquinas's most revered text. . . . What sets Bauerschmidt's work apart is how his selections highlight the aspects of the Summa Theologiae that embody Thomas's larger intention not only to preserve but also to advance sacra doctrina, or holy teaching. . . . The explanatory notes prove quite helpful, especially for individuals in Bauerschmidt's audience for whom this particular text is their initial confrontation with the Summa Theologiae. In particular, Bauerschmidt is to be commended for placing these notes at the bottom of the respective page as footnotes versus placing them at the end of the chapter or the end of the text as a whole as endnotes. As a result, readers are able to switch back and forth between the text and the notes with relative ease. . . . Bauerschmidt's attempt to provide an introduction to the Summa Theologiae by propelling readers to confront the text itself is a success. Through such an exercise, Bauerschmidt is also able to substantiate his claim that Thomas Aquinas was a theologian. As a result, Holy Teaching . . . is helpful reading to adventurous laypersons as well as students pursuing formal courses of study in theology."--Todd C. Ream and Thomas W. Seat II, New Blackfriars

"A well-constructed work that will be useful to more than just first-time readers of Aquinas. Bauerschmidt includes a basic background and introduction (including a helpful explanation of Aquinas' disputational method), as well as a remarkably approachable and yet thorough commentary on the text. It is a good introduction to this model of scholastic thought."--Michael Reeves, Themelios

"Holy Teaching, the outcome of several years teaching Thomas to students of theology, is essentially an anthology of theological sections of the Summa Theologiae. It follows faithfully the order of the Summa. . . . Bauerschmidt uses a 'translation' that has evolved gradually with his course based on a translation make by the English Dominicans but modified in an attempt to make it intelligible to contemporary students and compared with the Latin text. With exemplary clarity Bauerschmidt introduces the text with a brief biography, and an even briefer introduction to reading the Summa. Yet the real gift of this book is Bauerschmidt's commentary, given in footnotes to Thomas's text that typically take up a third of each printed page. This achieves the effect of reading Thomas with an expert teacher perched on one's shoulder, whispering comments in one's ear. . . . Bauerschmidt sets out with this book to help students: he succeeds, but he also makes Thomas accessible for teachers of theology."--Stephen Plant, Theological Book Review

"Bauerschmidt provides a valuable service to religious-studies teachers and instructors of other disciplines that require some knowledge of Catholic theology. In a handsomely produced paperback, he provides a concise introduction to the Summa Theologiae. . . . Holy Teaching demonstrates its pedagogic value principally in the commentaries the author attaches to each article of the Summa selected for inclusion. . . . Both the beginner and the seasoned reader of the Thomist corpus will find the notes in Holy Teaching enlightening. The volume contains a brief but well-written introduction to the person and period of Thomas Aquinas, a glossary of names, suggestions for further reading, and an index to the introduction and the notes. It would be difficult to imagine a better tool to interest students in the work of the Church's Common Doctor. . . . Bauerschmidt demonstrates that, while it is true that Thomas remains the best interpreter of his own writings, it is not easy to penetrate the thought of Aquinas without a reliable guide."--Romanus Cessario, First Things

"Here is a book that, by rights, should transform the way that Aquinas is taught among undergraduates and seminarians. [Bauerschmidt] has introduced the Summa Theologiae, thoughtfully produced extracts of it, and then expanded on it with rich explanations and examples in footnotes. . . . Holy Teaching differs from many other anthologies of the Angelic Doctor's great Summa by paying scrupulous attention to questions of theology rather than philosophy. . . . The book represents a significant contribution which owes a debt to and furthers a recent trend which emphasizes the thoroughgoing theological nature of Aquinas' thought. . . . Bauerschmidt is to be applauded for succeeding remarkably well in maintaining the mystery of this holy teaching. I can therefore think of no better way of introducing students to the Summa of Aquinas than through this book. Only a writer who is so obviously at ease with medieval theology and who so evidently shares the mind and heart of Aquinas could have written it."--Craig Hovey, Scottish Journal of Theology