Thomas Aquinas

A Portrait

Denys Turner

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A concise and illuminating introduction to the elusive Thomas Aquinas, the man and the saint

Leaving so few traces of himself behind, Thomas Aquinas seems to defy the efforts of the biographer. Highly visible as a public teacher, preacher, and theologian, he nevertheless has remained nearly invisible as man and saint. What can be discovered about Thomas Aquinas as a whole? In this short, compelling portrait, Denys Turner clears away the haze of time and brings Thomas vividly to life for contemporary readers—those unfamiliar with the saint as well as those well acquainted with his teachings.

Building on the best biographical scholarship available today and reading the works of Thomas with piercing acuity, Turner seeks the point at which the man, the mind, and the soul of Thomas Aquinas intersect. Reflecting upon Thomas, a man of Christian Trinitarian faith yet one whose thought is grounded firmly in the body’s interaction with the material world, a thinker at once confident in the powers of human reason and a man of prayer, Turner provides a more detailed human portrait than ever before of one of the most influential philosophers and theologians in all of Western thought.
Denys Turner is Horace Tracy Pitkin Professor of Historical Theology, Yale University.

Thomas Aquinas: A Portrait is a marvellous introduction to the thought of the most daring and most important thinker of the Christian Middle Ages.  . . .  It ousts even G. K. Chesterton’s famous study as the best single-volume introduction to St Thomas.”—Eamon Duffy, The Tablet

"One of the finest analyses of the great man's work, Turner's account is rich, provocative and sophisticated, a work of both passion and serious scholarship. It is a triumph."—Jonathan Wright, Catholic Herald

“With his familiar combination of deep faith and tough-minded analysis, Denys Turner introduces us to the thought of the greatest of Christian theologians, and does so in the lucid, expressive prose of a superb teacher.”—Terry Eagleton

"Denys Turner's exciting new reading of Thomas Aquinas emphasizes what he provocatively calls Thomas's materialism, his insistence that matter bears meaning. Thomas Aquinas is a book to be treasured by all who know and admire Thomas-and all who would like to know him."—Bernard McGinn, University of Chicago

“While he insists this book is written for newcomers and not for old hands, let this one in the latter category testify that since Denys Turner distils years of studying Aquinas and writes so beautifully, we are all in his debt for this splendid book."—Fergus Kerr, University of Edinburgh

“A brilliant introduction to Thomas Aquinas and his thought, beautifully written.  Denys Turner distills Thomistic theology with consummate skill, and, in the process, crafts a portrait of St. Thomas, the man, which deserves to be recognized as a masterpiece.  A rare achievement, this lucid, learned book is destined to become a classic.”—Carlos Eire, Yale University

“For those who like a challenge on the beach, Denys Turner’s wonderful new study, Thomas Aquinas: A Portrait, is a marvellous introduction to the thought of the most daring and most important thinker of the Christian Middle Ages: lucid, gripping and beautifully written, it ousts even G. K. Chesterton’s famous study as the best single-volume introduction to St Thomas: ideal Summa reading!”—Eamon Duffy, The Tablet

“This book is both an erudite introduction to Aquinas’ thought and an urgent epistle written by a master scholar at the end of his teaching career, to his fellow professors at elite Western universities. . . .This book is a real gem. For those charged with the future of universities, whether secular or catholic, this book is especially a powerful tonic. Turner tells us that ‘this is certainly the last monograph that I will write as a full-time teaching professor of theology’, a career spent at places such as Cambridge and Yale. Read in this light, the book is quite simply an extraordinary call to academic arms, a moving testimony to the intellectual humility that true teaching requires, and a beautiful exposition of ‘matter shot through with divine meaning’.”—Matthew Levering, The Tablet

“In this stimulating and beautifully written book Denys Turner gives us both a portrait of Thomas Aquinas the man and an outline of his thought. It is a tribute to Thomas’ greatness as a thinker as a thinker and to Turner’s skill as an expositor that every chapter of this book makes a contribution to current theological debate.”—Paul Richardson, Church of England Newspaper
“A fine, idiosyncratic introduction to the saint and his mind . . . full of grace notes . . . [Turner] presents a thinker who is indispensable for believers and nonbelievers alike.”—Michael Robbins, Chicago Tribune

“[A] superb study”—Terry Eagleton, London Review of Books

“I would recommend Turner’s book for anyone curious about the Mr. Spock of the Middle Ages . . . Turner briefly but concretely fleshes him out in the full context of his age, with all of its paradoxes and contradictions.”—John Farrell, Forbes (selected as “Book of the Year” for John Farrell’s blog)

“Turner wields his pen with great finesse, achieving thin strokes that convey in fine detail interesting facets of the saint’s life and thought.”—Aquinas Guilbeau, Claremont Review of Books

'. . . if you require an introduction to the ‘Angelic Doctor’, Turner’s magnificent book will serve you well.'—BBC History Magazine

“Clear and accessible, and written with Turner’s characteristic pedagogical flair, the book not only provides a very nice introduction to Thomas’s thought, but it also provides a very good account of Wittgensteinian Thomism. ”—Religious Studies Review

“Turner’s book is that of a mature scholar, a biography that treats its subject as an integrated human being in whom mind and soul, prayer, and the exploration of the range of reason are united.”—Glenn W. Olsen, The Historian

“[Aquinas’s] enduring importance is made clear through these pages in an accessible and engaging style that will mean I shall return to this book again and again and recommend it to others. Well worth buying.”—Robin Gill, Theology
ISBN: 9780300205947
Publication Date: May 27, 2014
312 pages, 5-1/2 x 8-1/4