Saint Thomas Aquinas Questions for English 256 Intro to Theory and Criticism, Chapman University Fall 2012



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Assigned: from Summa Theologica (181-84).

Summa Theologica

1. On 181-84, what assumptions in Aquinas regarding representation's status do you think might be derived from Aristotle? Further, explain any similarities in concept or methodology you find respecting these two authors.

2. On 181-84, to what extent do Augustine (in On Christian Teaching) and Aquinas seem to agree about the significance of figurative language such as metaphor, especially in the Bible? Within the religious framework of these two Christian authors, what's the point of making investigations into figures or tropes?

3. General question: what is metaphor? Explain this linguistic phenomenon in your own terms, taking care to incorporate the terms "vehicle" and "tenor" in your response but also to get at the heart of what exactly using metaphors accomplishes and why metaphor matters.

Summa Theologica, Question 1, Ninth Article

4. On 181-82, why, according to Aquinas, is the Bible's metaphoric language both "necessary and useful" (181) -- what makes it necessary, and in what three ways is it useful to human beings?

5. On 181-82, what does Aquinas suggest is the value of figurative language to God, as opposed to mere mortals? That is, how does metaphor preserve or remind us of the gap between the human and the divine?

Summa Theologica, Question 1, Tenth Article

6. On 182-84, why, according to Aquinas, is the Bible's figurative language not a threat to stable meaning or to God's providential order -- i.e. to his all-encompassing plan for humans and the universe?

7. On 182-84, what in Aquinas' view is the "literal sense" of a figurative expression? Why is it important for him to define the term "literal" as carefully as he does?

Edition: Leitch, Vincent B., ed. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 2nd ed. New York: Norton, 2010. ISBN 978-0-393-93292-8.