Preaching was immensely important in the medieval Church, and Thomas Aquinas expended much time and effort preaching. Today, however, Aquinas’s sermons remain relatively unstudied and underappreciated. This is largely because their sermo modernus style, typical of the thirteenth century, can appear odd and inaccessible to the modern reader. In Reading the Sermons of Thomas Aquinas, Randall Smith guides the reader through Aquinas’s sermons, explaining their form and content. In the process, one comes to appreciate the sermons in their rhetorical brilliance, beauty, and profound spiritual depth while simultaneously being initiated into a fascinating world of thought concerning Scripture, language, and the human mind. The book also includes analytical outlines for all of Aquinas’s extant sermons. Reading the Sermons of Thomas Aquinas: A Beginner’s Guide is an indispensable volume for those interested in the thought of Aquinas, in the intellectual and spiritual milieu in which he worked, and in the manifold ways of preaching the Gospel message.
About the author
Randall Smith is Professor of Theology at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas. He completed his doctorate at the University of Notre Dame under the direction of the late Ralph McInerny. His articles have appeared in journals such as The Thomist, Communio, and Nova et Vetera.
“Aquinas was both preacher and enquirer. Randall Smith’s splendid book takes us closer to understanding the relationship between these two vocations than anyone else has done so far. Aquinas’s sermons exemplify a rhetoric structured by arts of memory, so that his listeners’ minds were informed by Scripture and their desires focused on Him of whom Scripture speaks.”
University of Notre Dame
“Randall Smith has written a book that for a very long time has been an urgent desideratum. The sermons of Thomas Aquinas arguably are the most underappreciated and least read part of his theological oeuvre. They are a veritable treasure, but like every true treasure, in need of unlocking. With this excellent book, Randall Smith has finally provided an interpretive key that allows us to receive the treasure of Thomas’s sermons. This well-written book is a piece of rigorous scholarship, a must-read for all students of Aquinas's theology, also for all who love Christ-centered, biblical preaching, and last but not least for those who want to understand how preaching worked in the world of medieval universities and among the Dominican preachers.”
Duke University Divinity School
“St. Thomas is universally known as a theologian, but few people know that he was also a skilled preacher. His sermons represent an integral part of his work, particularly illuminating for a better understanding of his person and his spirituality. In reading them, one discovers the constant concern of a master theologian to extend his theology through a pastoral practice adapted to the most humble settings. Professor Randall Smith has perfectly grasped this intention. His book, aware of and well informed by the most up-to-date scholarship, will help today’s reader to penetrate more deeply into this neglected part of the Thomistic corpus.”
Jean-Pierre Torrell, O.P.
University of Fribourg, Switzerland