Beware of little old ladies – Finishing the Prima pars

Having taken a break in my reading of Thomas over the summer (no bus rides to work!) I last week finished the Prima Pars, also the first volume in my edition of ST. The three of you that read this blog regularly have noticed that I have not posted much on this reading, considering that was one of the original purposes of this blog. I have to say that the latter part of the prima pars failed to really interest me. And that is a bit surprising actually, I had thought I would have enjoyed the discussions on the soul, for example, and also to read what the doctor angelicus has to say about angels and demons. But it seems that these are doctrines that are really difficult to connect with today. I dare to say this, without adding a ”for me”, because the reason is not so much that Thomas is very speculative here – there is so little to build upon when discussing the angels e.g. in the Bible, but rather it is the questions he asks that fails to inspire.

For exampel: questio 113, on guardian angels (there’s an underdeveloped topic in contemporary theology!) Thomas discusses which angels guard humans, if there is one angel per peson, and if the angel is appointed at birth or at baptism. He does not discuss what they do, in which way the activity of the guardian angels differ from God’s activity in general or in what way this guarding benefits us. Apparently these things are self-evident to Thomas and something that doesn’t merit discussion.

I did found one intriguing passage, in Q. 117, regarding wheter it is possible to change corporal matter using the power of the soul. It isn’t, but Thomas still has to explain how some people can bewitch others. This is done through the body of the witch. Like this:

Hence then when a soul is vehemently moved to wickedness, as occurs mostly in little old women, the countenance becomes venomous and hurful, especially to children, who have a tender and most impressionable body.

Look out little children!

I will not be able to continue my reading of Thomas this fall since I have to focus my reading on my research. I’ll get back to him though, probably in the spring.

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