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Sancti Thomae Aquinatis Summa totius theologiae, 5 volumes (Antwerp: Christopher Plantin, 1569) .

These volumes (bound here in three) bear the mark of the "Golden Compasses" of the famous publisher in Antwerp, Christopher Plantin. This landmark edition of Thomas Aquinas's Summa theologiae was revised and reprinted several times, and set a standard that other late sixteenth-century publishers of Thomas's work attempted to surpass (see catalogue n° 63 and n° 67). The demand for the Summa theologiae is indicated not only by the number of editions, but by their massive and elaborate formats, which required large initial investments by the publishers. This edition was prepared by a group of theologians from Louvain, led by Augustine Huens (see catalogue n° 66) and the Dominican Antonius de Conceptione (†1585), who executed the marginal annotations.

Each part of the Summa theologiae has its own title page, and each is preceded by two indices: the first alphabetically arranges the "commonplaces" (locos communes) contained in the following part; the second presents the order of topics and questions in schematic form. Some parts have supplemental indices. The final volume contains "five new general indices for a long time until now greatly desired by the studious":

  1. an index of scriptural authorities in the Summa;
  2. a diagrammatic table of locos communes in the work;
  3. an alphabetical register of teachings and memorable sententiae in the Summa;
  4. an index of places suitable for combatting the heretics "of our day";
  5. an index of places in the Summa convenient for preaching the Epistles and Gospels of the liturgical year.

So the Summa theologiae became a manual of preaching materials that supplanted the medieval Dominican works designed for that specific purpose (although those works too continued to be printed). The indices are followed by a "Catalogue of philosophers, orators, poets, pontiffs, Councils, doctors, decretals, definitions, etc." cited by Thomas. The five new indices and the catalogue were reprinted and augmented in many subsequent editions of the Summa (see catalogue n° 63, n° 66, and n° 67), providing the foundation for the extensive indexing of Thomas's writings and those of his commentators executed by scholars in the next decades.

References: Voet 5: 2195-2204 no 2312 gives a detailed description of these volumes and their contents.

Catalogue No. 62
Call Number: Rare Books B 765 .T361st 1569
      Catalog Record

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