Teaching Bodies: Moral Formation in the Summa of Thomas Aquinas by Mark D. JordanTeaching Bodies: Moral Formation in the Summa of Thomas Aquinas by Mark D. Jordan

Teaching Bodies: Moral Formation in the Summa of Thomas Aquinas

byMark D. Jordan

Paperback | December 1, 2016

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In Teaching Bodies, leading scholar of Christian thought Mark D. Jordan offers an original reading of the Summa of Theology of Thomas Aquinas. Reading backward, Jordan interprets the main parts of the Summa, starting from the conclusion, to reveal how Thomas teaches morals by directing attention to the way God teaches morals, namely through embodied scenes: the incarnation, the gospels, and the sacraments. It is Thomas's confidence in bodily scenes of instruction that explains the often overlooked structure of the middle part of the Summa, which begins and ends with Christian revisions of classical exhortations of the human body as a pathway to the best human life. Among other things, Jordan argues, this explains Thomas's interest in the stages of law and the limits of virtue as the engine of human life.

Rather than offer a synthesis of Thomistic ethics, Jordan insists that we read Thomas as theology to discover the unification of Christian wisdom in a pattern of ongoing moral formation. Jordan supplements his close readings of the Summa with reflections on Thomas's place in the history of Christian moral teaching-and thus
his relevance for teaching and writing in the present. What remains a puzzle is why Thomas chose to stage this incarnational moral teaching within the then-new genres of university disputation-the genres we think of as "Scholastic." Yet here again the structure of the Summa provides an answer. In Jordan's deft analysis, Thomas's minimalist refusal to tell a new story except by juxtaposing selections from inherited philosophical and theological traditions is his way of opening room for God's continuing narration in the development of the human soul.

The task of writing theology, as Thomas understands it, is to open a path through the inherited languages of classical thought so that divine pedagogy can have its effect on the reader. As such, the task of the Summa, in Mark Jordan's hands, is a crucial and powerful way to articulate Christian morals today.

Mark D. Jordan is Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Christian Thought at Harvard Divinity School. He is the author and editor of numerous books, including, most recently, Convulsing Bodies: Religion and Resistance in Foucault and Recruiting Young Love: How Christians Talk about Homosexuality.
Title:Teaching Bodies: Moral Formation in the Summa of Thomas AquinasFormat:PaperbackDimensions:224 pagesPublished:December 1, 2016Publisher:Fordham University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0823273792

ISBN - 13:9780823273799

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Table of Contents

PrefaceIntroduction. The Summa's Origins:Three Fables and a Candid CounterproposalPart I sacraments, gospel, incarnation 1. Incarnation as Instruction 2. Seeing Gospel Stories 3. Sacramental Bodies Part II writing scenes of moral instruction 4. Scenes of Instruction 5. From Scenes to Authorities 6. The Summa in (Our) Libraries Part III moral theology on the way to its end 7. The Good That Draws the Will 8. Stages on Law's Way 9. The Gifts of the Spirit10. Vocations and ViaeConclusion: The Good of ReadingAcknowledgmentsNotesWorks CitedIndex

Editorial Reviews

Integrity, proportion, clarity-the qualities that have always informed Jordan's writing about Thomas-are beautifully present in Teaching Bodies. The work is a significant contribution to the reading and interpretation of the medieval theologian.