For Aquinas for man to make any statement concerning the nature of the Triune God he ipso facto speaks analogously.  He is ontologically the Father but he is not a father as defined in human terms.  Men predicate things of God’s nature based on his/her own experience of creation; therefore man’s knowledge of God is limited to what he can know of God by analysis of the world – and Scripture of course.

This is why John Calvin said that in order for man to know God he must know himself.  We normally cannot know God as Father unless we first know the human role of father (with an implicit knowledge of sonship). Of course God the Father is not merely a duplication of man’s concept of father.  He is the archetypal Father. He is the transcendent Father who gives form and meaning to the relationships of mankind.   

2 thoughts on “Analogy

  1. Jacob,

    Aside from just reading Aquinas himself (McDermott’s compilation is good – in the Oxford World Classics series) I’ve lightly touched Kerr’s book (which you’ve alluded to). I’ve read through Copleston’s 1st volume and most of the 2nd in his History of Philosophy. He has a thorough treatment of the main points and a bit of the Medieval context. I also have Copleston’s independent book on Aquinas – I’ll break into that soon.


    Brian Davies has really good stuff, Jean-Pierre Torrell’s biography and short intro to the Summa (although I haven’t read the latter) are excellent, Etienne Gilson’s book on Aquinas’s Christian Philosophy is thorough, etc.

    I plan on reading these in the next few weeks:

    – Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on Aristotle’s Metaphysics
    – Wippel, The Metaphysical Thought of Thomas Aquinas
    – Fergus Kerr, Contemplating Aquinas
    – Fran O’Rourke, Pseudo-Dionysius and the Metaphysics of Thomas Aquinas
    – Stump, et al, Cambridge Companion to Aquinas
    – Joseph Bobik, On Being and Essence: Translation and Interpretation
    – McInerny, Aquinas and Analogy

    That’s all I can think of for now.


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