To understand St.Thomas theology, we must understand the metaphysics that goes hand in hand with his theology.

For the notion of Person, the previous notion of Suppositum or Hypostasis seems to be central. I'm reading a book on St.Thomas' metaphysics, and it states that the difference between the concept of essence and suppositum was very important in how he was able to 'explain' the Incarnation of Christ, and His dual nature, of man and of God.

How was St.Thomas able to explain the dual nature of Christ?

  • Have you looked at his Summa Theologica or any of the available commentaries on that? Aquinas deals with the question extensively there. What have you got out of your reading so far? Dec 11 '14 at 15:19
  • @MattGutting As non native english speaker, could you explain what it means to get out of my reading? If it's what I have read about St.Thomas Aquinas' theology, then I would say I have only read Paul J.Wadell intro book on Aquinas ethics, and I'm currently reading a manual on metaphysics from EUNSA publisher (Univ. of Navarra, Spain). I have no special education, I'm just a interested reader. Dec 11 '14 at 16:56
  • In other words, I was asking whether you had read anything specifically on Aquinas' book Summa Theologica; knowing that you haven't, I can get you a slightly better answer. It'll take a while, though; this sort of medieval philosophy is tough to get through. Dec 11 '14 at 17:12
  • @MattGutting Thanks in advance for the effort ;) Dec 11 '14 at 17:21
  • I invite you to a discussion about this in chat (chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/19237/the-structure-of-god)
    – Decrypted
    Dec 12 '14 at 3:32

Check out at least these The Thomist articles:
(note: the following is not an exhaustive listing of all The Thomist's articles on this topic)

  1. "Aquinas on Nature, Hypostasis, & the Metaphysics of the Incarnation"
  2. "Albert the Great & Thomas Aquinas on Person, Hypostasis, & Hypostatic Union,"
  3. and especially:
    Jason L. A. West's "Aquinas on the metaphysics of esse in Christ"

West also translated part of St. Thomas's Disputed Question: Concerning the Union of the Word Incarnate (De Unione Verbi Incarnati), which is a must-read for St. Thomas's view on the hypostatic union.

St. Thomas addresses the question of Christ's one being and two natures in De Unione a. 4 on "Whether there is only one being in Christ?":

Objection 1: For there is both a divine and a human being in Christ; which cannot be one, because being is not said univocally of God and creatures. Therefore, in Christ there is not only one being, but two.


I answer that ... Just as Christ is one simply on account of the unity of the supposit, and two in a certain respect on account of the two natures, so he has one esse simply on account of the one eternal esse of the eternal supposit. But, there is also another esse of this supposit, not insofar as it is eternal, but insofar as it became a man in time. That esse, even if it is not an accidental esse--because man is not accidentally predicated of the Son of God, as was said above [art. 1]--nevertheless, is not the principal esse of its supposit, but a secondary [esse]. Now if there were two supposits in Christ, then each supposit would have its own principal esse. And thus there would be a twofold esse in Christ simply. [Emphasis added]

St. Thomas also writes in his Compendium of Theology c. 212 on "the Unity and Multiplicity in Christ":

For it is clear that parts divided individually have their own esse, but insofar as they are considered in a whole they do not have their own esse, but they exist through the esse of the whole. So, therefore, if we were to consider Christ as an integral supposit of two natures, there would be only one esse of him, just as there is also one supposit.

  • An answer should provide an actual answer to the question, not just links. Can you summarize the answer (presumably) provided by the linked articles?
    – Flimzy
    Dec 15 '14 at 1:49
  • @Flimzy: I've added some relevant quotes. I hope that helps.
    – Geremia
    Dec 15 '14 at 2:04
  • This is an excellent summary of St. Aquinas' view. Very brief and straight to the point. Feb 17 '15 at 5:37

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