Albert & Thomas: Selected Writings

By Simon Tugwell | Go to book overview
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Quodlibetal Question I a.14

Is someone who is capable of teaching others
nevertheless bound
to abandon the study of theology in order
to concentrate on the salvation of others?

It looks as if someone who is capable of taking care of the salvation of souls is committing a sin if he spends his time in study: 1.
1. It says in Galatians 6:10, "While we have time, let us do good." And waste of time is the worst kind of waste. So people ought not to spend all their time in study, putting off devoting their attention to the salvation of souls.
2. Those who are perfect are bound to do what is best. Religious are perfect. Therefore religious in particular ought to leave study and apply themselves to the salvation of souls.
3. Going astray in your morals is worse than going astray with your feet. But a superior is bound to call his subjects back, if he sees them going off course with their feet. So he is much more bound to call them back if he sees them going astray in their morals. And it is going astray to omit what is best. So a superior ought to force his subjects to drop study and turn their attention to the salvation of souls.

On the other side of the dispute, established custom counts as an argument. 2.

This seems to be a specifically Dominican question, prompted by the growing number of more or less permanent academics in the Order. One of the reasons for the increase in the number of academics was the Order's adoption of the program of studies drawn up by the commission of which Thomas was a member at the General Chapter of 1259. At first sight it appears to be contrary to the essential purpose of the Order (preaching and the salvation of souls, according to the Constitutions, ASOP 3 [1897-98] pp.32-3) that many of its best men should devote their whole lives to study and teaching. In this Quodlibetal Thomas gives his emphatic defense of Dominican academics. His claim that teachers of theology, by teaching the preachers, do more than the preachers themselves do (if a preacher influences a thousand people, and a teacher teaches fifty preachers, the teacher indirectly influences fifty thousand people) is of a piece with Humbert's readiness to give far more dispensations to teachers than to preachers, on the grounds that the teachers make the preachers, but preachers can always be replaced (ed. Berthier II p. 34).
Evidently by this time (1269) it was established practice that a significant number


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