Thomas Aquinas on God and Evil

Thomas Aquinas on God and Evil

Thomas Aquinas on God and Evil

Thomas Aquinas on God and Evil


Brian Davies offers the first in-depth study of Saint Thomas Aquinas's thoughts on God and evil, revealing that Aquinas's thinking about God and evil can be traced through his metaphysical philosophy, his thoughts on God and creation, and his writings about Christian revelation and the doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation.

Davies first gives an introduction to Aquinas's philosophical theology, as well as a nuanced analysis of the ways in which Aquinas's writings have been considered over time. For hundreds of years scholars have argued that Aquinas's views on God and evil were original and different from those of his contemporaries. Davies shows that Aquinas's views were by modern standards very original, but that in their historical context they were more traditional than many scholars since have realized.

Davies also provides insight into what we can learn from Aquinas's philosophy.Thomas Aquinas on God and Evilis a clear and engaging guide for anyone who struggles with the relation of God and theology to the problem of evil.


Thomas Aquinas (c. 1224–74) is one of the most historically important of Christian philosophers and theologians. Canonized in 1323, his writings have been extremely influential over many centuries. Scholars today, whether they agree with him or not, would generally regard him both as a giant among medieval thinkers and as a touchstone of Christian orthodoxy. Recommended to Roman Catholics by popes such as Leo XIII, whose encyclical Aeterni Patris (1879) led to a renaissance of Thomistic studies in twentieth-century ecclesiastical contexts, Aquinas is also now much studied in secular ones. In recent years numerous essays and books on his philosophy have appeared, written by people of various religious persuasions or none. In short, Aquinas is a figure with whom to reckon if one has any interest at all in philosophy or theology.

In this book I offer an account of Aquinas’s teachings on the topic of God and evil while trying to place him in the context of contemporary discussions. What follows is not a philosophical or theological evaluation of Aquinas on this topic. Rather, it is an attempt to explain what his thinking on God and evil amounts to when taken as a whole, while sometimes noting how it compares and contrasts with what others have said. Philosophical and theological discussions of God and evil often refer to Aquinas but hardly ever try to present an overview of what he has to say on the topic, one that requires reference to things that Aquinas observes when not explicitly talking of God and evil. In this volume my aim is to present such an overview.

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