The Reception of the Summa Theologiae on the Question of Eucharistic Sacrifice in the Early Modern Period

Doctoral Dissertation


This thesis is concerned with the reception-history of Aquinas’ teaching on Eucharistic sacrifice in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Because of the increasingly pervasive use of Aquinas’ Summa theologiae as a text of theological commentary in universities during this period, the Summa became a ubiquitous resource for early modern theology. Because of challenges from the Protestant reformers, during this time many Catholic theologians began to defend the Church’s traditional teaching on the Mass as a true sacrifice, at times using resources from Aquinas to do so. While the details of these Protestant and Catholic interactions are significant, this study is not concerned with the features of these debates directly. Rather, this thesis is focused on the reception and transmission of the conceptual content of Aquinas’ teaching in early modern Catholic theology. Because Aquinas’ own teaching in the Summa is broader than Reformation polemics, in this thesis the term ‘Eucharistic sacrifice’ has been adopted in order to capture the full range of meaning that is associated with the concept of sacrifice in Aquinas’ Eucharistic theology in the Summa. Although the Summa became the primary conduit for Aquinas’ teaching during this timeframe, the text of the Summa itself is the product of a very different historical context. For these subsequent interactions with the Summa to be intelligible, therefore, it is essential that this text be first understood on its own terms. Accordingly, this thesis begins with a textual study of the concept of Eucharistic sacrifice in Aquinas’ Summa theologiae. This first chapter studies the way in which Aquinas applies the concept of sacrifice in relation to the Eucharist in his discussion of the figurative meaning of the Old Law, the moral character of sacrifice as a human act, and the significance of Christ’s sacrifice in relation to the sacramental and liturgical reality of the Eucharist. The following chapters examine the work of Thomas de vio Cajetan, Francisco Vitoria, Dominic Soto, Melchior Cano, Domingo Bañez, Robert Bellarmine, Francisco Suárez, Gabriel Vásquez and John of St. Thomas. When engaging each of these thinkers, this thesis explores the shape of their specific reception of Aquinas, and factors and methodological assumptions that have conditioned these receptions.


Attribute NameValues
Author Reginald (Brendan) Lynch
Contributor Joseph P. Wawrykow, Research Director
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline Theology
Degree Name Doctor of Philosophy
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Defense Date
  • 2020-04-27

Submission Date 2020-05-11
Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

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