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CUA Press

The Godly Image: Christian Satisfaction in Aquinas

The Godly Image: Christian Satisfaction in Aquinas

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Christian satisfaction stands at the center of the Church’s teaching about salvation. Satisfaction pertains to studies about Christ, redemption, the Sacraments, and pastoral practice. The topic also enters into questions about God and the creature as well as about the divine mercy and providence. Somewhat neglected in the period after Vatican II, satisfaction now appears to scholars as the forgotten key to entering deeply into the mystery of Christ and his work. Seminarians especially will benefit from studying the place satisfaction holds in Catholic life.

Further, ecumenical work requires a proper understanding of the place that satisfaction holds in Christian theology. Various factors operative since the sixteenth century have worked to displace satisfaction almost entirely from reformed practice and theology. To address such concerns, The Godly Image, has, over the past several decades and more, done a great deal to put satisfaction within its proper context of image-restoration. That is, to interpret satisfaction within the context of the divine mercy and not the divine justice. This unique contribution to satisfaction studies owes a great deal to the achievement of Saint Thomas Aquinas. In this sense, the book enacts a retrieval of the theology of the high classical period. Like much of Aquinas’s refined teaching, a proper understanding requires appeal to the commentatorial tradition that follows him. Interested students will find in this study the touchstones for further studies of these authors.

The Godly Image aims also to distinguish the theology of Aquinas from that of the medieval author with whom the notion of satisfaction remains mostly identified, that is, Anselm of Canterbury. Although not a developed focus of the book’s contents, the attentive reader will recognize that Aquinas treats Saint Anselm with a reverential reading, even as the Common Doctor moves significantly away from interpretations of satisfaction that suggest that an angry God exacts from his innocent Son a painful substitutional penalty for a fallen human race.

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