v (modern paper) + 114 + v (modern paper) folios on parchment (prepared in the manner of Southern Europe), lacking a quire following f. 77v and two leaves following f. 91(i12 ii14 (+ f. 27, singleton added after 14) iii-v12 vi14 vii12 viii12 [-3 and 4, following f. 91,with loss of text] ix12 x3 [original structure uncertain]), ruled in ink or lead with the top or top two and bottom horizontal rules full across, and with full-length vertical bounding lines, usually double in the inner and outer margins, with extra vertical bounding lines in the outer and inner margins on some folios and with double horizontal bounding lines in the upper and lower margins in the final quire, horizontal rules often indiscernible, but visible ff. 92 to the end, prickings in the top and bottom margins (justification varies, 218-212 x 145-143), copied by numerous scribes in remarkably small gothic noting scripts in two columns of eighty-three to fifty-nine lines, occasional red paragraph marks, underlining within the text and rubrics, but all these are commonly copied in brown ink, chapters numbered in brown ink in the outer margins (possibly guide notes for rubricator, never followed, but very neat), informal running titles in brown ink added in the upper margins, five- to two-line red initials, larger six- to twelve-line red initials, some with decorative void space within the initial, TWO MARGINAL DIAGRAMS, f. 52rv, original imperfections in parchment, occasional uneven edges and holes, with original sewing for example on ff. 9, 11, 12, or other repairs, ff. 17, 22, modern repair, outer corner f. 20, f. 1, darkened and soiled and stained in the inner margin, edges darkened throughout, more extensive staining in the margins from f. 100, ff. 113-114, stained and darkened, but legible. Modern cream-colored leather binding over boards, simple blind-tooling on the covers, spine with five raised bands and “MAGNUS” and “AQUINAS” in blind, fastens back to front with two leather and brass clasp- and catch-fasteners, in excellent condition. Dimensions 300 x 212 mm.
The texts included here were written between c. 1250-1256: two by Albertus Magnus, including his first commentary on Aristotle’s Ethics (surviving in only 12 manuscripts including this one, 5 complete) and two of Thomas Aquinas’s early works, as well as quaestiones by an unidentified author. Possibly from a Dominican House of studies, it also includes extensive annotations in contemporary hands and a pair of interesting diagrams. It is an important witness to the relationship between these two great Dominican theologians and the transmission of their texts close to their lifetimes.
1. The contents and script of this manuscript, and especially the script of the annotating hands, suggests it was copied in Southern France at the end of the thirteenth century or beginning of the fourteenth century, c. 1275-1325 – within fifty years of the death of St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274). Dating this manuscript is admittedly difficult; it is copied in very small gothic noting scripts by numerous scribes – the cursive elements in some of the hands is notable, and theses scripts are markedly different from the more formal script usually used in University manuscripts. Scripts such as these were the common “everyday” script used by scholars, and examples can be found into the fifteenth century. The script used by the writer who added short notes throughout the texts by Albertus, however, likely dates nolater than the second decade of the fourteenth century, and this, together with the contents of this manuscript (all texts composed in a short period, c. 1250-1256) is evidence in favor of the date suggested here. Thomas Aquinas is not referred to in the manuscript as Saint, so a date before his canonization in 1323 is possible (although there are certainly manuscripts copied after 1323 that do not refer to him as Saint Thomas). The parchment used is prepared in the manner of Southern Europe, and the mixture of scripts, some of which follow Italian practices, while others are more similar to scripts used in Northern France, suggests an origin in Southern France.
The informality of the script and the layout suggest the manuscript may have been copied by Dominican Friars for their own use in a Dominican House of Studies. The manuscript is an astonishing work of economy. Although the ruling frame is fairly consistent throughout, and the area of the written space therefore remains fairly constant as well, the numerous scribes squeeze in a varying number of lines, from fifty-nine to sixty in the first quire and seventy-six to sixty-nine in the second. The variability continues, for example, f. 28 has only forty-three lines, f. 30, fifty-six, f. 36, sixty-nine, and f. 77v, a remarkable eighty-three lines. On f. 47, the scribe reached the end of the book, and had a few more lines than he needed, so he stretched his letters out to fill in the space. The change in hand at f. 84 is obvious since both the color of the ink which changes from brown to black, and the degree of compression change noticeably, but close examination suggests the manuscript was copied by many scribes. Careful study to determine how many scribes copied this manuscript would be an interesting project for future study. Although traditionally scholars have tended to assume that manuscripts used by Dominicans houses were purchased (Mulchahey, 1998, p. 22), and Dominican statues do in fact discourage brothers from copying texts for money, careful study of extant Domincan sermon manuscripts has led David d’Avray to argue that the Dominicans were in fact active producers of manuscripts for their own use (D’Avray, 2001, pp. 15-29; see also Humphreys, 1991).
The text was corrected (see for example f. 58, where a passage, probably an omission, was added formally in the bottom margin). Marginal notes throughout are of interest and would repay careful attention; one rather shaky inexpert (but easily legible) hand added notes throughout most of Albertus’s Super Ethica, all beginning “nota” and then listing an important point. For example, on f. 85 (Book 8), “Nota pater docetur a filio,” “Nota magistro non potest esse recompense,” and “Nota pater magis propicius filio quam contrario,” and (also Book eight), f. 81, “Nota bene superiores magis debet amari quam amare” “Nota inter prelatos et subditus non est amicitia” (annotations in this hand also found on ff. 13-15, De fato). There are also marginal notes in other hands, see for example ff. 1, 6, 15v, 18, 19, etc.; lengthy additions in the margins on ff. 12v, 14v-15, 67.
2. Sold at Christie’s, 29 November 2000, lot 9.
3. Ex-libris (R.A. = Rick Adams), inside front cover; front flyleaf in pencil, “15433.”
ff. 1-3v, Tractatus fratrum thomam de Aquino de ente et essencia, incipit, “Quia paruus error in principio magnus est … nec diffinito propter suam simplicitatem. In quo sit finis et consumatio huius tractatus siue sermonus. Amen. Deo sint gratiae infinite que dedit scribenti[?] perficere;
Thomas Aquinas, De Ente et essentia; ed., Opera omnia iussu Leonis XIII …, vol. 43 (1976), pp. 369-381, listing 180 manuscripts (pp. 322-333), of which forty-seven date before 1325 (twenty of which are dated by the editors to the thirteenth century); English translation, Maurer, 1968. First printed in Padua in 1475, with a total of seventeen editions in the fifteenth century.
This short treatise, “On Being and Essence,” is one of St. Thomas’s first works, written before March 1256, when he became a master of theology at the age of just slightly more than thirty years old. He may have written it while he was working on the first book of his Commentary on Peter Lombard’s Sentences, which he began around 1252. It is his only purely metaphysical text apart from his commentary on Aristotle’s Metaphysics, and is especially interesting in what it reveals of how he understood and organized fundamental notions of metaphysics at such an early point in his career. It was probably written for the Dominican friars at St. Jacques in Paris.
f. 3v-4v, [margin: incipt, “Q. Utrum voluntas et intellectus sint una potentia fratris Thome], incipit, “Queritur utrum voluntas et intellectus sit eadem potentia …”; f. 4, incipit, “Secundo queritur utrum uoluntas sit altior et nobilior potentia quam intellectus vel e converso …”; f. 4, incipit, “Tertio questio utrum voluntas moveat intellectum …”;
Thomas Aquinas, De veritate, q. 22, a. 10-12.
ff. 4v-5, [margin: incipit, “Q. Utrum scientia de deo et creatura equivoce pure dicere”], incipit, “Queritur utrum scientia equivoce pure dicere de creatore et de nobis …”;
Thomas Aquinas, De veritate, q. 2 a. 11.
Thomas Aquinas, Quaestiones disputatae de veritate (“Disputed Questions On Truth”); ed. Opera omnia iussu Leonis XIII …, vol. 22 (1975, 1970, 1972, 1973, and 1976); English translation, Chicago, 1952-1954, and online, by Joseph Kenny (Online resources, below); Latin text with facing French translation, Busa, 2011. The editors of the critical edition identified at least ninety-five surviving manuscripts (sixty-three complete or including at least twenty to twenty-nine quaestiones, and thirty-two with fragments of the text including anywhere from a single article to less than twenty quaestiones).
De veritate is a lengthy work, with twenty-nine quaestiones including 253 articles; this manuscript includes questio 22, articles 10-12, and questio 2, article 11, as well the complete text of quaestio1, articles 1-12, and quaestio 2, article 2 (see below, ff. 7-11v; 11v-12) – only a small fraction of the complete work. De Veritate is another early work by St. Thomas, dating from his first years as a master of theology in Paris from 1256-1259. The original manuscript of quaestiones 2-22, dictated by Thomas himself survives, now Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vat. Lat 781; many of the extant manuscripts, however, stem from pecia exemplars rented by the University stationers in Paris. Quaestiones 1-20 discuss topics related to truth and knowledge, and 21-29, Good and the Appetite for Good. The quaestiones included here are copied as part of the texts surrounding them; topics discussed include the will and intellect, God’s knowledge, and the nature of truth.
De Veritate, as well as many of the other texts included in this manuscript, are classic examples of quaestiones, or “questions” – an essential part of the teaching methods in the medieval university, where masters posed problems, and then presented the pros and cons of different sides of the question, before providing a solution.
ff. 5-7, incipit, “Vniuersale seu commune quo communis eo prius sensui et intellectu offertur. Pono exemplum quo ad sensum in singulari vago. Constat enim quod <?> videtur, primo iudicatur ens … Cum ergo ens sit primum in compositione omnium …”; f. 5v, incipit, “Ulterius queritur utrum ens de deo et creaturis dicatur vnivoce vel equivoce uel analogice …”; ff. 6v-7, incipit, “Ulterius queritur utrum ens sit essenciale predicamentale[?] uel accidentale[?] … per accidentalia[?] sit et per ens notificatis princiis. Quodammodo per ipsum <c?> notificat,” Explicit de ente fratris Thomae;
Quaestiones by unknown author[s], on topics related to Thomas Aquinas’s De ente et essentia, or a commentary on this text; the quaestio on f. 5v, is also discussed in the Sentence Commentary by Gilles Carlier (or Charlier), a pupil of Gerson, and dean of the Chapter at Cambrai, 1431-2; in Paris, Bibliothèque Mazarine, MS 958; see Swiezawski (1961), p. 81. This commentary is unpublished, and only the incipit is listed in this article, making it impossible to determine its real relationship to the text in this manuscript.
ff. 7-11v, Quaestio est de veritate. Et primo quid sit veritas. Videtur autem quod verum sit omnino idem quod ens … nunquam tamen si recte fiat resolutio in prima principia. Et per hoc patet solutio ad obiecta”;
Thomas Aquinas, De veritate, q. 1, art. 1-12.
ff. 11v-12v, incipit, “Queritur utrum deus cognosca uel sciat se ipsum et videtur quod non …” [Ends mid col. a, f. 12v; two added paragraphs follow; col. b, blank].
Thomas Aquinas, De veritate, q. 2, art. 2 (see above, ff. 3v-5 for discussion of this text).
ff. 13-15v, incipit, “Queritur de fato an sit quid sit utrum neccessarium inponat rebus …; f. 13, incipit “Ulterius queritur quod sit fatum. Boeccius v de conosolatione philosphie est … quod est supra cursum siderum in loco quietae contemplationis beatorum”;
Albertus Magnus, De fato; the text circulated with attributions to both Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas, but it is accepted by modern scholars as the work of Albertus Magnus; see Fauser, 1982, no. 41, pp. 208-210, listing seventeen manuscripts (one thirteenth century, two thirteenth-fourteenth century, three fourteenth century, and eleventh fifteenth century; ascribed to Albertus in eight manuscripts, to Thomas Aquinas in eight, and without attribution in one); ed. Simon, Opera Omnia, 17/1 (1975); text also available online at http://www.corpusthomisticum.org/xpz.html).
One manuscript of this short work by Albertus (Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Codex Chigi E.IV.109), states that this quaestio was disputed by Albertus at Anagni, a suggestion accepted by its editor, since Albertus was in Anagni in 1256, where it is likely he discussed this topic in front of the Roman curia. He defines “fate” as the power of the stars exercised through their movements and relations to one another,” and concludes that fate does prevail to some extent and is knowable through astrology.
ff. 16-114v, incipit, “Ptolomeus in <a?>llmagesto disciplina hominis sui intellectus socius est et apud homines intercessor. Circa moralem scientiam tria hic tanguuntur … quum ipsa speculacione poinit …” Deo gratias. Explicit super primum librum ethicorum opus utile ad moralem scientiam aquirendam fratris Alberti teutonici de ordine fratrum predicatorum [f. 27v, blank]”; f. 28, incipit, “Tullius in paradoxa stoycorum dicit … qui promittunt doctrinam sine operibus et hoc non muatur,” Explicit opus magistri alberti super ethicorum libri decimi aristotilis. Deo gratias” [Ends mid col. b, f. 114; remainder and f. 114v blank].
Albertus Magnus, Super Ethica, Commentum et quaestiones, lacking a gathering between folio 77 and folio 78 with the end of Book 7, lectio i (from, “Et dicit, quod de [bestialitate]”) to Book 8, lectio iii (“et sic erunt multae species amicitiae”), and two leaves between ff. 91 and 92 with Book 9, lectio x (from “Et notandum, quod hoc quod dicit omnibus conte[ndentibus]”) to Book 9, lectio xii (“secundum quam aliqui sumendi sunt”); ed. Wilhelm Kübel, Alberti Magni Opera Omnia, XIV (1968-1987). Known in only eleven manuscripts, five of which are complete, not including this one; eleven listed in Fauser, 1982, no. 34, pp. 179-183 (five from the thirteenth century, two from the thirteenth/fourteenth, two from the fourteenth and two from the fifteenth century); Kübel, ed., 1968-1972, pp. viii-x, describes nine of the manuscripts listed by Fauser.
The text is divided into the usual ten books, here incorrectly labeled: Book 2 begins f. 28, Book 3 on f. 32v, Book 4 on f. 38v, Book 4 (again) on f. 43, Book 5 on f. 47v, Book six on f. 59v, Book seven on f. 77, (beginning of Book eight missing), Book 9 on f. 86, Book ten on f. 94 (note in lead point in margin). The manuscript includes two diagrams in Book five of Albert’s Commentary on the Ethics: a diagram, f. 52, illustrating distributive justice pictured in geometric lines, and on f. 52v, a table of the relationship between a builder, a house, a tanner and a shoe to illustrate compensation according to proportion in relationships of exchange.
As a previous cataloguer has noted, the missing leaves may be the result of censorship: the section lacking from Book 7 concerns the ethics of sexual behaviour, including discussions of bestiality and incest.
Albertus Magnus (c. 1200-1280) composed two commentaries on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. This, his first version, written in 1250-1252 in Cologne, is close to the lectures he gave on the book, and many of the ideas are presented in the form of quaestiones. It was a milestone in thirteenth-century thought – the first Latin Commentary on the complete Nicomachean Ethics, translated into Latin by Robert Grosseteste c. 1246/7. It remained unedited until the 1968-1987 edition by Kübel. Albertus’s second commentary, in contrast, survives in thirty manuscript and was printed in 1520, 1651, and by Borgnet in 1891; it presents further development of Albertus’s ideas, but omits many of the ideas and speculations preserved in the earlier version and found in this manuscript. Albertus’s commentaries on the Ethics develop the idea that the highest goal of Christian life was the contemplation of God.
Albertus Magnus, or Albert the Great (c.1200-1280) was probably born in Lavingen on the Danube near Um, presumably from a well-off family; he probably studied in Padua, where he entered the Dominican order ca. 1229. He then returned to Germany and continued his studies in Cologne. He was appointed lector at Domincan Houses in Hildesheim, Freiburg, Regensburg, Strasbourg, and Paris by 1240, where he became master of theology in 1245. He was once again in Germany in1248, where he was the head of the studium generale in Cologne, and in 1254 served as the provincial general of the German Dominicans; in 1258 he was again in Cologne, and (briefly, and reluctantly) was Bishop of Regensburg in 1260.
Albertus, once known chiefly as Thomas Aquinas’s teacher, has emerged in recent scholarship as an important thinker in his own right (see especially Senner et. al, 2001, celebrating his 800th anniversary). The range of his interests is remarkable, including logic, psychology, metaphysics, meterology, mineralogy, and zoology. He is particularly known for his mastery of the works of Aristotle (almost the whole Aristotelian corpus in Latin translation was available by c. 1240).
Thomas Aquinas (c.1224/1225-1274), the “Angelic Doctor,” has been called the greatest philosopher between Aristotle and Descartes – certainly his place as the preeminent medieval theologian will not be debated. After early studies at the great Benedictine Abbey of Monte Cassino, he studied at the University of Naples, where he met members of the new Dominican order, which he himself joined in 1244. He then set out for Paris in 1245, where he spent 1246 until the early part of 1248. The relationship between Thomas and Albertus was a close one, and it is likely during these first years in Paris he studied with Albertus at St. Jacques, as well as studying either arts or theology at the University. He then followed Albertus to Cologne, and certainly studied under him from 1248-1252 at the newly-established Dominican Studium generale. He returned to Paris, where he became Master of Theology in 1256. He then went to Naples, Orvieto, and finally Rome (1265-8), where he began his great work, the Summa theologiae, before returning to Paris, serving again as regent master from 1268-1272. He spent the last years of his brief life in Naples, where he was sent to found a new Domincan studium. Like his teacher, Albertus Magnus, Thomas is known for his mastery of Aristotelian philosophy within the context of Christian theology and for his reconciliation of faith and reason.
Chronologically, the texts included in the manuscript described here are remarkably cohesive – all were written in the short period c. 1250-1256. Careful study of its origin and textual affiliations is likely to be very interesting, as is the identification of the texts on ff. 5-7.
Moreover, its potential importance is underlined by its possible relationship to a manuscript of Albertus’s Super Ethica “collected” by Aquinas himself while he was studying in Cologne with Albertus in 1248-1252 (Vatican, BAV, Vat lat 722; see Glorieux, 1:63-4, and Thomas Aquinas, Opera omnia …, 1976, vol. 43, p. 329, no. 132, V18), which, like this manuscript, also includes Thomas’s De Ente et Essentia.
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Cunningham, Stanley B. “Albertus Magnus and the Problem of Moral Virtue,” in Vivarium 7 (1969), pp. 81–119.
Cunningham, Stanley B. Reclaiming Moral Agency: The Moral Philosophy of Albert the Great, Washington D.C., Catholic University of America Press, 2008.
D'Avray, D. L. Medieval Marriage Sermons: Mass Communication in a Cultture without Print, Oxford and New York, Oxford University Press, 2001.
Fauser, Winfried. Die Werke des Albertus Magnus in ihrer handschriftlichen Überlieferung; Codices manuscripti operum Alberti Magni, Münster, Aschendorff, 1982.
Glorieux, Palémon. Répertoire des maîtres en théologie de Paris au XIIIe siècle, Paris, Librairie philosophique J. Vrin, 1933-34.
Humphreys, K. “Dominicans and the Copying of Books,” in Scribi e colofoni: le sottoscrizioni di copisti dalle origini all'avvento della stampa: atti del seminario di Erice, X Colloquio del Comité international de paléographie latine, 23-28 ottobre 1993, eds. Emma Condello and Giuseppe De Gregorio, Spoleto, Centro italiano di studi sull'alto Medioevo, 1995. pp. 125-143.
Imbach, R. and Flüeler, C., eds. Albert der Grosse und die deutsche Dominikanerschule. Philosophische Perspektiven, Sonderdruck aus der Freiburger Zeitschrift für Philosophie und Theologie, Band 32, Heft ½, Freiburg, 1985.
Kübel, Wilhelm, ed. Albertus Magnus, Super Ethica. Commentum et Quaestiones, Alberti Magni Opera omnia …, ed., Münster, Aschendorff, 1968-1987, vol. 14 (two volumes).
Maurer, Armand, tr. Thomas, Aquinas, Saint. On Being and Essence, tr. with an introduction and notes by Armand Maurer. 2nd rev. ed. Toronto, Canada, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1968.
Mulchahey, Marian Michèle. “First the bow is bent in study—“: Dominican Education Before 1350, Toronto, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1998.
Müller, J. “Ethics as a Practical Science in Albert the Great’s Commentaries on the Nicomachean Ethics,” in Senner et al., Berlin, 2001, pp. 275–285 (see below).
Müller, J. Natürliche Moral und philosophische Ethik bei Albertus Magnus, Münster, 2001.
Senner, Walter, Henryk Anzulewicz, et al., eds. Albertus Magnus. Zum Gedenken nach 800 Jahren: Neue Zugänge, Aspekte und Perspektiven, Berlin, Akademie Verlag, 2001.
Simon, P., ed. De Fato, in Alberti Magni Opera Omnia …, Bernard Geyer, ed., Aschendorff, 1975, volume 17, part one.
Stefan Swiezawski. “Note sur le ‘Commentaire des sentences’ de Gilles Charlier,” Mediaevalia Philosophica Polonorum 10 (1961), pp. 77-86
Sancti Thomae de Aquino. Opera omnia iussu Leonis XIII P. M. edita, t. 43: De ente et essentia, Rome, Editori di San Tommaso, 1976, pp. 315-381.
Sancti Thomae de Aquino. Opera omnia iussu Leonis XIII P. M. edita, t. 22: Quaestiones disputatae de veritate, Rome, Editori di San Tommaso, 1975, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1976, (3 vol. 5 fascicles).
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Weisheipl, James, “The Life and Works of St. Albert the Great,” in Albertus Magnus and the Sciences: Commemorative Essays 1980, ed. James A. Weisheipl, Toronto, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1980, pp. 13-51.
Thomas Aquinas in English: A Bibliography
Thomas Aquinas Biography (Thomas Aquinas Institute, Utrecht)
Corpus Thomisticum (works in Latin, with concordance, bibliography, etc.)
McInerny, Ralph and O'Callaghan, John, 'Saint Thomas Aquinas', The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2010 Edition), Edward N. Zalta, ed.
Internet Medieval Sourcebook: Thomas Aquinas, De ente et essentia (“On Being and Essence”), English translation
Joseph Kenney: Thomas Aquinas, De ente et essentia (parallel Latin text and English translation)
Joseph Kenney, ed. Thomas Aquinas, De veritate (parallel Latin text and English translation)
Führer, Markus, 'Albert the Great', The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2012 Edition), Edward N. Zalta, ed.
Alberti Magni E-Corpus
History of the Dominican Order