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Document Details :

Title: Een kwestie van lezen? - On Reading Aquinas
Subtitle: Een antwoord aan J. Aertsen - A Reply to J. Aertsen
Author(s): RIKHOF, H.
Journal: Bijdragen
Volume: 56    Issue: 4   Date: 1995   
Pages: 429-450
DOI: 10.2143/BIJ.56.4.2002443

Abstract :
J. Aertsen has criticised the 'Utrecht' way of reading Aquinas by arguing that 8 theses which he distilled from an article and which in his view form the core of that reading do not have any basis in Aquinas. Rikhof replies by showing that Aertsen's rendering of the 'Utrecht hypothesis' is incorrect. First, Aertsen mentions only one hypothesis - that Aquinas opens his Summa with formulating rules concerning our talking about God - and does not pay any attention to another hypothesis: the crucial importance of Scripture in Aquinas' theology. This oversight is shown to be part of a pattern: Aertsen does not discuss in his interpretation of q. 1 the articles about Scripture, identifies consequently sacra doctrina (revelation as found in Scripture) with scientia (theology) and does not take seriously Aquinas' remarks about God beginning and end of all. Second, Aertsen misconstrues the attention in the 'Utrecht' reading to negative theology. In the 'Utrecht' reading Aquinas' attention to language in doing theology and especially his awareness of the limitation of human language vis a vis God plays a central role. In his criticism of this 'linguistic' approach Aertsen presumes that attention to language implies no attention to ontological questions. This presumption is not correct, but shows Aertsen to be based in the 'modern' philosophical tradition. Aertsen presumes also that negative theology does not convey any knowledge. This presumption reveals too narrow an understanding of knowledge. Rikhof starts with locating his reply in a broader context by a presentation of modern introduction to Aquinas. These show a broad spectrum of reading Aquinas: at the one end Aquinas is read in a neo-scholastic way and interpreted as a philosopher; at the other end Aquinas is read as a theologian. While the 'Utrecht reading' belongs to the last type, Aertsen's critique and presuppositions of his critique show him to belong to the first type.