The earliest commentary on the Franciscan Rule, known as the Commentary of the Four Masters, was written by five Franciscan friars, four of whom were masters at the University of Paris. The leader of this group was Alexander of Hales, who was the first Doctor of Theology of the Franciscan Order. The Commentary has been generally regarded as one of the most influential texts in the early history of the Franciscan Order. However, the possible connections between this text and Summa Halensis, the major theological work of Alexander of Hales and his colleagues, has not been hitherto studied. This study looks at the question of how and whether the legal principles established in the Commentary of the Four Masters with respect to the Franciscan Rule have a precedent in the Summa Halensis. The resulting analysis shows, in fact, a great degree of convergence between the two texts, in particular on the subjects of religious law, obedience to law and the religious poverty.
It has long been recognized that the Summa Halensis was one of the first texts to extensively engage the arguments of Anselm’s Cur Deus homo. As a result of this engagement, Anselm can rightly be thought of as exercising a great deal of influence on how the Summa understands Christ’s redemptive work. We see this influence, for instance, when the Summa takes up questions Anselm poses about redemption, such as whether satisfaction is necessary for sin or whether only a God-man can make satisfaction. Without denying the influence of Anselm on the soteriology of the Summa Halensis, this chapter focuses primarily on how the Summa both modifies Anselm’s ideas and supplements them. Thus, I examine how the Summa employs the distinction between God’s absolute and ordained power to modify Anselm’s claims regarding the manner in which certain aspects of God’s plan of redemption are deemed necessary. Also, I show that Peter Lombard’s Sentences significantly shape how the Summa interprets what Anselm writes about Christ’s satisfaction and merit. Finally, I consider how the Summa draws on other authorities such as Gregory the Great and John Damascene to supplement Anselm’s account of redemption.
This essay analyzes the theory, structures, procedures and methods of biblical exegesis employed in the Summa Halensis. Like Peter Lombard’s Sentences, whose form it adapts, the Summa is pervaded by biblical material, but it innovates by placing this material in an explicit theoretical relation to the human reflection surrounding it. After briefly examining the theory of interpretation contained in the Summa’s first question, the essay surveys exegetical structures, procedures and methods. A final section compares a biblical question on John 3:23-4 from the Summa with contemporary John lectures by contributors Alexander of Hales and John of La Rochelle. Like those lectures, the Summa is fundamentally an exposition of ‘theology’s doctrine’, which takes its rise from Scripture, but its professional literary context and mode of exposition differ.