Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter June 23, 2017

Divisio Textus and the Interpretive Logic Of Thomas Aquinas’ Lectura Ad Ephesios

  • Eric Covington EMAIL logo


Henri de Lubac has proclaimed that medieval exegetical texts contain a “whole mental universe” within their pages. While full of promise, de Lubac’s statement also points to the problem of how modern readers may profitably engage the unfamiliar mental universe of such texts. The distinctive scholastic practice of structuring a composition by divisio textus can function as a helpful guide not only for understanding the structure of medieval texts but also for understanding the interpretive logic employed by medieval commentators. By focusing on Thomas Aquinas’ lectura ad Ephesios, this paper demonstrates how the divisio textus can help identify important aspects of a commentator’s interpretive logic. The article then turns to examine Aquinas’ interpretation of predestination in Eph 1:5–6a to demonstrate the significance of the divisio textus for understanding medieval exegetical and interpretive decisions at both the macro- and micro-level. The article concludes that the divisio textus can be a helpful tool for uncovering the “mental universe” contained within medieval exegetical texts.

Works Cited

Aquinas, Thomas. 1952. Super Evangelium S. Ioannis Lectura, edited by P. Raphaelis Cai. Turin: Marietti.Search in Google Scholar

Aquinas, Thomas. 1953. Super Ad Ephesios Reportatio. Vol. Super epistolas S. Pauli lectura. Library of Latin Texts - Series A. Turin: Marietti. in Google Scholar

Aquinas, Thomas. 1953. Super Epistulam Ad Romanos, edited by P. Raphaelis Cai, Vol. Super epistolas S. Pauli lectura. Library of Latin Texts – Series A. Turin: Marietti. in Google Scholar

Aquinas, Thomas. 1966. Commentary on Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians. Translated by Matthew L. Lamb. Albany, NY: Magi Books.Search in Google Scholar

Aquinas, Thomas. 1969. Purpose and Happiness (1a2œ. 1–5). Edited and Translated by Thomas Gilby, Summa Theologiae: Latin text and English Translation, Introductions, Notes, Appendices and Glossaries 16. London: Eyre and Spottiswoode.Search in Google Scholar

Aquinas, Thomas. 2012. Commentary on the Letters of Saint Paul to the Galatians and Ephesians, edited by John Mortensen and Enrique Alarcón, translated by Matthew L. Lamb and Fabian R. Larcher. Lander, WY: Aquinas Institute for the Study of Sacred Doctrine.Search in Google Scholar

Baglow, Christopher T. 2002. “Modus et Forma”: A New Approach to the Exegesis of Saint Thomas Aquinas with an Application to the Lectura super Epistolam ad Ephesios. Analecta biblica, 149. Roma: Pontificio Istituto Biblico.Search in Google Scholar

Barth, Markus. 1974. Ephesians. 2 vols. The Anchor Bible 34–34A. Garden City, N.Y: Doubleday.10.5040/9780300261707Search in Google Scholar

Blažek, Pavel. 2007. Die mittelalterliche Rezeption der aristotelischen Philosophie der Ehe: Von Robert Grosseteste bis Bartholomäus von Brügge, 1246/1247–1309. Studies in Medieval and Reformation Traditions, 117. Leiden: Brill.10.1163/ej.9789004154131.i-442Search in Google Scholar

Blanchette, Oliva. 1994. “The Logic of Perfection in Aquinas.” In Thomas Aquinas and His Legacy, edited by David M. Gallagher, 107–30. Washington DC: Catholic University of America Press.10.2307/j.ctv1767v.10Search in Google Scholar

Bonaventure. 1895. Commentarius in Evangelium S. Ioannis, edited by PP. Collegii a S. Bonaventura, Opera Omnia 6. Quaracchi: Collegium S. Bonaventurae.Search in Google Scholar

Boyle, John F. 2003. “The Theological Character of the Scholastic ‘Division of the Text’ with Particular Reference to the Commentaries of Saint Thomas Aquinas.” In With Reverence for the Word: Medieval Scriptural Exegesis in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, edited by Jane Dammen McAuliffe, Barry D. Walfish, and Joseph W. Goering, 276–83. Oxford: Oxford University Press.10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195137279.003.0017Search in Google Scholar

Boyle, John F. 2005. “Authorial Intention and the Divisio Textus.” In Reading John with St. Thomas Aquinas: Theological Exegesis and Speculative Theology, edited by Michael Dauphinais and Matthew Levering, 3–8. Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press.10.2307/j.ctt32b22q.5Search in Google Scholar

Bradley, Denis J. M. 1997. Aquinas on the Twofold Human Good: Reason and Human Happiness in Aquinas’s Moral Science. Washington, D.C: Catholic University of America Press.Search in Google Scholar

Burgoyne, Jonathan. 2003. “Reading to Pieces: Divisio Textus and the Structure of El Conde Lucanor.” La Corónica: A Journal of Medieval Hispanic Languages, Literatures, and Cultures 32: 231–255.10.1353/cor.2003.0003Search in Google Scholar

Copeland, Rita. 1995. Rhetoric, Hermeneutics, and Translation in the Middle Ages: Academic Traditions and Vernacular Texts. Cambridge Studies in Medieval Literature 11. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Dahan, Gilbert. 2011. “‘Deux Peuples En Un Corps’. Commentaires Médiévaux d’Éphésiens 2, 14–18.” Revue d’Etudes Augustiniennes et Patristiques 57: 71–88.10.1484/J.REA.5.101086Search in Google Scholar

de Lubac, Henri. 1998. Medieval Exegesis: The Four Senses of Scripture. Translated by Mark Sebanc and E. M. Macierowski, 3 vols,. Ressourcement: Retrieval & Renewal in Catholic Thought. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.Search in Google Scholar

Fowl, Stephen E. 2012. Ephesians: A Commentary. New Testament Library. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox.Search in Google Scholar

Garrigou-Lagrange, Reginald. 1939. Predestination: The Meaning of Predestination in Scripture and the Church. Translated by Dom Bede Rose. St. Louis: B. Herder Book Co.Search in Google Scholar

Gradl, Stefan. 2004. Deus Beatitudo Hominis: Eine Evangelische Annäherung an Die Glückslehre Des Thomas von Aquin. Publications of the Thomas Instituut te Utrecht v. 10. Leuven: Peeters.Search in Google Scholar

Harkins, Franklin T. 2013. “Docuit Excellentissimae Divinitatis Mysteria: St. Paul in Thomas Aquinas.” In A Companion to St. Paul in the Middle Ages, edited by Steven R. Cartwright, 235–263. Brill’s Companions to the Christian Tradition 39. Leiden: Brill.10.1163/9789004236721_010Search in Google Scholar

Hazard, Mark. 2002. The Literal Sense and the Gospel of John in Late Medieval Commentary and Literature. Studies in Medieval History and Culture 12. London: Routledge.Search in Google Scholar

Jeal, Roy R. 2000. Integrating Theology and Ethics in Ephesians: The Ethos of Communication. Studies in Bible and Early Christianity 43. Lewiston, NY: E. Mellen Press.Search in Google Scholar

Kent, Bonnie. 2002. “Habits and Virtues (Ia IIae, Qq. 49–70).” In The Ethics of Aquinas, edited by Stephen J. Pope, 116–30. Moral Tradition Series. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Kerr, Fergus. 2009. Thomas Aquinas a Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.10.1093/actrade/9780199556649.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

Kerr, Gaven. 2012. “A Thomistic Metaphysics of Creation.” Religious Studies: An International Journal for the Philosophy of Religion 48: 337–356.10.1017/S0034412511000291Search in Google Scholar

Kretzmann, Norman. 2001. The Metaphysics of Theism: Aquinas’s Natural Theology in Summa Contra Gentiles I. Oxford: Oxford University Press.10.1093/019924653X.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

Magnus, Albertus. 1890. Enarrationes in Marcum, edited by Auguste Borgnet. Opera omnia: ex editione lugdunensi religiose castigate, 21. Paris: Apud Ludovicum Vivès.Search in Google Scholar

McInerny, Ralph M. 1997. Ethica Thomistica: The Moral Philosophy of Thomas Aquinas. Rev. ed. Washington, D.C: Catholic University of America Press.Search in Google Scholar

Persson, Per Erik. 1970. Sacra Doctrina: Reason and Revelation in Aquinas. Translated by Ross Mackenzie. Oxford: Blackwell.Search in Google Scholar

Ryan, Peter F. 2001. “Must the Acting Person Have a Single Ultimate End?” Gregorianum 82: 325–356.Search in Google Scholar

Sellin, Gerhard. 2008. Der Brief an die Epheser. Meyers Kritisch-exegetischer Kommentar über das Neue Testament 8. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.Search in Google Scholar

Williams, Thomas. 2012. “Human Freedom and Agency.” In The Oxford Handbook of Aquinas, edited by Brian Davies and Eleonore Stump, 199–208. Oxford: Oxford University Press.10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195326093.003.0016Search in Google Scholar

Published Online: 2017-6-23
Published in Print: 2017-4-25

©2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

Downloaded on 6.12.2023 from
Scroll to top button