10 Books By or About Aquinas You Need to Read

There are many books on Thomas Aquinas. Here are 10 that I’ve read and which I highly recommend. I’ve listed them in order from easiest to hardest.

1. Aquinas’s Shorter Summa By Thomas Aquinas – You’ve heard of the Summa theologiae (ST), but did you know that Thomas wrote a shorter and much simpler version of it? This book isn’t a dumbed-down version of the Summa by an admirer of Aquinas, this is a dumbed-down version by Thomas himself! Cool, huh?

2. The Aquinas Catechism By Thomas Aquinas – This book, also by Thomas Aquinas, is essentially a collection of homilies Aquinas gave in Naples, I believe towards the end of his life. These homilies are Thomas’s reflections on and insights into the Apostles Creed, the ten Commandments, the Sacraments, as well as of the Our Father and the Hail Mary.

3. Guide to Thomas Aquinas by Josef Pieper – This is a short and very well written book. If you don’t know much about Thomas Aquinas this would be a great place to begin. Pieper gives a great biography as well as a very helpful overview of the 13th century in which Thomas lived.

4. Saint Thomas Aquinas: The Dumb Ox by G. K. Chesterton – This is similar to Pieper’s but whereas Pieper writes as a philosopher, Chesterton writes as a poet. I’ve heard—but can’t verify—that Chesterton asked his secretary to go to the Library and bring back all the books she could find on Thomas Aquinas. He read them all and wrote this very excellent introduction to Aquinas. If you love Chesterton and you want to love Aquinas more, you’ll definitely want to read this book ASAP.

5 & 6. A Shorter Summa by Peter Kreeft – Stick with me here. This is a summary of a summary Kreeft wrote on Aquinas’ Summary of Theology (Summa theologiae). Kreeft wrote a book called A Summa of the Summa. It was received really well, but people found it too long. So, whereas Aquinas wrote a summary of his Summa, Kreeft wrote a summa of this summa of Thomas’ Summa. You with me?

7. Does God Exist: A Socratic Dialog on the 5 Ways of Thomas Aquinas by Matt Fradd (yep, yours truly) and Robert Delfino –  This book is set to release soon and my coauthor and I are very excited about it. If you’ve read 100 different explanations of Aquinas’s 5 ways and have found yourself either confused or dissatisfied (or both), this book, please God, will remedy that. The manuscript has recieved great reviews from Peter Kreeft (read it here) and Edward Feser (here). Stay close to Pints With Aquinas and I’ll let you know when it drops (hopefully early ’18).

8. Aquinas (A Beginners Guide) by Edward Feser – Don’t let the name fool you, while this book is for laymen, it isn’t necessarily light reading. But if you stick with it you’ll learn a lot about Aquinas and his metaphyics. Feser is one of those philosophers who is also a gifted writer. He’s able to explain complex concepts in a way that’s understandable. He offers a great explanation of Thomas’ 5 proofs for the existence of God.

9. Thomas Aquinas: Selected Writings edited by Ralph McInerny – This will give you a wholistic experience of the thought of Thomas Aquinas. It is edited by the late Ralph McInerny who offers short and incredibly helpful introductions to each of Thomas’ texts.

10. The Summa contra gentiles by Thomas Aquinas – When people talk about “The Summa” they’re referring to the Summa theologiae, but the Summa theologiae isn’t the only Summa Thomas wrote. He also wrote this one. In English it could be translated as “a summary of the faith against the unbelievers.” The reason I think you should dive into this text (and I certainly haven’t read all of it, btw) is that it’s very apologetic in nature and consequently more exciting that the Summa. Also, this is the only Summa that was completed by Aquinas. His masterpiece, The Summa theologiae was famously left unfinished due to a mystical experience he had towards the end of his life. You can learn more about that by listening to episode 1 on Pints With Aquinas.

So there you go! Get crackin’!

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  1. As a longtime aficionado & disciple of Aquinas, I think you’ve made 10 excellent suggestions. I look forward to your 2018 book,

  2. Richard Molina

    I just ordered book number one!!! I can’t wait!!!

  3. Amazing list! May I also recommend the book “Thomas Aquinas: Spiritual Master” by Bishop Robert Barron!

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