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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica, written in the thirteenth century, stands as a hallmark of the High Middle Ages. It is distinct from its predecessors in the fields of philosophy and Scripture (chiefly Aristotle and St. Augustine, respectively), by addressing itself jointly to philosophy and church doctrine, and suggesting that these two realms are not mutually exclusive.

Aquinas also brings together faith and reason, and encourages that followers use them to reinforce one another. Put another way, Aquinas discourages a belief in Christianity informed by faith alone. In a related fashion, Aquinas distinguishes between religion and science. He concludes that Scripture is not a science as it cannot be tested, but is nonetheless superior to science, because it affords closer access to God.

Aquinas also has a fairly unique eschatological (end of the world) point of view: a new heaven and earth will be created after the apocalypse of this world. Other notable points include Aquinas' opinion on the permissibility of marriage, but with the acknowledgement that it is inferior to ordained service of God (such as a bishop, priest, or monk). Additionally, Aquinas declares himself against contemporary unsavory church practices such as the practices of usury and granting indulgences.

In general, Aquinas' legacy is that of a scholar and religious devotee, who approached his great treatise on Christianity, Summa Theologica, with equal parts scholastic rigor and religious zeal.

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