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Reframing Catholic Theological Ethics$
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Joseph A. Selling

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198767121

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198767121.001.0001

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Thomas Aquinas

Thomas Aquinas

The First Christian Ethicist?

(p.51) 3 Thomas Aquinas
Reframing Catholic Theological Ethics

Joseph A. Selling

Oxford University Press

Moral teaching in the early church, i.e. during the first millennium, was developed in relation with local customs and, not infrequently, in reaction to religious heterodoxy. In general, there was no shared, systematic approach to ethical living and decision-making established until the Middle Ages, when centres of learning began to appear in Western Europe. Scholasticism got its name from the ‘schools’ where this learning took place. This was also the time when more religious orders began to appear and to work out programmes to train their new recruits. From this fertile ground, some of the greatest names in the Christian theological tradition emerged, one of whom came to be known as the ‘Angelic Doctor’. Thomas Aquinas made an invaluable contribution to theology in general, but the question we are now going to ask is whether he also needs to be recognized as the initiator of Christian ethics.

Keywords:   Thomas Aquinas, theological ethics, scholasticism, Middle Ages, intention, voluntary

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