Table of Contents | Words: Alphabetical - Frequency - Inverse - Length - Statistics | Help | IntraText Library
St. Thomas Aquinas
Summa Theologica

IntraText CT - Text

  • FIRST PART (FP: QQ 1-119)
      • Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] Out. Para. 1/4 - THE DIVINE PERSONS (FOUR ARTICLES)
Previous - Next

Click here to hide the links to concordance


Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] Out. Para. 1/4 - THE DIVINE PERSONS (FOUR ARTICLES)

Having premised what have appeared necessary notions concerning the
processions and the relations, we must now approach the subject of the
persons.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] Out. Para. 2/4

First, we shall consider the persons absolutely, and then comparatively
as regards each other. We must consider the persons absolutely first in
common; and then singly.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] Out. Para. 3/4

The general consideration of the persons seemingly involves four points:
(1) The signification of this word "person"; (2) the number of the
persons; (3) what is involved in the number of persons, or is opposed
thereto; as diversity, and similitude, and the like; and (4) what belongs
to our knowledge of the persons.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] Out. Para. 4/4

Four subjects of inquiry are comprised in the first point:(1) The
definition of "person."

(2) The comparison of person to essence, subsistence, and hypostasis.

(3) Whether the name of person is becoming to God?

(4) What does it signify in Him?


Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[1] Thes. Para. 1/1

The definition of "person"

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[1] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that the definition of person given by Boethius (De
Duab. Nat.) is insufficient - that is, "a person is an individual
substance of a rational nature." For nothing singular can be subject to
definition. But "person" signifies something singular. Therefore person
is improperly defined.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[1] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, substance as placed above in the definition of person,
is either first substance, or second substance. If it is the former, the
word "individual" is superfluous, because first substance is individual
substance; if it stands for second substance, the word "individual" is
false, for there is contradiction of terms; since second substances are
the "genera" or "species." Therefore this definition is incorrect.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[1] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, an intentional term must not be included in the
definition of a thing. For to define a man as "a species of animal" would
not be a correct definition; since man is the name of a thing, and
"species" is a name of an intention. Therefore, since person is the name
of a thing (for it signifies a substance of a rational nature), the word
"individual" which is an intentional name comes improperly into the
definition.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[1] Obj. 4 Para. 1/1

OBJ 4: Further, "Nature is the principle of motion and rest, in those
things in which it is essentially, and not accidentally," as Aristotle
says (Phys. ii). But person exists in things immovable, as in God, and
in the angels. Therefore the word "nature" ought not to enter into the
definition of person, but the word should rather be "essence."

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[1] Obj. 5 Para. 1/1

OBJ 5: Further, the separated soul is an individual substance of the
rational nature; but it is not a person. Therefore person is not properly
defined as above.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[1] Body Para. 1/3

I answer that, Although the universal and particular exist in every
genus, nevertheless, in a certain special way, the individual belongs to
the genus of substance. For substance is individualized by itself;
whereas the accidents are individualized by the subject, which is the
substance; since this particular whiteness is called "this," because it
exists in this particular subject. And so it is reasonable that the
individuals of the genus substance should have a special name of their
own; for they are called "hypostases," or first substances.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[1] Body Para. 2/3

Further still, in a more special and perfect way, the particular and the
individual are found in the rational substances which have dominion over
their own actions; and which are not only made to act, like others; but
which can act of themselves; for actions belong to singulars. Therefore
also the individuals of the rational nature have a special name even
among other substances; and this name is "person."

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[1] Body Para. 3/3

Thus the term "individual substance" is placed in the definition of
person, as signifying the singular in the genus of substance; and the
term "rational nature" is added, as signifying the singular in rational
substances.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[1] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Although this or that singular may not be definable, yet
what belongs to the general idea of singularity can be defined; and so
the Philosopher (De Praedic., cap. De substantia) gives a definition of
first substance; and in this way Boethius defines person.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[1] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: In the opinion of some, the term "substance" in the
definition of person stands for first substance, which is the hypostasis;
nor is the term "individual" superfluously added, forasmuch as by the
name of hypostasis or first substance the idea of universality and of
part is excluded. For we do not say that man in general is an hypostasis,
nor that the hand is since it is only a part. But where "individual" is
added, the idea of assumptibility is excluded from person; for the human
nature in Christ is not a person, since it is assumed by a greater - that
is, by the Word of God. It is, however, better to say that substance is
here taken in a general sense, as divided into first and second, and when
"individual" is added, it is restricted to first substance.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[1] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Substantial differences being unknown to us, or at least
unnamed by us, it is sometimes necessary to use accidental differences in
the place of substantial; as, for example, we may say that fire is a
simple, hot, and dry body: for proper accidents are the effects of substantial forms, and make them known. Likewise, terms expressive of
intention can be used in defining realities if used to signify things
which are unnamed. And so the term "individual" is placed in the
definition of person to signify the mode of subsistence which belongs to
particular substances.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[1] R.O. 4 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 4: According to the Philosopher (Metaph. v, 5), the word
"nature" was first used to signify the generation of living things, which
is called nativity. And because this kind of generation comes from an
intrinsic principle, this term is extended to signify the intrinsic
principle of any kind of movement. In this sense he defines "nature"
(Phys. ii, 3). And since this kind of principle is either formal or
material, both matter and form are commonly called nature. And as the
essence of anything is completed by the form; so the essence of anything,
signified by the definition, is commonly called nature. And here nature
is taken in that sense. Hence Boethius says (De Duab. Nat.) that, "nature
is the specific difference giving its form to each thing," for the
specific difference completes the definition, and is derived from the
special form of a thing. So in the definition of "person," which means
the singular in a determined "genus," it is more correct to use the term
"nature" than "essence," because the latter is taken from being, which is
most common.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[1] R.O. 5 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 5: The soul is a part of the human species; and so, although
it may exist in a separate state, yet since it ever retains its nature of
unibility, it cannot be called an individual substance, which is the
hypostasis or first substance, as neither can the hand nor any other part
of man; thus neither the definition nor the name of person belongs to it.


Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[2] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether "person" is the same as hypostasis, subsistence, and essence?

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[2] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that "person" is the same as "hypostasis,"
"subsistence," and "essence." For Boethius says (De Duab. Nat.) that "the
Greeks called the individual substance of the rational nature by the name
hypostasis." But this with us signifies "person." Therefore "person" is
altogether the same as "hypostasis."

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[2] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, as we say there are three persons in God, so we say
there are three subsistences in God; which implies that "person" and
"subsistence" have the same meaning. Therefore "person" and "subsistence"
mean the same.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[2] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, Boethius says (Com. Praed.) that the Greek {ousia},
which means essence, signifies a being composed of matter and form. Now
that which is composed of matter and form is the individual substance
called "hypostasis" and "person." Therefore all the aforesaid names seem
to have the same meaning.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[2] Obj. 4 Para. 1/1

OBJ 4: On the contrary, Boethius says (De Duab. Nat.) that genera and
species only subsist; whereas individuals are not only subsistent, but
also substand. But subsistences are so called from subsisting, as
substance or hypostasis is so called from substanding. Therefore, since
genera and species are not hypostases or persons, these are not the same
as subsistences.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[2] Obj. 5 Para. 1/1

OBJ 5: Further, Boethius says (Com. Praed.) that matter is called
hypostasis, and form is called {ousiosis} - that is, subsistence. But
neither form nor matter can be called person. Therefore person differs
from the others.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[2] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, According to the Philosopher (Metaph. v), substance is
twofold. In one sense it means the quiddity of a thing, signified by its
definition, and thus we say that the definition means the substance of a
thing; in which sense substance is called by the Greeks {ousia}, what we
may call "essence." In another sense substance means a subject or
"suppositum," which subsists in the genus of substance. To this, taken in
a general sense, can be applied a name expressive of an intention; and
thus it is called "suppositum." It is also called by three names
signifying a reality - that is, "a thing of nature," "subsistence," and
"hypostasis," according to a threefold consideration of the substance
thus named. For, as it exists in itself and not in another, it is called
"subsistence"; as we say that those things subsist which exist in
themselves, and not in another. As it underlies some common nature, it is
called "a thing of nature"; as, for instance, this particular man is a
human natural thing. As it underlies the accidents, it is called
"hypostasis," or "substance." What these three names signify in common to
the whole genus of substances, this name "person" signifies in the genus
of rational substances.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[2] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Among the Greeks the term "hypostasis," taken in the strict
interpretation of the word, signifies any individual of the genus
substance; but in the usual way of speaking, it means the individual of
the rational nature, by reason of the excellence of that nature.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[2] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: As we say "three persons" plurally in God, and "three
subsistences," so the Greeks say "three hypostases." But because the word
"substance," which, properly speaking, corresponds in meaning to
"hypostasis," is used among us in an equivocal sense, since it sometimes
means essence, and sometimes means hypostasis, in order to avoid any
occasion of error, it was thought preferable to use "subsistence" for
hypostasis, rather than "substance."

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[2] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Strictly speaking, the essence is what is expressed by the
definition. Now, the definition comprises the principles of the species,
but not the individual principles. Hence in things composed of matter and
form, the essence signifies not only the form, nor only the matter, but
what is composed of matter and the common form, as the principles of the
species. But what is composed of this matter and this form has the nature
of hypostasis and person. For soul, flesh, and bone belong to the nature
of man; whereas this soul, this flesh and this bone belong to the nature
of this man. Therefore hypostasis and person add the individual
principles to the idea of essence; nor are these identified with the
essence in things composed of matter and form, as we said above when
treating of divine simplicity (Q[3], A[3]).

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[2] R.O. 4 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 4: Boethius says that genera and species subsist, inasmuch as
it belongs to some individual things to subsist, from the fact that they
belong to genera and species comprised in the predicament of substance,
but not because the species and genera themselves subsist; except in the
opinion of Plato, who asserted that the species of things subsisted
separately from singular things. To substand, however, belongs to the
same individual things in relation to the accidents, which are outside
the essence of genera and species.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[2] R.O. 5 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 5: The individual composed of matter and form substands in
relation to accident from the very nature of matter. Hence Boethius says
(De Trin.): "A simple form cannot be a subject." Its self-subsistence is
derived from the nature of its form, which does not supervene to the
things subsisting, but gives actual existence to the matter and makes it
subsist as an individual. On this account, therefore, he ascribes
hypostasis to matter, and {ousiosis}, or subsistence, to the form,
because the matter is the principle of substanding, and form is the
principle of subsisting.


Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[3] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether the word "person" should be said of God?

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[3] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that the name "person" should not be said of God.
For Dionysius says (Div. Nom.): "No one should ever dare to say or think
anything of the supersubstantial and hidden Divinity, beyond what has
been divinely expressed to us by the oracles." But the name "person" is
not expressed to us in the Old or New Testament. Therefore "person" is
not to be applied to God.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[3] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, Boethius says (De Duab. Nat.): "The word person seems to
be taken from those persons who represented men in comedies and
tragedies. For person comes from sounding through [personando], since a
greater volume of sound is produced through the cavity in the mask. These
"persons" or masks the Greeks called {prosopa}, as they were placed on
the face and covered the features before the eyes." This, however, can
apply to God only in a metaphorical sense. Therefore the word "person" is
only applied to God metaphorically.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[3] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, every person is a hypostasis. But the word "hypostasis"
does not apply to God, since, as Boethius says (De Duab. Nat.), it
signifies what is the subject of accidents, which do not exist in God.
Jerome also says (Ep. ad Damas.) that, "in this word hypostasis, poison
lurks in honey." Therefore the word "person" should not be said of God.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[3] Obj. 4 Para. 1/1

OBJ 4: Further, if a definition is denied of anything, the thing defined is also denied of it. But the definition of "person," as given above,
does not apply to God. Both because reason implies a discursive
knowledge, which does not apply to God, as we proved above (Q[14], A[12]
); and thus God cannot be said to have "a rational nature." And also
because God cannot be called an individual substance, since the principle
of individuation is matter; while God is immaterial: nor is He the
subject of accidents, so as to be called a substance. Therefore the word
"person" ought not to be attributed to God.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[3] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, In the Creed of Athanasius we say: "One is the person
of the Father, another of the Son, another of the Holy Ghost."

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[3] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, "Person" signifies what is most perfect in all
nature - that is, a subsistent individual of a rational nature. Hence,
since everything that is perfect must be attributed to God, forasmuch as
His essence contains every perfection, this name "person" is fittingly
applied to God; not, however, as it is applied to creatures, but in a
more excellent way; as other names also, which, while giving them to
creatures, we attribute to God; as we showed above when treating of the names of God (Q[13], A[2]).

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[3] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Although the word "person" is not found applied to God in
Scripture, either in the Old or New Testament, nevertheless what the word
signifies is found to be affirmed of God in many places of Scripture; as
that He is the supreme self-subsisting being, and the most perfectly
intelligent being. If we could speak of God only in the very terms
themselves of Scripture, it would follow that no one could speak about
God in any but the original language of the Old or New Testament. The
urgency of confuting heretics made it necessary to find new words to
express the ancient faith about God. Nor is such a kind of novelty to be
shunned; since it is by no means profane, for it does not lead us astray
from the sense of Scripture. The Apostle warns us to avoid "profane
novelties of words" (1 Tim. 6:20).

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[3] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Although this name "person" may not belong to God as
regards the origin of the term, nevertheless it excellently belongs to
God in its objective meaning. For as famous men were represented in
comedies and tragedies, the name "person" was given to signify those who
held high dignity. Hence, those who held high rank in the Church came to
be called "persons." Thence by some the definition of person is given as
"hypostasis distinct by reason of dignity." And because subsistence in a
rational nature is of high dignity, therefore every individual of the
rational nature is called a "person." Now the dignity of the divine
nature excels every other dignity; and thus the name "person"
pre-eminently belongs to God.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[3] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: The word "hypostasis" does not apply to God as regards its
source of origin, since He does not underlie accidents; but it applies to
Him in its objective sense, for it is imposed to signify the
subsistence. Jerome said that "poison lurks in this word," forasmuch as before it was fully understood by the Latins, the heretics used this term
to deceive the simple, to make people profess many essences as they
profess several hypostases, inasmuch as the word "substance," which
corresponds to hypostasis in Greek, is commonly taken amongst us to mean
essence.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[3] R.O. 4 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 4: It may be said that God has a rational "nature," if reason
be taken to mean, not discursive thought, but in a general sense, an
intelligent nature. But God cannot be called an "individual" in the sense
that His individuality comes from matter; but only in the sense which
implies incommunicability. "Substance" can be applied to God in the sense
of signifying self-subsistence. There are some, however, who say that the
definition of Boethius, quoted above (A[1]), is not a definition of
person in the sense we use when speaking of persons in God. Therefore
Richard of St. Victor amends this definition by adding that "Person" in
God is "the incommunicable existence of the divine nature."


Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[4] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether this word "person" signifies relation?

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[4] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that this word "person," as applied to God, does
not signify relation, but substance. For Augustine says (De Trin. vii,
6): "When we speak of the person of the Father, we mean nothing else but
the substance of the Father, for person is said in regard to Himself, and
not in regard to the Son."

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[4] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, the interrogation "What?" refers to essence. But, as
Augustine says: "When we say there are three who bear witness in heaven,
the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and it is asked, Three what?
the answer is, Three persons." Therefore person signifies essence.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[4] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: According to the Philosopher (Metaph. iv), the meaning of a word
is its definition. But the definition of "person" is this: "The
individual substance of the rational nature," as above stated. Therefore
"person" signifies substance.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[4] Obj. 4 Para. 1/1

OBJ 4: Further, person in men and angels does not signify relation, but
something absolute. Therefore, if in God it signified relation, it would
bear an equivocal meaning in God, in man, and in angels.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[4] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Boethius says (De Trin.) that "every word that refers
to the persons signifies relation." But no word belongs to person more
strictly than the very word "person" itself. Therefore this word "person"
signifies relation.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[4] Body Para. 1/4

I answer that, A difficulty arises concerning the meaning of this word
"person" in God, from the fact that it is predicated plurally of the
Three in contrast to the nature of the names belonging to the essence;
nor does it in itself refer to another, as do the words which express
relation.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[4] Body Para. 2/4

Hence some have thought that this word "person" of itself expresses
absolutely the divine essence; as this name "God" and this word "Wise";
but that to meet heretical attack, it was ordained by conciliar decree
that it was to be taken in a relative sense, and especially in the
plural, or with the addition of a distinguishing adjective; as when we
say, "Three persons," or, "one is the person of the Father, another of
the Son," etc. Used, however, in the singular, it may be either absolute
or relative. But this does not seem to be a satisfactory explanation;
for, if this word "person," by force of its own signification, expresses
the divine essence only, it follows that forasmuch as we speak of "three
persons," so far from the heretics being silenced, they had still more
reason to argue. Seeing this, others maintained that this word "person"
in God signifies both the essence and the relation. Some of these said
that it signifies directly the essence, and relation indirectly,
forasmuch as "person" means as it were "by itself one" [per se una]; and
unity belongs to the essence. And what is "by itself" implies relation
indirectly; for the Father is understood to exist "by Himself," as
relatively distinct from the Son. Others, however, said, on the contrary,
that it signifies relation directly; and essence indirectly; forasmuch as
in the definition of "person" the term nature is mentioned indirectly;
and these come nearer to the truth.
Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[4] Body Para. 3/4

To determine the question, we must consider that something may be
included in the meaning of a less common term, which is not included in
the more common term; as "rational" is included in the meaning of "man,"
and not in the meaning of "animal." So that it is one thing to ask the
meaning of the word animal, and another to ask its meaning when the
animal in question is man. Also, it is one thing to ask the meaning of
this word "person" in general; and another to ask the meaning of "person"
as applied to God. For "person" in general signifies the individual
substance of a rational figure. The individual in itself is undivided,
but is distinct from others. Therefore "person" in any nature signifies
what is distinct in that nature: thus in human nature it signifies this
flesh, these bones, and this soul, which are the individuating principles
of a man, and which, though not belonging to "person" in general,
nevertheless do belong to the meaning of a particular human person.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[4] Body Para. 4/4

Now distinction in God is only by relation of origin, as stated above
(Q[28], AA[2],3), while relation in God is not as an accident in a
subject, but is the divine essence itself; and so it is subsistent, for
the divine essence subsists. Therefore, as the Godhead is God so the
divine paternity is God the Father, Who is a divine person. Therefore a
divine person signifies a relation as subsisting. And this is to signify
relation by way of substance, and such a relation is a hypostasis
subsisting in the divine nature, although in truth that which subsists in
the divine nature is the divine nature itself. Thus it is true to say
that the name "person" signifies relation directly, and the essence
indirectly; not, however, the relation as such, but as expressed by way
of a hypostasis. So likewise it signifies directly the essence, and
indirectly the relation, inasmuch as the essence is the same as the
hypostasis: while in God the hypostasis is expressed as distinct by the
relation: and thus relation, as such, enters into the notion of the
person indirectly. Thus we can say that this signification of the word
"person" was not clearly perceived before it was attacked by heretics.
Hence, this word "person" was used just as any other absolute term. But
afterwards it was applied to express relation, as it lent itself to that
signification, so that this word "person" means relation not only by use
and custom, according to the first opinion, but also by force of its own
proper signification.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[4] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: This word "person" is said in respect to itself, not to
another; forasmuch as it signifies relation not as such, but by way of a
substance - which is a hypostasis. In that sense Augustine says that it
signifies the essence, inasmuch as in God essence is the same as the
hypostasis, because in God what He is, and whereby He is are the same.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[4] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: The term "what" refers sometimes to the nature expressed by
the definition, as when we ask; What is man? and we answer: A mortal
rational animal. Sometimes it refers to the "suppositum," as when we ask,
What swims in the sea? and answer, A fish. So to those who ask, Three
what? we answer, Three persons.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[4] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: In God the individual - i.e. distinct and incommunicable
substance - includes the idea of relation, as above explained.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[29] A[4] R.O. 4 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 4: The different sense of the less common term does not
produce equivocation in the more common. Although a horse and an ass have
their own proper definitions, nevertheless they agree univocally in
animal, because the common definition of animal applies to both. So it
does not follow that, although relation is contained in the signification
of divine person, but not in that of an angelic or of a human person, the
word "person" is used in an equivocal sense. Though neither is it applied
univocally, since nothing can be said univocally of God and creatures
(Q[13], A[5]).





Previous - Next

Table of Contents | Words: Alphabetical - Frequency - Inverse - Length - Statistics | Help | IntraText Library

Best viewed with any browser at 800x600 or 768x1024 on Tablet PC
IntraText® (V89) - Some rights reserved by Èulogos SpA - 1996-2007. Content in this page is licensed under a Creative Commons License