This page is inspired by the Inaugural Lectures St Thomas delivered when he took up a teaching post at the University of Paris. The second of these is titled The Division of Scripture. Here, in the way only St Thomas can, is a concise and illuminating explanation of what Scripture is about and how it works. My first set of posts is a commentary on The Division of Scripture and this page is intended to provide this commentary in the order they are intended to be read.
Commentary on the Division of Scripture
Before beginning the commentary on the Division of Scripture let us first understand what is a textual division, lest we be confused why the Angelic Doctor and indeed the whole of the medieval Church preferred this method. Next let us look at how to create a textual division. This will provide us with a sense of the methods and means by which a textual division is made. The final part of our preface is to consider in what ways a textual division is different then the methods typically used to teach Sacred Scripture.
At this point we are in a better position to explain St Thomas’ Division of Scripture. First we consider the purpose of Scripture which is to lead its readers to life. Then we look at the two ways Scripture leads its readers to life, found in the Old and New Testament, which are by commanding its readers, and by helping its readers. Here we present an abridged outline of St Thomas’ division of the Scripture from the Inuagural Lectures. This page presents links to our blog posts commenting on each part and then on to the books themselves. When possible I have drawn from the writings of the Angelic Doctor, when it was not I have drawn from other theologians. Here is a list of some of my sources.
Sacred Scripture leads to this life in two ways, by commanding and by helping. Commanding through the mandates which it proposes, which belong to the Old Testament. Sirach 24-33: ‘Moses commanded a law in the precepts of justice.’ Helping, through the gift of grace which the lawgiver dispenses, which pertains to the New Testament. Both of these are touched on in John 1:17: ‘For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.’
Hence the whole of Sacred Scripture is divided into two principal parts, the Old and New Testaments, which are mentioned in Matthew 13:52: ‘So then every Scribe instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings forth from his storeroom things new and old.’ And Song of Songs 7:13: ‘In our gates are all fruits, the new and the old, my beloved, I have kept for you.’