Ever wanted to learn at the feat of a great Dominican theologian? Not to sound like Billy Mays of Oxyclean fame, but now you can. Seriously.
Ignatius Press—a highly regarded publisher of today’s most impactful authors—recently published famed a book by modern theologian Fr. Aidan Nichols O.P. The Theologian’s Enterprise: A Very Short Introduction is exactly that. You’ll get a full semester of Aquinas and LaGrange In this 103-page book that’s about as big as your dad’s hand.
The book is densely packed with a well-articulated plan for studying, assimilating, and applying theology and theological concepts to any student. Even for intermediate and advanced learners of theology, this book stands as the shortest complete synthesis of a Thomistic approach to theology available right now.
How does he do it? Fr. Nichols presents the study of theology by looking to its status as a science, and also as a source of wisdom. He moves from there to survey the principles and methods, sources, and qualities, short chapter by short chapter.
The only criticism I offer for the book is the presentation with the sections and subsections. I became fairly lost with the last of titling, and indentations when the regulation-style organization jumped from section to section, topic to topic. Imagine this:
1.1 Theology as wisdom
1.2 Theology as a science
1.2.1 Theology as systematically ordered
220.127.116.11 Tasting theology
18.104.22.168 Theology helps in holiness
1.2.2 Theology is contemplative
1.2.3 In relation to the liturgy
1.4 Relation of theology to aesthetics
That’s sort of easy to follow with the titling, but in the book there is no title on any subject or section or sub-section, and again, it really lost me. I saw the numbers, but after 3-4 pages of a new topic, I didn’t at all remember what the overal topic was besides the chapter title. For me, this requires a lot of “where were we again” flipping pages. It lacked that genius organization we find in the Summa. Otherwise, the information is solid and to-the-point, which is the way I like it. Silver lining: I can make my own notes for titling if that suits me.
I highly recommend this book for budding theologians as a reference point to keep for years of study. No other resource I’m aware of comes close to the precise and cogent discussion of the topics.