With precision and profundity born of thirty years of devoted study, John Boyle offers an essential introduction to St. Thomas Aquinas on Scripture, shedding helpful light on the goals, methods, and commitments that animate the Angelic Doctor’s engagement with the sacred page. Because the genius of St. Thomas’s approach to the Bible lies not so much in its novelty but rather in the fidelity and clarity with which he recapitulates the riches of the preceding interpretive Tradition, this initiation into St. Thomas’s vision of Scripture is itself an orientation to the Church’s vision of Scripture, from the Fathers through and beyond the Middle Ages.

St. Thomas’s embeddedness within the Church’s Tradition and his own historical context is integral to his approach to Scripture, yet it sets him at some distance from modern readers, for whom his interpretive vision may seem perplexing or even impenetrable. In this primer, Boyle first provides an acclimation to this medieval context through a survey and explanation of pertinent technical terminology used by St. Thomas and characteristic of the scholastic theology of the time. With an eye to the medieval practice of considering Scripture according to the fourfold division of causes, Boyle builds on this initial foundation by exploring in turn St. Thomas’s accounts of the end or use of Scripture (final cause), its divine and human authorship (efficient cause), its order and division (material cause), and its literary styles or genres (formal cause).

Drawing on writings from across St. Thomas’s corpus, but especially his work On the Commendation and Division of Sacred Scripture and the prologues to his biblical commentaries, Boyle masterfully elucidates both the hermeneutical principles and deep wisdom of the Angelic Doctor’s approach to Scripture, imparting invaluable guidance not only for reading and understanding St. Thomas and other great masters of the Tradition, but also—and ultimately—for understanding Scripture in light of this Tradition and reading it with greater benefit and joy.


John F. Boyle is Professor of Catholic Studies at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.  A graduate of the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies and the University of Toronto, he has received a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, the Aquinas Medal from the University of Dallas, and has delivered the Aquinas Lecture at the National University of Ireland.


“John Boyle’s Aquinas on Scripture is the clearest, most succinct, and most satisfying introduction to Thomas Aquinas’s comprehensive vision of Scripture that I have had the privilege of reading. Accessible, lucid, and written in a deceptively simple style, Boyle’s explication participates in the claritas in which Thomas thinks and with which he teaches. I warmly recommend this book to every lover of the Holy Scriptures and to every student of Thomas Aquinas’s thought, especially of his exegetical commentaries.”

Reinhard Hütter
The Catholic University of America


“This book helps greatly to advance our understanding of theology as sacra doctrina: the study and interpretation of holy Scripture, providing human beings with speculative and saving knowledge of God.”

Thomas Joseph White, OP
Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum


“John Boyle unpacks Thomas Aquinas’s thinking about biblical interpretation with clarity and conciseness. . . . In an age dominated by the conflict of interpretation theories, Boyle’s commentary on Aquinas’s commentaries is a model of its kind, an essay to aid in understanding both Thomas and the Scriptures that were the objects of his undivided holy attention.”

Kevin J. Vanhoozer
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School


“To be able to wrestle with the legacy of Thomas Aquinas, we must take seriously his vocation as reader and teacher of Holy Scripture. John Boyle’s accessible manuscript helps convey his principles and introduce the reader to a litany of case studies. It’s a wonderful entryway to Thomas as exegete and master of the sacred page.”

Michael Allen
Reformed Theological Seminary


“This book is absolutely unique in its kind because its composition requires the level of knowledge, skills and love for Sacred Scripture and St. Thomas’s reading of it which John Boyle has continuously displayed over the years. It could not come at a better time, when Aquinas’ biblical writings are receiving a new readership and are being explored for their clarity and richness. It should be required reading for anyone engaging St. Thomas on Scripture and deserves to be placed on one’s bookshelf next to introductions to St. Thomas by Boyle’s illustrious colleagues like Chenu, Weisheipl, and Torrell.”

Jörgen Vijgen
Pontifical Academy of Saint Thomas

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Aquinas on Scripture: A Primer