Christians have called the Book of Isaiah a “fifth gospel” because of its striking foretelling of the principal mysteries of the life of Jesus. But how do these prophecies of a still far-off Savior relate to the circumstances of Isaiah’s own time?
St. Thomas Aquinas’s Commentary on Isaiah is believed to be his first major theological work, produced as part of his academic training as a bachelor of theology. Carefully attending to the language and structure of Isaiah’s prophecy and using Scripture to shed light on Scripture, Aquinas explains how Isaiah’s message brought comfort to Israel and pointed forward to the coming of the Christ.
Louis St. Hilaire is an author, translator, and software engineer with a specialty in digital tools for the study of Latin and the Catholic tradition. He is the developer and coeditor of Verbum’s Catholic Topical Index and author of That You Might Have Life: An Introduction to the Paschal Mystery of Christ.
“St. Thomas Aquinas’ Commentary on Isaiah is a great treasure of the Church. The Angelic Doctor’s capacious grasp of both Scripture and reality is brought to bear in illuminating the sweep of the prophet’s words. . . . Louis St. Hilaire’s readable and fluent English translation is itself a notable accomplishment. Professor Wawrykow’s introduction provides a practical and theological guide to a fruitful reading of the commentary. This is simply a splendid volume.”
John F. Boyle, Chairman, Department of Catholic Studies, University of St. Thomas
“The past decade or so has seen a great revival of interest in pre-modern commentaries to biblical books. But most of the efforts have been directed to Patristic sources, leaving scholars and students with very few resources from the Middle Ages and beyond. This is a major step in correcting that problem. Everyone learns that St. Thomas was a master of the Sacred Page yet very few attend to these texts. The appearance of his commentary on Isaiah is long overdue!”
Gary A. Anderson, Hesburgh Professor of Catholic Theology, Notre Dame
“Carefully wrought translation in a winsome format. Brilliant reminder that one of the most influential theologians in the West was first and foremost an exegete of Sacred Scripture. We are fortunate to have this commentary available for wide readership.”
Christopher R. Seitz, Senior Research Professor of Biblical Interpretation, Wycliffe College in the University of Toronto
“Aquinas’s Isaiah commentary, though the subject of a few excellent articles by Jean-Pierre Torrell and others, has been generally neglected. After all, it is a mere ‘cursory’ commentary, composed when Aquinas was still quite young. But as this superb translation by Louis St. Hilaire reveals to an English-language audience, this ‘cursory’ commentary is over five hundred pages long! In its combination of a Christological reading with deep attention to what Isaiah’s words would have communicated in a pre-Christian Jewish context, Aquinas’s commentary challenges many of our notions about what medieval biblical commentary must be. This commentary merits careful study by anyone who aims to read Scripture within Tradition—and, indeed, by anyone who is open to reading Isaiah with fresh eyes today.”
Matthew Levering, James N. and Mary D. Perry Jr. Chair of Theology, Mundelein Seminary
“I wholeheartedly recommend St. Thomas’s first substantial theological work, the Commentary on Isaiah, to all those interested in receiving a penetrating interpretation of Isaiah, an insightful introduction to his exegetical method, and a valuable overview of his theology at an early stage of his formation.”
Vincent DeMeo, Associate Professor of New Testament, International Theological Institute, Austria