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Ethics as a Work of CharityThomas Aquinas and Pagan Virtue$
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David Decosimo

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780804790635

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804790635.001.0001

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Thomas and his Outsiders

Thomas and his Outsiders

(p.17) 1 Thomas and his Outsiders
Ethics as a Work of Charity

David Decosimo

Stanford University Press

This chapter sets the context for the book in the most fundamental sense, placing Thomas in his socio-historical milieu in terms of Christian-Jewish and Christian-Muslim relations. After a biographical sketch framed in terms of Thomas’s exposure to non-Christians, the chapter addresses Jeremy Cohen’s influential argument that Thomas’s theology inaugurated a new and bloody chapter in Christian anti-Judaism. It shows that Cohen’s contentions are unfounded. Elucidating Thomas’s positions on controversial matters concerning the treatment of Jews, Muslims, and others – from disputations to religious warfare to forced baptism – the chapter shows that Thomas stood against most outsider-related injustices of his day and trained his Dominican students to do the same. Neither fully righteous nor altogether unjust, the chapter argues that, for contemporary readers, Thomas himself is an outsider – but one from whom those who imitate his own forbearance and charity can learn.

Keywords:   anti-Judaism, Jews, Jeremy Cohen, John of Freiburg, forced baptism, tolerance, forced disputation, ignorantia affectata, Christ killers

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