Paperback / softback
May 3, 2019
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v2.1 Reference

Aquinas on Transubstantiation

The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist

Aquinas on Transubstantiation treats one of the most frequently mis-understood and mis-represented teachings of Thomas Aquinas—Eucharistic transubstantiation. The study interprets Aquinas's teaching as an exercise of "holy teaching" (sacra doctrina) that intends to show theologically and back up philosophically the simple yet profound thesis that "transubstantiation" affirms nothing but the truth of Christ's words at the Last Supper—"This is my body," "This is my blood." Yet in order to achieve a contemporary ressourcement of this simple yet profound truth, it is necessary to probe the depths of Thomas Aquinas's philosophical interpretation of it. For Thomas Aquinas, in regarding the truth of Eucharistic conversion, it is faith that preserves the human intellect from missing or dismissing the mystery announced in Christ's words. Faith, however, is not intellectually blind, a faith that, as is often erroneously held, is commanded by arbitrary divine dictates to which the will submits in blind obedience. Rather, Aquinas takes faith is sustained, but not constituted, by an intellectual contemplation of the proposed mystery of faith, by faith seeking understanding. Thomas Aquinas unfolds this exercise of understanding guided by faith in the medium of a metaphysical contemplation that affords a profound intellectual appreciation of this central mystery of faith—precisely as mystery. Thomas's metaphysical contemplation of Eucharistic conversion gestures toward the blinding light of superintelligibility, experienced as the unique darkness that surrounds this sublime mystery of faith. A ressourcement in Thomas Aquinas's doctrine of transubstantiation also affords an renewed appreciation of the Church's affirmation of transubstantiation as the most apt term for the interpretation of the mystery of Eucharistic conversion and a greater precision of what is centrally at stake in this mystery in the ongoing ecumenical conversation of this most central Christian teaching. A doctrinally sound, ecumenically informed, and philosophically reflected contemporary Catholic theology cannot afford to ignore or dismiss Aquinas's surpassing account of Eucharistic conversion.

About the Author

Reinhard Hütteris ordinary professor of fundamental and dogmatic theology at The Catholic University of America.


"Readers are treated to a lively defense of the doctrine of transubstantiation by which, with a robust theological realism, church teaching has sought to secure the mystery of Christ's Eucharistic presence. What is more, it turns out that this mystery lies at the very heart of the nature and task of theology which, as it seeks the innate intelligibility of revealed truth, must at times turn to metaphysics in order to transcend the world of human experience without leaving it behind. Aquinas on Transubstantiation provides a much-needed corrective to the post-metaphysical agnosticism that has lately enfeebled not just sacramental theology but the discipline of sacred theology itself. This is a magnificent book."—Archbishop Augustine J. Di Noia, OP, Vatican City

"Guided in this book by Saint Thomas Aquinas, Reinhard Hütter admirably reveals the Eucharist, the noblest of sacraments, the 'sacrament of sacraments,' Christ himself. Hütter writes with the carefulness of an advanced scholar and the intimacy gained from a living faith. The reader will learn about the link between theological activity and Eucharistic doctrine, and how Thomistic philosophy helps us best perceive 'Godhead here in hiding.' The book incorporates the insights of modern theologians and the recent magisterium. The last chapter is a gem, showing how Thomistic philosophy leads to Eucharistic friendship, which is friendship with Christ."—Dominic Langevin, OP, Dominican House of Studies, Washington, DC

"Aquinas on Transubstantiation is typical Hütter: earnest and insightful, showing a mastery of a wide range of literature in subjecting to close scrutiny an important teaching of the great saint. Even those who already know Aquinas on the Eucharist through their own textual study will benefit from this extended meditation on Eucharistic change, and the distinctive presence of Christ in this sacrament, and the salvific purpose of this sacrament, of this presence. The book is at the same time a recommendation and justification of a way of doing theology that is at once scriptural and traditional; philosophically astute; and, given the affirmation of transubstantiation at Trent, in accordance with magisterial teaching. Whatever one's own theological proclivity, this book gives us all much to ponder."—Joseph Wawrykow, University of Notre Dame

"In arguing for a specifically Thomistic intellectus fidei on the basis of Aristotelian principles, Hütter's arguments are both passionate and lucid. He also brings to the table an important number of often-forgotten authors from other languages. His mastery of these texts and the theological stakes are impressive. In short, the book has all the hallmarks of what one has come to from such a distinguished Thomist. Undoubtedly, many students and teachers will intellectually and spiritually profit from the book, not at least in a time when faith in the Real Presence is declining, and many are, due to circumstances, forced to revisit their active participation in the Eucharist."—Thomist

9780813231778 : aquinas-on-transubstantiation-hutter
Paperback / softback
152 Pages
$34.95 USD