Name designating the authors, Discalced Carmelites of the College of St. Elias in Salamanca, Spain, of two important theological treatises published in the 17th and 18th centuries. The first of these, the Cursus theologicus, by far the more important, is considered along with its authors, nature, and method; and a brief appraisal of the second work is given.
The Cursus Theologicus. This monumental treatise is mainly the work of three theologians. Antonio de la Madre de Dios (b. Leén, 1583; d. Salamanca, 1637) outlined its general plan, basing it on St. Thomas Aquinas's Summa theologiae, and wrote the first two volumes (De Deo Uno; De Deo Trino, de angelis ), which appeared in 1631 and 1637. His successor, Domíngo de Santa Teresa [called Doctor consummatus; b. La Alberca (Salamanca), 1604; d. Madrid, 1660] contributed two more volumes (De ultimo fine, De Beatitudine, De Voluntario …; De vitiis et peccatis ). The work was then brought to near completion by Juan de la Anunciación (b. Oviedo, 1633;d. Salamanca, 1701), who in 15 years (1679–94) published seven more copious volumes (De gratia; De iustificatione et merito; De virtutibus theologicis; De statu religioso; De Incarnatione; De sacramentis in com.; De Eucharistia ) and helped prepare the final volume (De Poenitentia ). This last had been first undertaken by Antonio de San Juan Bautista [b. Lloreda (Santan.), 1641; d. Salamanca, 1699] and finished by Ildefonso de los Angeles [b. Zeclavin (Cáceres), 1663; d. Salamanca, 1737]. Over 80 years were needed to publish the entire Cursus (1631–1712). However, even before it had begun to appear, a course of Thomistic philosophy had emanated from the Discalced Carmelite school of philosophy in Alcalá de Henares (Complutum in Latin; hence the name Complutenses given its authors), composed by a group of professors, which included Antonio de la Madre de Dios and Juan de la Anunciación, already mentioned. Much material that appeared therein was presupposed, and simply referred to, by the Cursus theologicus.
The Cursus adheres strictly to the scholastic method, which seeks a deeper grasp of revealed truth by maximum use of speculative reasoning, as opposed to the dogmatic method, which attempts to defend this same truth against error, and the historical method, which evaluates historical fact and studies the evolution of Christian belief. Although first intended solely as a manual for Carmelite theological students, the Cursus quickly developed into a scholastic treatise of unusual proportions (see, e.g., the De vitiis et peccatis ). Its many tracts were, however, always based on lectures first given in the classroom, where the subject matter was freely discussed with the students. When especially difficult questions arose, the lector would seek the advice of other theologians, many of whom were members of different religious families and taught at the renowned University of Salamanca. When the faculty at the College of St. Elias could not agree on a point, a vote was taken and the more common view was integrated into the final draft. Thus, after ample revision, the material was presented to the order's censors for approval and then finally published. This method evidently made rapid progress impossible, but it won the Cursus unusual prestige, because the published work presented the views not of a single author but of a whole group of respected theologians. No less significant is the Salmanticenses' commitment to adhere constantly to the doctrine of St. Thomas, something they did with untiring devotion. Because they lacked proper historical perspective and were sometimes unduly influenced by other currents of thought, the authors of the Cursus did not in fact always faithfully reflect the teaching of the Angelic Doctor. Still, it must be remembered that this work is not a commentary on the Summa theologiae in the strict sense (as is, e.g., the commentary of Cajetan); it follows its general outline, but it does not comprise all of its parts and even introduces problems and developments not found in the Summa. The Salmanticenses make frequent use also of other sources, especially the major commentaries on the Summa: after Cajetan, very often quoted, the 16th-century Dominican school of Salamanca (baÑez) notably seems most strongly to have influenced their views. Contemporary Jesuit theologians, such as Gabriel vazquez and Francisco suÁrez, received considerable attention but, more often than not, only to be severely criticized. Neither Biblical nor patristic sources were exploited to any extent, though fairly often quoted; this is undoubtedly because of the somewhat exclusively speculative method of the Cursus. Judged within its own scope, this treatise must be rated with the best of its genre. Nevertheless, it received little attention after the first decades of the 18th century. Only late in the 19th century did it regain some favor, through the publication of a new 20-volume edition (Paris, 1870–83) and the support of noted scholars such as M. scheeben. Even in mid-20th century, however, this major work was getting far less attention than it deserved.
The Cursus Theologiae Moralis. Published between 1665 and 1724, this six-volume work completed the Cursus theologicus in that it treated ex professo of moral questions, most of which had been intentionally omitted in the earlier work. Its express aim was to prepare students for the ministry of the confessional. Though the authors also of this treatise are referred to as the Salmanticenses, they did not remain anonymous as had the writers of the other Cursus. Their names are Francisco de Jesús Maria (d. 1677); Andrés de la Madre de Dios (d.1674); Sebastian de San Joaquin (d. 1714); and Ildefonso de los Angeles, who finished the Cursus theologicus. While generally reliable, this moral treatise falls far short of the high standards set by its predecessor. At times it leans unduly toward laxist solutions and too often quotes sources inaccurately. Despite these limitations, however, it remains a landmark in the history of Catholic moral theology.
Bibliography: t. deman, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., 15 v. (Paris 1903–50; Tables Générales 1951– ) 14.1:1017–31; Divus Thomas, v.1-6 (Piacenza 1880–1900); 2d series, v.1-6 (Piacenza 1900–05); 3d series (Piacenza 1924– ) 27 (1949) 342–351, a review of o. merl, Theologia salmanticensis (Regensburg 1947). e. del sagrado corazÓn, Los Salmanticenses: Su viday su obra (Madrid 1955); "Los Salmanticensesy la Immaculada: Su tesis sobre la redencióny el débito de la Virgen," Salmanticensis 2 (1955) 265–298. m. de ste. marie, "La Doctrine des Salmanticenses sur l'Immaculée Conception," Ephemerides Carmeliticae 7 (1956) 149–228. c. journet et al., Le Péché de l'ange (Paris 1961). r. a. couture, L'Imputabilité morale des premiers mouvements de sensualité de Saint Thomas aux Salmanticenses (Rome 1962) 156–167, 188–190.
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