Thomas of Strassburg

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Known also as Thomas de Argentina, Augustinian theologian; b. Hagenau (Alsace), c. 1275; d. Vienna, c. 1357. He entered the order at Hagenau and taught at Strassburg for several years prior to 1335, when he went to the Augustinian convent in Paris. He obtained the doctorate in theology two years later. His commentary on the Sentences dates from about 1337; it is possibly the first Augustinian commentary on all four books. In 1345 Thomas was elected prior general, the first non-Italian to hold the office, and was still general at the time of his death. As prior general, he vigorously promoted religious discipline and was mainly responsible for the revision of the constitutions of his order. Unfortunately, his program, which included careful provisions for the intellectual training of clerical candidates, was compromised by practical measures imposed by the ravages of the Black Death.

Doctrinally, Thomas belongs to the Augustinian tradition that stems from giles of rome, whose teachings, as well as their defense, had been made mandatory for members of the order by the General Chapter at Florence in 1287. But Thomas differs from Giles on such matters as predestination, the Immaculate Conception, meritorious acts, and the theory of sovereignty. With Giles, he adopts and defends fundamental Thomistic theses, such as the real distinction between essence and existence and between the soul and its faculties, the unicity of substantial form, and the validity of a posteriori demonstrations alone for proving the existence of God. Something of the eclectic spirit of the age can be discerned in certain of his doctrines, notably, in his theory of knowledge. During his generalate, the teachings of william of ockham were condemned by general chapters of the Augustinians in 1345 and 1348.

See Also: augustinianism.

Bibliography: thomas of strassburg, Commentaria super quatuor libros Sententiarum (Venice 1588). É. h. gilson, History of Christian Philosophy in the Middle Ages (New York 1955). j. l. shannon, Good Works and Predestination According to Thomas of Strassburg (Westminster, Md. 1940). d. trapp, "Augustinian Theology of the Fourteenth Century," Augustiniana 6 (1956) 146274. k. witte, "Thomas von Strassburg," Die deutsche Literatur des Mittelalters: Verfasserlexicon 9 (1995) 889892.

[r. p. russell]