Thomas of Sutton

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English Dominican and foremost among the early defenders of St. thomas aquinas at Oxford; b. near Lincoln, c. 1250; d. c. 1315. Before his entrance into the order he was a fellow of Merton College. He was ordained deacon by Walter Giffard, Archbishop of York, on Sept. 20, 1274. His inception as master was probably c. 1285.

Sutton's academic and literary career extended over some 30 years. Among his early works are the Contra pluralitatem formarum, de productione formae substantialis, and the question Utrum forma fiat ex aliquo. A short polemical work, Determinatio contra emulos et detractores fratrum predicatorum, must also be assigned to him, as well as three sermons preached in 1292 and 1293. Sutton also completed St. Thomas's commentaries on the Perihermenias and De generatione et corruptione and wrote the Quaestiones super librum sextum metaphysicorum. The catalogue of Stams (early 14th century) attributes other works to him, but these are either unknown or not definitively identified.

But of the certainly authentic works, the four Quodlibeta and the 36 Quaestiones ordinariae or disputatae are by far the most important. The first two quodlibets and many of the Quaestiones ordinariae were written after 1287, as is clear from references to Henry of Ghent; the last two quodlibets and at least Quaestiones ordinariae 2735 belong to the period between 1300 and 1310, as is clear from the references to certain views of duns scotus [see J. Przezdziecki, "Thomas of Sutton's Critique on the Doctrine of Univocity," An Etienne Gilson Tribute (Milwaukee 1959) 190192].

From the standpoint of doctrine, Thomas of Sutton is one of the most penetrating of the early Thomists. He defends St. Thomas on a wide variety of questions against many contemporary opponents, but chiefly against Henry of Ghent and Duns Scotus. And his defense of Thomistic positions, especially in the lengthy Quaestiones ordinariae, is masterful. He does not often quote St. Thomas, for he prefers to develop doctrines in his own way, but the supreme source of his inspiration is the writings of the great Aquinas. In his hands, Thomism is a living thing, a heritage to be preserved, developed, and passed on to posterity.

Bibliography: É. h. gilson, History of Christian Philosophy in the Middle Ages (New York 1955). f. j. roensch, Early Thomistic School (Dubuque 1964). w. a. hinnebusch, Early English Friars Preachers (Rome 1951) 396410. j. j. przezdziecki, "Selected Questions from the Writings of Thomas of Sutton, O.P.," Nine Mediaeval Thinkers, ed. j. r. o'donnell (Toronto 1955) 309378.

[j. j. przezdziecki]