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Primus doctor Iudaeorum

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Chapter Summary

This chapter analyses the figure and work of Moses in Thomas Aquinas' masterpiece of mature theology. It argues that in the Summa theologiae Thomas portrays Moses as a great theological master who, having obtained a certain excellence in the knowledge of God, wisely teaches the ancient Israelites various (Christian) doctrines. More specifically, Aquinas presents Moses as primus doctor Iudaeorum, the first teacher of the Jews, who accommodates his knowledge concerning the Triune God, creation, and Christ to his disciples' ability to understand. More precisely, in his dual role as author of the Pentateuch and giver of the Law, Moses presented divine truths in ways that were appropriate to his less learned students. In so doing, he served as an effective minister of God's self-revelation for human salvation.

Keywords: ancient Israelites; Jews; Moses; Pentateuch; primus doctor Iudaeorum; Summa theologiae; Thomas Aquinas; Triune God



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