Sunday, June 20, 2010

Master's Thesis

Dear friends, readers of Boniface's excellent blog, et al. As you may or may not remember, I have posted here occasionally over the past three years while pursuing studies in theology at the ITI in Austria. I am pleased to report that I have successfully completed a Master's degree in Sacred Theology (STM), and graduated Summa cum laude last June 10.

As you might also remember, my primary interest within the field of dogmatic theology is soteriology, the study of how Christ's death on the cross saves us. Working toward a proper understanding of this central point of the Christian creed has been the subject of several posts here, and is also the subject of my recently completed Master's Thesis:

Poena Satisfactoria: Locating Thomas Aquinas's Doctrine of Vicarious Satisfaction in between Anselmian Satisfaction and Penal Substitution.

As you might have guessed, it contains a few criticisms of the Protestant theory of penal substitution. There are even a few criticisms of St. Anselm himself. But the main project of the thesis is to expound the soteriological doctrine of the Angelic Doctor himself, which is substantially the same as that held and taught by the Catholic Church. Placing his doctrine in relation to St. Anselm on the one side and to the Protestant Reformers on the other is thus intended primarily to highlight the unique contours of St. Thomas's position, and only secondarily to criticize their deficiencies and errors.

Those interested in reading the thesis (98 pages) can follow this link to purchase either a soft-cover edition or a downloadable pdf file.


jonh303 said...

you were at ITI? No way. We were probably in Gaming at the same time. I was at the Kartause in Fall 2008 with Franciscan.

Anselm said...

Sure enough. I was in Gaming from Fall 2007 through the ITI's relocation to Trumau, near Vienna. We probably passed each other in the courtyard more than a few times.

mkvine said...


This sounds like a great book. I've been trying to study this subject myself. I am planning on purchashing it soon. Many times, Catholics are clueless as to the nature of Christ's death and as a result, are influenced by Protestant thought. I'm sure this book, from the looks of it, addresses all those issues.

I do have a question, though, do you go into the Patristic evidence to show how the Satisfaction theory developed? This is another thing I am interested in. Many eastern orthodox christians criticize Catholics for saying that this Theory orginated from Anselm and is foreign to the early Church. If not, perhaps, you can make an article on it on your blog.

Anselm said...

Dear mkvine,

The main focus of the book is indeed on Aquinas (caps. 5-8) in relation to Calvin (cap. 4) and Anselm (cap. 3). The chapter which touches upon the Fathers is the second, which basically defends the thesis that Anselm was indeed faithful to the received tradition, and no innovator. However, it is more of a polemic against the influential little work of Gustaf Aulen entitled Christus Victor rather than any kindo f in-depth treatment of the Fathers directly.

It is very easy, though, to trace the main lines of Anselm's thought all through the Fathers, especially the Western Fathers, it is true, but I would say also the Eastern to some extent. Anselm's contribution is in the systematic presentation of material that was already there.

For example, as I point out in the book, the term satisfaction enters into soteriology (in the context of Christian penance) as early as Tertullian, and is already applied to Christ by Cyprian.

I hope that you find the read enjoyable and edifying!