De veritate EN 129



There are many opinions on this point. For some have understood the Apostle to say that what he did not know was not whether he was in the body or not, but whether the rapture was one of the soul and the body together, so that he was carried bodily to heaven, as we read in Daniel (14:35) that Habacuc was transported, or whether it was a rapture of the soul alone, that is, in the visions of God, as is said in Ezechiel (40:2): "In the visions of God he brought me into the land of Israel." And Jerome adopts this interpretation of a certain Jew when he says: "Finally, our Apostle, too, did not dare to assert that he was caught up in body, but said: 'Whether in body or out of the body, I know not..."

Augustine, however, disapproves of this interpretation. For it is clear from the words of the Apostle that he himself knew that he was caught up to the third heaven. Therefore, it is clear that that it to which he was transported was truly heaven, and not some likeness of heaven.

For, if he had wanted to mean that, when he said he was caught up to heaven, he was transported in order to see a likeness of heaven in his imagination, he could have asserted in the same way that he was transported lii the body, that is, to a likeness of this body. Thus, it would not have been necessary to distinguish between what he knew and what he did not know, since he would know both equally, that is, that he was in heaven and that he was transported in the body, that is, to a likeness of the body, as happens in dreams.

Therefore, he knew for certain that that to which he was transported was really heaven. Therefore, he knew whether it was a body or something incorporeal. For, if it was a body, he was transported to it bodily, but, if it was something incorporeal, he could not be transported to it bodily.

Therefore, it remains that the Apostle did not doubt whether he was enraptured bodily or only spiritually, but knew that he was trans ported to that heaven only in his understanding. However, he did have doubts whether in that rapture his soul was in his body, or not. Some others concede this, but say that, although during the rapture the Apostle did not know this, he did, nevertheless, know it after wards, surmising it from the vision which he had had. For in the rapture his whole mind was given over to things divine, and he did not perceive whether his soul was in his body or not. But this opinion, too, is openly opposed to what the Apostle says. For, as he distin guishes what he knew and did not know, so he distinguishes the pres ent from the past. And he speaks of the man enraptured, as in the past, fourteen years before, but he admits, as in the present, that he knows something and does not know something. Therefore, fourteen years after that rapture he still did not know whether he was in the body or not when the rapture took place.

Hence, others have said that he did not know either during the rapture or after it whether his soul was in the body to some extent and not completely. For they say that he knew both then and afterwards that his soul was united to the body as its form, but did not know whether it was so united to it that it could receive something from the senses. Or, according to others, he did not know whether the nutritive powers exercised their activities by means of which the soul takes care of the body.

But this, too, does not seem to fit the words of the Apostle, for he said will no reservations that he did not know whether he was in the body or out of it. Furthermore, it would not seem very much to the point to say that he did not know whether the soul was in the body in this way or that way, when these did not cut the soul off entirely from the body.

Therefore, we have to say that he simply did not know whether his soul was united to the body or not. This is the conclusion which Augustine reaches after n long investigation, when he says: "Perhaps, then, we should conclude that he was ignorant of this matter: while he was transported to the third heaven, was he in the body—that is, as the soul of one awake, or asleep, or in ecstasy and completely un conscious of the bodily senses, is in the body when the body is said to be alive—or did he leave the body comp1etely so that the body lay dead until, the vision finished, the soul returned to the dead members, and he was not as one awaking from sleep or returning to his senses from the transport of ecstasy, but as one completely dead returning to life?"

Answers to Difficulties:

1. As Augustine says: "The Apostle doubts whether he was in the body or out of it. Hence, if he is in doubt, which of us dares to be certain?" Thus, Augustine leaves the question undecided. When later writers" take a stand on this question, they are speaking will probability rather than will certitude. For, since it could happen that one would be enraptured in the way the Apostle says he was enraptured while his soul remained united to the body, as is clear from what has been said, it is more probable that it did remain united to the body.

2. The reason given here holds against the interpretation of the words of the Apostle first given, in which he is considered to have doubted not about the state of the one enraptured, that is, whether the soul was united to the body, but of the manner of the rapture, namely, whether the rapture was bodily or only spiritual.

3. Through synecdoche, sometimes only a part of man is called man, especially the soul, which is the more noble part of man. Yet this can also be taken to mean that the one who he says was enraptured was not a man during the rapture, but was a man fourteen years later, that is, when the Apostle said this.

4. Granted that in that state the soul of the Apostle was separated from the body, that separation was not due to any natural mode of acting, but to the divine power which transported the soul out of the body, not to have it remain separated permanently, but for a time, and to this extent one can be said to be enraptured, although not every dead person can be said to be enraptured.

5. As Augustine says: "When the Apostle was carried out of the senses of the body to the third heaven and paradise, he certainly fell short of the full and perfect knowledge of things which the angels have, in so far as he did not know whether he was hi the body or out side of it. And, so, this will not be lacking when this corruption puts on incorruption in the resurrection of the dead." Thus, it is clear that his vision was to some extent more imperfect than the sight of the blessed, although in some respects it was like theirs.

6. Paul was not transported to see God in order to have beatitude without qualification, but to be a witness of the beatitude of the saints and of the divine mysteries which were revealed to him. Consequent Iy, he saw in the vision of the Word only those things the knowledge of which the rapture was ordained to communicate. Thus, he did not see everything as the blessed do, especially after the resurrection. For, then, as Augustine adds to the words already cited: "all things will be plain, and there will be no falsity nor ignorance."

QUESTION 15: Faith


Parallel readings: III Sentences 23, 2, 2, sol. J; Ad Hebr., c. 11, lectura 2; Summa Theol., II—II, 2, I.


Augustine says, and the Gloss on the second Epistle to the Corinthians (3:5), "Not that we are sufficient to think..."repeats: "to believe is to think will assent." But this description does not seem to fit in will our other knowledge, for

1. The knower is distinguished from the believer, as is clear from Augustine. But the knower, precisely as knowing, thinks something over and gives assent to it. Therefore, it is incorrect to say that "belief is thought will assent."

2. Such thought (cogitatio)implies some inquiry, for so to think (cogitare) is, as it were, to shake together (coagitare), that is, to separate and compare one thing will another. But inquiry is not part of the concept faith, for Damascene says: "Faith is consent without inquiry." Therefore, it is wrong to say that "belief is thought will assent."

. Belief is an act of the understanding. But assent seems to belong to the affections, for we are said to consent to something will the affections. Therefore, assent has no place in belief.

4. We do not say that a person is thinking [discursively] unless he is actually considering something, as is clear from Augustine. But even one who is not actually considering something is said to believe, for example, one of the faithful who is asleep. Therefore, to believe is not to think in this way.

5. A simple light is the principle of simple knowledge. But faith is kind of simple light, as is clear from Dionysius. Therefore, belief, which is from faith, is simple knowledge, and so it is not [discursive] thought, which means knowledge involving comparison.

6. Faith, as is commonly said, assents to the first truth because of itself. But one who gives assent to something after comparison does not accept it because of itself, but because of the other thing will which he compared it. Therefore, in the act of believing there is no comparison and, consequently, no [discursive] thought.

7. Faith is said to be more certain than every science and all knowledge. But principles, because of their certitude, are known without [discursive] thought or comparison. Therefore, belief, also, takes place without such thought.

8. A spiritual power has greater efficacy than a bodily power. There fore, a spiritual light has greater efficacy than a bodily light. But an external bodily light gives the eye the perfection immediately to perceive visible bodies for which the inborn light was insufficient. So the spiritual light, coming from on high, gives the intellect the perfection to know without comparison and [discursive] thought even those things which our natural reason cannot reach. And, so, in belief there is no [discursive] thought.

. Philosophers assign the cogitative power to the sensitive part of man. But belief belongs only to the mind, as Augustine says. There fore, belief is not thought.



Augustine has given a satisfactory description of belief, since such a definition shows forth the nature of belief and distinguishes it from all other acts of understanding. This is clear in the following. For, ac cording to the Philosopher, our understanding has a twofold operation. There is one by which it forms the simple quiddities of things, as what man is, or what animal is. This operation of itself does not involve truth or falsity, just as phrases do not. The second operation of the understanding is that by which it joins and divides concepts by affirmation or denial. Now, in this operation we do find truth and falsity, just as we do in the proposition, which is its sign. Belief, how ever, does not occur in the first operation, but only in the second, for we believe what is true and disbelieve what is false. For this reason, also, the first operation of the understanding is called imagination of the understanding and the second faith, even among the Arabians, as is clear from the words of the Commentator.

The possible intellect, however, as far as its own nature is concerned, is in potency to all intelligible forms, just as first matter of itself is in potency to all sensible forms. Therefore, it has no intrinsic determination which necessitates joining rather than dividing concepts, or the converse. Now, everything which is undetermined will reference to two things is not limited to one of them unless by some thing which moves it. But only two things move the possible intellect: its proper object, which is an intelligible form, that is, a quiddity, as is said in The Soul, and the will, which moves all the other powers, as Anselm says. In this way, then, our possible intellect is related differently to the extremes of a contradictory proposition.

For, sometimes, it does not tend toward one rather than the other, either because of a lack of evidence, as happens in. those problems about which we have no reasons for either side, or because of an apparent equality of the motives for both sides. This is the state of one in doubt, who wavers between the two members of a contradictory proposition.

Sometimes, however, the understanding tends more to one side than the other; still, that which causes the inclination does not move the understanding enough to determine it fully to one of the members. Under this influence, it accepts one member, but always has doubts about the other. This is the state of one holding an opinion, who accepts one member of the contradictory proposition will some fear that the other is true.

Sometimes, again, the possible intellect is so determined that it adheres to one member without reservation. This happens sometimes be cause of the intelligible object and sometimes because of the will. Furthermore, the intelligible object sometimes acts mediately, sometimes immediately. It acts immediately when the truth of the propositions is unmistakably clear immediately to the intellect from the intelligible objects themselves. This is the state of one who understands principles, which are known as soon as the terms are known, as the Philosopher says. Here, the very nature of the thing itself immediately determines the intellect to propositions of this sort. The intelligible object acts mediately, however, when the understanding, once it knows the definitions of the terms, is determined to one member of the contradictory proposition in virtue of first principles. This is the state of one who has science.

Sometimes, however, the understanding can be determined to one side of a contradictory proposition neither immediately through the definitions of the terms, as is the case will principles, nor yet in virtue of principles, as is the case will conclusions from a demonstration. And in this situation our understanding is determined by the will, which chooses to assent to one side definitely and precisely because of something which is enough to move the will, though not enough to move the understanding, namely, since it seems good or fitting to assent to this side. And this is the state of one who believes. This may happen when someone believes what another says because it seems fitting or useful to do so.

Thus, too, we are moved to believe what God says because we are promised eternal life as a reward if we believe. And this reward moves the will to assent to what is said, although the intellect is not moved by anything which it understands. Therefore, Augustine says: "Man can do other things unwillingly, but he can believe only if he wills it."

It is clear from what has just been said that assent is not to be found in that operation of the understanding by which it forms the simple quiddities of things, for there is no truth or falsity there. For we are not said to assent to anything unless we hold it as true. Likewise, one who doubts does not have assent, because he does not hold to one side rather than the other. Thus, also, one who has an opinion does not give assent, because his acceptance of the one side is not firm. The Latin word sententia (judgment), as Isaac and Avicenna say, is a clear or very certain comprehension of one member of a contradictory proposition. And assentire (assent) is derived from sententia. Now, one who understands gives assent, because he holds will great certainty to one member of a contradictory proposition. Such a one, however, does not employ discursive thought, because he fixes on one side without any process of comparison. One who has scientific knowledge, however, does use discursive thought and gives assent, but the thought causes the assent, and the assent puts an end to the discursive thought. For by the very act of relating the principles to the conclusions he assents to the conclusions by reducing them to the principles. There, the movement of the one who is thinking is halted and brought to rest. For in scientific knowledge the movement of reason begins from the understanding of principles and ends there after it has gone through the process of reduction. Thus, its assent and discursive thought are not parallel, but the discursive thought leads to assent, and the assent brings thought to rest.

But, in faith, the assent and the discursive thought are more or less parallel. For the assent is not caused by the thought, but by the will, as has just been said. However, since the understanding does not in this way have its action terminated at one thing so that it is conducted to its proper term, which is the sight of some intelligible object, it follows that its movement is not yet brought to rest. Rather, it still thinks discursively and inquires about the things which it believes, even though its assent to them is unwavering. For, in so far as it depends on itself alone, the understanding is not satisfied and is not limited to one thing; instead, its action is terminated only from will out. Because of this the understanding of the believer is said to be "held captive," since, in place of its own proper determinations, those of something else are imposed on it: "bringing into captivity every understanding..."(2Co 10,5). Due to this, also, a movement directly opposite to what the believer holds most firmly can arise in him, al though this cannot happen to one who understands or has scientific knowledge.

Accordingly, it is thus by assent that belief is distinguished from the operation through which the understanding sees simple forms, that is, quiddities; thus, too, it is distinguished from doubt and opinion. It is by discursive thought, however, that it is distinguished from under standing, and by the fact that assent and discursive thought are, as it were, parallel and simultaneous, that it is distinguished from scientific know

Answers to Difficulties:

1. The answer to the first difficulty is clear from the reply.

2. Faith is called a consent without inquiry in so far as the consent of faith, or assent, is not caused by an investigation of the understanding. Nonetheless, this does not prevent the understanding of one who believes from having some discursive thought or comparison about those things which he believes.

3. The will looks to a power which precedes it, namely, the intellect, but the intellect does not. Therefore, assent properly belongs to the intellect, because it means an absolute adherence to that to which as sent is given. Consent (consentire)belongs properly to the will, be cause to consent is to think something (sentire)along will something else (simul cum alio). And it is so called in relation to, or in comparison will, something which went before.

4. Since habits are known through their acts, and are themselves the source of their acts, habits are thus sometimes given the names of the acts. For this reason the names of acts sometimes are taken in their proper sense, that is, as referring to the acts themselves, and sometimes as referring to the habits. Belief, therefore, as meaning the act of faith, always includes actual consideration. However, when it is taken for the habit of belief, it does not. It is in this sense that one who is asleep is said to believe, in so far as he has the habit of faith.

5. In faith there is some perfection and some imperfection. The firm ness which pertains to the assent is a perfection, but the lack of sight, because of which the movement of discursive thought still remains in the mind of one who believes, is an imperfection. The perfection, namely, the assent, is caused by the simple light which is faith. But, since the participation in this light is not perfect, the imperfection of the understanding is not completely removed. For this reason the movement of discursive thought in it stays restless.

6. The argument given proves or concludes that discursive thought is not the cause of the assent of faith, but not that it does not accom pany the assent of faith.

7. Certitude can mean two things. The first is firmness of adherence, and will reference to this, faith is more certain than any understanding [ principles] and scientific knowledge. For the first truth, which causes the assent of faith, is a more powerful cause than the light of reason, which causes the assent of understanding or scientific knowledge. The second is the evidence of that to which assent is given. Here, faith does not have certainty, but scientific knowledge and understanding do. It is because of this, too, that understanding has no discursive thought.

8. The argument given would conclude correctly if we had perfect participation in that spiritual light, as we will in heaven, where we shah see perfectly the things which we now believe. But now, the things which are known because of that light do not clearly appear, because of our defective participation in that light, and not because of the power of the spiritual light itself.

9. The cogitative power is that which is highest in the sensitive part of man, and, thus, sense in some way comes in contact will the intellective part so that it participates in something of that which is lowest in the intellective part, namely, discursive reason. This is in accord will the rule of Dionysius that contact is established where the lower begins and the higher leaves off. For this reason, also, the cogitative power is called the particular reason, as is clear from the Commentator. This exists only in man; in brutes, its place is taken by the natural judgment [of instinct]. Therefore, reason as a faculty, which is in the intellective part, sometimes receives its name from discursive thought because of the similarity of operation.


Parallel readings: Summa Theol., II-II,, 1.


The Apostle says (He 11,1) that faith is "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence [argumentum] of things that appear not." This seems to be incorrect, for

1. No quality is a substance, but faith is a quality since it is a virtue, which is a good quality... Therefore, faith is not a substance.

2. Spiritual being is added to natural being and is its perfection. For this reason it should be similar to it. But in man’s natural being the substance of his being is called the very essence of the soul, which is first act. But a power, which is the principle of second act, is not called the essence. So, also, in spiritual being neither faith nor any virtue should be called the essence, for a virtue is a proximate principle of operation and so perfects the power. Grace should rather be called the essence, for spiritual being comes from grace as from its first act, and grace perfects the very essence of the soul.

3. It was said that faith is called substance because it is first among the virtues.—On the contrary, virtues can be considered in three ways: will reference to their habits, to their objects, and to their powers. But will reference to their habits faith is not prior to the others, for this definition seems to give the definition of faith only in so far as it is formed (formata). For it is only in this way that it is a foundation, as Augustine says. All freely given habits, however, are infused at the same time. Likewise, faith seems to have no priority over the others will reference to their objects. For faith does not strive more for the true itself, which seems to be its proper object, than charity does for the highest good, or hope does for that which is hardest to attain, or for God’s greatest generosity. Nor is faith prior will reference to their powers, for every freely given vii seems to look to the affections. Therefore, faith is in no way prior to the others, and so it should not be called the foundation or the substance of the others.

4. Things to be hoped for exist in us through charity rather than through faith. Therefore, this definition seems to fit charity better than faith.

5. Since hope is begotten of faith, as is clear from the Glass, if one defines hope correctly, faith must be included in its definition. Hop; however, is included in the definition of the thing to be hoped for. Now, if the thing hoped for is included in the definition of faith, we shah have a circle in our definitions; but this is illogical because thus something would be prior to, and better known than, itself. For the thing itself would then be put in its own definition, since definitions are used in place of the names of things. Hence, in defining a thing there would be an unending process.

6. Different habits have different objects. But the theological virtues have the same thing for their end and object. Therefore, in the theological virtues there must be different ends for the different virtues. But the thing to be hoped for is the proper end of hope. Therefore, it should not be included in the definition of faith either as its end or its object.

7. Faith is brought to perfection through charity rather than through hope, and so it is said to be formed through charity. There fore, in the definition of faith we should include the object of charity, which is the good or what is to be loved, rather than the object of hope, which is the thing to be hoped for.

8. Faith refers especially to the articles of faith. However, not all these articles, but only one or two, "the resurrection of the body and life everlasting," refer to things to be hoped for. Therefore, the thing to be hoped for should not be included in the definition of faith.

9. Argument (argumentum)is an act of reason. But faith pertains to those things which are above reason. Therefore, faith should not be called an argument.

10. In the soul there is a twofold movement, one from the soul and one to the soul. In the movement to the soul the principle is extrinsic; in that from the soul, it is intrinsic. Now, the same principle cannot be intrinsic and extrinsic. Therefore, the same principle of movement cannot be to the soul and from the soul. However, cognition takes place through a movement to the soul, but affection through a move merit from the soul. Therefore, neither faith nor anything else can be the principle of affection and cognition. For this reason it is ihlogical to put in the definition of faith something pertaining to affection: "the substance of things hoped for," and something pertain to cognition: "evidence of things that appear not."

11. One habit cannot belong to different powers. But the affective and the intellective are different powers. Since, then, faith is one habit, it cannot pertain to cognition and affection. We conclude as before.

12. Each habit has one act. Since, therefore, two acts are included in the definition of faith, namely, to make things hoped for subsist in us, in so far as it is called "the substance of things hoped for," and to convince the mind, in so far as it is called "the evidence of things that appear not," this does not seem a satisfactory description.

13. Understanding is prior to the affections. But that which is called "the substance of things hoped for" pertains to the affections, while that which is added in the words, "evidence of things that appear not," belongs to understanding. Therefore, the parts of the aforesaid definition are not in their proper order.

14. Evidence is said to be that which convinces the mind to assent to something. But the mind is convinced to give assent to things be cause they become apparent to it. Therefore, the object, which is said to be "evidence of things that appear not," seems to involve a contradiction.

15. Faith is a sort of knowledge. But all knowledge takes place in so far as something appears to the knower, for something appears in sensitive as well as in intellectual knowledge. Therefore, it is illogical to say that faith is "of things that appear not."



According to some, when the Apostle gave this definition, he did not want to show what faith is, but what faith does. However, it seems that we should rather say that this description is a very complete definition. It is such, not in the sense that it is given according to the required form of a definition, but because in it there is sufficient mention of everything which is necessary for a definition of faith. For, sometimes, even when dealing will philosophers themselves, it is enough to mention the principles of syllogisms and definitions because, once they have them, it is a simple matter to reduce them to due form according to the rules of the art. This is clear from three considerations.

First, from the fact that it mentions all the principles on which the nature of faith depends. For the state of the believer, as has been said above, is such that the intellect is determined to something through the will, and the will does nothing except in so far as it is moved by its object, which is the good to be sought for and its end. In view of this, faith needs a twofold principle, a first which is the good that moves the will, and a second which is that to which the understanding gives assent under the influence of the will.

Man, however, has a twofold final good, which first moves the will as a final end. The first of these is proportionate to human nature since natural powers are capable of attaining it. This is the happiness about which the philosophers speak, either as contemplative, which consists in the act of wisdom, or active, which consists first of all in the act of prudence, and in the acts of the other moral virtues as they depend on prudence.

The other is the good which is out of all proportion will man’s nature because his natural powers are not enough to attain to it either in thought or desire. It is promised to man only through the divine liberality: "The eye hath not seen,.." (1Co 2,9). This is life everlasting. It is because of this good that the will is inclined to give assent to those things which it holds by faith. Thus the Gospel according to St. John (6:40) reads: "Everyone who seeth the Son, and believeth in him may have life everlasting."

But nothing can be directed to any end unless there pre-exists in it a certain proportion to the end, and it is from this that the desire of the end arises in it. This happens in so far as, in a certain sense, the end is made to exist inchoatively within it, because it desires nothing except in so far as it has some likeness of the end. This is why there is in human nature a certain initial participation of the good which is proportionate to that nature. For self-evident principles of demonstrations, which are seeds of the contemplation of wisdom, naturally pre exist in that good, as do principles of natural law, which are seeds of the moral virtues.

For this reason also, for man to be ordained to the good which is eternal life, there must be some initial participation of it in him to whom it is promised. However, eternal life consists in the full knowledge of God, as is clear from John (17:3): "Now this is eternal life..." Consequently, we must have within us some initial participation of this supernatural knowledge. We have it through faith, which by reason of an infused light holds those things which are beyond our natural knowledge.

Now, in composite things whose parts have an order, it is customary to eau the first part the substance of the whole thing, for in that part there is a beginning of the whole. Examples of this are the foundation of a house and the huil of a ship. In keeping will this, the Philosopher says: "If being were one whole, its first part would be substance." Similarly, faith is called "the substance of things hoped for," inasmuch as it is for us an initial participation of the eternal life for which we hope by reason of the divine promise. And in this way mention is made of the relation between fakh and the good which moves the will in its determination of the intellect.

But the will, under the movement of this good, proposes as worthy of assent something which is not evident to the natural understanding. In this way it gives the understanding a determination to that which is not evident, the determination, namely, to assent to it. There fore, just as the intelligible thing which is seen by the understanding determines the understanding, and for this reason is said to give conclusive evidence (arguere) to the mind; so also, something which is not evident to the understanding determines it and convinces (arguere) the mind because the will has accepted it as something to which assent should be given. For this reason another reading has proof (convictio) [in place of evidence (argumentum)], for it convinces the intellect in the aforesaid manner. So, in the words, "evidence of things that appear not," mention is made of the relation of faith to that to which the understanding assents.

And, so, in the words, "of things that appear not," we have the subject matter or object of faith; in "evidence" we have the act; and in "the substance of things to be hoped for" we have the ordination to the end. From the act we can understand the genus, that is, habit, which is known through the act, and the subject, that is, the mind. And nothing else is needed for the definition of a virtue. Consequently, from what has been said, we can establish a definition scientifically, and say: "Faith is a habit of our mi, by which eternal life begins in us, and which makes our understanding assent to things which are not evident."

The second sign that this is a good definition is that through it we can distinguish faith from everything else. For by the words, "of those things that appear not," faith is distinguished from scientific knowledge and understanding. By the word "evidence" it is distinguished both from opinion and doubt, in which the mind is not convinced, that is, is not determined to one thing. This also distinguishes it from all habits which are not cognitive. By the words, "substance of things to be hoped for," it is distinguished from faith in the will sense, namely, that by which we are said to believe that about which we have an opinion which we hold tenaciously, or to believe on the testimony of some man. This also distinguishes it from prudence and from the other cognitive habits, which are either not ordained to things hoped for, or, if so ordained, do not include an initial participation in us of the things hoped for.

The third sign that this is a good definition derives from this, that anyone wanting to define faith will have to include the whole definition or some part of it in other words. For, when Damascene says: "Faith is the substance [hypostasis] of those things that are hoped for, and the proof of those things which are not seen," he obviously is saying the same thing as the Apostle. When he adds: "Unshakeable and irreproachable hope of those things which have been announced to us by God, and of the fulfilment of our petitions," he is explaining what had been included in the words, "substance of things to be hoped for." For the things primarily to be hoped for are the rewards promised us by God, and, secondarily, whatever else we seek from God which is necessary for the former and about which our faith gives us certain hope. This hope cannot fail, and so it is called "unshakeable." Nor can it be justly censured as vain, and so it is called "irreproachable."

Augustine’s statement: "Faith is the virtue by which what is not seen is believed"; and Damascene’s: "Faith is a consent without inquiry"; and Hugh of St. Victor’s: "Faith is a certainty of the mind about things absent which is more than opinion, but less than scientific knowledge," all mean the same as the Apostle’s words: "Evidence of things that appear not." Yet, it is said to be "less than scientific knowledge" because faith does not have vision as science does, although it has the same firm adherence. And yet it is said to be "more than opinion" because of the firmness of the assent. Thus, it is said to be "less than science" in so far as it refers to "things that appear not," and "more than opinion" in so far as it refers to conviction (argumentum). For the rest, what we have said is explanation enough.

Moreover, when Dionysius says: "Faith is the solid foundation of those who believe, establishing them in the truth, and the truth in them," he is saying the same thing that the Apostle says in the words: "substance of things to be hoped for." For knowledge of the truth is a thing to be hoped for, since "beatitude is nothing else than rejoicing over the truth," as Augustine says.’

Answers to Difficulties:

1. Faith is called a substance, not because it is in the category of substance, but because it has a certain similarity to substance, namely, in so far as it is the initial participation and a icind of foundation of the whole spiritual life, just as substance is the foundation of all beings.

2. The Apostle wanted to compare faith will those things which are outside of us, arid not will what is within us. However, even though the essence of the soul in its natural being is that which is first and is substance will reference to the powers, habits, and everything consequent upon substance which inheres in it, nevertheless, the relation to external things is not primarily in the essence but in the powers. Likewise, this relation is not found in grace, but in virtue, and primarily in faith. Hence, it could not be said that grace was the sub— stance of things to be hoped for, but that faith was.

3. Faith precedes the other virtues, will reference to its object, the power in which it inheres, and its habit. With reference to its object it takes precedence, not because it has a stronger inclination toward its object than the other virtues toward theirs, but because it is natural for its object to cause movement before the objects of charity and the other virtues. This is evident because it is only through understanding that a good causes movement, as is said in The Soul, but the true does not need any movement of appetite to set the understanding in motion. Consequently, the act of faith is naturally prior to the act of charity. Similarly, the habit is also prior, although, when faith is formed (formata), they are simultaneous. For the same reason the cognitive power is naturally prior to the affective. Now, faith belongs to the cognitive part, as is clear from the fact that its proper object is the true and not the good. But faith does in a certain sense have its fulfilment in the will, as will be shown later.

4. As is clear from what has already been said, the initial participation of things to be hoped for is not produced in us by means of charity, but by faith. Besides, charity is not evidence, so this description does not fit it at all.

5. Since that good which inclines us to faith surpasses reason, it has no time. Therefore, the Apostle used the circumlocution, that which is to be hoped for, in its stead. This happens frequently in definitions.

6. Every power has an end, which is its own good, but not every power refers to the character of end or good in so far as it is good. Only the will does this. Hence it is that the will moves all the other powers, because all movement begins from an intending of the end. Therefore, although the true is the end of faith, the true does not express the character of end. Consequently, not the true, but something pertaining to the affections ought to be taken as the end of faith.

7. A thing to be loved can be present or absent, but a thing to be hoped for must be absent. Romans (8:24) says: "For what a man seeth, why doth he hope for?" Since, then, faith concerns what is absent, its end is more properly characterized by the thing to be hoped for than by the thing to be loved.

8. An article (of faith] is the subject matter of faith. But the thing to be hoped for should be considered not as its subject matter, but as its end. Thus, the reasoning does not follow.

9. Evidence (argumentum) has many meanings. Sometimes it means the very act of reason proceeding from principles to conclusions. And since the whole force of the proof (argumentum) consists in the mid die term, the middle term is therefore sometimes called the argument (argumentum). Thence it is that the preface of a book is sometimes called the argument, because in it there is a sort of brief foretaste of the whole work that follows. Again, since something is made to appear through evidence and the principle by which something appears is light, the light itself, by which it is known, can be called evidence.

And faith is called evidence in these four ways. It is used in the first sense, in so far as reason assents to something because it was said by God. Thus, assent in the believer is caused by the authority of the speaker, since even in dialectical matters there is a proof (argurnentum) from authority. In the second way, faith is called the evidence of those things which do not appear, in so far as the faith of the faithful is a means of proving the existence of what does not appear, or in so far as the faith of our fathers is a means of making us believe, or in so far as faith in one article is the means to faith in another, as the resurrection of Christ is to the general resurrection, as is clear from the first Epistle to the Corinthians (1: 12). In the third way, faith is a brief foretaste of the knowledge which we shall have in the future. In the fourth way, faith is evidence will reference to the light of faith through which we know what is to be believed. Faith, however, is said to surpass reason, not because there is no act of reason in faith, but because reasoning about faith cannot lead to the sight of those things which are matters of faith.

10. The act of faith consists essentially in knowledge, and there we find its formal or specific perfection. This is clear from its object, as has been said. But, will reference to its end, faith is perfected in the affections, because it is by reason of charity that it can nient its end. The beginning of faith, too, is in the affections, in so far as the will determines the intellect to assent to matters of faith. But that act of the will is an act neither of charity nor of hope, but of the appetite seeking a promised good. From this it is clear that faith is not in two powers as in its subjects.

11. The answer to the eleventh difficulty is clear from the answer to the tenth.

12. When we say "substance of things to be hoped for," we are not dealing will the act of faith, but only will its relation to its end. The act is indicated by the reference to the object, when we say "evidence of things that appear not."

13. That to which the understanding gives assent does not move the understanding by its own power, but by the influence of the will. As a result, the good which moves the affective part has the role of first mover in the act of faith, but that to which the understanding gives assent is like a mover which is moved. Therefore, in the definition of faith we first give its reference to the good of the affections before the reference to its proper object.

14. Faith does not Convince the mind or satisfy (arguere) it so as to assent because of the evidence of the thing, but because of the influence of the will, as was said. Therefore, the reasoning does not follow.

15. Knowledge can have two meanings: sight or assent. When it refers to sight, it is distinguished from faith. Thus, Gregory says: "Things seen are the object not of faith, but of knowledge. Ac cording to Augustine, those things "which are present to the senses or the understanding" are said to be seen. But those things are said to be present to the understanding which are not beyond its capacity.

But, in so far as there is certainty of assent, faith is knowledge, and as such can be called certain knowledge and sight. This appears in the first Epistle to the Corinthians (13:12): "We see now through a glass in a dark manner." And this is what Augustine says: "If it is not un fitting to say that we know that also which we believe to be most certain, it follows from this that it is correct to say that we see will our minds the things which we believe, even though they are not present to our senses."


Parallel readings: III Sentences 23, 2, 4, sol. I; 3, 1, sol. 2; Ad Rom., c. 1, lectura 6; Summa Theol., I-II, 6 II-II, 5; Q. D. de virt. in comm., 7.


It seems that it is not, for

1. Virtue is distinguished from knowledge. So, virtue and knowledge are classified in different genera, as is clear from the Topics.1 But faith

is contained under the genus of knowledge. Therefore, it is not a virtue.

2. It was said that, as ignorance is a vice because it is caused by a neglect of knowledge, so faith is a virtue because it resides in the will of the believer.—On the contrary, the mere fact that something is the result of guilt does not make it possible to put guilt in its definition. Otherwise, punishment, as such, would have guilt in its definition. Therefore, ignorance cannot be called a vice because it arises from the vice of neglectura For the same reason, faith cannot be called a virtue because it is consequent upon the will.

3. Virtue is so called because of its relation to the good. For virtue is "that which makes its possessor good, and makes his work good," as is said in the Ethics. But the object of faith is the true, not the good. Therefore, faith is not a virtue.

4. It was said that the true which is the object of faith is the first truth, which is also the highest good, and, so, faith fulfils the definition of virtue.—On the contrary, in the distinction of habits and acts we must consider the formal distinction of objects, not their material distinction. Otherwise, sight and hearing would be the same power because the same thing happens to be audible and visible. But, no matter how much the good and the true are identified in reality; formally, one aspect founds the concept of its truth and another of its goodness. Therefore, a habit which is directed toward the true, as such, is distinguished from that habit which is directed toward the good as such. Thus, faith is distinguished from virtue.

5. The mean and the extremes are in the same genus, as is clear from the Philosopher. But faith is a mean between scientific knowledge and opinion, for Hugh of St. Victor says that faith is "a certainty of mind which is more than opinion and less than scientific knowledge." But neither opinion nor science is a virtue. So, neither is faith.

6. The presence of the object does not destroy the habit of a virtue. But, when the object of faith, which is first truth, is present to our minds so that we see it, we will not have faith but vision. Therefore, faith is not a virtue.

7. "Virtue is the fullest development of a power," as is said in Heaven and Earth. But faith is not the fullest development of a human power, because it is capable of something fuller, plaifi sight. Therefore, faith is not a virtue.

8. According to Augustine, through the virtues the acts of powers are made casier. Faith, however, does not make the act of understanding casier, but rather hinders it, because by it our understanding is made captive, as is said in the second Epistle to the Corinthians (20: 5). Therefore, faith is not a virtue.

9. The Philosopher divides virtues into intellectual and moral. This division is made according to immediate differences, because the intellectual is that which is in the part which is essentially rational, and the moral is that which is in the part which is rational by participation. There is no other sense in which we call understand rational; nor can human virtue be in any but the rational part taken in some sense. But faith is not a moral virtue, because, then, its subject matter would be actions and emotions. Nor is it an intellectual virtue, because it is not any of those five virtues which the Philosopher gives. For it is not wisdom, or understanding, or science, or art, or prudence. There fore, faith is not a virtue at all.

10. That which belongs to a thing because of something extrinsic to it is not in that thing essentially, but accidentally. Faith, however, is not flttingly called a virtue except because of something else, as has been said, namely, because of the will. Therefore, to be a virtue be longs accidentally to faith; hence, faith cannot be classified as a species of virtue.

11. There is more perfect knowledge in prophecy than in faith. But prophecy is not classified as a virtue. Therefore, neither should faith be called a virtue.

To the Contrary:

1'. Virtue is a disposition of something perfect to that which is best. But this flts faith, for faith orders man to beatitude, which is that which is best. Therefore, faith is a virtue.

2'. Every habit by which one is given strength w act and endurance to suffer is a virtue. But faith is of this nature, for "faith worketh by charity" (Ga 5,6). Faith also makes the faithful strong in resisting the devil, as is said in the first Epistle of Peter (5:9). Therefore, faith is a virtue.

3’. Hugh of St. Victor says that there are three sacramental virtues by which we receive our initiation [ the Church]: faith, hope, and charity. We conclude as before.

De veritate EN 129