De veritate EN 33



Plato, who was the first to speak about ideas, did not posit any idea for first matter, because he asserted that the ideas were the causes of the things modeled upon them, and first matter is not caused by an idea but, instead, is its co-cause. For he said that there are two principles to be found in matter, "the great" and "the small," but only one principle to be found in form, namely, the idea. We, however, assert that matter is caused by God. Hence, it is necessary to affirm that its exemplar in some way exists in God, since He possesses a likeness of whatever He causes.

On the other hand, if we take idea in its strict sense, we cannot say that first matter of itself has an idea in God that is distinct from the idea of the form or of the composite. For an idea, properly speaking, is related to a thing in so far as it can be brought into existence; and matter cannot come into existence without a form, nor can a form come into existence without matter. Hence, properly speaking, there is no idea corresponding merely to matter or merely to form; but one idea corresponds to the entire composite an idea that causes the whole, both its form and its matter. On the other hand, if we take idea in its broader sense as meaning an intelligible character or like ness, then both matter and form of themselves can be said to have an idea by which they can be known distinctly, even though they cannot exist separately. In this sense, there is no reason why there cannot be an idea of first matter, even taken in itself.

Answers to Difficulties:

1. Although first matter has no form, there is in it an imitation of the first form; for, even though its act of existence may be very feeble, it is an imitation of the first being. For this reason, its likeness can be in God.

2. The idea and its copy need not be similar according to a conformity in nature. It is enough that one represent the other. For this reason, the idea of even composite things is simple, and, similarly, the idea of a potential being is actual.

3. Even though matter cannot exist by itself, it can be considered in itself. Thus, it can, in itself, have a likeness.

4. That argument refers to the idea inasmuch as it is actually or virtually practical, and is related to a thing in so far as it can be brought into being. First matter does not have an idea of this kind.

Answers to Contrary Difficulties:

1'. Matter derives its act of existence from God only in so far as it is part of a composite. In this sense, it does not, properly speaking, have an idea in God.

2’. Similarly, matter does not properly have an essence. It is, rather, part of the essence of the whole.


Parallel readings: Summa Theol., I, 1, ad 2. See also readings given for q. 2, a. 8.


It seems not, for

1. Nothing has an idea in God unless it has a determined act of existence. But that which does not exist, never has existed, and never will exist has no determinate act of existence at all. Therefore, neither does it have an idea in God.

2. But it was said that, even though it does not have a determinate act of existence in itself, it has, nevertheless, such a determinate act in God. —On the contrary, a thing is determinate in so far as it is distinguished from another. But all things as they exist in God are one and are not distinct from each other. Therefore, even in God it does not have a determinate act of existence.

3. According to Dionysius, exemplars are those good acts of the divine will which cause and predetermine things. But the things which are not, have not been, nor will be were never predetermined by the divine will. Therefore, they do not have an idea or exemplar in God.

4. An idea is ordained to the production of a thing. If there is, there fore, an idea of something which will never be given existence, it seems that such an idea is useless. But this would be absurd. Therefore.

To the Contrary:

1'. God knows things by means of ideas. But as we said above, He knows those things which are not, have not been, nor will be. There fore, there is an idea in God of all that does not exist, has not existed, and never will exist.

2’. A cause does not depend on its effect. Now, an idea is a cause of the existence of things. Therefore, it does not depend in any way on their existence. Consequently, there can be ideas of those things which do not exist, have not existed, and never will exist.



Properly speaking, an idea belongs to practical knowledge that is not only actually but also habitually practical. Therefore, since God has virtually practical knowledge of those things which He could make, even though He never makes them or never will make them, there must be ideas of those things which are not, have not been, nor will be. But these ideas will not be the same as those of the things which are, have been, or will be, because the divine will determines to produce the things that are, have been, and will be, but not to produce those which neither are, have been, nor will be. The latter, therefore, have, in a certain sense, indeterminate ideas.

Answers to Difficulties:

1. Even though that which never existed, does not exist, and will not exist lacks a determined act of existence in itself, it exists determinately in God’s knowledge.

2. It is one thing to be in God, another to be in His knowledge. Evil is not in God; it is, however, contained in His knowledge. Now, a thing is said to be in God’s knowledge if God knows it; and because God knows all things distinctly, as we said in the previous question, things are distinct in His knowledge even though in Him they are one.

3. Even though God may never will to bring into existence things of this class, whose ideas He possesses, He wills that He be able to produce them and that He possess the knowledge necessary for producing them. Consequently, Dionysius is saying that the nature of an exemplar demands, not a will that is predefining and effecting, but merely a will that can define and effect.

4. Those ideas are not directed by God’s knowledge to the production of something in their likeness, but rather to this, that something can be produced in their likeness.


Parallel readings: Summa Theol., I, 15, 3, ad I Sentences 36, 1, 1.


It seems not, for

1. An idea is for knowing and causing things. But an accident is known by means of its substance, and is caused by the principles of the substance. Hence, it need not have an idea in God.

2. But it was stated that the existence, not the essence, of an accident is known by means of its subject.—On the contrary, the definition of thing signifies what it is, especially by giving its genus. But, in the definitions of accidents, as is said in the Metaphysics, are placed sub stance and the subject, in the sense in which subject is used instead of the genus, as the Commentator notes. For example, we say: "Snub means a curved nose." Consequently, we know the essence of an accident by knowing the substance.

3. Whatever has an idea participates in it. But accidents do not participate in anything, because participation is proper only to substances since they alone can receive something. Accidents, therefore, do not have ideas.

4. In regard to those things that are predicated as prior and sub sequent, in Plato’s opinion an idea should not be taken as common, e.g., as applied to numbers and geometrical figures. This is clear from the Metaphysics and Ethics. The reason for this is that the first is, as it were, the exemplar of the second. Now, being is predicated of substance and accident as prior and subsequent. Therefore, an accident does not have an idea, but has substance in the place of an idea.

To the Contrary:

1'. Whatever is caused by God has its idea in God. Now, God causes not only substances but accidents as well. Therefore, accidents have an idea in God.

2’. Every inferior of a genus should be reduced to the first of that genus, just as everything that is hot is reduced to the heat of fire. Now, as Augustine says: "Ideas are principal forms." Consequently, since accidents are forms, it seems that they have ideas in God.



As the Philosopher says, Plato, who first introduced the notion of ideas, posited ideas, not for accidents, but only for substances. The reason for this was that Plato thought that the ideas were the proximate causes of things. Hence, when he found a proximate cause other than an idea for a thing, he held that the thing did not have an idea. This also is the reason why he said that there is no common idea for those things that are predicated as being prior and subsequent, but that the first is the idea of the second. Dionysius also mentions this opinion, attributing it to a certain Clement the Philosopher, who said that superior beings were the exemplars for inferior. Using this argument, namely, that accidents are caused directly by substances, Plato did not posit ideas of accidents.

On the other hand, since we affirm that God is the direct cause of each and every thing because He works in all secondary causes and since all secondary effects are results of His predefinition, we posit ideas in Him not only of first beings but also of second beings, and, consequently, both of substances and of accidents, but of different accidents in different ways.

First, there are proper accidents, which are caused by the principles of their subjects and never have existence apart from their subjects. These accidents are brought into existence together will their subject by one operation. Consequently, since an idea, properly speaking, is a form of something that can be made, considered precisely under this aspect, there will not be distinct ideas of such accidents. There will be only one idea, that of the subject will all its accidents—just as an architect has one form of a house and of all the accidents that pertain to a house as such, and by means of this one form brings into being the house and all its accidents, such as its square shape and the like.

There are other accidents, however, that are not inseparable from their subject and do not depend on its principles. These are brought into existence by an operation other than that by which the subject is produced. For example, it does not follow from the fact that a man is made a man that he is a grammarian; this is the result of another operation. Now, the ideas in God of such accidents are distinct from the idea of the subject, just as the form of a picture of a house, which an artist conceives, is distinct from the form he conceives of the house itself.

If we take idea in its broader sense, however, as meaning a likeness, then we can say that both types of accidents have distinct ideas in God, because He can know each one in itself distinctly. This is why the Philosopher says that, will respect to their manner of being known, accidents should, like substances, have ideas; but will respect to the other reasons why Plato posited exemplars, namely, to be the causes of generation and of being, it seems that only substances have ideas.

Answers to Difficulties:

1. As we said above, there is in God an idea not only of first effects but also of second effects. Hence, even though accidents have their act of existence by means of substances, this does not prevent their having ideas.

2. An accident can be taken in two ways. First, it can be taken in the abstract. In this way, it is considered according to its proper nature, a genus and species are given it, and its subject is not placed in its definition as a genus but rather as a specific difference. In this sense we say: "Snubness is a curvature of the nose." On the other hand, an accident can be taken in the concrete. In this way, it is considered according as it has an accidental unity will its subject. Hence, neither a genus nor a species is assigned to it. Here it is true that the subject is put in the place of the genus in the definition of an accident.

3. Although an accident is not that which participates, it is, how ever, a participation. Hence, it is clear that in God there is an idea or likeness corresponding to it.

4. The response to this difficulty is clear from what has been said.


Parallel readings: Summa Theol., I, 15,, ad De veritate, 2, aa. 4-5.


It seems not, for

1. Singulars are potentially infinite in number. Now, in God there is an idea, not merely of what exists, but also of what can exist. If, therefore, there were ideas of singulars in God, there would be an infinite number of ideas in Him. This seems absurd, since they could not be actually infinite.

2. If singulars have ideas in God, either there is one idea for the individual and the species, or there are distinct ideas for them. If there were distinct ideas, then there would be many ideas in God for one thing, because the idea of the species is also that of the individual. On the other hand, if there is but one and the same idea for the individual and the species, then, since all the individuals of the same species have the same idea, there would be only one idea for all, and, consequently, singulars would not have distinct ideas in God.

3. Many singulars happen by chance. Now, such beings are not predefined. Since, as is evident from what has been said previously, namely, that an idea postulates predefinition, it seems that not all singulars have an idea in God.

4. Certain singulars are combinations of two species. For example, a mule is n combination of a horse and an ass. Now, if such things had ideas in God, it would seem that there would be two ideas for each one. This seems absurd, since it is unreasonable to affirm multiplicity in the cause and unity in the effect.

To the Contrary:

1'. Ideas are in God for the purpose of knowing and making. But God is one who knows and makes singulars. Therefore, there are in God ideas of singulars.

2’. Ideas are directed to the existence of things. But singulars have acts of existence more truly than universals do, because the latter subsist only in singulars. Therefore, it is more necessary for singulars to have exemplars than it is for universals.



Plato did not posit ideas of singulars but only of species. There were two reasons for this. First, according to him, ideas did not cause the matter but only the forms of things here below. Now, the principle of individuation is matter, and it is because of the form that each singular is placed under n species. Consequently, his ideas did not correspond to n singular in so far as it is singular but only by reason of its species. His second reason may have been this: An idea is related only to those things that are intended directly, as is clear from what was said. But the intention of nature is principally to preserve the species. Consequently, even though generation terminates in this or in that man, the intention of nature is simply to generate man. For this reason, the Philosopher also says that final causes should be assigned for the accidents common to a species, but not for the accidents found in singulars. For the latter, only efficient and material causes can be as signed; consequently, an idea does not correspond to a singular but to a species. Using the same argument, moreover, Plato did not posit ideas for genera, alleging that nature does not intend to produce the form of a genus but only that of a species. We, however, assert that God is the cause of singulars, both of their form and of their matter. We also assert that all individual things are determined by His divine providence. Hence, we must also posit ideas for all singulars.

Answers to Difficulties:

1. Ideas are multiplied only in so far as they have different relations to things. As Avicenna says, however, it is not contradictory to multi ply conceptual relations infinitely.

2. If we speak of idea in the proper sense, namely, inasmuch as it is the idea of a thing in so far as that thing is capable of being produced, then there is but one ideafor the singular, the species, the genus, and for whatever is individuated in that singular, because Socrates the man and Socrates the animal do not have separate acts of existence. If, however, we are speaking of idea in its broader sense of a likeness or intelligible character, then, since the considerations of Socrates as Soc- rates, as a man, and as an animal all differ, a number of ideas or like nesses will correspond to him in this respect.

3. Although some things may happen by chance will respect to their proximate agent, nothing happens by chance will respect to the agent who knows all things beforehand.

4. The mule has a separate species, halfway between that of a horse and that of an ass. Therefore, the mule is not in two species but in one. This fact is due to the mixture of seeds, because the generative powers of the male cannot bring the material provided by the female to the perfection of his own species, since the material is outside his own species; so, instead, the male brings it to a term that is close to his species. For this reason, a separate idea is assigned to the mule and to the horse.

QUESTION 4: The Divine Word


Parallel readings: Summa Theol., I, I; I-II, 3, I, ad I Sentences 27, 2, 1; De potentia 9,9, ad 7-8; Quodibet IV,, 6, ad 1;Comp. Theol., I, CC. 37-44.


It seems that there cannot be, for

1. There are two kinds of words: exterior and interior. An exterior word cannot be predicated properly of God since it is material and passing. Nor can an interior word be predicated of God, for Damascene defines it as follows: "Speech that is internally expressed is a motion of the soul, produced in the process of thinking, and not orally enunciated." Now, motion or a process of thinking cannot be said to exist in God. Hence, b seems that there cannot be a word, properly speaking, in Him.

2. Augustine proves that some word belongs to the mind, because something is also said to be the mouth of the mind, as is evident in the Gospel according to St. Matthew (15:18): "But the things which proceed out of the mouth... these defile a man." That this means the mouth of the heart is clear from what follows: "But the things which proceed out of the mouth, come forth from the heart" (15: i8). Now, a mouth cannot be predicated of spiritual things except metaphorically. Hence, neither can a word.

3. That the Word is a medium between the creator and creatures is shown from St. John (1:3) where we read: "all things were made by him." From this passage, Augustine proves that the Word is not a creature. Using the same proof, we can show that the Word is not the creator. Consequently, the Word affirms nothing which is in God.

4. A medium is equidistant from extremes. Now, if the Word is the medium between the Father who utters and the creature which is uttered, the 'Word should be essentially distinct from the Father, since He is essentially distinct from creatures. But there is nothing in the divine Persons which is distinguished by the divine essence. Hence, a word, properly speaking, cannot be in God.

5. Whatever belongs to the Son in so far as He is incarnate is not properly predicated of God, as, for example, to be man, to walk, or anything of this sort. But being the Word belongs to the Son only in so far as He is incarnate, because it is the nature of a word to manifest the one who is speaking. The Son, however, manifests the Father only in so far as the Son is incarnate, just as our words manifest our under standing only in so far as they are expressed vocally. Hence, a word, properly speaking, does not exist in God.

6. If the Word, properly speaking, existed in God, the Word existing eternally in the Father and that which was made Incarnate in time would be the same—just as we say that b is the same Son. But it seems that we cannot say this, because the Incarnate Word is compared to a word vocally expressed; the Word existing in the Father, however, is compared to a mental word. This is clear from what Augustine has written. Now, the word that is vocally expressed is not the same as that existing in the heart. Therefore, it does not seem that the Word which is said to have existed eternally in the Father properly pertains to the divine nature.

7. The later in a series an effect occurs, the more does it have the nature of a sign. For example, will is the final cause of a will jar, and, more remotely, of the circular tag which is attached to the jar as a marker; for this reason, the tag is more truly a sign than the jar is. Now, a word that is vocally expressed is the last effect of the procession from the intellect. Consequently, the nature of a sign belongs to the vocal word more than to the mental concept, and, similarly, the nature of a word belongs more to the external expression from the fact that b manifests something. Now, whatever exists in its primary sense in material things and not in spiritual things is not properly predicated of God. Therefore, a word cannot be properly predicated of God. 8. Every noun especially signifies that from which it has been de rived. But verbum (word) is derived either from verberatio aeris (a disturbing of the air) or from boatus (shout), so that verbum means simply verum boans (shouting what is true). Hence, this is what is especially signified by the noun verbum. Now, this cannot be said to be in God except metaphorically. Therefore, a word, properly speaking, is not in God.

9. The word that one says seems to be a likeness of the thing spoken, existing in the speaker. But when the Father knows Himself, He knows Himself not by means of a likeness, but by means of His essence. Consequently, it seems that by intuiting Himself the Father does not generate a word of Himself. "Now, will reference to the Highest Spirit, to speak means simply to intuit in thought," as Anselm says. Hence, a word, properly speaking, does not exist in God.

10. Whenever anything resembling a creature is predicated of God, it is not predicated of Him properly, but only metaphorically. Now, as Augustine says, the Word in God resembles the word which is in us. Hence, it seems that a word can be predicated of God metaphorically, but not properly.

11. Basil says that God is called the Word because all things are uttered by Him, and that He is called the wisdom by which all things are known, and the light by which all things are made manifest. How ever, to utter is not properly predicated of God, because uttering pertains to the voice. Consequently, word is not predicated of God in its proper sense.

12. The vocal word is related to the Incarnate Word as the mental word is related to the eternal Word. This is clear from Augustine. The vocal word, however, is predicated only metaphorically of the Word Incarnate. Hence, the interior word is also predicated only metaphorically of the eternal Word.

To the Contrary:

1'. Augustine says: "The Word which we are trying to make you understand is knowledge will love." Now, knowledge and love are predicated of God in their proper sense. Hence, so is the Word.

2’. Augustine says: "The word which is heard exteriorly is a sign of the word shining within; and to this latter the name word more properly belongs. For the vocalization of the word by a physical mouth is merely the voice of the word; and it also is called a word because of that from which it has been taken in order that the interior word might itself appear externally." It is clear from this that the term word belongs more properly to the spiritual than to the material word. Now, whatever is found more properly in spiritual things than in material things most properly belongs to God. Therefore, word is predicated of God in its most proper sense.

3'. Richard of St. Victor says that a word manifests the meaning of one who is will. But the Son manifests the meaning of the Father in the truest way possible. Hence, word is predicated of God in the most proper sense.

4'. According to Augustine, the word is "thought, fully formed." Now, God’s contemplation is never capable of formation, but is al ways fully formed, since it is always in act. Consequently, a word, in the most proper sense, is predicated of God.

5'. Among the types of oneness, that which is most simple is called one primarily and most properly. The same is true of a word—that which is most simple is called a word in the most proper sense. Now, the Word that is in God is most simple; hence, it is most properly called a word.

6’. According to grammarians the part of speech called the verb receives this general name verbum as its own because it is a perfection of the entire sentence, and is, as it were, the most important part of it. Moreover, other parts of the sentence are expressed by the verb, since the noun is understood in it. Now, the divine Word (Verbum) is the most perfect of all things and expresses all things. Therefore, it is called a word in the most proper sense.



We give names to things according to the manner in which we receive our knowledge from things. Hence, since those things which come after others in the order of nature are usually the ones that we know first, it frequently happens that, in applying names to things, we first use a name of one of two things when the reality it signifies primarily exists in the second. 'We have a clear example of this in the names that are used of both God and creatures. Being, good, and words of this sort are first applied to creatures, and then transferred from creatures to God, even though the act of existence and the good are found primarily in God.

Consequently, since the exterior word is sensible, it is more known to us than the interior word; hence, according to the application of the term, the vocal word is meant before the interior word, even though the interior word is naturally prior, being the efficient and final cause of the exterior.

It is the final cause, indeed, because we use the exterior word to manifest the interior. Hence, the interior word is that which is expressed by the exterior. Moreover, the exterior word signifies that which is understood, not the act of understanding, nor the habit or faculty, as the objects of understanding, unless the habit and the faculty are themselves the things that are understood. Consequently, the interior word is what is understood interiorly. Again, the interior word is the efficient cause of the word spoken exteriorly, for, since the meaning of a word is arbitrary, its principle is the will just as the will is the principle of other products. Moreover, just as there pre exists in the mind of a craftsman a certain image of his external work, so also does there pre-exist in the mind of one who pronounces an exterior word a certain archetype of it.

Consequently, just as we consider three things in the case of a crafts man, namely, the purpose of his work, its model, and the work now produced, so also do we find a threefold word in one who is speaking. There is the word conceived by the intellect, which, in turn, is signified by an exterior vocal word. The former is called the word of the heart, uttered but not vocalized. Then there is that upon which the exterior word is modeled; and this is called the interior word which has an image of the vocal word. Finally, there is the word expressed exteriorly, and this is called the vocal word. Now, just as a craftsman first intends his end, then thinks out the form of his product, and finally brings it into existence, so also, in one who is speaking, the word of the heart comes first, then the word which has an image of the oral word, and, finally, he utters the vocal word.

Now, because the vocal word is expressed by means of a body, such a word cannot be predicated of God except metaphorically, that is, only in the sense in which creatures or their motions, being produced by God, are said to be His word inasmuch as they are signs of the divine intellect as effects are signs of their cause. For the same reason, the word which has an image of the vocal word cannot be properly predicated of God, but only metaphorically. Consequently, His ideas of things to be made are called the Word of God only metaphorically. But the word of the heart—that which is actually considered by the intellect—is predicated properly of God, because it is entirely free of matter, corporeity, and all defects; and such things are properly predicated of God, for example, knowledge and the known, understanding and the understood.

Answers to Difficulties:

1. Since the interior word is that which is understood and is within us only in so far as we actually understand, it always demands that the intellect be in its act, which is to understand. Now, the act of under standing is called a motion, not a motion of what is imperfect, such as is described in the Physics, but a motion of what is perfect—an operation, as is described in The Soul. It is in this sense that Damascene spoke of the interior word as a motion of the mind, because motion is taken for that in which the motion terminates; that is, operation is taken for the term of the operation, just as the act of understanding is taken for the understood.

Moreover, the notion of the mental word does not require that the act of the intellect which terminates in a mental word take place by means of some reasoning process which thinking seems to involve. It is enough that something is actually understood—no matter how this takes place. But because we usually speak interiorly by means of a reasoning process, Damascene and Anselm in defining a word use thinking instead of consideration.

2. Augustine’s argument is not from a parallel but from the lesser to the greater. For, if one can speak of the heart as having a mouth, he can will greater verisimilitude speak of it as containing a word. Hence, the argument proves nothing.

3. A medium can be understood in two ways. First, it can be under stood as being a medium between the two terms of a motion, as pale is a medium between white and black in a process of blackening or whitening. Second, it can be understood as existing between what is active and what is passive, as the instrument of the artist is a medium between the artist and his work. In fact, anything by which the artist acts is a medium in this sense. It is in this second sense, too, that the Son is a medium between the creating Father and the creature created through the Word. The Son, however, is not a medium between God creating and the creature created, for the Word is also God creating. Hence, just as the Son is not a creature, so also He is not the Father.

There is still another reason why the conclusion does not follow. 'We say that God creates by means of His wisdom predicated essentially; hence, His wisdom can be called a medium between God and creature. Yet, this very wisdom is God.

In the argument cited, moreover, Augustine is proving that the Word is not a creature, not because He is a medium, but because He is the universal cause of creatures. Now, every motion is reduced to some first mover which is itself unmoved at least relatively to the motion in question, just as all things which undergo qualitative change must be reduced to some first thing which causes this change but is itself not changed in this way. Similarly, that to which all created beings are reduced must itself be uncreated.

4. A medium understood as existing between the two terms of a motion is sometimes taken as existing equidistant from each term, but at other limes it is not taken in this sense. For a medium that exists between what is active and what is passive—if, indeed, it is a medium, as an instrument is sometimes closer to the first active thing, some times closer to the last passive thing, although it may at other limes stand equidistant from each. This becomes clear if we consider the action of an agent which finally terminates in what is passive by means of several instruments: the medium which is the form by which the agent acts is always closer to the agent because it is really in the agent, whereas only its likeness is in the patient. Now, it is in this manner that the Word is said to be a medium between the Father and the creature. Consequently, the Word does not necessarily stand equidistant between the Father and the creature.

5. It is true that we manifest something to another only by means of a word that is vocally expressed. Yet one can manifest something to oneself by means of the word of the heart; and, since this manifestation takes place before the other manifestation, the interior word is said to be the principal word. Similarly, the Father is revealed to all by means of the Word Incarnate, but the eternally generated Word has manifested Him to Himself. Consequently, the name word does not belong to the Son merely in so far as He is incarnate.

6. The Incarnate 'Word in some respects resembles, and, in other respects, does not resemble the vocal word. They have this in common as a basis for comparison: a vocal word manifests the interior word as flesh manifested the eternal Word. They differ, however, in the following respect: the flesh assumed by the eternal Word is not said to be a word, whereas the vocal word used to manifest an interior word is said to be a word. Consequently, the vocal word is something other than the interior word, but the Incarnate Word is the same as the eternal Word, just as the word signified by the vocal word is the same as the word within the heart.

7. The nature of a sign belongs more properly to an effect than to a cause when the cause brings about the existence of the effect but not its meaning, as is the case in the example given. But when the effect has derived from its cause, not only its existence, but also its meaning, then this cause is prior to the effect both in existence and in meaning. Hence, signification and manifestation belong more properly to the interior than to the exterior word, for whatever meaning the exterior word has been adopted to convey is due to the interior word.

8. A name is derived from two sources: from the one who uses the word or from the thing to which it has been applied. A word is said to be derived from a thing in so far as it signifies that by which the notion of the thing is completed, that is, the thing’s specific difference; and this is what a word principally signifies. But, since we do not know essential differences, sometimes, as is said in the Metaphysics, we use accidents or effects in their place, and name a thing accordingly. Hence, in so far as something other than the essential difference of a thing is used as the source of a word, the word is said to be derived from the one who uses it. An example of this is the word lapis (stone) which is derived from its effect, laedere pedem (to bruise the foot). Now, this effect should not be taken as that which the word principally signifies, but merely as that which takes the place of what is signified. Similarly, verbum (word) is derived from verberatio (a disturbing) or from boatus (shout) because of those who use it—not be cause of the thing it signifies.

9. As far as the nature of a word is concerned, it makes no difference whether a thing is understood by means of a likeness or by means of its essence; for it is evident that the exterior word signifies whatever can be understood—whether it be understood by means of its essence or by means of a likeness. Hence, whatever is understood, whether it has been caused by a likeness or by its essence, can be called an interior word.

10. Some of the things predicated both of God and creatures exist in God before they exist in creatures, even though their names were applied to creatures first. These predicates, such as goodness, wisdom, and the like, are used of God in their proper sense. Other names signifying other things cannot be used of God in their proper sense, but things similar to these things can be found in God. These things, there fore, are predicated metaphorically of Film, as when we say that God is a lion or that God walks. Hence, when the term word is applied to the divine Word from our word, this indicates merely the order in the use of the name, not the order between the two realities. Consequently; Word is not used metaphorically of God.

11. Vocal expression pertains to the nature of a word only will respect to that from which the word was taken by the one who employed this noun, not will respect to the thing itself. Consequently, even though vocal expression is predicated metaphorically of God, it does not follow that a word is in Him only metaphorically. For example, Damascene says that the word theos (God) comes from aitein which means to hum; but, although burning is predicated metaphorically of God, God is not.

12. The Incarnate Word is compared will the vocal word merely because of a certain resemblance, as is clear from what has been said. Hence, the Incarnate Word can be said to be a vocal word only metaphorically. But the eternal Word is compared will the word of the heart, according to the true nature of the interior word. Hence, each is called a word in the proper sense.


Parallel readings: Summa Theol., I, I Sentences 27, 2, 2; In Evang. Joannis, c. 1, lectura r (P. 10: 28 Sec also readings given for preceding article.


It seems that word can also be predicated essentially, for

1. Word signifies making manifest, as we said in the preceding article. Now, of itself the divine essence can manifest itself. Consequently, a word of itself belongs to the divine essence, and can be predicated of it essentially.

2. As we read in the Metaphysics, a word signifies a definition. But, according to Augustine, the word is "knowledge will love;" and ac cording to Anselm: "When the highest spirit is said to speak, this means that He is intuiting by thinking." Now, nothing but essential attributes are placed in these definitions. Hence, word is predicated essentially.

3. Whatever is said is a word. But, as Anselm writes, the Father utters not only Himself but also the Son and the Holy Spirit. Hence, word is common to all three Persons, and, therefore, is predicated essentially.

4. As Augustine says, whoever speaks possesses the word he speaks. But, as Anselm points out: "Just as the Father knows, and the Son knows, and the Holy Spirit knows, and yet there are not three knowers but one, so also the Father speaks, and the Son speaks, and the Holy Spirit speaks, and yet there are not three speakers but one." Hence, word can be used of any one of them. Now, nothing is common to the three persons but the essence. Hence, word is predicated essentially of God.

5. With respect to our intellect, there is no difference between speaking and understanding. Now, the divine Word is understood as resembling the word in the intellect. Hence, when we say that God speaks, we mean simply that fie understands. Consequently, His Word is simply that which He understands. Now, what God under stands is predicated of Him essentially. Hence, His Word should be similarly predicated.

6. As Augustine says, the divine Word is the operative power of the Father. Now, operative power is predicated essentially of God. Therefore, word is also predicated essentially.

7. Just as love implies an outpouring of affection, so does the word imply an outpouring of understanding. But love is predicated essentially of God. Hence, so also is the word.

8. That which can be understood of God without understanding the distinction of Persons is riot predicated personally. Now, the word belongs to this type, for even those who deny the distinction of per- sons admit that God utters Himself. Hence, the word is not predicated of God personally.

To the Contrary:

1'. Augustine says: "Only the Son is called the Word, not the Father and the Son taken together." Now, whatever is predicated essentially belongs equally to both. Therefore, the Word is not predicated essentially.

2'. In the Gospel according to St. John (1:1) we read: "The Word was will God." Since will is a transitive preposition, it implies a distinction. Consequently, the Word is distinct from God. But nothing that is predicated essentially is distinct in God. Therefore, the 'Word is not predicated essentially.

3’. In God whatever implies a relation of person to person is predicated personally, not essentially. But the Word is of this type. Therefore.

4’. In support of this position, the authority of Richard of St. Victor can be cited, since he shows that only the Son is called the Word.

De veritate EN 33