The Silence of St. Thomas (Josef Pieper)

Mention is rarely made of the fact that the teaching about God in the Summa Theologica begins with this sentence:  “We are not capable of knowing what God is, but we can know what he is not.”  I know of no textbook of Thomistic thought which contains the notion expressed by St. Thomas in his commentary on the De Trinitate of Boethius, namely that there are three degrees in our knowledge of God:  the lowest, the knowledge of God as he is active in creation; the second, the recognition of God as mirrored in spiritual beings; the third and loftiest, the recognition of God as Unknown, tamquam ignotum.  Or consider this sentence from the Questiones Disputatae:  “This is what is ultimate in the human knowledge of God:  to know that we do not know God.”

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