Roman Catholic Theology and Apologetics

I am starting this thread because I am genuinely interested in studying Theology on my own spare time. I have recently returned from Eastern Orthodoxy to the Roman Catholic Church. As I was Catholic prior to my conversion. It is my intention to turn this thread into a wealth of information on all things Catholic Theology and Apologetics.

Drop book recommendations, articles, reading lists, videos and everything useful to the contribution of making this thread valuable to Catholics who are intellectually inclined and are interested in such things.

Please note It is not my intention to provoke debate between Orthodox and Catholic in this thread. I have nothing but the utmost respect for my Orthodox brothers and sisters and their doctrine, dogma and practices and wish them the best. The last thing I want this thread to turn into is a warzone between the two or a Orthodox theology and apologetic thread.
 

NoMoreTO

Ostrich
Welcome Home.

Good thread idea. I am relatively new coming back to the faith also and have spent a fair bit of time learning, although I haven't completed as many works of the Saints as I would like.

While I don't consider myself a Taylor Marshall fan per se, his New St. Thomas Aquinas Institute was an unbelievable resource for me to Catechize. He has been building it year by year now for perhaps 8 years. Each year has a theme, the first year is Thomistic Theology. Other years include sections on Early Church History, Stories of Saints, Explaining Heresies, Virtues and Vices, it also includes sections on various Christian and Non Christian religions and basic apologetics, the best way to reach out to them. Essentially you have groupings of 10 minute videos so it's very easy to listen to while cooking dinner or in your spare time. It also comes with an online copy of the Summa Theologiae and other readings if you are interested.

I found it expensive to stay subscribed in the long run, but if you find yourself with spare time you can join up for a few months you can move pretty quickly through it. This is what I did. There are tests and quizzes, and upon passing you can use the certificate for various reasons to show you have a good catechesis. If you have a solid catechesis through your eastern Church experience, it might be a little too much re-teaching of things you know, but I wanted to recommend it for everyone. I wouldn't consider it lightweight at all, because most of us have gaps in what we know, more about certain things, less about others.

New St. Thomas Aquinas Institute

I really separate this from Taylor Marshall as a personality, or his youtube show, at least in it's present form which to me seems a little bit of a daily reactionary newsfeed as to the issues in the Church and US Politics. Though I don't tune in often anymore so am not sure. For a big picture overview I found it to be exceptional.

Here is an example of a video, he has a few on youtube for free. There must be 100s of videos like these.
 
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RonaldB

Pigeon
One of the books that I'm planing to read soon is this:

Having a strong grasp of the different heresies throughout history is important to avoid becoming a heretic.

Also, there's an app called 'ipieta' where you can find hundreds of resources like books (included the one mentioned above), prayers, catholic bibles and more.
 

bw929

Chicken
Fr. John Hardon, several years ago, put together his "Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan" which can be found here:


It has works from just after the Apostles to the 20th century.

The fathers and doctors of the church are always good to read. The Bible, of course, should be read every day. Butler's "Lives of the Saints," which I found online for free (archive.org I think) is great. (The best priest I've ever known, for example, in no particular order, recommends the Bible, regular Confession, Mass, the Lives of the Saints, and a daily Rosary.)

The Baltimore Catechism is superb, though it may be off-putting to some, as it was written for teenagers more than a century ago, so it can sound strange to the modern ear. I've heard good things about LaRavoire's catechism, though I have not read it myself. A modern (post-Vatican II) and excellent catechism I have read, is Trese's "The Faith Explained."
 

J.E.

Robin
I saved a playlist which goes into many Catholic dogmas and explains them from some unorthodox perspectives. Some videos opened my eyes and deepened my faith; they made my decision easier to become Catholic when I was on the verge between Catholicism and Orthodoxy.

 

Slide-Rule

Sparrow
My own little contribution:

The Summa Theologica:


I own a physical copy of it, while it is massive, the "format" for it is really simple and it repeats itself... For about 8 volumes of hardbound books, with its simple Latin and English translation.

For those in need of a challenge:

 

Sky

Chicken
I have recently returned from Eastern Orthodoxy to the Roman Catholic Church. As I was Catholic prior to my conversion.

Welcome back and Happy Easter*

First off, I would simply say that while I second the need to read The Summa Theologiae, it acts as more of an encyclopedia index of sorts. Because of Thomas's massive broad overview in all things The Summa is essentially an index and was intended to be an instructional guide for theology students, including seminarians and the literate laity at the time. I highly encourage you use it as one of (if not your main) reference source. It's an invaluable gift and treasure of the Church. With that being said you kind of have to know where St. Thomas was coming from when he wrote it and the philosophical backbone behind it. In other words what did he build it off of and why? Well, it was a response to Aristotle's secular works becoming increasingly popular, and so what we find in The Summa is essentially Aristotelian natural law & ethics complimented with the Catholic Churches understanding of the world. In short, St. Thomas took natural law and supernatural law and combined them. Regardless this comes with the huge task of understanding Aristotle if you are to make complete sense of Aquinas. The beauty of The Summa overall is it shows the harmony of natural law with the theological; it shows how the two are not disconnected but naturally work together and are complimentary.

As far as Catholic writing's go there's volumes upon volumes, it just depends on where you want to start and what you're researching or wish to understand. I mean this literally, there's an entire library devoted in the Vatican; the Vatican Apostolic Library, [...] It has 75,000 codices from throughout history, as well as 1.1 million printed books, which include some 8,500 incunabula (a book, pamphlet). So, you're talking about a massive treasury of information. It's easy to get lost in the weeds of all of this, but I would add, having some clear indication of what and why you're studying is valuable.

A good way I've found to discover new resources is simply to research the works of the Saint of that day (find the Saint of the day here - https://catholicsaints.info), you'll be pleasantly surprised and glad you did. Because today is Easter and the Feast of Isidore of Seville (4/4), one of my personal favorites and Catholic or otherwise should read his Etymologiae (The Etymologies). The Etymologies summarized and organized a wealth of knowledge from hundreds of classical sources; three of its books are derived largely from Pliny the Elder's Natural History.

At the moment I can't find a link for the book online though I've found one in the past, so if you simply search "Isidore of Seville The Etymologies pdf" you mightbe able to find a copy. If you're naturally fond of these sorts of texts I would simply buy it.

Generally Catholics have theological and supernatural basics on their side which supports and grounds most of their common sense logic but sometimes they lack the natural law philosophical implications for what they believe, which is I would suspect, why St. Thomas is so perennial and always in vogue. And so as a rule of thumb knowing the Bible (it's history, the main people, themes, allegory's, etc.) should probably come "first" or at very least be something you're constantly referencing back too with whatever studies you're interested in. "Philosophy" itself can become baseless and empty quite quickly if you have no religious backbone attached to you. So it's a bit of both worlds, you need to have an understanding of natural philosophical law + theological law at the same time, but not to get overly distracted with natural philosophical law, because again, it can quickly distort and undermine everything in the theological realm.

"See to it that no one makes a prey of you by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ." - Colossians 2:8

It's easy to get carried away with secular philosophy, so don't get carried away. With that being said examine whatever you are examining with prudence and good discernment.

All in all there's a plethora of different avenues one can take to find excellent Catholic resources and information is not lacking by any stretch of the imagination. As I mentioned having a grounding in ancient philosophy can be very beneficial, especially when trying to understand St. Augustine and St. Thomas. Realize that these theologians were building upon natural philosophical laws which scholastically and historically were the norm. And so, to truly appreciate St. Augustine or St. Thomas one may find it fruitful to delve into Plato and Aristotle. Yet, again I do caution with being led astray by weak empty secular philosophy and so one must use sound judgment and reference back to the master Catholic teachers when doing so. In other words you'll probably come to the wrong understanding of scripture (as many early philosophers did and still do) if you aren't referencing the Saints first and foremost. The Saint is someone you can read who has been singled out by The LORD as not necessarily 'free from error', but someone of clear reasoning and mind who you can trust when reading them. In other words it's almost always a very safe bet to read the Saints and to accept what they say without needing to put them under a microscope. While the Saints do indeed differ on different topics from time to time, overall you can read them and you shouldn't fall into grave error(s).

So as to not write you a book in this thread, because the goal is to read actual good books, here's a brief outline ...

Resources:

Catholic Encyclopedia:

The Fathers of the Church

As someone already referenced the The Catholic Encyclopedia is essential. With that being said it is vast and multi-faceted. If you don't have a basic understanding of philosophy it's not the resource you want to go to first because one could easily get lost in links of connected topics. Because were talking about something which encompasses literally all of life and reality, one can quickly get sidetracked from the topic at hand potentially. This is simply a word of caution, because at first when seemingly 'all knowledge' is presented it is a great blessing in some regards, but at the same time, if there is no prudence involved in what you're studying you can potentially come to the incorrect assumptions. An example of this would be search 'Christmas'. It's a decent overview of the topic, but by no means has all of the essential information. What I mean by this is one shouldn't try to 'construct' their own beliefs around encyclopedia definitions, because again it is very broad and without prudence you're liable to serious error if you are attempting to understand everything. It is simply an encyclopedia and should be treated as such.

CatholicSaints.Info

CatholicSaints.Info is a solid reference which includes a plethora of other Saintly individuals you may have never heard of. I'm not entirely sure where he's getting his information from, so use your better judgement. For example not every Marian apparition on the site is approved by the Church, nor is from my understanding, every 'Saint' a 'Saint' on the site. I could be mistaken though. I believe he may be getting his Saint list from the Acta Sanctorum (The Lives of the Saints) and or the The Bollandists. And so use your better judgement when going through that site, though it's one of the few I'm even aware of online with a broad array of obscure Saints, again, use your better judgement.

As far as Catholic authors, as mentioned there's an incredible array literally so you would have to be somewhat more specific as to what exactly you're looking for or even interested in. Modern Catholic Saints are invaluable and also worth mentioning, yet if the goal is to have a solid foundation for Catholic theology you have to back track a bit, if that's the goal.

In regards to secular philosophy in order to understand said Plato or Aristotle you have to go back to the beginning, which if I was giving you a timeline as to where "logic starts" and or what are "entry level" resources of secular philosophy which lead to Catholicism potentially and or help to assist us in understanding natural law, you have to start with Heraclitus and or the Stoics. It should be said though that doing so could quickly devolve into pantheism if you have no basic philosophical understanding of anything. Again, as mentioned earlier if you are Catholic normally the graces given assist the common sense in such an incredible way whereby most Catholics with no philosophical background can easily come to correct conclusions if they are practicing and in albeit in a normal healthy mindset; in a presumed state of grace. With that being said I'm hesitant to simply start rattling off secular philosophers if you have no basic understanding of philosophy.

Catholic Theology and Apologetics as you've indicated requires knowing the foundational principles of philosophy. Knowing St. Thomas is wonderful, but of apologetic's is the goal knowing Aristotle is just as important. To know Aristotle you need to know Plato, to know Plato you need to know Socrates, to know Socrates you need to know the Stoics, to know the Stoics you need to know Heraclitus, etc. If you are up to the task, as mentioned if you study Biblical history and it's main prophets and timeline concurrently with the secular world's some major pieces of lifes puzzle will inevitably come your way. For example some claims are that Plato got his ideas from Moses. If this is true how would you know if you don't understand Plato? Must one understand everything? No, yet one should have a solid understanding of what is being referenced if the intent is indeed apologetics, and so you're going to have to understand secular philosophy to some degree.

A decent (while no means perfect) beginning world history/philosophy book is The Great Conversation: A Historical Introduction to Philosophy. Keep in mind though, the author has a slightly secular bent, yet he's using the 'basic' common understanding which most academic 'philosophers' understand on the topics which is why I mention the book. You're getting the secluar point of view on philosophy from the horses mouth without loads of propaganda. Overall its a decent overview chronologically and his bias is not in your face as many secular philosophy books can be. For the record though, you have to go back in time with these topics. The book almost attempts at a certain point to rewrite history, which is everywhere nowadays, so keep that in mind if you read this. It discusses much in regards to modern philosophy and humanistic ideas which are the antithesis to the scholastic period, so realize much of what the world calls 'philosophy' is in fact heretical and the complete opposite of the goal; which is to understand wisdom and truth correct?


If I were you, which I'm not, I would use this as a rough outline of secular works to build up the Catholic ones. Again, don't get carried away with the pantheism and sometimes overt pseudo spirituality in these, but if you feel grounded in the faith enough then use them as a foundation to understanding natural law. If youre advanced enough read them alongside The Summa.
 

Sky

Chicken
Rough outline of secular philosophers to read to better understand logic in relation to natural law and Christianity:

#1. Heraclitus of Ephesus - The Fragments of Heraclitus




Heraclitus is essential to understanding paradoxes and logic as well as the Stoics concept of the logos. Because of how incredibly cryptic his writings (fragments) are it would be beneficial for you to at very least recognize some Greek and how it's being used. By no means do you have to study Greek to read his writings, and one can mostly infer as to what he's talking about, yet in certain instances you may want to have a basic understanding of the Greek language. If only to wrap your mind around the apparent contradictions which are being presented, which for the record I do not claim to read or know Greek. When I say go back in time, I mean it literally. Knowing Aristotle is important, but Heraclitus was the foundation even Aristotle was working off of. Heraclitus devolves into pantheism, so keep in mind that the 'logos' he is referring too is not identical to Jesus, yet becomes much important down the road.

#2. Musonius Rufus: Lectures and Sayings


Gaius Musonius Rufus was an important Stoic figure who is largely obscure in modern textbooks but important for many reasons. Rufus, though a Stoic, has a very clear and obvious approach to reality and nature on a whole. In many ways he is the quintessential Stoic. His 'logic' is straight forward and so obvious to the modern reader you don't even realize he's using logic because he's basing almost everything on common sense. Some major disclaimers here. He mentions 'zeus' quite a bit and while 'zeus' to the Stoics is viewed more as a metaphorical deity for reality in some instances, it should be noted that the Stoic models still ends at pantheism (everything is 'god'), and so it should be read through the lens realizing they viewed everything in nature as 'divine' to a certain extent and inseparable from ourselves. The upside to this is much needed common sense, yet while the Stoic finds God in 'everything', he unfortunately is left with 'nothing' at a certain point. Musonius taught Epictetus.

#3. Epictetus


His teachings were written down and published by his pupil Arrian in his Discourses and Enchiridion. Foundational Stoic works, which again provide much needed common sense to logic, but without a deity looks very similar to a modern atheistic naturalist in some ways. Epictetus influenced Marcus Aurelius.

#4. Marcus Aurelius


Roman emperor from 161 to 180 and a Stoic philosopher. He provides an interesting contrast to the Stoic lessons in history. His 'Meditations' has garnered an almost cult like following in the modern era and with good reason. His writing is very poetic and no-nonsense, yet gives the atheist some semblance of the mystical spirituality they are lacking in their life. In a way he is nihilistic about reality yet also very appreciative of the underlying simple spirituality encompassing everything. Again, sadly the Stoics never arrive at real truth because they never find God, believing all things to be 'god', they end up unfortunately never arriving there, yet their natural law insights are not only highly influential but tantamount to understand the secularists perspectives on life and death, even though sadly they end up at the wrong conclusions. I've maybe read four or five translations of Meditations and I've found the Gregory Hays to be very well structured and not confusing at all.

#5. Plato


Though Plato is sort of a large leap froward from Aurelius, if you actually read everything prior, I think the common sense logic being employed by Plato is to be credited mostly to the Stoics in particular, though it is clear Plato drew on a wide array of influences. Socrates is largely 'found' within the work of Plato and so by understanding Plato I believe you understand Socrates more clearly, Socrates who didn't write anything. Plato is sort of a large undertaking for the average laymen in philosophy and so having read the prior Stoics might warm you up to Plato a bit more even though Plato is in some ways their opposite, simply by virtue of his heavy theorizing. If wanting to hold off on Plato, reading Aristophanes before him might help one appreciate Plato in a more abstract sense, though not necessarily. The G. M. A. Grube translation of Plato's Republic is by far the best I've come across and is highly underrated. Grube apparently spoke and taught Greek and it shows, the translation is very well written. Grube himself was a democratic socialist political activist, and so it should be no surprise he was fascinated with the Republic in my opinion. Though keep that in mind; i.e. he was a communist from the sound of it. None of the secular philosophers really knew God, even though they all came close in different ways, they were ultimately grasping at thin air. For the unaware Plato was a student of Socrates and a teacher of Aristotle. Socrates didn't write anything and what we know of him is largely from Plato's representation of him.

#6. Aristotle


I have not read the linked translation of his works but "The Oxford Translation of Aristotle was originally published in 12 volumes between 1912 and 1954" but this sounds promising possibly. These philosophers are all building upon each other, so to truly appreciate Aristotle, to understand Aristotle you need to know some Plato, to know some Plato you know to know some Stoicism, etc.
From Aristotle onward making he transition into Catholic Theologians is much easier.

#7. St. Augustine.

He built off Plato and the Stoics and so to truly appreciate Augustine this should be recognized to some degree.

#8. St. Thomas Aquinas

Building largely off of Augustine, Aristotle, and of course all of the Church theologians before him makes him the master and for good reason. In conclusion I realize you want Catholic theologians, and there are many, this is simply an alternative perspective worth maybe taking a look at to further your apologist aims. Again in conclusion don't be misled by the pantheistic tendencies of Stoicism, but realize many early Christian converts were not only Jew's but Stoics as well. And reading early Stoicism it's not surprise as to why, simply give them God and they look almost like Christians in much of their philosophy and logic.

And as an aside, we also much similarities with the early Desert Fathers and the Stoics. Christianity is essentially Stoicism with a personal creator to some degree. The Desert Fathers were essentially advanced stoics, and had the Stoics known the Desert Fathers they would have admired them without a doubt. Maybe one of the bets translations I've found is this one:

#9. Desert Fathers

There's really not that many secular philosophers worth your time. Plato and Aristotle especially came incredibly close to God, yet without revelation were left empty handed. And so I would not read secular philosophers in a 'religious' or 'spiritual' sense, as the atheist do with Marcus Aurelius's Meditations. But realize they were a stepping stone for natural law logic which is finite within humans and we can only know so much, which is part of the reason natural law logic came to a stand still after Aristotle. One might argue the 'enlightenment' (which was not enlightening at all) as having provided men 'new logic' they had never known, but again this would be misleading and a fabrication of the truth. The Catholic Church in particular has been on the forefront of natural law and science for a very long time. Regardless that is a different discussion altogether. What I would simply say in conclusion is natural law and natural logic was limited before Christ and so the ancient philosophers discovered the limit of human logic (for the most part) without God. But after Christ, obviously there's a whole new aspect of human nature worth becoming one with and understanding.

I would add furthermore if you actually read all of the ancients listed and then read Aquinas (while reading the Old Testament concurrently) - you will be leagues beyond and in line with the best theologians out there. Which being the 'best' or 'smartest' shouldn't be your goal, yet knowing where these foundations came from will. I will probably try to outline some basic history of the Old Testament on here for oyu if you want, though I must admit, the Old Testament is ot something to take lightly and is a lifelong study. But one should at very be trying to grasp the Old Testament to the best of their ability in order to grapple with secular ideology. Again, final note is simply to reinforce the notion not to get carried away with the secular philosophy. I can't say it enough. Augustine himself went astray doing so and many people hve so be grounded in Catholic readings first and foremost. Honestly there's not much secular philosophy worth your time other than what I've listed, and everything else I would recommend would be the Saints writings, so you have like half a dozen secular philosophers (Plato alone is difficult to digest though the others are much more basic and obvious), but you have half a dozen secular philosophers here worth your time, compared to literally hundreds of Catholic Saints writings, so this is the small group I would even bother looking at, I know there's tons of Eastern philosophers out there people swear on, yet much of the philosophy of the East is corrupted via inaccurate notions of how the metaphysical operates.

And so I would say if reading any secular philosopher or any ideology at all in general, realize some kind of natural law might be there n their writings, but if it's religious or spiritual other than Catholic I'd personally avoid it until you have some solid foundation of St. Thomas's metaphysics at very least. Which can become wildly complex so it's a lot of work if you want to understand Thomas, realize though that as Catholics God does do a lot for us, so in some ways we can make it harder than it is and ver complicate the issues. Hope that helps. Long story short, stick to the Saints, but realize some natural law may be present in secular ideologies but use St. Thomas to understand that.

Lastly you should bookmark CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH first and foremost:


And finally, finally as I said these are really the only secular philosophers I would give my time too. If you do read 'The Great Conversation' he's going to present to you a bunch of secular 'saints' who are AntiChrists, so realize this is knowing your enemy and the truths of natural law found in them have basically almost all been discovered via Aristotle ala Aquinas. So point is you don't have to reinvent the wheel here ok. Alot of people get 'enchanted' with the modernist secular post-enlightenment garbage. You don't want any of that and it's Anti-Gospel so I almost can't even recommend 'The Great Conversation' book simply because half of it is secular. I only mention it so you have a reference point for how these people are viewing the world. Honestly you don't need to buy most or any of these books and I probably wouldn't if I were you. You can find most of them online.

I would simply add, again, if your up to it with sound prudence and faith, give them brief glances to get what they're talking about. Realize though most of what the Stoics said has already been 'figured out' via Augustine and Aquinas mostly and so again don't get carried away but realize it's simply philosophical 'natural law' and not religious, keep that frame in mind when reading. Again I was hesitant to share these but these are literally the only secular philosophers I can even come close to bringing up. Every secular ideology is going to be flawed but what secular philosophy does which is so incredibly destructive is it distorts basic natural law, which makes believing in God diffident and so keep in mind this is the maximum list of secular philosophers I can suggest. The reason being it requires a highly prudent and devote Catholic mind to think through the secular lies without distorting your own. Marcus Aurelius enchants so many because he had a clear grasp of natural law and so even though he has a solid foundation of logic it's ultimately flawed because Christ no where to be found, even though he speaks of the logos He's not using a Christian frame when doing so, so this is very much worth mentioning and can and does lead Christians astray, so for the last time, don't get carried away.

I will gladly make a list of Saints worth your time at some point though; i.e. read anything by The Doctors of The Church and you can't go wrong.

 
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Welcome back and Happy Easter*

First off, I would simply say that while I second the need to read The Summa Theologiae, it acts as more of an encyclopedia index of sorts. Because of Thomas's massive broad overview in all things The Summa is essentially an index and was intended to be an instructional guide for theology students, including seminarians and the literate laity at the time. I highly encourage you use it as one of (if not your main) reference source. It's an invaluable gift and treasure of the Church. With that being said you kind of have to know where St. Thomas was coming from when he wrote it and the philosophical backbone behind it. In other words what did he build it off of and why? Well, it was a response to Aristotle's secular works becoming increasingly popular, and so what we find in The Summa is essentially Aristotelian natural law & ethics complimented with the Catholic Churches understanding of the world. In short, St. Thomas took natural law and supernatural law and combined them. Regardless this comes with the huge task of understanding Aristotle if you are to make complete sense of Aquinas. The beauty of The Summa overall is it shows the harmony of natural law with the theological; it shows how the two are not disconnected but naturally work together and are complimentary.

As far as Catholic writing's go there's volumes upon volumes, it just depends on where you want to start and what you're researching or wish to understand. I mean this literally, there's an entire library devoted in the Vatican; the Vatican Apostolic Library, [...] It has 75,000 codices from throughout history, as well as 1.1 million printed books, which include some 8,500 incunabula (a book, pamphlet). So, you're talking about a massive treasury of information. It's easy to get lost in the weeds of all of this, but I would add, having some clear indication of what and why you're studying is valuable.

A good way I've found to discover new resources is simply to research the works of the Saint of that day (find the Saint of the day here - https://catholicsaints.info), you'll be pleasantly surprised and glad you did. Because today is Easter and the Feast of Isidore of Seville (4/4), one of my personal favorites and Catholic or otherwise should read his Etymologiae (The Etymologies). The Etymologies summarized and organized a wealth of knowledge from hundreds of classical sources; three of its books are derived largely from Pliny the Elder's Natural History.

At the moment I can't find a link for the book online though I've found one in the past, so if you simply search "Isidore of Seville The Etymologies pdf" you mightbe able to find a copy. If you're naturally fond of these sorts of texts I would simply buy it.

Generally Catholics have theological and supernatural basics on their side which supports and grounds most of their common sense logic but sometimes they lack the natural law philosophical implications for what they believe, which is I would suspect, why St. Thomas is so perennial and always in vogue. And so as a rule of thumb knowing the Bible (it's history, the main people, themes, allegory's, etc.) should probably come "first" or at very least be something you're constantly referencing back too with whatever studies you're interested in. "Philosophy" itself can become baseless and empty quite quickly if you have no religious backbone attached to you. So it's a bit of both worlds, you need to have an understanding of natural philosophical law + theological law at the same time, but not to get overly distracted with natural philosophical law, because again, it can quickly distort and undermine everything in the theological realm.

"See to it that no one makes a prey of you by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ." - Colossians 2:8

It's easy to get carried away with secular philosophy, so don't get carried away. With that being said examine whatever you are examining with prudence and good discernment.

All in all there's a plethora of different avenues one can take to find excellent Catholic resources and information is not lacking by any stretch of the imagination. As I mentioned having a grounding in ancient philosophy can be very beneficial, especially when trying to understand St. Augustine and St. Thomas. Realize that these theologians were building upon natural philosophical laws which scholastically and historically were the norm. And so, to truly appreciate St. Augustine or St. Thomas one may find it fruitful to delve into Plato and Aristotle. Yet, again I do caution with being led astray by weak empty secular philosophy and so one must use sound judgment and reference back to the master Catholic teachers when doing so. In other words you'll probably come to the wrong understanding of scripture (as many early philosophers did and still do) if you aren't referencing the Saints first and foremost. The Saint is someone you can read who has been singled out by The LORD as not necessarily 'free from error', but someone of clear reasoning and mind who you can trust when reading them. In other words it's almost always a very safe bet to read the Saints and to accept what they say without needing to put them under a microscope. While the Saints do indeed differ on different topics from time to time, overall you can read them and you shouldn't fall into grave error(s).

So as to not write you a book in this thread, because the goal is to read actual good books, here's a brief outline ...

Resources:

Catholic Encyclopedia:

The Fathers of the Church

As someone already referenced the The Catholic Encyclopedia is essential. With that being said it is vast and multi-faceted. If you don't have a basic understanding of philosophy it's not the resource you want to go to first because one could easily get lost in links of connected topics. Because were talking about something which encompasses literally all of life and reality, one can quickly get sidetracked from the topic at hand potentially. This is simply a word of caution, because at first when seemingly 'all knowledge' is presented it is a great blessing in some regards, but at the same time, if there is no prudence involved in what you're studying you can potentially come to the incorrect assumptions. An example of this would be search 'Christmas'. It's a decent overview of the topic, but by no means has all of the essential information. What I mean by this is one shouldn't try to 'construct' their own beliefs around encyclopedia definitions, because again it is very broad and without prudence you're liable to serious error if you are attempting to understand everything. It is simply an encyclopedia and should be treated as such.

CatholicSaints.Info

CatholicSaints.Info is a solid reference which includes a plethora of other Saintly individuals you may have never heard of. I'm not entirely sure where he's getting his information from, so use your better judgement. For example not every Marian apparition on the site is approved by the Church, nor is from my understanding, every 'Saint' a 'Saint' on the site. I could be mistaken though. I believe he may be getting his Saint list from the Acta Sanctorum (The Lives of the Saints) and or the The Bollandists. And so use your better judgement when going through that site, though it's one of the few I'm even aware of online with a broad array of obscure Saints, again, use your better judgement.

As far as Catholic authors, as mentioned there's an incredible array literally so you would have to be somewhat more specific as to what exactly you're looking for or even interested in. Modern Catholic Saints are invaluable and also worth mentioning, yet if the goal is to have a solid foundation for Catholic theology you have to back track a bit, if that's the goal.

In regards to secular philosophy in order to understand said Plato or Aristotle you have to go back to the beginning, which if I was giving you a timeline as to where "logic starts" and or what are "entry level" resources of secular philosophy which lead to Catholicism potentially and or help to assist us in understanding natural law, you have to start with Heraclitus and or the Stoics. It should be said though that doing so could quickly devolve into pantheism if you have no basic philosophical understanding of anything. Again, as mentioned earlier if you are Catholic normally the graces given assist the common sense in such an incredible way whereby most Catholics with no philosophical background can easily come to correct conclusions if they are practicing and in albeit in a normal healthy mindset; in a presumed state of grace. With that being said I'm hesitant to simply start rattling off secular philosophers if you have no basic understanding of philosophy.

Catholic Theology and Apologetics as you've indicated requires knowing the foundational principles of philosophy. Knowing St. Thomas is wonderful, but of apologetic's is the goal knowing Aristotle is just as important. To know Aristotle you need to know Plato, to know Plato you need to know Socrates, to know Socrates you need to know the Stoics, to know the Stoics you need to know Heraclitus, etc. If you are up to the task, as mentioned if you study Biblical history and it's main prophets and timeline concurrently with the secular world's some major pieces of lifes puzzle will inevitably come your way. For example some claims are that Plato got his ideas from Moses. If this is true how would you know if you don't understand Plato? Must one understand everything? No, yet one should have a solid understanding of what is being referenced if the intent is indeed apologetics, and so you're going to have to understand secular philosophy to some degree.

A decent (while no means perfect) beginning world history/philosophy book is The Great Conversation: A Historical Introduction to Philosophy. Keep in mind though, the author has a slightly secular bent, yet he's using the 'basic' common understanding which most academic 'philosophers' understand on the topics which is why I mention the book. You're getting the secluar point of view on philosophy from the horses mouth without loads of propaganda. Overall its a decent overview chronologically and his bias is not in your face as many secular philosophy books can be. For the record though, you have to go back in time with these topics. The book almost attempts at a certain point to rewrite history, which is everywhere nowadays, so keep that in mind if you read this. It discusses much in regards to modern philosophy and humanistic ideas which are the antithesis to the scholastic period, so realize much of what the world calls 'philosophy' is in fact heretical and the complete opposite of the goal; which is to understand wisdom and truth correct?


If I were you, which I'm not, I would use this as a rough outline of secular works to build up the Catholic ones. Again, don't get carried away with the pantheism and sometimes overt pseudo spirituality in these, but if you feel grounded in the faith enough then use them as a foundation to understanding natural law. If youre advanced enough read them alongside The Summa.

Wow that post was NUCLEAR. This was truly a great contribution to the thread my friend.

I will take your advice and start running with it. Thanks again, Happy Easter and god bless.
 
Rough outline of secular philosophers to read to better understand logic in relation to natural law and Christianity:

#1. Heraclitus of Ephesus - The Fragments of Heraclitus




Heraclitus is essential to understanding paradoxes and logic as well as the Stoics concept of the logos. Because of how incredibly cryptic his writings (fragments) are it would be beneficial for you to at very least recognize some Greek and how it's being used. By no means do you have to study Greek to read his writings, and one can mostly infer as to what he's talking about, yet in certain instances you may want to have a basic understanding of the Greek language. If only to wrap your mind around the apparent contradictions which are being presented, which for the record I do not claim to read or know Greek. When I say go back in time, I mean it literally. Knowing Aristotle is important, but Heraclitus was the foundation even Aristotle was working off of. Heraclitus devolves into pantheism, so keep in mind that the 'logos' he is referring too is not identical to Jesus, yet becomes much important down the road.

#2. Musonius Rufus: Lectures and Sayings


Gaius Musonius Rufus was an important Stoic figure who is largely obscure in modern textbooks but important for many reasons. Rufus, though a Stoic, has a very clear and obvious approach to reality and nature on a whole. In many ways he is the quintessential Stoic. His 'logic' is straight forward and so obvious to the modern reader you don't even realize he's using logic because he's basing almost everything on common sense. Some major disclaimers here. He mentions 'zeus' quite a bit and while 'zeus' to the Stoics is viewed more as a metaphorical deity for reality in some instances, it should be noted that the Stoic models still ends at pantheism (everything is 'god'), and so it should be read through the lens realizing they viewed everything in nature as 'divine' to a certain extent and inseparable from ourselves. The upside to this is much needed common sense, yet while the Stoic finds God in 'everything', he unfortunately is left with 'nothing' at a certain point. Musonius taught Epictetus.

#3. Epictetus


His teachings were written down and published by his pupil Arrian in his Discourses and Enchiridion. Foundational Stoic works, which again provide much needed common sense to logic, but without a deity looks very similar to a modern atheistic naturalist in some ways. Epictetus influenced Marcus Aurelius.

#4. Marcus Aurelius


Roman emperor from 161 to 180 and a Stoic philosopher. He provides an interesting contrast to the Stoic lessons in history. His 'Meditations' has garnered an almost cult like following in the modern era and with good reason. His writing is very poetic and no-nonsense, yet gives the atheist some semblance of the mystical spirituality they are lacking in their life. In a way he is nihilistic about reality yet also very appreciative of the underlying simple spirituality encompassing everything. Again, sadly the Stoics never arrive at real truth because they never find God, believing all things to be 'god', they end up unfortunately never arriving there, yet their natural law insights are not only highly influential but tantamount to understand the secularists perspectives on life and death, even though sadly they end up at the wrong conclusions. I've maybe read four or five translations of Meditations and I've found the Gregory Hays to be very well structured and not confusing at all.

#5. Plato


Though Plato is sort of a large leap froward from Aurelius, if you actually read everything prior, I think the common sense logic being employed by Plato is to be credited mostly to the Stoics in particular, though it is clear Plato drew on a wide array of influences. Socrates is largely 'found' within the work of Plato and so by understanding Plato I believe you understand Socrates more clearly, Socrates who didn't write anything. Plato is sort of a large undertaking for the average laymen in philosophy and so having read the prior Stoics might warm you up to Plato a bit more even though Plato is in some ways their opposite, simply by virtue of his heavy theorizing. If wanting to hold off on Plato, reading Aristophanes before him might help one appreciate Plato in a more abstract sense, though not necessarily. The G. M. A. Grube translation of Plato's Republic is by far the best I've come across and is highly underrated. Grube apparently spoke and taught Greek and it shows, the translation is very well written. Grube himself was a democratic socialist political activist, and so it should be no surprise he was fascinated with the Republic in my opinion. Though keep that in mind; i.e. he was a communist from the sound of it. None of the secular philosophers really knew God, even though they all came close in different ways, they were ultimately grasping at thin air. For the unaware Plato was a student of Socrates and a teacher of Aristotle. Socrates didn't write anything and what we know of him is largely from Plato's representation of him.

#6. Aristotle


I have not read the linked translation of his works but "The Oxford Translation of Aristotle was originally published in 12 volumes between 1912 and 1954" but this sounds promising possibly. These philosophers are all building upon each other, so to truly appreciate Aristotle, to understand Aristotle you need to know some Plato, to know some Plato you know to know some Stoicism, etc.
From Aristotle onward making he transition into Catholic Theologians is much easier.

#7. St. Augustine.

He built off Plato and the Stoics and so to truly appreciate Augustine this should be recognized to some degree.

#8. St. Thomas Aquinas

Building largely off of Augustine, Aristotle, and of course all of the Church theologians before him makes him the master and for good reason. In conclusion I realize you want Catholic theologians, and there are many, this is simply an alternative perspective worth maybe taking a look at to further your apologist aims. Again in conclusion don't be misled by the pantheistic tendencies of Stoicism, but realize many early Christian converts were not only Jew's but Stoics as well. And reading early Stoicism it's not surprise as to why, simply give them God and they look almost like Christians in much of their philosophy and logic.

And as an aside, we also much similarities with the early Desert Fathers and the Stoics. Christianity is essentially Stoicism with a personal creator to some degree. The Desert Fathers were essentially advanced stoics, and had the Stoics known the Desert Fathers they would have admired them without a doubt. Maybe one of the bets translations I've found is this one:

#9. Desert Fathers

There's really not that many secular philosophers worth your time. Plato and Aristotle especially came incredibly close to God, yet without revelation were left empty handed. And so I would not read secular philosophers in a 'religious' or 'spiritual' sense, as the atheist do with Marcus Aurelius's Meditations. But realize they were a stepping stone for natural law logic which is finite within humans and we can only know so much, which is part of the reason natural law logic came to a stand still after Aristotle. One might argue the 'enlightenment' (which was not enlightening at all) as having provided men 'new logic' they had never known, but again this would be misleading and a fabrication of the truth. The Catholic Church in particular has been on the forefront of natural law and science for a very long time. Regardless that is a different discussion altogether. What I would simply say in conclusion is natural law and natural logic was limited before Christ and so the ancient philosophers discovered the limit of human logic (for the most part) without God. But after Christ, obviously there's a whole new aspect of human nature worth becoming one with and understanding.

I would add furthermore if you actually read all of the ancients listed and then read Aquinas (while reading the Old Testament concurrently) - you will be leagues beyond and in line with the best theologians out there. Which being the 'best' or 'smartest' shouldn't be your goal, yet knowing where these foundations came from will. I will probably try to outline some basic history of the Old Testament on here for oyu if you want, though I must admit, the Old Testament is ot something to take lightly and is a lifelong study. But one should at very be trying to grasp the Old Testament to the best of their ability in order to grapple with secular ideology. Again, final note is simply to reinforce the notion not to get carried away with the secular philosophy. I can't say it enough. Augustine himself went astray doing so and many people hve so be grounded in Catholic readings first and foremost. Honestly there's not much secular philosophy worth your time other than what I've listed, and everything else I would recommend would be the Saints writings, so you have like half a dozen secular philosophers (Plato alone is difficult to digest though the others are much more basic and obvious), but you have half a dozen secular philosophers here worth your time, compared to literally hundreds of Catholic Saints writings, so this is the small group I would even bother looking at, I know there's tons of Eastern philosophers out there people swear on, yet much of the philosophy of the East is corrupted via inaccurate notions of how the metaphysical operates.

And so I would say if reading any secular philosopher or any ideology at all in general, realize some kind of natural law might be there n their writings, but if it's religious or spiritual other than Catholic I'd personally avoid it until you have some solid foundation of St. Thomas's metaphysics at very least. Which can become wildly complex so it's a lot of work if you want to understand Thomas, realize though that as Catholics God does do a lot for us, so in some ways we can make it harder than it is and ver complicate the issues. Hope that helps. Long story short, stick to the Saints, but realize some natural law may be present in secular ideologies but use St. Thomas to understand that.

Lastly you should bookmark CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH first and foremost:


And finally, finally as I said these are really the only secular philosophers I would give my time too. If you do read 'The Great Conversation' he's going to present to you a bunch of secular 'saints' who are AntiChrists, so realize this is knowing your enemy and the truths of natural law found in them have basically almost all been discovered via Aristotle ala Aquinas. So point is you don't have to reinvent the wheel here ok. Alot of people get 'enchanted' with the modernist secular post-enlightenment garbage. You don't want any of that and it's Anti-Gospel so I almost can't even recommend 'The Great Conversation' book simply because half of it is secular. I only mention it so you have a reference point for how these people are viewing the world. Honestly you don't need to buy most or any of these books and I probably wouldn't if I were you. You can find most of them online.

I would simply add, again, if your up to it with sound prudence and faith, give them brief glances to get what they're talking about. Realize though most of what the Stoics said has already been 'figured out' via Augustine and Aquinas mostly and so again don't get carried away but realize it's simply philosophical 'natural law' and not religious, keep that frame in mind when reading. Again I was hesitant to share these but these are literally the only secular philosophers I can even come close to bringing up. Every secular ideology is going to be flawed but what secular philosophy does which is so incredibly destructive is it distorts basic natural law, which makes believing in God diffident and so keep in mind this is the maximum list of secular philosophers I can suggest. The reason being it requires a highly prudent and devote Catholic mind to think through the secular lies without distorting your own. Marcus Aurelius enchants so many because he had a clear grasp of natural law and so even though he has a solid foundation of logic it's ultimately flawed because Christ no where to be found, even though he speaks of the logos He's not using a Christian frame when doing so, so this is very much worth mentioning and can and does lead Christians astray, so for the last time, don't get carried away.

I will gladly make a list of Saints worth your time at some point though; i.e. read anything by The Doctors of The Church and you can't go wrong.


Regarding Biblical studies and Old testament studies what are the books you recommend as second hand and supplementary material?
 

Sky

Chicken
While it's become sort of a Protestant non-denominational way of thinking, knowing scripture is indeed the primary way to true knowledge first and foremost, though with the caveat that we are striving after a literal relationship with God. Simply acquiring as much knowledge as possible can have the reverse effect if not careful.

It is my intention to turn this thread into a wealth of information on all things Catholic Theology and Apologetics.

Drop book recommendations, articles, reading lists, videos and everything useful to the contribution of making this thread valuable to Catholics who are intellectually inclined and are interested in such things.

And so as I've indicated the Vatican Library is massive and no thread could ever contain even a a shred of the actual truth. Though not to diminish your intent for books, articles, reading lists, etc. I'm simply indicating that inquiring knowledge isn't always the most fruitful endeavor. Though, again, maybe for you it is, and there's nothing wrong with that. I'm simply indicating that the internet can for many become a sinkhole of information where they acquire a bunch of facts, but don't act on any of it.

Again this is not to downplay your desire for wanting more knowledge, I think that's too be admired and not enough people inquire about their faith and religion, so much respect there. I'm simply stating that more isn't always better.

It's ironic because men end up accumulating knowledge and they always come to the reverse answer; that less is more. The Stoics knew this, the Desert Fathers knew this, Christ Himself knew this. The point is we accumulate knowledge and think the Stoics knew something we did not know; they didn't, they were merely verbalizing poetically what everyone else knows to some degree. "You're a soul carrying a corpse." - "You're going to die at some point, embrace it." - It's literally just common sense logic for the most part. But it's ironic because in man's search for meaning he accumulates as many philosophers as he can only to come to the same conclusion, that less is more and life (God) provides you with everything you need. The odd cyclical nature of this is in man's quest for knowledge he accumulates, only to realize he didn't need to accumulate in the first place. And you see this over and over again in philosophy.

One of the 'greatest' human minds in history, Aristotle, has the same mind as that of a child. A = A. It is what it is. Granted I'm not diminishing Aristotle's legacy and he would most likely agree with me, He categorized human natural law, yet my point is we all use this same natural law. And so it's very ironic in man's accumulation of knowledge he comes back to the conclusion that everything 'is what it is'. This is an obvious oversimplification of human logic, yet as I said we see it over and over again in the greats.

Because natural law is apparent and accessible to everyone - from the smallest child on up to the 'greatest' scholar - they are working with the same tools, and so they inevitably come to the same conclusions. "Oh, A = A." It's only really the Saints who have true knowledge accessible to them for the simple fact that Theological Virtues and Grave and The Holy Spirit has been imbued within them.

Those 'geniuses' of natural law (the Stoics, Plato, Aristotle) all arrive at the same conclusion but have face for "it" (God's ultimate simplicity). They knew what they were after hypothetically but they had no reference point to lock onto. Plato was clearly aware of a 'higher Good' and might've known about the God of the Old Testament had you asked him, yet this concept of the supreme simple good and being allegorically apply s to man himself. Thus enters the concept of the Stoic Sage.


Ironically by trying to find and know more, and more, and more, we inevitably realize none of it is truly fruitful. Which is the reason the Stoics were such minimalist to begin with and Plato and Aristotle were are greatly indebted tot he Stoic ideal. This Stoic Sage was an impossibility they thought. Thus enters Christ, and now were transformed. Adding to the four natural law virtues, Christ added three more. He was not only the Stoic Sage, but beyond that human concept in every conceivable way, and He still is. Humanity cannot entirely define His ultimate simplicity, yet it's something were all after, and all the 'great' thinkers come to the same conclusion.

The Stoic's and 'greatest' thinkers in human history realize 'all knowledge' is not only foolish and unobtainable, but not even conceivable. The Stoics believed the Sage was an impossibility. And so for all of man's efforts to understand 'everything' he arrives back at where h started, to simply and with humility and contentedness embrace his natural role in life; which is embrace His creator. It's the main reason the Stocic were pantheists. When you 'understand' all knowledge you realize none of it matter because the source of all knowledge is God Himself. And so the pantheists arrive at the 'logical' conclusion because they didn't have all of the information; they didn't know about Christ.

The Catholic Saints you read are identical yet supernatural beings in and of themselves. Every Saint becomes a 'Stoic' Sage of sorts. The more you read their writings the more you come to realize they're all the saying the same thing:

37 He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” - Matthew 22:37-40

This human logic of desiring 'all knowledge' realized the source must have 'made' nature or 'become nature' or 'is nature' and so the Stoic was misled for never having heard of the Old Testament God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel). And so they turned on on themselves, believing they must be 'divine' to some extent.

What we see with Christians is the opposite effect. Having a signpost to focus on, seeing our Creator and having Him personified directs the Christian outward. No longer must he go 'inward' into a nihilistic nothingness, but now he can go outward and truly embrace reality and His Creator. The Christian is freed from his slavery to sin, now he can look outward and truly love.

And so, the knowledge obtained fuels the understanding and intellect in order to realize himself as a person in the world, yet it does not satisfy the mind, because nothing can satisfy the mind except the Creator, which is an intuitive process for the human person. A person intuitively knows they need to be orientated, and the one orientation which allows for the human mind to express all things is none other than the Creator the LORD Himself; personified as a divine person in Jesus obviously.

And so the point I'm attempting to articulate here is none other than fact that the more knowledge you acquire the faster you will simply come to the understanding that you already know 'everything' if you 'know' Jesus and are orientated to Him. Knowledge does not do 'anything' else except help you realize your broken and need Christ;t hat's what it does at a bare bones level. Now, does this mean there aren't prereqs involved? No, not at all. For obviously if you know Him, you follow what He has said, which logically leads to the Catholic Church. But the point here every person requires some sort of specific knowledge to lead them back to God. And so it has nothing to do with quantity and everything to do with what you're missing in your life, which inevitably I guarantee, without a doubt is God; specifically Jesus Christ. How do I know this? Because as already indicated if you are seeking knowledge (which everyone is) then you want the knowledge which has all knowledge essentially is what your after, which inevitably (if actually using logic) you'll come tot he conclusion of God, because He's the only 'thing' which has all knowledge.

And so if you actually sit down and read the Saints lives and their personal accounts. They're all more or less saying the same thing in different ways. Thomas and the other Doctors are special because they articulated finer points of inquiry into the truths of things, but literally you're reading the same thing over and over again in different ways; which is:

37 He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” - Matthew 22:37-40


The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction. - Proverbs 1:7

'Knowledge' in his day and age is sadly reduced to quantity, as if 'knowing' more makes you actually intelligent. When it's happening the opposite effect. Again, when you read the Stoics they would tell you to read less. Read the Desert Fathers, they would say read less. Read the Saints, they would say read less.

Again, this is not meant to diminish your desire for God and the truth, not at all. Simply realize the road you're starting on has a very similar ending and what you're ultimately looking for is a reason to love God, that's all it is and all it should be.
 
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Sky

Chicken
Regarding Biblical studies and Old testament studies what are the books you recommend as second hand and supplementary material?

You're going to want what are called 'commentaries' on the Bible. They're actually kind of difficult to track down. Everyone here rightly mentions The Summa because he breaks down the biblical themes in their entirety and he's essentially the authority on the topic of Aristotle + the Bible and so this is why he's so popular.

Old Testament is a little different ... here's a list of commentaries. Keep in mind this is as you said supplementary and if you have an actual question what to believe go to the Catechism:


Again, there's a ton of information out there and that goes for commentaries as well, but this is a basic list to give you an idea. Now, who do you go with? Depends. "Bellarmine (a Doctor of The Church bytheway), one of the first Christians to write a Hebrew grammar, composed a valuable commentary on the Psalms." - So it's honestly kind of difficult to track down some of these texts ok. Not gunna lie. One source you can use is the https://archive.org/index.php and make a free account and search the text that way.

Again, the Catechism should provide a footnote if you want to delve deeper into a specific topic. As far as an 'authority' on the Old Testament, it's kind of tricky in my opinion for different reasons.


I know simply getting a 'footnote' in the Catechism doesn't 'give us' everything we want. We as people want explanations for things. Again, the reason Thomas is so popular is he literally delivers in every department on virtually every question.

Regardless commentaries are and were very much more of 'Protestant' approach to their need to 'explain' everything in the Bible at the time, and while I have nothing against them per say, if you are simply looking for a historical outline that's a little different than an entire Bibical interpretation in some ways.

Again, look for the "St." in front of their name and just because it's on the Catholic Encyclopedia don't take it as gospel, pun intended. Origen talks a great deal about the early Church and is referenced on their, but he's not a Catholic Saint, so again the 'waters' are very muddy with error especially online when the early Church appears so blended together.

I'd encourage you to delve in the Catholic Doctors of the Church as mentioned, because the vast amount of real information you are after will be there. Realize that as already mentioned the Saints have been building upon natural law for literally 2000 years and so the reason (again I hate to beat a dead horse here) the reason Thomas Aquinas is brought up so much is because he virtually resolved most of the modern answers we were after. He's building everything off of the Old Testament. Again, by 'going backwards' - Augustine did much of the Old Testament leg work.

When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense, lest you make nonsense (Cooper 1970, p. 11). This common refrain, sometimes called the “Golden Rule of Interpretation".

Again some of this stuff is hard to find but you could look for Augustine's commentaries on the Book of Genesis.

And the point, I'll repeat one last time for clarification's sake, is that Thomas was building off of Augustine and Aristotle. Augustine from personal conviction (most likely) felt compelled to understand 'everything' in the Church, he needed to do it on a very personal level, and so his writings are invaluable and you could spend 1000+ hours easy reading them and trying to make sense of them. Thomas Aquinas was incredibly sympathetic (from my understanding) of Augustine and quotes him frequently. The point is you don't have to reinvent the wheel. Aquinas has already figured out the answer for you and he's consistent, so I have to echo the masses when I say Aquinas's Summa.

If you are looking for a personal 'reading' of the bible - not sola scripture - but try what is known as Lectio Divina.


I'm not trying to say there is no authority on commentaries of the Bible, because their most certainly are depending on the book(s) in question, but realize were talking about the Bible here. It's literally the story of life and while there is indeed a logical narrative which flows from start to end and the Catholic Church (which compiled the Bible in the first place) has an explanation for all of these aspects, but they are multi-faceted and were dealing with some heavy lifting and the most intense logical scrutiny known to man, and in fact a mystery to men. And so while the Catholic Church has claim to the entire narrative, everyone believes they can 'interpret' scripture in a different way or manner. The fact of the matter is the Bible is beyond human understanding in it's entirety and acts as not only an instrument but an extension of the human self as they are, yet it's are ultimate roadmap of life's story. This isn't to say don't read commentaries, it's only to say that the main narrative has been established yet Lectio Divina and the vast complexity of life in and of itself will reveal many of the personal mysteries in the words of the Bible. This doesn't mean rely solely on the bible as the protestants do obviously, it simply means there's a personal slight subjective element involved because everyone's life story is slightly different in some minute way.

You may be interested in: The Didache Bible: With Commentaries Based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church That might be right down your alley.


Are you familiar with the 'Deposit of Faith' as it's generally understood?

For the record make sure you're using a Catholic Bible, just friendly heads up there, it's easy to forget about because most people have multiple Bibles, but the protestant ones alter words and stuff so just friendly reminder there.

What you're really going to want probably at some point is what's called the Enchiridion Symbolorum; i.e. Denzinger


A Saints commentary on a reading is one thing ok, and it's nothing to scoff at if a Saint has viewed a passage of scripture a certain way, but realize in Catholic tradition the Deposit of Faith is exponentially beyond a few bible commentaries here and there; it is absolutely massive wealth of understanding. And so the Denzinger at some point sounds like something you might want to invest in, though I dunno. Like I said, hope this helps. Again, Happy Easter, welcome back, the Lord is at work, cheers.
 
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Sky

Chicken
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I was going to post some great interviews that Patrick Coffin had with Prof. Edward Feser, but it looks like Patrick Coffin has been canceled from YouTube. In any event Edward Feser is a great Catholic apologist, so he's definitely recommended.
 

RusTheRook

Chicken
So I'm in the middle of my own period of reading Catholic Philosophy. Here are my recommendations.

This thread absolutely needs Edward Feser. I have three of his books, Scholastic Metaphysics, Five Proofs of the Existence of God, and Aristotle's Revenge: The Metaphysical Foundations of Physical and Biological Science. Scholastic Metaphysics and Five Proofs are must reads. His main project is to comment on modern science and analytical philosophy from a Thomistic perspective, which he does with a fair amount of success.

Feser is a a true world class Philosopher, you will not be disappointed with his works. I found his writings to be very readable while also being detailed and insightful. Here's a video of the man in action:
Next person would be Alasdair MacIntyre. Another profound thinker, his works have helped lead to a revival in Virtue Theory in academic philosophy. His books engage with sociology and anthropology and much of his work is about how different kinds of societies influence the development of moral ideas.

I found parts of MacIntyre's book After Virtue to be a somewhat frustrating because he veers into allegory in parts of it, which I hated. But the parts I didn't hate due to his writing style, I absolutely loved. After Virtue gives an overview of the past four centuries of philosophical development and compares them to how morality in other societies have developed. Another must read.

Any tour of Catholic apologetics would be deficient without the contributions Catholicism has made to the world. For that, I would recommend the book How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization. Title is pretty self-explanatory.

For Abortion and Gay Marriage, I recommend Persuasive Pro-Life by Trent Horn (another amazing apologist), and What is Marriage: Man and Woman, a Defense by Sherif Girgis.

Finally, although they are not Catholic, I follow the works of Luke Barnes and Nigel Cundy. Barns is an Astrophysicists who argues for the Fine Tuning argument for the existence of God. Cundy is a Quantum physicist who talks a lot about God, Quantum Mechanics and Thomism.

TL;DR: Read Five Proofs for the Existence of God, After Virtue, and How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization. Those are my essential recommendations.
 
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NoMoreTO

Ostrich
Thank you for posting that video of Shapiro with Feser, could not recommend it more!

Good video. I actually was speaking with an old friend who was saying that he is an atheist. Which I wasn't fully aware of or it's more of a recent happening. I was trying to explain the unmoved mover.

When someone describes the Bible as "fairy tales" or God as "The Big Spagetti Monster", I think that they are having trouble with squaring the logic. I always try to talk to the person about belief in God first, before entering into any type of theological arguments they aren't ready for.

Once God is real, and man is convinced of this, then the next question is "Who is he?". The more certain a person is that God exists and throws off these ideas, the more likely they will come back to God. I suppose this would be the philosophical path to God, or the Logical path, rather than the moment when someone is in trouble and gets on their knees and just has to and wants to believe.

For myself, I had to go back to an "Intelligent Design" outlook, at which point the internal question I asked myself was, "well if I am designed, how am I designed and for what purpose"
 

FourMarks

Pigeon
You're going to want what are called 'commentaries' on the Bible. They're actually kind of difficult to track down. Everyone here rightly mentions The Summa because he breaks down the biblical themes in their entirety and he's essentially the authority on the topic of Aristotle + the Bible and so this is why he's so popular.

Old Testament is a little different ... here's a list of commentaries. Keep in mind this is as you said supplementary and if you have an actual question what to believe go to the Catechism:


Again, there's a ton of information out there and that goes for commentaries as well, but this is a basic list to give you an idea. Now, who do you go with? Depends. "Bellarmine (a Doctor of The Church bytheway), one of the first Christians to write a Hebrew grammar, composed a valuable commentary on the Psalms." - So it's honestly kind of difficult to track down some of these texts ok. Not gunna lie. One source you can use is the https://archive.org/index.php and make a free account and search the text that way.

Again, the Catechism should provide a footnote if you want to delve deeper into a specific topic. As far as an 'authority' on the Old Testament, it's kind of tricky in my opinion for different reasons.


I know simply getting a 'footnote' in the Catechism doesn't 'give us' everything we want. We as people want explanations for things. Again, the reason Thomas is so popular is he literally delivers in every department on virtually every question.

Regardless commentaries are and were very much more of 'Protestant' approach to their need to 'explain' everything in the Bible at the time, and while I have nothing against them per say, if you are simply looking for a historical outline that's a little different than an entire Bibical interpretation in some ways.

Again, look for the "St." in front of their name and just because it's on the Catholic Encyclopedia don't take it as gospel, pun intended. Origen talks a great deal about the early Church and is referenced on their, but he's not a Catholic Saint, so again the 'waters' are very muddy with error especially online when the early Church appears so blended together.

I'd encourage you to delve in the Catholic Doctors of the Church as mentioned, because the vast amount of real information you are after will be there. Realize that as already mentioned the Saints have been building upon natural law for literally 2000 years and so the reason (again I hate to beat a dead horse here) the reason Thomas Aquinas is brought up so much is because he virtually resolved most of the modern answers we were after. He's building everything off of the Old Testament. Again, by 'going backwards' - Augustine did much of the Old Testament leg work.

When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense, lest you make nonsense (Cooper 1970, p. 11). This common refrain, sometimes called the “Golden Rule of Interpretation".

Again some of this stuff is hard to find but you could look for Augustine's commentaries on the Book of Genesis.

And the point, I'll repeat one last time for clarification's sake, is that Thomas was building off of Augustine and Aristotle. Augustine from personal conviction (most likely) felt compelled to understand 'everything' in the Church, he needed to do it on a very personal level, and so his writings are invaluable and you could spend 1000+ hours easy reading them and trying to make sense of them. Thomas Aquinas was incredibly sympathetic (from my understanding) of Augustine and quotes him frequently. The point is you don't have to reinvent the wheel. Aquinas has already figured out the answer for you and he's consistent, so I have to echo the masses when I say Aquinas's Summa.

If you are looking for a personal 'reading' of the bible - not sola scripture - but try what is known as Lectio Divina.


I'm not trying to say there is no authority on commentaries of the Bible, because their most certainly are depending on the book(s) in question, but realize were talking about the Bible here. It's literally the story of life and while there is indeed a logical narrative which flows from start to end and the Catholic Church (which compiled the Bible in the first place) has an explanation for all of these aspects, but they are multi-faceted and were dealing with some heavy lifting and the most intense logical scrutiny known to man, and in fact a mystery to men. And so while the Catholic Church has claim to the entire narrative, everyone believes they can 'interpret' scripture in a different way or manner. The fact of the matter is the Bible is beyond human understanding in it's entirety and acts as not only an instrument but an extension of the human self as they are, yet it's are ultimate roadmap of life's story. This isn't to say don't read commentaries, it's only to say that the main narrative has been established yet Lectio Divina and the vast complexity of life in and of itself will reveal many of the personal mysteries in the words of the Bible. This doesn't mean rely solely on the bible as the protestants do obviously, it simply means there's a personal slight subjective element involved because everyone's life story is slightly different in some minute way.

You may be interested in: The Didache Bible: With Commentaries Based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church That might be right down your alley.


Are you familiar with the 'Deposit of Faith' as it's generally understood?

For the record make sure you're using a Catholic Bible, just friendly heads up there, it's easy to forget about because most people have multiple Bibles, but the protestant ones alter words and stuff so just friendly reminder there.

What you're really going to want probably at some point is what's called the Enchiridion Symbolorum; i.e. Denzinger


A Saints commentary on a reading is one thing ok, and it's nothing to scoff at if a Saint has viewed a passage of scripture a certain way, but realize in Catholic tradition the Deposit of Faith is exponentially beyond a few bible commentaries here and there; it is absolutely massive wealth of understanding. And so the Denzinger at some point sounds like something you might want to invest in, though I dunno. Like I said, hope this helps. Again, Happy Easter, welcome back, the Lord is at work, cheers.

-The Great Biblical Commentary of Fr.
Cornelius À Lapide, S.J. Fr. Lapide’s commentary is so complete and scholarly that it was practically the universal commentary in use by Catholics (often available only in 30 some Latin volumes) for hundreds of years.

-The “Catena Aurea”, St. Thomas Aquinas’s
masterpiece anthology if Patristic commentary on the Four Gospels—it includes the work of over eighty Church Fathers.

-The “Haydock Bible”, the Douay-Rheims version of the Bible with Fr. George Leo Haydock’s extensive commentary. Like Aquinas' Catena Aurea and Lapide's Great Commentary, Haydock's commentary relies very heavily on the Church Fathers. The Douay-Rheims Haydock Bible is available for the entire Bible, being recently republished by Mother of Our Saviour/Refuge of Sinners Publishing: https://www.traditionalcatholicpublishing.com/haydock.html
Aquinas' commentary is only on the Gospels, and Lapide's commentary is not entirely available in English at this time, though some parts of the Bible are.
 
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