Aquinas's Eschatological Ethics and the Virtue of Temperance
- Catholic Press Association Book Award: Theology, First Place
In Aquinas’s Eschatological Ethics and the Virtue of Temperance, Matthew Levering argues that Catholic ethics make sense only in light of the biblical worldview that Jesus has inaugurated the kingdom of God by pouring out his spirit. Jesus has made it possible for us to know and obey God’s law for human flourishing as individuals and communities. He has reoriented our lives toward the goal of beatific communion with him in charity, which affects the exercise of the moral virtues that pertain to human flourishing.
Without the context of the inaugurated kingdom, Catholic ethics as traditionally conceived will seem like an effort to find a middle ground between legalistic rigorism and relativistic laxism, which is especially the case with the virtue of temperance, the focus of Levering’s book. After an opening chapter on the eschatological/biblical character of Catholic ethics, the ensuing chapters engage Aquinas’s theology of temperance in the Summa theologiae, which identifies and examines a number of virtues associated with temperance. Levering demonstrates that the theology of temperance is profoundly biblical, and that Aquinas’s theology of temperance relies for its intelligibility upon Christ’s inauguration of the kingdom of God as the graced fulfillment of our created nature. The book develops new vistas for scholars and students interested in moral theology.
Introduction 1. Aquinas and the Ethics of the Inaugurated Kingdom 2. Shame and Honestas 3. Abstinence and Sobriety 4. Chastity 5. Clemency and Meekness 6. Humility 7. Studiousness Conclusion
”Matthew Levering’s Aquinas's Eschatological Ethics and the Virtue of Temperance is an extraordinary contribution to Thomistic moral theology and will now serve as the 'go to' book on temperance. The book is utterly scholastic in its modeling of grace perfecting nature, since it explains temperance as accessible to unaided human reason but also shows how temperance in the life of discipleship to Christ is utterly transformed by God’s grace.” —William C. Mattison III, University of Notre Dame
"Matthew Levering's study on temperance is an impressive tour through an enormous range of scholarship on the various aspects of this cardinal virtue and its relation to the biblical account of salvation history. Those familiar with Levering's astounding knowledge of theological texts both ancient and modern, and his well-established method of approaching theological topics with careful attention to their treatment in biblical and magisterial sources, will not be disappointed by this latest endeavor. The manner in which Aquinas's Eschatological Ethics and the Virtue of Temperance brings together prominent scholarship in the fields of moral theology, biblical studies, and modern Thomism represents a huge contribution to theological virtue ethics." —Patrick Clark, University of Scranton
"Matthew Levering examines temperance, a virtue many people might rather avoid than confront. Tempering our daily eating and drinking, our desires, our anger, and more, can seem impossible in contemporary context. Yet by deftly reflecting on scripture and Thomas Aquinas, Levering argues for multiple ways that practicing temperance leads us inexorably toward the kingdom of God." —Jana M. Bennett, University of Dayton