Some seven hundred years after his death, St. Thomas Aquinas is best known as a systematic theologian. Few have had his capacity to grasp the speculative constructive elements of theology understood as a science, that is, as a unified coherent realm of rational inquiry. His two most cited works are of this kind, the Summa contra gentiles and, his most famous work, the Summa theologiae. It is a testimony to this quality of his work that the council fathers at Trent placed the Summa theologiae on the altar during their deliberations.
Yet, Thomas himself might be surprised at this legacy. He certainly understood the importance of articulating the intelligibility and coherence of the faith. But much of his time as a university master of theology was dedicated to commenting on Scripture. Indeed, Thomas may well have thought his Scripture commentaries to be his most important works. If we distinguish so sharply systematic from biblical theology, Thomas would not. Theology -- however one chooses to distinguish its parts -- is, for Thomas, a unified science. As the highest science, it is the most unified and unifying. As a theologian, Thomas always returns to the foundation of that science: Scripture. The purpose of this essay is to suggest some of the ways in which he understands and interprets Scripture.