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Throughout the Summa, Aquinas cites Christian, Muslim, Hebrew, and Pagan sources including but not limited to Christian Sacred Scripture, Aristotle, Augustine of Hippo, Avicenna, Averroes, Al-Ghazali, Boethius, John of Damascus, Paul the Apostle, Dionysius the Areopagite, Maimonides, Anselm, Plato, Cicero, and Eriugena.The Summa is a more structured and expanded version of Aquinas's earlier Summa contra Gentiles.
Hence follows predestination: from eternity some are destined to eternal life, while as concerns others "he permits some to fall short of that end".
Reprobation, however, is more than mere foreknowledge; it is the "will of permitting anyone to fall into sin and incur the penalty of condemnation for sin". Since God is the first cause of everything, he is the cause of even the free acts of men through predestination.
Questions, in turn, are subdivided into 3,125 Articles.
"Questions" are specific topics of discussion, while their articles are even more specific questions, facets of the parent question.
The entire first part of the Summa deals with God and his creation, which reaches its zenith in man.
The First Part, therefore, ends with the treatise on man.
These works were written for different purposes, the Summa Theologiae to explain the Christian faith to beginning theology students, and the Summa contra Gentiles to explain the Christian faith and defend it in hostile situations, with arguments adapted to the intended circumstances of its use, each article refuting a certain belief or a specific heresy.
Aquinas conceived the Summa specifically as a work suited to beginning students: "Because a doctor of catholic truth ought not only to teach the proficient, but to him pertains also to instruct beginners.
As the Apostle says in 1 Corinthians 3: 1–2, as to infants in Christ, I gave you milk to drink, not meat, our proposed intention in this work is to convey those things that pertain to the Christian religion, in a way that is fitting to the instruction of beginners." It was while teaching at the Santa Sabina studium provinciale, the forerunner of the Santa Maria sopra Minerva studium generale and College of Saint Thomas, which in the 20th century would become the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum, that Aquinas began to compose the Summa.
He completed the Prima Pars (first part) in its entirety and circulated it in Italy before departing to take up his second regency as professor at the University of Paris (1269–1272).