Question Seven: The Book of Life
Is the Book of Life a created thing?
Is the Book of Life predicated of God personally or essentially?
Can the Book of Life be appropriated to the Son?
Is the Book of Life the same as predestination?
Is the Book of Life spoken of in relation to uncreated life?
Is the Book of Life spoken of in relation to the natural life of creatures?
Does the Book of Life used without qualification refer to the life of grace?
Can we speak of a Book of Death as we speak of a Book of Life?
This question treats the book of life.
In the first article we ask:
Is the book of life a created thing?
[Parallel readings: S.T., I, 24, aa. 1-2; I Sent., 40,1, 2, ad 5; III Sent., 3 1, 1, 2, sols. 1-2; In Philip., c. 4, lect. 1 (P. 13:525b); In Heb., c. 12, lect. 4 (P. 13:780a).]
It seems that it is, for
1. Explaining that line in the Apocalypse (20:12), “and another book was opened, which was the book of life,” the Gloss says: “The book of life is Christ, who will then appear in His power and give life to His own.”’ Now, at the final judgment, Christ will appear in human form, which is not something uncreated. Consequently, the book of life does not mean anything uncreated.
2. Gregory says: “Our future judge Himself is called the book of life, because whoever sees Him will at once remember all he has done. Now, judgment has been given to Christ as man. This is clear from the words of John (5:2 7): “And he hath given him power to do judgment, because he is the son of man.” Therefore, Christ as man is the book of life, and the same must be said as before.
3. A thing is called a book because it has received writing. But a thing is said to be receptive in so far as it contains material potency, which cannot exist in God. Therefore, nothing uncreated is called the book of life.
4. Since book means a kind of collection, it signifies distinction and difference. But, being most simple, an uncreated nature contains nnoo diversity. Therefore, nothing in such a nature can be called a book.
5. In every book, the writing is something other than the book. Now, the writing in a book is made up of figures, and by means of these we know the things which are read in the book. However, the ideas by which God knows things do not differ from the divine essence. Consequently, His uncreated nature cannot be called a book.
6. But it was said that even though there is no real difference in the divine nature, there is nevertheless a conceptual difference.—On the contrary, a merely conceptual difference exists only in our mind. Consequently, if the difference which this book involves is only a conceptual difference, the book of life must exist only in our intellects, and hence will not be something uncreated.
7. The book of life seems to be God’s knowledge of those who are to be saved. Moreover, the knowledge of the elect is contained in God’s knowledge of vision. Now, since the soul of Christ sees in the Word all the things that God knows with His knowledge of vision, it seems that it also knows the number of the elect and all those who have been chosen. Therefore, the soul of Christ can be called the book of life; hence, the book of life means something created.
8. We read in Sirach (24:32): “All these are the book of life...”; and the Gloss on this passage adds: “That is, the new and old testament.” Now, the Old and New Testament are created. Therefore, the book of life means something created.
9. A book seems to get its name from the fact that something is written in it. Writing, however, involves some imperfection; hence, in its initial purity, our intellect is compared to “a page on which nothing has been written.” But God’s nature is far more pure and simple than our intellect. Hence, it cannot be called a book.
10. A book exists for someone to read. But God’s nature cannot be said to be a book in the sense that He reads it. This is evident from Augustine’s statement that its title, “Book of Life,” does not mean that God has to read it in order to know something which He did not know previously. Similarly, it cannot be called a book in the sense that someone other than God reads it, because no one can read anything unless he finds some diversity of markings—for example, no one can read a blank piece of paper, because it is undifferentiated. Therefore, God’s uncreated nature cannot be called a book.
11. From a book one does not receive knowledge of things as from their cause but as from a sign of them. Now, God does not receive His knowledge of things, as it were, from a sign, but, as it were, from a cause. Therefore, God’s knowledge cannot be called the book of life.
12. Nothing can be merely a sign of itself. Now, a book is a sign of truth. Consequently, since God is truth itself, He Himself cannot be called a book.
13. A book and a teacher are principles of knowledge in different ways. Now, all wisdom is said to come from God as from a teacher. Therefore, it does not come from Him as from a book.
14. A thing is represented differently in a mirror and in a book. Now, Wisdom (7:2 6) calls God a mirror because all things are represented in Him. Consequently, He cannot and should not be called a book.
15. Even those books that are copied from the original are called books. But the minds of men and angels, in some sense, copy God’s mind when they receive knowledge of things from it. Consequently, if the divine mind is called the book of life, created minds should be similarly called; and thus it is not always something uncreated that is called the book of life.
16. The book of life seems to imply a representation of life and an exercise of causality over it. Now, all this belongs to Christ as man, because in Him, as in a pattern, is represented all life, both that of grace and that of glory. For this reason it was said to Moses (Exodus 25:40): “Look and make it according to the pattern that was shewn thee in the mount.” Moreover, Christ merited life for us. Therefore, Christ Himself, as man, can be called the book of life.
To the Contrary
1. Augustine says: “We should know that there is a divine force which causes each one to remember his deeds, good or bad. Indeed, this divine power is called a book.” Now, a divine force is something uncreated. Therefore, something uncreated is also called the book of life.
2. In the same work, Augustine says: “The book of life is God’s foreknowledge, which cannot be mistaken.” But His foreknowledge is something uncreated. Therefore, the book of life is also something uncreated.
Applied to God, book can be used only metaphorically; thus, it is in this sense that the representation of life is called the book of life. In this connection, it should be noted that life can be represented in two ways: first, as it is in itself, or, secondly, as it can be participated in by certain individuals. Furthermore, life taken in itself can be represented in two ways. This can be done, first, by means of instruction; and this kind of representation pertains to the sense of hearing, which, as said in The Senses and the Sensed, is the chief sense for learning. Taken in this meaning, therefore, the book of life signifies that which contains instructions on how one should live. Consequently, the Old and New Testaments are called the book of life. The second way of representing life in itself is by giving a model; and this kind of representation pertains to the sense of sight. Consequently, Christ Himself is called the book of life, because, by looking at Him as at a model, we can see how we must live in order to attain eternal life.
We are not speaking of the book of life in these senses, however, but only in the sense that the book of life is said to be the representation of those who are to attain eternal life, and whose names, according to a comparison drawn from human affairs, are said to be written down in this book.
For, in a state that is wisely ruled, anyone who becomes a citizen must do so according to the ordinances of its ruler. Hence, those who are to be admitted to citizenship are enrolled as being, as it were, participants in the state. By using this enrollment, the ruler of the state is guided in rejecting persons from and in admitting them to the fellowship of the citizens subject to him. Now, the citizens who are ruled most perfectly by divine providence form the society of the Church triumphant, which is also called the City of God in Scripture.8 Hence, the enrollment or representation of those who are to be admitted to that society is called the book of life. This is clear from Scripture’s manner of speaking. For example, Luke (10:20) says: “Rejoice in this, that your names are written in heaven,” that is, in the book of life; Isaiah (4:3): “Everyone... shall be called holy... that is written in life in Jerusalem”; and in the Epistle to the Hebrews (12:22-23) we read: “But you are come... to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to the company of many thousands of angels, and to the church of the first-born who are written in the heavens.” It is necessary, therefore, to carry out the metaphor—and say that from this enrollment the ruler of the society shall know those who are to be given life. The bestowal of life, of course, belongs to God alone. However, God is not guided by anything created, for He is a rule that is directed by nothing extrinsic to Himself. Consequently, the book of life, in the sense in which we are now using it, means something uncreated.
Answers to Difficulties
1-2. Our answer is clear from what we have said above. For the Gloss and Gregory’s statement concern the book of life in another sense, namely, as it means a model for living: anyone who looks at it can tell whether or not he conforms to it.
3. When terms are applied to God, the general rule should be observed that in no respect can imperfection be contained in predicates applied to the divinity. Consequently, whatever implies matter, privation, or time must be removed. Now, that it receives markings from something extrinsic belongs to a book in so far as it is temporal and newly written. These notes are not included in the predicate when it is applied to God.
4. The very notion of book implies a difference existing between the things known by its means, because a book hands down the knowledge of many things. But that a book must have diversity to hand down knowledge of many things is a defect in the book. It would be much more perfect if it could teach by means of one thing all that it now explains by means of many things. Consequently, since God is most perfect, the book of life is such that it shows many things by means of that which is one in the highest degree.
5. That the letters written in a book differ from the pages on which they are written is due to a defect of material books. For, because books are composite things, that which has is not the same as that which is had. Consequently, in God these ideas differ from His essence, not really, but only conceptually.
6. Although the distinction between the writing and that in which it is written is merely conceptual, the representation, which completes the notion of a book, is not only in our mind but also in God. Hence, the book of life is really in God.
7. As indicated above, the book of life directs God, who gives life, in His giving of life. Now, even though the soul of Christ knows all the elect, God is directed, not by Christ’s human knowledge, but by His own uncreated knowledge, which is Himself. Hence, the knowledge possessed by the soul of Christ cannot be called the book of life in the sense in which we are speaking of it.
8. The reply is clear from what has been said.
9. Although there is no diversity but only the greatest purity in God, He is nonetheless compared to a book that has been written in, and not to the blank page to which our intellect has been compared. For our intelligence is compared to a blank page because it is in potency to all intelligible forms, and as yet has none of them actually. In God’s intellect, however, all the forms of things exist in act, and in Him they are one. Consequently, in God the formal character of writing is compatible with His oneness.
10. God Himself reads the book of life, and others can read it in so far as they are allowed to do so. Augustine does not mean to deny that God reads the book of life; he denies only that He reads it in order to know what He previously did not know. Moreover, others can read the book of life, even though it is entirely simple, since it is possible for one and the same reality to be the intelligible character of many things.
11. One thing is a likeness of another in two ways. In the first way, it is the model for the other thing and thus its cause; second, it itself can be modeled upon the other, and thus be its effect and sign. Now, in the case of men, a book conforms to their knowledge, which, in turn, is caused by things. Consequently, they receive knowledge of things from a book, not as from a cause, but as from a sign. However, God’s knowledge is the cause of things, since it contains the archetypes of all things. Hence, knowledge is received from the book of life as from a cause, and not as from as a sign.
12. The book of life is uncreated truth itself as well as a likeness of created truth, just as a created book is a sign of truth.
13. In God, exemplary and efficient causality come to the same thing. Consequently, from the fact that He is an exemplary cause He can be called a book, and from the fact that He is the efficient cause of wisdom He can be called a teacher.
14. The representation a mirror gives differs from that which a book gives, because it refers directly to things while that of a book refers to things through the medium of knowledge. For the letters contained in a book are only signs of words, and these, in turn, are signs of concepts, which are likenesses of things. A mirror, however, reflects the forms of things. Yet in God the species of things are reflected in both ways, because He knows things and He knows that He knows them. Consequently, in God both the notion of mirror and the notion of book can be verified.
15. The minds of the saints can also be called books. This is clear from the Apocalypse (20:12): “And the books were opened”—which Augustine explains as meaning the hearts of the just. However, the saints’ minds cannot be called books of life in the sense in which we are taking this term. This is clear from what has been said.
16. Although Christ as man is an archetype and, in some sense, the cause of life, as man He is not the cause of the life of glory through His authority nor an archetype directing God in His bestowal of life. Consequently, Christ as man cannot be called the book of life.
In the second article we ask:
Is the book of life predicated of God personally or essentially?
[Parallel readings: S.T., I, 39, 8. See also readings given for preceding article.]
It seems that it is predicated personally, for
1. In the Psalms (39:8) we read: “In the head of the book it is written of me...” and the Gloss explains: “That is, in the Father, who is my head.” Now, in God nothing has a head except that which has a principle. But that which has a Principle is a personal predicate in matters pertaining to God. Therefore, the book of life is a personal predication.
2. just as word signifies knowledge proceeding from another, book also signifies this, because the writing in a book proceeds from a writer. Now, for the reason already given, word is predicated personally of God. Consequently, the book of life is also a personal predication.
3. It was said, however, that word implies a real procession, whereas book implies a procession only according to our way of understanding.—On the contrary, we can name God only from the things that exist here below. But, in our experience, a word coming from a speaker is really distinct from him, and so is a book really distinct from its author. For this reason, therefore, both terms imply a real distinction in God.
4. There is greater distance between one who speaks and his oral word than there is between him and the word within his heart; and an even greater distance is between him and a written word signifying the word within his heart. Consequently, if the divine Word, which, as Augustine says, resembles the word within the heart, is really distinct from the one who utters it, much more distinct will be a book, since this implies writing.
5. That which is attributed to a thing should belong to it according to all that belongs to its nature. Now, the notion of a book demands not only that it represent something but also that it be written by someone. Consequently, in matters concerning God, the word book is taken according as a book is something by another. Hence, it is predicated personally.
6. just as the notion of a book includes its being read, so does it also include its being written. But, in so far as it is written, it is by another, and in so far as it is read, it is directed to another. Therefore, it belongs to the notion of a book to be to another and by another. Hence, the book of life is predicated personally.
7. Book of life signifies knowledge expressed by another. But what is expressed by another has its origin in another. Consequently, the book of life implies a relation of origin, and thus is a personal predication.
To the Contrary
The book of life is predestination itself. This is clear from Augustine4and the Gloss. But predestination is predicated of the divine essence, never of the divine Persons. Consequently, the book of life is similarly predicated.
Some say that the book of life is sometimes a personal, sometimes, an essential predication: in so far as it is used of God according to the notion of writing, it is predicated personally, and in this usage it implies origin from another, for a book has to be written by another; but, in so far as it implies a representation of the things written in the book it is predicated essentially.
This distinction, however, does not seem reasonable, because a term used of God is not predicated personally unless its meaning in connection with God implies a relation of origin. Moreover, with regard to words used in a transferred sense, a metaphor is not to be understood as indicating complete resemblance, but only some agreement in a characteristic belonging to the nature of the thing whose name is being applied. For example, the word lion is applied to God, not because of a resemblance between two natures possessing sensation, but because of a resemblance based on one property of the lion. Consequently, the book of life is not predicated of God according to what is common to all products of art, but only according to that which is proper to a book as a book. Now, to come from an author does not belong to a book as a book but only as it is a product of art; and, in a similar manner, a house is from a builder, and a knife is from a cutler. On the other hand, to represent the things written about in the book belongs to the notion of a book as such. Consequently, as long as this representation remains, the book remains a book, even though it is not written by another and is not a product of art. Fro’ m this it is clear that book is applied to God, not in so far as a book is written by another, but in so far as a book represents the things which are written in it. Therefore, since representation is common to the entire Trinity, book is predicated, not personally of God, but only essentially.
Answers to Difficulties
1. Words that are predicated essentially of God sometimes stand for the persons. Hence, God sometimes stands for the person of the Father, sometimes for the person of the Son, as when we say “God begets” or “God begotten.” Similarly, even though book is predicated essentially, it can sometimes stand for the person of the Son. In this sense, in matters pertaining to divinity, the book of life can be said to have a head or principle.
2. According to its intelligible character, the term word when used of God implies origin from another. This has already been discussed. But book does not imply the notion of origin when the term is applied to God. Hence, no parallel can be drawn.
3. Although in the case of creatures a book really proceeds from a writer, just as a word does from a speaker, nevertheless, that procession is not implied by book as it is implied by word. For procession from a writer is not implied any more by book than a procession from a builder is implied by house.
4. That argument would hold if the notion of the written word belonged to the very notion of book. This, however, is not true. Hence, the argument proves nothing.
5. That argument holds for words that are used literally. But when words are used metaphorically, as book is used here, it is not necessary that the term predicated express of its subject everything implied by that term taken literally. Otherwise, God, who is called a lion in the metaphorical sense, would have to have claws and a mane.
6. The reply to this difficulty is clear from what has been said.
7. The same holds for the seventh difficulty.
In the third article we ask:
Can the book of life be appropriated to the son?
[Parallel readings: S.T., I, 39, 8; III Sent., 31, 1, 2, sol. 1.]
It seems not, for
1. The book of life pertains to life. But life is attributed in Scripture to the Holy Spirit, as, for example, in John (6:64): “It is the spirit that quickeneth.” Hence, the book of life should be appropriated to the Holy Spirit, not to the Son.
2. In everything, the beginning is the most important. But the Father is called the head or the beginning of the book, as is clear in the Psalms (39:8), where we read: “In the head of the book it is written of me...” Therefore, the term book should be appropriated to the Father.
3. That in which something is written has the proper nature of a book. Now, a thing is said to be written in the memory; hence, the memory has the nature of a book. But memory is appropriated to the Father, just as intelligence is to the Son, and will is to the Holy Spirit. Consequently, the book of life should be appropriated to the Father.
4. The Father is the head of the book. But, as we read in the Psalms (39:8), in the head of the book there is writing about the Son. Consequently, the Father is the book of the Son. Therefore, the book [of life] should be appropriated to the Father.
To the Contrary
1. Augustine says that the book of life is God’s foreknowledge. But knowledge is appropriated to the Son: “...Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24). Therefore, the book of life is also appropriated to the Son.
2. Book implies a representation, just as mirror, image, stamp, and, figure. But all these terms are attributed to the Son. Consequently, the book of life should also be appropriated to Him.
To appropriate means nothing else than to contract something common, making it something proper. Now, what is common to the entire Trinity cannot be appropriated to a single Person on the grounds that this belongs more to this Person than it does to another. Such an action would deny the equality of the Persons. However, appropriation may be made on the grounds that what is common nevertheless has a greater resemblance to what is proper to one person than it has to what is proper to another. For example, goodness resembles what is proper to the Holy Spirit, who proceeds as love, because goodness is the object of love, and so is appropriated to the Holy Spirit. Again, power is appropriated to the Father because power as such is a principle, and being the principle of all divinity is proper to the Father. Similarly, wisdom is appropriated to the Son, because it resembles what is proper to the Son, since the Son proceeds from the Father as His Word, and word describes an intellectual procession. Consequently, because the book of life pertains to knowledge, it should be appropriated to the Son.
Answers to Difficulties
1. Although life is appropriated to the Holy Spirit, knowledge of life is appropriated to the Son; and it is this that the book of life implies.
2. The Father is called the head of the book, not because the notion of book has more in common with Him than with the Son, but because the Son, to whom the name of book of life is appropriated, has His origin from the Father.
3. There is no inconsistency in something being appropriated to different persons if this is done under different formalities. For example, the gift of wisdom is appropriated to the Holy Spirit in so far as it is a gift, because love is the reason for all gifts, but it is also appropriated to the Son in so far as it is wisdom. Similarly, memory is appropriated to the Father in so far as it is a principle of understanding; but, in so far as it is a power of knowing, it is appropriated to the Son. Now, it is in the memory as a knowing power that a thing is said to be written in it. Hence, in this sense, memory can have the nature of a book. Consequently, being the book of life is appropriated more to the Son than to the Father.
4. Although being the book of life is appropriated to the Son, this also belongs to the Father, since it is a property of all the Persons, not of only one of them. Hence, there is no inconsistency in saying that something is written in the Father.
In the fourth article we ask:
Is the book of life the same as predestination?
[Parallel readings: See readings given for q. 7, a. 1.]
It seems that it is, for
1. Augustine says’ that the book of life is the predestination of those to whom eternal life is due.
2.We know God’s attributes through their effects. But the effect of predestination is the same as that of the book of life, namely, final grace and glory. Therefore, predestination and the book of life are the same.
3. Whatever is predicated metaphorically of God should be reduced to what is predicated literally. Now, the book of life is predicated metaphorically of God, as is clear from what has been said. Therefore, it should be reduced to something predicated literally of Him. However, it cannot be reduced to anything else except predestination. Therefore, the book of life is the same as predestination.
To the Contrary
1. A thing is called a book because something is written in it. But the notion of writing does not pertain to predestination. Consequently, predestination and the book of life are not the same.
2. A book, of its very nature, implies no causality regarding the things to which it is referred. Predestination, however, implies causality. Therefore, it is not the same as the book of life.
As is clear from what has been said previously, the book of life is used of God because of its resemblance to the document which directs a chief of state in admitting persons to and excluding them from citizenship. Now, this document lies between two operations, for it is subsequent to the decision of the head of the state, who selects those whom he wishes to admit in preference to those whom he excludes, and it is anterior to the admission or exclusion. Moreover, this document is merely a kind of representation of his antecedent decision. Similarly, the book of life is also nothing more than an inscription in the divine mind of God’s predestination, for by this act of predestining God predetermines who are to be admitted to the life of glory. Moreover, His knowledge of this predestination is always with Him; and His knowledge that He has predestined some is, as it were, His predestination written in Him as in a book of life.
Considered formally, therefore, the book of life and predestination are not the same, even though, considered materially, the book of life is predestination—just as we say that a certain book, considered materially, is the teaching of the Apostle because it contains the Apostle’s teaching. It is in this sense that Augustine speaks when he says that the book of life is predestination.
Answers to Difficulties
1. The answer is clear from what was said above in the reply.
2. The book of life and predestination are related to the same effect but not in the same manner. Predestination regards that effect without any intervening medium; the book of life regards it through the medium of predestination. Similarly, the likenesses of things in our soul are direct likenesses; but the words written in a book indicate merely what the soul has received. Hence, a book is only mediately a sign of things.
3. The book of life can be reduced to something predicated literally of God; this something, however, is not predestination but that knowledge of predestination by which God knows that He has predestined certain persons.
Answers to Contrary Difficulties
1.-2. It is not difficult to answer these arguments.
In the fifth article we ask:
Is the book of life spoken of in relation to uncreated life?
[Parallel readings: S.T., I, 24, 1; III Sent., 31, 1,2, sol. 2.]
It seems that it is, for
1. As Augustine says, the book of life is God’s knowledge. But God knows His own life, just as He knows that of others. Consequently, the book of life concerns uncreated life also.
2. The book of life represents life, but not created life; for what is first does not represent what is second, but what is second represents what is first. Consequently, the book of life represents uncreated life.
3. What is predicated of several, but predicated primarily of one and secondarily of the others, is understood simply in its primary predication. Now, life is predicated primarily of God rather than of creatures, because His life, as Dionysius has shown, is the origin of all life. Therefore, since life is used simply in the phrase the book of life, it should be understood as referring to uncreated life.
4. Just as a book implies a representation, so also does a figure, especially when a book represents something by means of figures. But the Son is said to be the figure of the Father (Hebrews 1:3). Therefore He can be said to be a book with respect to the life of the Father.
5. Book is predicated as being in a relation to that about which the book is written. But the Son is written about in the book of life, foi we read in the Psalms (39:8): “In the head of the book it is written of me...” Now, the life of the Son is not created. Hence, the book of life is concerned with uncreated life.
6. A book and the subject treated there cannot be identical in regard to the same thing. Now, a creature is a book revealing God. Therefore, God cannot be a book revealing created life. Hence, the book of life can be spoken of only in relation to uncreated life.
7. Words, like books, pertain to knowledge. Now, Word is predicated primarily of the divine essence rather than of a creature, because, by uttering Himself, the Father utters all creatures. Consequently, the book of life is primarily concerned with uncreated life rather than with created life.
To the Contrary
1. According to Augustine, the book of life is predestination, However, predestination regards only creatures. Therefore, the book of life regards only creatures.
2. A book represents a thing only by means of figures and likenesses. Now, God knows Himself, not by means of likenesses, but by means of His own essence. Therefore, He is not a book with respect to Himself.
As is clear from what has been said previously, the book of life is an enrollment which directs the one who confers life in his bestowal of it, in accordance with what has been preordained concerning a certain person. Therefore, the life from which the book of life is named has two aspects. The first is that this life is acquired through someone’s grant; the second is that it follows upon the afore-mentioned enrollment which directs its being granted.
Neither of these features is found in uncreated life. God does not acquire His life of glory but has it by His very nature. Moreover, no knowledge precedes His life, but, according to our manner of understanding, His life precedes even His knowledge. Consequently, the book of life cannot be spoken of in relation to uncreated life.
Answers to Difficulties
1. Not all of God’s knowledge is called the book of life, but only that concerning the life which the elect are to possess. This can be gathered from the words that follow the section quoted.
2. To represent a thing means to bear its likeness. There are two kinds of likenesses, however. The first kind, like the likeness in the practical intellect, produces a thing. Through a likeness of this kind, what is first can represent what is second. The second kind of likeness comes from the thing whose likeness it is. Through a likeness of this kind, what comes later represents what comes first, and not conversely. However, the book of life represents life, not by means of the second type of likeness, but by means of the first.
3. What is predicated simply is sometimes understood as applying to that about which it is predicated only secondarily, because some qualification has been added. For example, being [with the added qualification] in another is understood as signifying an accident. Similarly, life, because of the added qualification book, is understood as signifying created life, which is life only secondarily.
4. A figure represents its original as its principle, because a figure and an image are drawn from the archetype as from a principle. The book of life, however, represents life as something that it itself has caused. Now, it belongs to God the Father to be the principle of the Son, who is the figure of the Father, but the life of the Father cannot have anything as its principle. Therefore, there is no parallel between life and a figure.
5. That text of the Psalms is understood of the Son according to His human nature.
6. A cause represents its effect, and the effect its cause. This is clear from what has been said. Accordingly, God can be called a book with respect to creatures, and creatures a book with respect to God.
7. By the force of its own proper signification, Word does not denote the principle of that which is expressed by the word; but the book of life as taken here does. Hence, the two are not similar.
In the sixth article we ask:
Is the book of life spoken of in relation to the natural life of creatures?
[Parallel readings: S.T., I, 24, 2; III Sent., 31, 1, 2, sols. 1-2.]
It seems that it is, for
1. Natural life, as well as the life of glory, is represented in God’s knowledge. Now, God’s knowledge of the life of glory is called the book of life. Therefore, His knowledge of natural life should be similarly called.
2. God’s knowledge contains all things according to the manner of life, because we read in John (1:3-4): “What was made, in Him was life...” Therefore, His knowledge should be called the book of life with respect to all things, especially living things.
3. Just as a person is preordained by God’s providence to the life of glory, so is he also preordained to natural life. Now, as mentioned previously, the knowledge of those preordained to the life of glory is called the book of life. Therefore, the knowledge of those preordained to natural life also is called the book of life.
4. In its explanation of that verse in the Apocalypse (3:5), “1 will not blot out his name out of the book of life,” the Gloss reads: “The book of life is God’s knowledge, in which all things are clear.’13 Consequently, the book of life is said to concern all things, hence, even natural life.
5. The book of life is, as it were, knowledge of the life of glory. But the life of glory cannot be known unless natural life is also known. Therefore, the book of life likewise concerns natural life.
6. The word life has been taken from natural life and applied to the life of glory. Now, a thing is said more truly of that of which it is said properly than of that to which it is merely applied. Therefore, the book of life concerns natural life more than it concerns the life of glory.
7. What is more permanent and common is more noble. Now, natural life is more permanent than the life of glory or of grace. Similarly, it is more common, because natural life continues with the life of grace or of glory; but the opposite is not true. Therefore, natural life is more noble than the life of grace and glory. Hence, the book of life concerns the life of nature more than it concerns the life of grace or of glory.
To the Contrary
1. As Augustine says, the book of life is, in a sense, predestination. But predestination does not concern natural life. Hence, neither does the book of life.
2. The book of life concerns the life which is given by God directly. Natural life, however, is given by God through the medium of natural causes. Therefore, the book of life is not about natural life.
The book of life, as mentioned previously, is that knowledge which directs the giver of life in His bestowal of it. Now, when we give anything, we need no direction unless it is necessary to separate those to whom bestowal is to be made from those to whom it is not to be made. Hence, the book of life concerns only that life which is to be granted by choice. Natural life, however, like all other natural gooqs, is supplied to all in general, according to each one’s capacity. The book of life, therefore, does not concern natural life but only that life which, according to a choice made by God’s will, is given to some and not to others.
Answers to Difficulties
1. Although natural life and the life of glory are represented in God’s knowledge, His knowledge of natural life does not fulfill the notion of the book of life as does His knowledge of the life of glory for the reason given.
2. The book of life gets its name, not from the fact that it has life, but because it is a book about the life to which some are preordained by God’s election, and because the names of these persons are written down in it.
3. In His providence, God gives life to some as a thing due to their nature, but He grants the life of glory only according to the good pleasure of His will. Consequently, He gives natural life to everything which can receive it, but not the life of glory. Hence, there is no book of natural life as there is a book of the life of glory.
4. The Gloss is not to be understood as meaning that all things are clear—that is, all things are contained—in the book of life. It means, rather, that all which is written in it is clear, that is, all is determined.
5. The book of life implies, as has been said, not only knowledge of the life of glory but also God’s choice—not, however, with respect to merely natural life.
6. The life of glory is less known to us than natural life is. Consequently, we come to know the life of glory after knowing natural life. Similarly, we name the life of glory from natural life, even though more of the nature of life belongs to the life of glory than belongs to natural life. This is true of all the names that we give God which are taken from creatures. Consequently, when the word life is used by itself, it need not be understood as necessarily referring to natural life.
7. The life of glory, taken by itself, is more permanent than natural life, because it makes natural life stable. Accidentally, however, natural life is more permanent than the life of grace; that is, it is more closely related to the living thing, to which natural life, but not the life of glory, is due by reason of its essence.
Moreover, while natural life is more common in one sense than the life of glory, in another sense it is less common. For a thing is said to be common in two senses. First, it is said to be common through effect or predication; that is, it is found in many things according to one intelligible character. In this sense, that which is more common is not more noble but more imperfect, as animal is, which is more common than man. Now, it is in this sense that natural life is more common than the life of glory. Second, a thing is said to be common after the manner of a cause; that is, it resembles a cause which, while remaining numerically one, extends to many effects. In this sense, what is more common is more noble. For example, the preservation of a city is more noble than the preservation of a family. In this sense, natural life is not more common.,than the life of glory.
In the seventh article we ask:
Does the book of life used without qualification refer to the life of grace?
[Parallel readings: See readings given for preceding article.]
It seems that it does, for
1. As is evident from what Dionysius has written, what is in the effect is found in a nobler manner in the cause. Now, glory is the effect of grace. Consequently, the life of grace is more noble than the life of glory. Hence, the book of life concerns the life of grace more than it does the life of glory.
2. As mentioned earlier, the book of life is the enrollment of those who are predestined. But predestination, in general, is the preparation of grace and glory. Therefore, the book of life concerns, in general, the life of grace as well as the life of glory.
3. The book of life designates certain persons as citizens of that city in which there is life. But, just as some are made citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem through the life of glory, so some are made citizens of the Church militant through the life of grace. Therefore, the book of life concerns the life of grace as well as the life of glory.
4. What is predicated of many is understood as predicated without qualification of that of which it is predicated first. Now, the life of grace is prior to the life of glory. Therefore, when the book of life is mentioned, it is understood as referring to the life of grace.
To the Contrary
1. One who is in the state of grace possesses the life of grace without qualification. His name, however, is not said to be written in the book of life without qualification; it is written there only in a certain respect, namely, in so far as he is in the state of grace. Therefore, the book of life is not concerned simply with the life of grace.
2. The end is more noble than the means to the end. But the life of glory is the end of grace. Therefore, it is more noble. Consequently, when used without qualification, life should be understood as referring to the life of glory. Hence, the book of life used without qualification is concerned only with the life of glory.
The book of life means the enrollment of someone who will obtain life as a kind of reward and possession, for men of this sort are customarily enrolled in something. Now, a thing is said to be a possession, properly speaking, when it can be had at one’s command; and such a thing has no defects. Consequently, the Philosopher says that knowledge had about God “is not a human possession” but divine, because only God knows Himself perfectly, while man’s knowledge of God is necessarily defective. Thus, life will be had as a possession when through life all the defects opposed to life are excluded. Now, this is what the life of glory does; it excludes all death, spiritual as well as physical, so that there remains not even the possibility of dying. The life of grace does not do this. Consequently, the book of life does not concern the life of grace without qualification, but only the life of glory.
Answers to Difficulties
1. Certain causes are more noble than their effects, namely, the efficient, formal, and final causes. Hence, what exists in these causes exists in a more noble manner than what exists in their effects. On the other hand, matter is less perfect than its effects. Consequently, a thing exists in a material cause in a less noble manner than it does in the effect of this cause; for in matter it is incomplete and potential, but in the effect of the material cause its existence is actual.
Now, every disposition that prepares a subject to receive a perfection can be reduced to the material cause; and it is in this way that grace is the cause of glory. Consequently, life exists in glory in a more noble way than it does in grace.
2. Predestination does not concern grace except as grace is ordained to glory. Hence, to be predestined belongs only to those who have final grace, upon which glory follows.
3. Although those who possess the life of grace are citizens of the Church militant, the condition of the Church militant is not one in which life is possessed fully, because the possibility of dying still remains. Hence, the book of life is not spoken of in relation to these individuals.
4. Although in the line of generation, the life of grace is prior to the life of glory, nevertheless, in the line of perfection the life of glory is prior—just as the end is prior to the means to the end.
In the eighth article we ask:
Can we speak of a book of death as we speak of the book of life?
[Parallel readings: S.T., I, 24, 1; III Sent., 31,1, 2, sols. 1-2.]
It seems that we can, for
1. In its comment on Luke (10:20), “Rejoice in this, that your names are written...,” the Gloss reads: “By means of his heavenly or earthly deeds, a person is, as it were, engraved on God’s memory forever.”’ Now, just as a person is ordained to life through heavenly deeds, that is, through works of justice, so is he also ordained to death through earthly deeds, that is, through works of sin. Hence, as there is in God an enrollment of those ordained to life, so is there also in Him an enrollment of those ordained to death. Consequently, just as there is said to be a book of life in God, so should there also be said to be in Him a book of death.
2. The book of life is said to be in God only inasmuch as He has a list of those for whom He has prepared an eternal reward—a list resembling that which a ruler on earth has, containing the names of those whom he has decided to honor. But a ruler on earth has a list of punishments and tortures as well as a list of honors and rewards. Therefore, God also has a book of death.
3. just as God knows the predestination by which He prepares some for life, so does He also know His reprobation by which He prepares others for death. Now, the knowledge which God has of His predestination is called the book of life, as mentioned earlier. Therefore, His knowledge of reprobation should be called the book of death.
To the Contrary
According to Dionysius, “We should not venture to say anything about God unless we can support what we are saying from Scripture.” Now, we do not find anything in Scripture that refers to a book of death as it refers to the book of life. Therefore, we should not affirm the existence of a book of death.
A person’s knowledge about matters written in a book is superior to his knowledge of other matters. Hence, in connection with God’s knowledge of things, the term book is used of knowledge that is superior in kind to His knowledge of other truths.
Now, there are two kinds of knowledge in God, namely, knowledge of simple understanding and knowledge of approval. His knowledge of simple understanding concerns all things, both the good and the evil; but His knowledge of approval concerns only the good. Hence, the good are known to God in a more special way than the others; and for this reason they are said to be written in a book, while the evil are not. Consequently, a book of death is not spoken of as the book of life is.
Answers to Difficulties
1. Some explain “heavenly deeds” as meaning the labors of the contemplative life, and “earthly deeds” as meaning the labors of the active life. If a person performs one or the other, however, he is enrolled for life and not for death. Therefore, both enrollments pertain to the book of life and neither to a book of death. Others understand “earthly deeds” as meaning works of sin, which, taken by themselves, simply ordain a person to death, although he may, for another reason, be ordained to life inasmuch as he may rise again after his fall, more cautious and humble.
One might also answer—and this is the better explanation—that when a thing is said to be known by means of some other thing, this statement can be understood in two ways. First, by means of may signify the cause of the knowledge on the part of the knower. This cannot be its meaning in the Gloss, however, because the works one does’ whether they be good or bad, are not a cause of God’s foreknowledge ‘ of His predestination, or of His eternal reprobation. Second, by means of may signify the cause on the part of what is known. This is its meaning in the Gloss. For a person is engraved on God’s memory by means of the works he has done, not because his works of the kind described are the cause of God’s knowing him, but because God knows that on account of these works he will possess life or death.
It is clear from this that the Gloss is not speaking of that enrollment for life which pertains to the book of life and is on the part of God.
2. Things are written in a book so that they may be known forever. Men who are punished, however, are kept by their very punishments from being known by other men. Hence, their names are written down only. temporarily until the time when their punishment is inflicted upon them. But those who are thought worthy of honors and rewards have their names written down unconditionally in order that they may be kept, as it were, in everlasting memory.
3. God does not have a special knowledge of the reprobate as He has of the predestined. Hence, no comparison can be made.