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(Lat. summa, “the totality”). A treatise giving a summary of the essence of a subject; in medieval times a compendium, used in the Schools as a textbook, of philosophy, theology, or canon law. The most famous summae are the Summa Theologica and Summa contra Gentiles of Thomas Aquinas,* but there were many others—e.g., the Summa Creaturis of Albertus Magnus.* Usually in the summae the subject under discussion is expounded by means of first stating, and then answering by means of the dialectical method, a series of questions. The Summae replaced the Sentences (e.g., those of Peter Lombard*) from the time of Aquinas onward.

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