Theologizing Friendship: How Amicitia in the Thought of Aelred and Aquinas Inscribes the Scholastic Turn

By Nathan Lefler

A study of the appropriate milieu for theological discourse – monastery or university – through the theologies of friendship of Aelred of Rievaulx and Aquinas.

ISBN: 9780227174814


In Theologizing Friendship, Nathan Lefler revitalises Jean Leclercq’s defence of monastic theology, while expanding and qualifying some of the central theses expounded in Leclercq’s magisterial The Love of Learning and the Desire for God. His work contributes to a revised and updated status quaestionis concerning the relationship between classical monastic and scholastic theology, construed in more systematic and speculative terms than those of Leclercq and rendered here through the lens of friendship as a theological topos.

In his novel proposal that within the monastic and scholastic milieux there are parallel threefold analogies between friendship, reading and theology, Lefler not only offers an original contribution to current scholarship, but gestures towards avenues for institutional self-examination much needed in contemporary – modern and post-modern – academia.

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 153 mm
Pages 194

Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

Nathan Lefler is Associate Professor of Theology at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, where he teaches courses on friendship, worship and the rudiments of the Christian tradition.


Foreword by Austin G. Murphy, OSB


1. Differences between the More Experiential Approach of Monastic Theology
     and the More Conceptual Approach of Scholastic Theology
2. The Theological Account of Friendship in Aelred of Rievaulx
3. The Theological Account of Friendship in Thomas Aquinas
4. Aelred and Thomas Compared: Analysis, Conclusions, Final Speculations

Selected Bibliography


Endorsements and Reviews

This book is breathtaking in its scope but incisive in its precise formulation of a new starting point for anyone looking for a way to integrate monastic wisdom into his or her own theological method.
Peter Casarella, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology, Notre Dame University, Indiana

In this important work, Nathan Lefler contributes significantly to the traditional debate about the setting of theology: the monastery or the university? Without opposing the irreplaceable contributions of scholastic theology, and of Aquinas in particular, the author evokes the centrality for theology of liturgical worship and a community of religious observances. His thesis has implications for our broader understanding of university education in general, and of the crisis of identity in contemporary academic theology.
Thomas Joseph White, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology, Thomistic Institute, Dominican House of Studies, Washington

… [Nathan Lefler] is even-handed, perspicacious, and penetrating …
Patrick Madigan, in Heythrop Journal, Vol 57, Issue 2