The latter twentieth century and early twenty-first century has seen a revival of interest in the biblical commentary of the church fathers. Noteworthy evidence is supplied by the ongoing publication of two major patristic commentaries by Eerdmans and InterVarsity Press. During the thirteenth century the western church experienced a similar revival of interest in the church fathers, with many Eastern texts being translated from Greek to Latin for the first time, and thereby becoming available to a wider public. There was also an increasing hunger for access to the original message of Scripture as understood by early Christians, and to this, it was felt, the church fathers held the key.
It was Pope Urban IV who commissioned St. Thomas to compile the 'Catena' in a bid to make readily available to the academic public an orthodox patristic commentary on the Gospels.
The Oxford Movement was the catalyst for this English translation by John Henry Newman in 1841.
The 'Catena' is not as original as Thomas's other writings, but manifests an intimate acquaintance with the fathers of the church and provides an excellent compliment to the modern attempts to understand how the fathers read scripture.
Thomas Aquinas John Henry Newman
Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) lived at a critical juncture of western culture when the arrival of the Aristotelian corpus in Latin translation reopened the question of the relation between faith and reason. This crisis flared up just as universities were being founded. Thomas, after early studies at Montecassino, moved on to the University of Naples, where he met members of the new Dominican order. When he joined the Dominican order he went north to study with Albertus Magnus, author of a paraphrase of the Aristotelian corpus. Thomas completed his studies at the University of Paris. His theological writings became regulative of the Catholic Church and his close textual commentaries on Aristotle represent a cultural resource which is now receiving increased recognition.