In the thirteenth century, public disputation was not only a sort of ecclesiastical tournament arranged for an exceptional and solemn occasion, but also an integral part of a philosophical and theological course of study. At the University of Paris, for instance, public disputations were held frequently throughout the year. They were held more or less intermittently by other masters, but by Thomas with great frequency and regularity, especially during the three years of his first professorship at Paris when he held them twice a week during term. Thomas' disputations fall into seven series: on Truth; on the Power of God; on Evil; on the Incarnate Word; on Spiritual Creatures; and on the Virtures. These disputations on the power of God were written when Aquinas was about 40 and at the height of his intellectual powers. The exact time and place are unknown though it is likely that they were offered in either Anagni (1259-1261) or Rome (1265-67).
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.