Quaestiones disputatae de potentia
Disputed Questions on the Power of God
De potentia Dei
The power of God
Primo quaeritur utrum in Deo sit potentia.
1. Is there power in God?
Secundo utrum potentia Dei sit infinita.
2. Is God’s power infinite?
Tertio utrum ea quae sunt naturae impossibilia, Deo sint possibilia.
3. Are those things which are impossible to nature possible to God?
Quarto utrum iudicandum sit aliquid possibile vel impossibile, secundum causas inferiores vel superiores.
4. Should we judge a thing to be possible or impossible with reference to lower or to higher causes?
Quinto utrum Deus possit facere quae non facit, et dimittere quae facit.
5. Is God able to do what he does not and is he able to undo what he does?
Sexto utrum Deus possit facere quae alii faciunt, ut peccare, ambulare, et cetera.
6. Is God able to do what others can do, as, for example, is he able to sin or to walk, etc.?
Septimo utrum Deus dicatur omnipotens.
7. Is God omnipotent?
Utrum in Deo sit potentia
Whether there is power in God
Primo quaeritur utrum in Deo sit potentia.
The first point of inquiry is whether there is power in God.
Et videtur quod non. Potentia enim est operationis principium. Sed operatio Dei, quae est eius essentia, non habet principium, quia neque est genita neque procedens. Ergo in Deo non est potentia.
Obj. 1: And it seems that there is not. For power is a principle of activity. Now, God’s activity, which is his essence, has no principle, since neither is it begotten nor does it proceed. Therefore, power is not in God.
Praeterea, omne perfectissimum est Deo attribuendum, secundum Anselmum. Ergo quod respicit aliquid se perfectius, non debet Deo attribui. Sed omnis potentia respicit se perfectius, scilicet passiva formam et activa operationem. Ergo potentia Deo attribui non potest.
Obj. 2: Whatever is most perfect should be ascribed to God, according to Anselm. Therefore, that which implies a relation to something more perfect should not be ascribed to God. But all power bears a relation to something more perfect, namely, a passive form and an active operation. Therefore, we should not ascribe power to God.
Praeterea, potentia est principium transmutandi in aliud secundum quod est aliud: secundum Philosophum; sed principium relatio quaedam est; et est relatio Dei ad creaturas, prout significatur in potentia creandi vel movendi. Nulla autem talis relatio est in Deo secundum rem, sed solum secundum rationem. Ergo potentia non est in Deo secundum rem.
Obj. 3: Power, according to the Philosopher, denotes a principle of changing into something other thing as other. Now, a principle is a certain relation; and power is the relation of God to created things, insofar as he is signified in his power to create or move them. But no such relation is in God in reality, but only according to reason. Therefore, power is not in God in reality.
Praeterea, habitus est perfectior potentia, utpote operanti propinquior. Sed habitus non ponitur in Deo. Ergo nec potentia.
Obj. 4: Habit is more perfect than power, since it is closer to the one acting. But there are no habits in God. Neither, therefore, is there power in him.
Praeterea, nihil debet in Deo significari per quod derogetur eius primitiae vel simplicitati. Sed Deus, in quantum est simplex, et primum agens, agit per essentiam suam. Ergo non debet significari agere per potentiam, quae saltem secundum modum significandi super essentiam addit.
Obj. 5: No expression should be employed that is derogatory to God’s primacy or simplicity. Now, God, because he is simple and the first agent, acts by his essence. Therefore, we should not speak of him as acting by his power, which (at least in its mode of signifying) connotes something added to his essence.
Praeterea, secundum Philosophum, in perpetuis non differt esse et posse: multo minus ergo in divinis. Sed ubi est eadem res, debet esse idem nomen a digniori sumptum. Dignius autem est essentia quam potentia: quia potentia essentiae advenit. Ergo in Deo debet nominari essentia tantum, non autem potentia.
Obj. 6: According to the Philosopher, in everlasting things there is no difference between what is and what can be; much less must this be the case in God. Now, where two realities are the same, they should have one name, taken from the more dignified. But essence is more dignified than power, because power is an addition to essence. Therefore, we should speak only of God’s essence and not of his power.
Praeterea, sicut materia prima est pura potentia, ita Deus est purus actus. Sed prima materia secundum essentiam suam considerata, est denudata ab omni actu. Ergo Deus in essentia sua consideratus, est absque omnipotentia.
Obj. 7: As primary matter is pure potency, so is God pure act. Now, primary matter considered in its own essence is entirely void of act. Therefore, God, considered in his own essence, is void of omnipotence.
Praeterea, omnis potentia ab actu separata est imperfecta: et ita, cum nihil imperfectum Deo conveniat, talis potentia in Deo esse non potest. Si ergo in Deo est potentia, oportet quod semper sit actui coniuncta: et ita potentia creandi est coniuncta actui semper; et sic sequitur quod ab aeterno creavit res; quod est haereticum.
Obj. 8: Any power apart from its act is imperfect; therefore, as no imperfection may be ascribed to God, such a power cannot be in him. If, then, there is power in God, it must always be united to its act. Consequently, the power to create will always be united to the act of creation, and thus it will follow that God created things from eternity, which is heretical.
Praeterea, quando aliquid sufficit ad aliquid agendum, superflue aliquid superadditur. Sed essentia Dei sufficit ad hoc quod Deus per eam aliquid agat. Ergo superflue ponitur in eo potentia per quam agat.
Obj. 9: When one thing suffices for a certain action, it is superfluous to add another. But God’s essence suffices for God to act through it. Therefore, it is superfluous to say that he has power whereby he acts.
Sed dices, quod potentia non est aliud quam essentia secundum rem; sed solum secundum modum intelligendi.
Obj. 10: To this you may reply that God’s power does not differ from his essence according to reality but only according to a mode of understanding.
Sed contra, omnis intellectus cui non respondet aliquid in re est cassus et vanus.
On the contrary, every concept to which there is no corresponding reality is void and senseless.
Praeterea, praedicamentum substantiae est nobilius aliis praedicamentis. Sed Deo non attribuitur, ut Augustinus dicit. Multo ergo minus praedicamentum qualitatis. Sed potentia est in secunda specie qualitatis. Ergo Deo attribui non debet.
Obj. 11: The category of substance is nobler than the other categories; and yet, as Augustine asserts, it is not ascribed to God. Much less, therefore, is the category of quality. Now, power is assigned to the second species of quality. Therefore, it should not be ascribed to God.
Sed dices, quod potentia quae Deo attribuitur, non est qualitas, sed Dei essentia, sola ratione differens.
Obj. 12: You will say that power as attributed to God is not a quality but the very essence of God, differing only in account.
Sed contra, aut isti rationi aliquid respondet in re, aut nihil. Si nihil ratio vana est. Si autem aliquid in re ei respondet, sequitur quod aliquid in Deo sit potentia praeter essentiam, sicut ratio potentiae est praeter rationem essentiae.
On the contrary, either there is something real corresponding to this account, or there is nothing. If nothing, the account is empty. If something, then it follows that God’s power is in addition to his essence, just as the account of power is distinct from the account of essence.
Praeterea, secundum Philosophum, omnis potestas et omne effectivum est propter aliud eligendum. Nullum autem huiusmodi Deo convenit: quia ipse non est propter aliud. Ergo potentia Deo non convenit.
Obj. 13: According to the Philosopher, every power and every effective act is for the sake of some choosing something else. But nothing of this kind belongs to God, since he is not for the sake of something else. Therefore, power does not belong to God.
Praeterea, virtus a Dionysio ponitur media inter substantiam et operationem. Sed Deus non agit per aliquod medium. Ergo non agit per virtutem; et ita nec per potentiam: et sic potentia non est in Deo.
Obj. 14: According to Dionysius, ability is a medium between substance and operation. But God does not act through a medium. Therefore, he does not act through an ability, nor, consequently, through a power. And thus it follows that power is not in God.
Praeterea, secundum Philosophum potentia activa, quae soli Deo potest competere, est principium transmutationis in aliud, secundum quod est aliud. Sed Deus agit sine transmutatione, sicut patet in creatione. Ergo Deo potentia activa attribui non potest.
Obj. 15: According to the Philosopher, active power, which alone can be ascribed to God, is a principle of transmutation terminating in another thing as such. But God acts without transmutation, as, for instance, in creation. Therefore, active power cannot be attributed to God.
Praeterea, Philosophus dicit, quod eiusdem est potentia actionis et passionis. Sed potentia passionis Deo non convenit. Ergo nec potentia actionis.
Obj. 16: The Philosopher says that a power of action and a power of being acted upon belong to the same thing. But a power of being acted upon does not belong to God. Therefore, neither does a power of action.
Praeterea, Philosophus dicit, quod potentiae activae est contraria privatio. Sed contraria nata sunt fieri circa idem. Cum ergo in Deo nullo modo sit privatio, non erit ibi potentia.
Obj. 17: The Philosopher says that there for an active power there is a contrary privation. Now, it is in the nature of contraries to have the same subject. Since, then, there can in no way be privation in God, neither can power be in him.
Praeterea, Magister dicit quod agere non proprie competit Deo. Sed ubi non est actio, ibi non potest esse potentia activa nec passiva, ut patet. Ergo nulla.
Obj. 18: The Master says that action is not properly speaking attributable to God. But where there is no action, there can be no power, active or passive. Therefore, no kind of power is in God.
Sed contra est quod dicitur in Psalm. LXXXVIII, 9: potens es, domine, et veritas tua in circuitu tuo.
On the contrary (1), it is written: you are powerful, O Lord, and your truth is round about you (Ps 88:9).
Praeterea, Matth. III, 9: potens est Deus de lapidibus istis suscitare filios Abrahae.
Furthermore (2), it is written: God has power from these stones to raise up children to Abraham (Matt 3:9).
Praeterea, omnis operatio ab aliqua potentia procedit. Sed Deo maxime convenit operari. Ergo Deo maxime potentia convenit.
Furthermore (3), every activity proceeds from some power. Now, to be active belongs to God most of all. Therefore, power belongs to God most of all.