On Genesis: Two Books on Genesis against the Manichees; And, on the Literal Interpretation of Genesis, An Unfinished Book

By Saint Augustine; Roland J. S. J. Teske | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 21

Why "Very Good" Is Said in Verse Thirty-One

32. Certainly we should not carelessly pass over the words of Scripture that say, "And God saw that all the things which he had made were very good." 98. For when dealing with individual things, it only says, "God saw that it is good," but in speaking of all things, it was not enough to say "good" without adding "very" as well. For if prudent men consider the single works of God, they find that, individually in their own species, they have praiseworthy measures, numbers, and orders. How much more [then will this be true of] all of them together, that is, of the universe which is filled with these individual things gathered into unity? For every beauty that is composed of parts is much more praiseworthy in the whole than in a part. In the case of the human body, if we praise the eyes alone, or the nose, or the cheeks, or the head, or the hands, or the feet, and we praise the remaining beautiful parts individually and by themselves, how much more should we praise the whole body to which all the members, which individually are beautiful, contribute their beauty? If a beautiful hand, which we praise even by itself in the body, is separated from the body and loses its attractiveness, the other members also are ugly without it. The force and power of integrity and unity are so great that many good things are pleasing only when they come together and form a universe (universum). A universe gets its name from unity. If the Manichees would consider this, they would praise God, the author and creator of the universe. They would integrate into the beauty of the universe what they find displeasing in some part on account of the condition of our mortality, and they would see how God has made all things not only good, but very good. If in an ornate and polished speech we consider the individual syllables, or even the individual letters, which pass away as soon

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98.
Gen 1.31.

-80-

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