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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it is correctly said to have come to be upon the earth or to be upon the earth. Therefore, Scripture added, "For God had not yet made it rain upon the earth." 18.


CHAPTER 4

The Meaning of Verse Five: Why It Had Not Yet Rained upon
the Earth

Now God also makes the green of the field, but by raining upon the earth; that is, he makes souls become green again by his word. 19. But he waters them from the clouds, that is, from the writings of the prophets and apostles. They are correctly called clouds, because these words which sound and pass away after they strike the air become like clouds when there is added the obscurity of allegories like a fog that has been drawn over them. 20. When they are pressed by study, the rain of truth, so to speak, is poured out on those who understand well. But it was not already this way before the soul sinned, that is, before the green of the field was upon the earth. "For God had not yet made it rain upon the earth, and there was no man to work on it." 21. For the rain from the clouds, which we have already mentioned, is necessary for man who is laboring on the earth. After sin man began to

____________________
the Fall, he observes, was there 'man laboring upon the earth' (homo laborans in terra, 2.5).'·
18.
Gen 2.5.
19.
Augustine probably intends that we should understand the Word of God. The allegory continues with the clouds, the writings of the prophets and apostles and the flesh of Christ; these human words are obscure—compared with the Word, at whose fountain the soul had once drunk. Now humans need to squeeze drops of truth out of the clouds. Before sin the invisible creature was watered interiorly by a spring that spoke to its intellect with no need to receive words from the outside.
20.
For the meaning of the term "allegory," cf. Grant, Letter and Spirit, 121-123, where he traces its meaning in Christian and non-Christian sources. St. Paul uses the term in Gal 4.24; Quintilian defines it as a continuous metaphor in Institutio 8.6.14 and 9.2.46. Here allegories make the writings of the prophets and apostles cloudy or obscure so that they demand careful study.
21.
Gen 2.5.

-98-

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