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

understand that not only the visible, but also the invisible creature pertains to time on account of its mutability. For only God, who is before time, is immutable. 36.


CHAPTER 7

The Mystery Contained in the Mud

8. After mentioning all creation both visible and invisible and the universal gift of the divine spring with regard to the invisible creature, let us see what it says of man in particular, for this especially pertains to us. First of all, the fact that God formed man from the mud of the earth 37. usually raises a question about the sort of mud it was or the kind of material the term "mud" signifies. Those enemies of the Old Books, looking at everything in a carnal manner and, therefore, always being in error, bitingly find fault with this point as well, namely, that God formed man from the mud of the earth. 38. For they say, "Why did God make man from mud? Did he lack a better and heavenly material from which he could make man, that he formed him fragile and mortal from this earthly corruption?" First of all, they do not understand how many meanings either earth or water have in the Scriptures; for mud is a mixture of earth and water. Also we say that the human body began to waste away and to be fragile and mortal after sin. For they abhor in our body only the mortality which we merited as punishment. But even if God made man from the mud of this earth, still what is there that is strange or difficult for God in making man's body such that it would not be subject to corruption if, in obedience to God's commandment, he had not willed to sin? For we say that the beauty of heaven was made from nothing or from formless

____________________
36.
Augustine uses the text to argue that Genesis is teaching that the soul is mutable and, therefore, is not divine. The Manichees held that the soul was literally a particle of God; cf. below 2.8.11.
37.
Cf. Gen. 2.7.
38.
To look at things in a carnal manner inevitably and consistently leads to error.

-102-

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