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

say that part of God was changed into it, when there took place that breathing forth by God. Healthy doctrine likewise rejects this, because the spirit of man itself is at times in error and at times thinks wisely; thus it proclaims that it is mutable, and it is in no way permissible to believe this of the nature of God. 56. But there cannot be a greater sign of pride than that the human soul says that it is what God is, while it still groans under such great burdens of vice and unhappiness.


CHAPTER 9

The Meaning of the Paradise of Delights

12. Now let us look at man's happiness which is signified by the name of paradise. Men usually find delightful rest in meadows, and the light rises for our corporeal senses from the east and then climbs the heaven which is a body higher and more excellent than our body. Hence, these words also express figuratively the spiritual delights that the happy life contains, and the garden is planted in the east. We should understand that our spiritual joys are signified by every tree beautiful to the gaze of the intelligence and good for the food which is not corrupted and by which the happy souls are fed. For the Lord also says, "Work for the food which is not corrupted." 57. Such is every idea which is the food of the soul. 58. He set the light of wisdom to the east in Eden, that is, in

____________________
56.
Cf. C 7.1.1 where Augustine speaks of his seeing that the immutable is better than the mutable. His seeing this truth—even, it seems, before his contact with the books of the Platonists—is what led him to break definitively with the Manichees. For, if God were mutable, then Augustine could conceive of something better than God.
57.
John 6.27.
58.
"Idea" refers to a divine idea, one of the exemplars in the mind of God in accord with which he creates. Augustine is clear that human knowing somehow depends upon contact with the 'divine ideas' (rationes divinae) and that they provide the standard by which the spiritual man judges all things; cf. DLA 2.12.34 and 3.5.13. The nature of the soul's contact with these ideas is less clear. Some passages seem to say that at least some souls at times see the ideas in God's mind; others seem able to be interpreted in a milder fashion ; cf. the classic text on the divine ideas, DD83 46.

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

Table of contents

  • The Fathers of the Church - A New Translation *
  • The Fathers of the Church - A New Translation *
  • On Genesis - Two Books on Genesis against the Manichees and on the Literal Interpretation of Genesis: an Unfinished Book *
  • Contents *
  • Abbreviations ix
  • Select Bibliography xi
  • Introduction *
  • Introduction 3
  • Two Books on Genesis against the Manichees *
  • Book One 47
  • Chapter 1 47
  • Chapter 2 49
  • Chapter 3 52
  • Chapter 4 54
  • Chapter 5 56
  • Chapter 6 57
  • Chapter 7 58
  • Chapter 8 60
  • Chapter 9 62
  • Chapter 10 63
  • Chapter 11 64
  • Chapter 12 65
  • Chapter 13 66
  • Chapter 14 68
  • Chapter 15 71
  • Chapter 16 72
  • Chapter 17 74
  • Chapter 18 76
  • Chapter 19 77
  • Chapter 20 78
  • Chapter 21 80
  • Chapter 22 81
  • Chapter 23 83
  • Chapter 24 88
  • Chapter 25 89
  • Book Two 91
  • Chapter 1 91
  • Chapter 2 95
  • Chapter 3 96
  • Chapter 4 98
  • Chapter 5 99
  • Chapter 6 101
  • Chapter 7 102
  • Chapter 8 104
  • Chapter 9 107
  • Chapter 10 109
  • Chapter 11 111
  • Chapter 12 112
  • Chapter 13 114
  • Chapter 14 115
  • Chapter 15 117
  • Chapter 16 119
  • Chapter 17 121
  • Chapter 18 122
  • Chapter 19 123
  • Chapter 20 125
  • Chapter 21 126
  • Chapter 22 129
  • Chapter 23 131
  • Chapter 24 132
  • Chapter 25 134
  • Chapter 26 135
  • Chapter 27 137
  • Chapter 28 139
  • Chapter 29 140
  • On the Literal Interpretation of Genesis: An Unfinished Book *
  • Chapter 1 145
  • Chapter 2 147
  • Chapter 3 148
  • Chapter 4 151
  • Chapter 5 156
  • Chapter 6 161
  • Chapter 7 163
  • Chapter 8 165
  • Chapter 9 167
  • Chapter 10 168
  • Chapter 11 169
  • Chapter 12 171
  • Chapter 13 173
  • Chapter 14 176
  • Chapter 15 179
  • Chapter 16 182
  • Indices *
  • General Index 191
  • Index of Holy Scripture 196
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