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

not to allow her to rule him. When this happens, the home is perverted and unhappy. 75.

16. Hence, God first showed man how much better he was than the cattle and all irrational animals, and this is signified by the statement that all the animals were brought to him that he might see what he would call them and give them names. 76. This shows that man is better than the animals in virtue of reason, since only reason which judges concerning them is able to distinguish and know them by name. This latter idea is an easy one to grasp, for man quickly understands that he is better than the cattle. The former idea is a difficult one to grasp, namely, that by which he understands that the rational part in him that rules is distinct from the animal part which is ruled.


CHAPTER 12

The Meaning of Adam's Sleep
and His Union with Eve

Because he sees these things with a more hidden wisdom, I think this hidden wisdom is signified by the sleep that God sent upon Adam when he made the woman for him. 77. To see this there is no need of these bodily eyes; rather to the extent that anyone withdraws from these visible things into the interior realm of the intelligence (for this is in a sense to fall

____________________
75.
Augustine's view of the role of women is far from what would satisfy most contemporaries—not to mention contemporary feminists. On this point, as on others, one should realize that his ideas were molded by his society and culture as well as by passages in the Scriptures which seem to subordinate women to men. On the other hand, the life of Monica sketched in C 9.8.17‐ 9.11.28 presents a portrait of a wife and a mother that is unparalleled in antiquity and should surely be weighed in the balance with some of Augustine's clearly objectionable statements. Moreover, his Platonic view of human beings led him to identify the real person with the soul or mind. Hence, differences of bodily sex are theoretically extrinsic to the real person and men and women are equal as souls. Cf. Richard McGowan, "Augustine's Spiritual Equality: The Allegory of Man and Woman with regard to Imago Dei," REAug 33 (1987) 255-264, for current bibliography on this topic.
76.
Cf. Gen 2.19-20.
77.
Cf. Gen 2.21-22.

-112-

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