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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28. Enmities are not set between him and the man, but between him and the woman. This is surely not because he fails to deceive and tempt men, is it? On the contrary, it is clear that he does deceive them. Or is it because he did not deceive Adam, but his woman? But is he then not the enemy of him to whom that deception came through his woman, especially since "I will place enmities between you and the woman" 124. is stated in the future? If the reason is that he did not thereafter deceive Adam, it is also true that he did not thereafter deceive Eve. Hence, why does Scripture put it this way except to show clearly that we cannot be tempted by the devil except through that animal part, which reveals, so to speak, the image or exemplification of the woman in the one whole man. 125. We have spoken of this a great deal above. 126. Enmities are placed between the seed of the devil and the seed of the woman; the seed of the devil signifies perverse suggestion, and the seed of the woman the fruit of the good work by which one resists such perverse suggestion. Thus he watches the foot of the woman so that, if ever it should slip in that forbidden pleasure, he might seize her. And she watches his head so that she may exclude him in the very beginning of his evil temptation.


CHAPTER 19

The Punishments Imposed on the Woman

29. There is no question about the punishment of the woman. For she clearly has her pains and sighs multiplied in the woes of this life. 127. Although her bearing her children in pain is fulfilled in this visible woman, our consideration should nevertheless be recalled to that more hidden woman. For even in animals the females bear offspring with pain, and this is in their case the condition of mortality rather than the punish‐

____________________
124.
Cf. Gen 3.15.
125.
Once again Augustine is forced to a figurative interpretation of the text.
126.
Cf. above 2.14.20-2.15.22.
127.
Cf. Gen. 3.16.

-123-

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