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

CHAPTER 1

IT is NOT by way of assertion, but by way of inquiry that we have to treat the hidden matters concerning natural things which we know were made by God, their almighty maker. Especially in the books that the authority of God has commended to us, rashness in asserting an uncertain and doubtful opinion scarcely escapes the charge of sacrilege. Still, doubt in inquiry ought not exceed the bounds of the Catholic faith. 1. Since many heretics try to twist the exposition of the divine Scriptures to their own opinion which stands apart from the faith of the Catholic discipline, we must first briefly explain the Catholic faith before dealing with this book. 2.

2. Here is that faith: God the Father Almighty made and established all of creation through his only-begotten Son, that is, through the Wisdom and Power consubstantial and coeternal to himself, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, who is also consubstantial and coeternal. 3. Therefore, the Catholic discipline commands that we believe that this Trinity is called one

____________________
1.
In the notes to DGnL 1.1.2 in BA 48.575-580, Agaësse and Solignac point out that the same aporetic character marks Augustine's larger commentary on Genesis. In R 2.24.1 Augustine says of it, "In that work there are more questions than discoveries, and of the discoveries fewer still are solidly grounded; the rest are set down as matters needing further investigation."
2.
Augustine sets forth a statement of the Catholic faith that is a commentary on the Apostles' Creed in, it would seem, the version of Ambrose and the church of Milan, the church of Augustine's own baptism; cf. Hahn, Bibliothek der Symbole, 38, nts. 42 and 43. Augustine adds to the Symbol the consubstantiality of the Son and the Spirit with the Father and emphasizes the distinction of the Trinity from creatures and the goodness of all creatures.
3.
The emphasis upon the consubstantiality of the Son and the Holy Spirit reflects the definitions of the Councils of Nicea (325) and of Constantinople (381).

-145-

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