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

whether it first called by the name of heaven and earth that formless matter of the universe which was changed into these formed and beautiful natures by God's ineffable command. Although we read in Scripture, "You who made the world from formless matter," 20. still we cannot say that whatever sort of matter this was it was not made by him, from whom we confess and believe that all things are. Thus the transformation and ordering of all the individual formed and distinct things is called the world, but its matter is called heaven and earth, like the seed of heaven and earth. This heaven and earth which were confused and mixed up were suited to receive forms from God their maker. What we have done up to this point concerning the words, "In the beginning God made heaven and earth," 21. should be looked upon as matter for ongoing inquiry, for none of these views could be affirmed without hesitation.


CHAPTER 4

11. "But the earth was invisible and without form, and darkness was over the abyss, and the Spirit of God was borne over the water." 22. The heretics who are opposed to the Old Testament usually stir up charges against this passage, saying, "How did God make heaven and earth in the beginning, if the earth already was?" They do not understand that this addition was made to explain the condition of the earth, of which Scripture says, "God made heaven and earth." 23. Hence, we should take it this way: "In the beginning God made heaven and earth," 24. but this earth which God made was invisible and without form until, by introducing distinctions, he brought it from confusion and established it in a certain order of reality. Or are we better off in understanding that this discussion once again calls to our attention the same matter

____________________
20.
Wis 11.18.
21.
Gen 1.1.
22.
Gen 1.2.
23.
The heretics in question are, of course, the Manichees.
24.
Gen 1.1.

-151-

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