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

By St. Augustine; Roland J. S. J. Teske | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

DURING THE many years of his writing career Saint Augustine undertook an explanation of the beginning of the Book of Genesis at least five times. 1. The first of these, On Genesis against the Manichees (De Genesi contra Manichaeos), was written in 388 or 389, shortly after his return to Africa and before his ordination to the priesthood. The second attempt, On the Literal Interpretation of Genesis: An Unfinished Book (De Genesi ad litteram imperfectus liber), was written about 393; that it remains incomplete bears witness to Augustine's inability to offer a literal interpretation of the text. A third time, in the final three books of his Confessions (Confessiones), Augustine once again takes up the exposition of the beginning of Genesis, presenting a highly figurative interpretation. 2. Fourthly, there is his monumental work in twelve books, On Genesis Literally Interpreted (De Genesi ad litteram), which he began later than 404 and eventually published before his work On the Trinity (De trinitate) which was completed, it now seems, after 420. 3. Finally he again turned to the beginning of the Book of Genesis in book eleven of The City of God (De civitate Dei) that was written by 417/8. 4. This volume

____________________
1.
Cf. Gilles Pelland, Cinq études d'Augustin sur le début de la Genèse (Paris and Tournai: Desclée. Montreal: Bellarmin, 1972).
2.
Cf. Robert J. O'Connell, St. Augustine's Confessions: The Odyssey of Soul (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1969) for a commentary on these books that integrates them into the whole work.
3.
This work has been translated into English as The Literal Meaning of Genesis by John H. Taylor, ACW 41 and 42 (1982). Taylor has provided excellent notes, many of which also throw light upon the earlier commentaries on Genesis. The French translation, La Genèse au sens littéral in Oeuvres de saint Augustin, tr. P. Agaësee and A. Solignac, BA 48 and 49 (1972), also provides excellent notes and commentary. For the dating of DGnL, cf. Robert J. O'Connell, The Origin of the Soul in St. Augustine's Later Works (New York: Fordham University Press, 1987), 202.
4.
Cf. O'Connell, Later Works, 283.

-3-

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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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