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

mud, so the soul by vivifying the matter of the body forms it into a harmonious unity and does not allow it to fall into dissolution.


CHAPTER 8

The Breathing Forth of the Spirit, and
What Is Meant in the Scriptures by the Spirit of Man

10. Scripture says, "And he breathed into him the breath of life, and man became a living soul." 42. If up to this point there was only the body, we should understand that the soul was at this point joined to the body. Perhaps the soul had been already made, but was still as if in the mouth of God, that is, in his truth and wisdom. 43. But it did not depart from there as if separated by places, when it was breathed forth. For God is not contained by place, but is present everywhere. 44. Or perhaps the soul was made when God breathed the breath of life into the mud he had formed so that the breathing forth signifies God's activity by which he made the

____________________
42.
Gen 2.7.
43.
Augustine's suggestion that the soul of man was already made, but remained in God's truth and wisdom is puzzling. Perhaps he is thinking of his hypothesis that the soul made by God already existed somehow in God and was subsequently sent into the body. Cf. DBV 1.1 and DLA 3.20.57; in the latter text he says, "But if souls already existing in some secret place of God are sent...."

The idea that the soul was made and yet remained in the wisdom of God seems to echo Origen's hypothesis in Peri Archōn 1.4.4. To avoid the idea of God's inactivity prior to creation, Origen suggested that God was active from eternity; he was then forced to admit a creature coeternal with God. In Origène, Traité des Principes 2. Livres 1-2, SC 253 (1978) 80, H. Crouzel and M. Simonetti say, "La création co-éternelle à Dieu c'est le Monde Intelligible, contenant les plans de la création et les germes des êtres à venir, et s'identifiant avec le Fils en tant qu'il est Sagesse." Augustine much later hears of this position from Orosius who informed him that both the Aviti and Basil held "that the things God made remained forever in his wisdom, before they became visible." Augustine answers in CO 8.9 that their position lacks sobriety and argues that, if they are made, they have not remained in God's wisdom.

44.
Even though Augustine is writing for the "little ones" who have difficulty in understanding spiritual realities, he cannot resist touching upon the theme of God's omnipresence.

-104-

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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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