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

field, because he suffers these things until he returns to the earth from which he was taken, that is, until he comes to the end of this life. For one who cultivates this field interiorly and gains his bread, albeit with toil, can suffer this toil up to the end of this life, but after this life he need not suffer. One who did not cultivate his field and allowed it to be overcome with thorns has in this life the curse of his earth in all his works, and after this life he will have either the fire of purgation or eternal punishment. 136. Thus no one escapes this sentence, but we should act so that we feel its punishment only in this life.


CHAPTER 21

Why after Their Sin Adam Called Eve Herself "Life,"
and the Meaning of the Garments of Skin

31. Who is not troubled by the fact that after sin and the sentence of God as judge, Adam calls his woman "Life"? For she is [called] the mother of the living, after she merited death and became destined to bear mortal offspring. Perhaps Scripture has in mind those offspring that we mentioned above. 137. These offspring she will bear in pain, and afterward she will turn to her husband, and he will rule over her. For in that way she is life and the mother of the living. For the life which is in sins is often called death in the Scriptures. Thus the Apostle says that a widow who lives in pleasures is dead, 138. and we read that sin itself is signified by the expression, dead body, "He who is cleansed from a dead body and touches it again, what profit has he from his bath? So too, he who fasts over his sins and goes and again does these same things?" 139.

____________________
136.
Catholic theologians have found in this passage a foundation for the doctrine of purgatory as a place in which souls suffer punishment that purifies them from venial sins and temporal punishment due to sin; cf. EP 1544.
137.
Cf. above 2.19.29. The incongruity of Adam's giving his woman the name "Life" immediately after she merited death and became destined to bear mortal offspring leads him to return to his spiritual exegesis begun above. The offspring of the woman are understood as the inclinations toward good that are brought forth in the labor of overcoming bad habits.
138.
1 Tim 5.6.
139.
Sir 34.30-31.

-126-

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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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