Eighty-three Different Questions (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 70)

Eighty-three Different Questions (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 70): a new translation.

Translated by DAVID L. MOSHER
Copyright Date: 1982
Pages: 279
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt32b1xb
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    Eighty-three Different Questions (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 70)
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    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1170-1
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-xvi)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  4. SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. xix-xx)
  5. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  6. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-34)

    Rarely has a great and influential thinker taken pains to let others look at his previous literary career through his very own eyes. St. Augustine, however, has provided us with a rich opportunity to do just that. In his Retractations,² written a couple of years before his death in 430, St. Augustine reflects upon the merits and demerits of the numerous books, letters, and sermons which he had authored over a forty-year period. Frequently he also tells us why a particular work was written, when, and for whom.

    Among the works discussed in this critical reassessment of his literary career...

  7. Eighty-three Different Questions
    • 1. IS THE SOUL SELF-EXISTENT?
      (pp. 37-37)

      Everything true is true by truth, and every soul is a soul in virtue of that by which it is a true soul. Accordingly every soul is dependent upon truth for its very existence as a soul. Now the soul is one thing, truth another. For truth is never susceptible of falsehood, whereas the soul is often mistaken and deceived. Therefore, since the soul is dependent upon truth for its existence, the soul is not self-existent. But truth is God. Therefore God is the author of the soul’s existence....

    • 2. ON FREE CHOICE
      (pp. 37-37)

      Nothing which comes into being can be equal to that which brings it into being. Otherwise one necessarily does away with justice, which must render to each its due. Therefore, when God made man, although he made him very good, nevertheless he did not make him what he himself is. But that man is better who is good freely and willingly than the man who is good by necessity. Accordingly free will² was a fitting and appropriate gift for man....

    • 3. IS GOD RESPONSIBLE FOR HUMAN PERVERSITY?
      (pp. 37-38)

      No wise man is responsible for human perversity, because the blame for this is not small. Rather [the blame] is so great that it cannot be charged to any wise man. But God far excells every wise man. Much less, therefore, is God responsible for man’s perversity, for God’s will is far more excellent than the wise man’s. Now the phrase is responsible for means “wills.” Therefore it is a moral failing of the will which is responsible for human perversity. If this moral failing is not at all the result of God’s will, as reason teaches, then we must...

    • 4. WHAT IS THE CAUSE OF HUMAN PERVERSITY?
      (pp. 38-38)

      The cause of man’s perversity is either man himself, or something else, or nothing. If [it is] nothing, there is no cause. However, if the sentence the cause is nothing is understood to mean “man is made from nothing or from those things drawn from nothing,” on the contrary the cause will be found to be man himself, because the stuff of which he is made is nothing.

      If there is some other cause than this, is it God or any other man? Or is the cause something which is neither God nor man?

      It certainly is not God, for...

    • 5. CAN AN ANIMAL WITHOUT REASON BE HAPPY?
      (pp. 39-39)

      An animal which lacks reason lacks knowledge. But no animal which lacks knowledge can be happy. It therefore does not belong to animals lacking reason to be happy.¹...

    • 6. ON EVIL
      (pp. 39-39)

      Everything which is, is either corporeal or incorporeal. The corporeal is embraced by sensible form,¹ and the incorporeal, by intelligible form. Accordingly everything which exists is not without some form. But where there is form there necessarily is measure,² and measure is something good. Absolute evil, therefore, has no measure, for it lacks all good whatever. It thus does not exist, for it is embraced by no form, and the whole meaning of evil is derived from the privation of form....

    • 7. WHAT DOES ‘SOUL’ PROPERLY REFER TO IN A LIVING BEING?
      (pp. 40-40)

      In speaking of soul,² one sometimes understands it to involve mind,³ as when we say that a man consists of a soul and a body. At other times, mind is excluded from the meaning of the term. But when mind is excluded from its meaning, soul is understood in relation to those activities which we have in common with the lower animals. For animals lack reason, which is always a feature of mind....

    • 8. IS THE SOUL SELF-MOVING?
      (pp. 40-40)

      One is aware that the soul moves of itself when one is aware of the will within oneself. For if we will, no one else wills for us. And this movement of the soul is spontaneous, for this has been granted to the soul by God. But this movement is not from place to place as is that of the body, for movement from place to place is proper to the body. And though it is, nevertheless, by the will, i.e., by that movement which is not in place, that the soul moves its own body from place to place,...

    • 9. CAN TRUTH BE PERCEIVED BY THE BODILY SENSES?
      (pp. 40-42)

      Everything which the bodily sense touches and which is called sensible is constantly changing.¹ Thus, when the hairs on our head grow, or the body declines into old age or blooms out into youth, this happens continually, and there is never any letup in the process. But what does not remain stable cannot be perceived, for that is perceived which is grasped by knowledge, but that cannot be grasped which changes without ceasing. Therefore truth in any genuine sense is not something to be expected from the bodily senses.

      However, lest anyone say that there are some sensible things which...

    • 10. DOES BODY COME FROM GOD?
      (pp. 42-42)

      Everything good comes from God. Everything that has form is good insofar as it has form, and everything which form embraces has form. Now all body in order to be body is embraced by some form. Therefore all body comes from God.¹...

    • 11. WHY WAS CHRIST BORN OF A WOMAN?
      (pp. 42-42)

      When God sets free, he does not free a part, but he frees the whole of that which chances to be in danger. Therefore the Wisdom and Power of God, who is called the only begotten Son, has declared mankind’s deliverance through the assumption of human nature. But mankind’s deliverance had to be evidenced among both sexes. Therefore, since it was needful to become a man, which is the more honorable sex, it reasonably followed that the deliverance of the female sex be seen by that man’s birth from a woman....

    • 12. THE OPINION OF A CERTAIN WISE MAN
      (pp. 43-43)

      “Come now, O wretched mortals,” he says, “take heed that the wicked spirit may never foul this habitation, and that, intermingled with the senses, it may not pollute the sanctity of the soul and becloud the light of the mind. This evil thing creeps stealthily through all the entrances of sense: it gives itself over to forms, it adapts itself to colors, it sticks to sounds, it lurks hidden in anger and in the deception of speech, it appends itself to odors, it infuses tastes, by the turbulent overflow of passion it darkens the senses with darksome affections, it fills...

    • 13. WHAT PROOF IS THERE THAT MEN ARE SUPERIOR TO ANIMALS?
      (pp. 43-44)

      Among the many ways in which it can be shown that man is superior to animals by virtue of his reason, this is clear to all: animals can be domesticated and tamed by men, but men not at all by animals....

    • 14. THAT THE BODY OF CHRIST WAS NOT A PHANTOM
      (pp. 44-44)

      If the body of Christ was a phantom, Christ was a deceiver; and if he was a deceiver, he is not Truth. However, Christ is Truth. Therefore his body was not a phantom.¹...

    • 15. ON THE INTELLECT
      (pp. 44-44)

      Everything which understands itself comprehends itself. But what comprehends itself is limited with respect to itself. Now the intellect understands itself. Therefore it is limited in respect to itself. Nor does it wish to be without limits, although it could be, since it wishes to be known to itself, for it loves itself.¹...

    • 16. ON THE SON OF GOD
      (pp. 45-45)

      God is the cause of all that exists. But because he is the cause of all things, he is also the cause of his own Wisdom, and God is never without his Wisdom. Therefore, the cause of his own eternal¹ Wisdom is eternal as well, nor is he prior in time to his Wisdom. So then ifit is in God’s very nature to be the eternal Father, and if there was never a time when he was not the Father, then he has never existed without the Son....

    • 17. ON GOD’S KNOWLEDGE
      (pp. 45-45)

      Everything past no longer exists, everything future does not yet exist, therefore nothing past and nothing future exists. But in God’s sight there is nothing which does not exist. Therefore, in God’s sight, [nothing exists] as past or future, but everything is now....

    • 18. ON THE TRINITY
      (pp. 46-47)

      For every existing thing there is something responsible for its existing, something responsible for its distinguishing marks, and something responsible for its coherence.² Accordingly if any created thing exists in some sense, differs in practically all respects from what is absolutely indeterminate, i.e., nothing, and possesses a coherent structure, it requires a threefold cause: that by which it exists, that by which it is this particular thing, that by which it is internally consistent. But the cause, i.e., the author, of every created thing we call God. Therefore it is fitting that he be a trinity such that perfect reason...

    • 19. ON GOD AND THE CREATED
      (pp. 47-47)

      What is unchangeable is eternal, for it always exists in the same state. But what is changeable is subject to time, for it does not always exist in the same state and accordingly is not correctly said to be eternal. For what changes does not remain, and what does not remain is not eternal. Now between the immortal and the eternal there is this difference. Everything eternal is immortal, but not everything immortal is with sufficient accuracy called eternal. For although something may live forever, still, if it is subject to change, it is not properly called eternal, since it...

    • 20. ON THE PLACE OF GOD
      (pp. 47-48)

      God is not anywhere. For what is somewhere is contained in a place, and what is contained in a place is body. But God is not body, so he is not anywhere. Nevertheless, since he is and yet is not in a place, all things are in him rather than he himself being anywhere. Still, they are not in God as if he himself were a place, for place is in space which is occupied by the length, breadth, and height of a body. But God is not of this character. Therefore all things are in him, and he is...

    • 21. IS NOT GOD THE AUTHOR OF EVIL?
      (pp. 48-48)

      Whoever is the author of all things which are and whose goodness is responsible for the existence of all that exists cannot have anything at all to do with nonbeing. Now everything which lacks anything lacks in relation to being and tends toward nonbeing. However, to be and to lack in nothing is good, whereas evil is a lacking. But he on whom nonbeing has no claim is not the cause of [this] lacking (causa deficiendi), i.e., of the tending toward nonbeing, because he is, if I may say so, the cause of being (causa essendi). Therefore he is the...

    • 22. THAT GOD IS NOT SUBJECT TO NEED
      (pp. 49-49)

      Where there is no want, there is no need; and where there is no deficiency, there is no want. But there is no deficiency in God. Therefore there is no need....

    • 23. ON THE FATHER AND THE SON
      (pp. 49-50)

      Everything chaste is chaste by chastity, and everything eternal is eternal by eternity, and everything beautiful, beautiful by beauty, and everything good, good by goodness. As well, therefore, everything wise is wise by wisdom, and everything alike, alike by likeness. Now there are two ways in which a thing is said to be chaste by chastity: first, [when] the chaste thing produces chastity so that it is chaste by that chastity which it produces and for which it is the generative principle and cause of existence; or, second, when by participation in chastity everything is chaste which can at some...

    • 24. DO SIN AND RIGHT CONDUCT RESULT FROM A FREE CHOICE OF THE WILL?
      (pp. 50-51)

      Whatever happens by chance happens without design. Whatever happens without design does not happen due to Providence. If therefore some things in the world happen by chance, then not all the world is governed by Providence. If not all the world is governed by Providence, there is therefore some nature and substance which does not belong to the workings of Providence. But everything which is, insofar as it is, is good. For that is supremely good in whose participation other things are good. And everything which is subject to change is good insofar as it exists, though not in and...

    • 25. ON THE CROSS OF CHRIST
      (pp. 51-51)

      The Wisdom of God became man in order to show us how to live virtuously. Part of living the virtuous life involves not fearing those things which ought not to be feared. But death is not to be feared. Therefore it was necessary to show this by the death of that Man whom the Wisdom of God became.

      However, there are men who, although they do not fear death itself, are nevertheless terrified of some one kind of death. But even here, just as death itself is not to be feared, so no kind of death is to be feared...

    • 26. ON THE DIVERSITY OF SINS
      (pp. 52-52)

      There are sins of weakness, others, of ignorance, others, of malice. Weakness is the opposite of strength, ignorance is the opposite of wisdom, and malice is the opposite of goodness. Consequently whoever knows what is the strength and wisdom of God can judge which are the pardonable sins. And whoever knows what is the goodness of God can appreciate which sins are due some kind of punishment both in this world and in the one to come. Once these matters have been adequately treated, one can plausibly determine those who are not to be compelled to a penance full of...

    • 27. ON PROVIDENCE
      (pp. 52-53)

      Through an evil man Divine Providence can both punish and succor. For the impiety of the Jews was the Jews’ downfall and yet provided salvation for the Gentiles. Again, Divine Providence through a good man can both condemn and help, as the Apostle says: “To some we are the scent of life unto life, but to others we are the scent of death unto death.”¹ But every tribulation is either a punishment of the impious or a testing of the just (hence the word tribulation is derived from tribula [“threshing sledge”], an instrument which cuts up the chaff as well...

    • 28. WHY DID GOD WANT TO MAKE THE WORLD?
      (pp. 54-54)

      To inquire into why God wanted to make the world is to inquire into the cause of God’s will. But every cause is productive of some result, everything productive of some result is greater than that which is produced, and nothing is greater than God’s will. Therefore [God’s will] has no cause to be sought after....

    • 29. IS THERE AN ‘ABOVE’ AND A ‘BELOW’ IN THE UNIVERSE?
      (pp. 54-55)

      “Set your mind on the things which are above.”¹ We are bidden to set our minds on those things which are above, viz., spiritual things, which must not be understood to exist above in respect to the places and parts of this world, but by virtue of their excellence, lest we fix our mind² on a part of this world when we ought to divest ourselves of the whole thing.

      However, among the parts of this world, there is an ‘above’ as well as a ‘below.’ On the other hand, the world as a whole has neither an above nor...

    • 30. HAS EVERYTHING BEEN CREATED FOR MAN’S USE?
      (pp. 55-57)

      There is the same difference between the terms honorable¹ and useful as between the terms enjoyable and useful. For although it can be maintained (though requiring some subtlety) that everything honorable is useful and everything useful is honorable, nevertheless, since the term honorable more appropriately and usually means “that which is sought for its own sake,” and the term useful, “that which is directed to something else,” we now speak in terms of this distinction, while safeguarding, of course, the fact that the word honorable and the word useful are in no way opposed to one another. For these two...

    • 31. CICERO’S OPINION ON THE DIVISION AND DEFINITION OF THE VIRTUES OF THE SOUL
      (pp. 58-61)

      (1) Virtue is a habit of the soul conformable to the ways of nature and to reason. Therefore, when all the parts of virtue are known, we will have considered the full nature of honor, simply understood.² Accordingly virtue has four parts: prudence, justice, courage, and moderation.

      Prudence is the knowledge of things good, evil, and indifferent. The parts of prudence are memory, intelligence, and foresight. Memory is that by which the soul recalls those things which have been. Intelligence is that by which the soul observes those things which are. Foresight is that by which a future event is...

    • 32. CAN SOMEONE UNDERSTAND SOMETHING BETTER THAN SOMEONE ELSE, AND THEREFORE CAN THERE BE AN ENDLESS ADVANCE IN THE UNDERSTANDING OF THE THING?
      (pp. 61-61)

      Whoever understands a thing to be other than it really is makes a mistake, and everyone who is mistaken does not understand that about which he is mistaken. Accordingly whoever understands a thing to be other than it really is does not really understand it. Therefore nothing can be understood except as it really is. But as for ourselves, when we understand something not as it really is, it is not understood at all, because it is understood to be other than it really is. For this reason, there should be no doubt that there is a total understanding which...

    • 33. ON FEAR
      (pp. 62-63)

      Unquestionably the only cause for fear lies in the fact that what is loved² might be lost, once acquired, or might not be acquired, once hoped for. Therefore, for each one who has loved and possessed freedom from fear, what fear is there that he can lose this freedom? For we fear losing many things which we love and possess, and so we fearfully stand guard over them; but no one can preserve freedom from fear by being fearful. Again, as for the person who loves freedom from fear, but does not yet possess it and hopes that he will...

    • 34. MUST NOTHING ELSE BE LOVED BUT FREEDOM FROM FEAR?
      (pp. 63-63)

      If freedom from fear is a vice, then it must not be loved. But no one who is completely happy is fearful, and everyone who is completely happy is without vice. Accordingly it is not a vice not to be afraid. Now presumptuousness is a vice. Therefore not everyone who does not fear is presumptuous, although everyone who is presumptuous does not fear. Again, there are no corpses which fear. For this reason, since the absence of fear is common to the completely happy person, to the presumptuous person, and to the corpse, but the perfectly happy man possesses that...

    • 35. WHAT OUGHT TO BE LOVED?
      (pp. 63-67)

      (1) Since lifeless things do not fear, nor would we be persuaded to deprive ourselves of life so that we could be free of fear, a life without fear ought to be loved. But, on the other hand, since life free of fear is not even desirable if it lacks a capacity for reason,² life without fear but possessed of this capacity ought to be loved.

      Is that the only thing to be loved? Or is love itself also to be loved? Of course [it is to be loved], because without it those other things are not loved.³ But if...

    • 36. ON NOURISHING CHARITY
      (pp. 67-71)

      (1) Charity denotes that whereby one loves those things whose worth, in comparison to the lover itself, must not be thought to be of lesser value, those things being the eternal and what can love the eternal. Therefore in its consummate and purest sense charity is used only of the love of God and of the soul by which he is loved (and this is also appropriately called dilectio¹).

      However, when God is loved more than the soul so that a man prefers to belong to him rather than to himself, then is it that we are genuinely mindful in...

    • 37. ON THE FOREVER BORN
      (pp. 71-72)

      He who is forever born is superior to one who is forever in the process of birth, because the one who is forever in the process of birth has not yet been born, and neither has he ever been born nor will he ever be born if he is forever in the process of birth. For it is one thing to be in the process of birth, it is another to have been born. Consequently one never becomes a son if one is never born. But the Son, because born, is forever the Son. Therefore he is forever born....

    • 38. ON THE STRUCTURE OF THE SOUL
      (pp. 72-73)

      Although nature, learning, and habit differ, they are understood [to exist] in a soul which is one without distinction of nature. Again, native endowment, courage, and tranquillity differ, yet similarly they belong to one and the same substance. The soul, furthermore, is a substance other than God, although made by him. And God himself is that most sacred Trinity, known by name to many but in reality to few. [For these reasons,] one should investigate with great attentiveness the following sayings of the Lord Jesus: “No one comes to me except the Father draw him”;² “No one comes to the...

    • 39. ON THE SOURCES OF NOURISHMENT
      (pp. 73-73)

      What is it that takes the thing which it changes? The animal eating food. What is it that is taken and changed? Food. What is it that is taken and not changed? Light by the eyes and sound by the ears. However, the soul gets these things through the body; but what is it that the soul gets through itself and changes within itself? Another soul which it assimilates to itself by receiving it into its friendship. And what is it that the soul gets through itself and does not change? The truth. For this reason, one should come to...

    • 40. SINCE THE NATURE OF SOULS IS THE SAME, WHY ARE THE CHOICES OF MEN DIFFERENT?
      (pp. 73-74)

      Diverse sense impressions give rise to diverse desires in souls; diverse desires, to diverse means of getting; diverse means of getting, to diverse habits; and diverse habits, to diverse choices. Now the order of things produces the differing sense impressions—a hidden order, to be sure, but nonetheless, a true and determinate order submitted to Divine Providence. Therefore one should not think, because there are differing choices, that the natures of souls are different, since even the choice of one soul varies with the changing of time. Indeed, at one time the soul longs to be rich; at another time,...

    • 41. SINCE GOD HAS MADE EVERYTHING, WHY DID HE NOT MAKE EVERYTHING EQUAL?
      (pp. 74-74)

      Because there would not be everything if everything were equal. For there would not be the many kinds of things which make up the universe in its hierarchy of created things from the first and second levels of created things right down to the last. This kind of universe is what is meant by the word everything....

    • 42. HOW WAS CHRIST BOTH IN HIS MOTHER’S WOMB AND IN HEAVEN?
      (pp. 74-74)

      In the same manner as a man’s spoken word which, even though many hear, each hears as a whole....

    • 43. WHY DID THE SON OF GOD APPEAR AS A MAN AND THE HOLY SPIRIT AS A DOVE?
      (pp. 74-75)

      Because the Son of God came to show men a pattern for living, whereas the Holy Spirit made his appearance to indicate the gift which virtuous living attains. Moreover, both of these events came about in a visible manner for the sake of the carnal, who must pass by degrees through the sacraments from those things which are seen with the physical eyes to those things which are understood by the mind. For words make a sound and then pass away; nevertheless, when something divine and eternal is expressed in speech, that which is signified by the words does not...

    • 44. WHY DID THE LORD JESUS CHRIST COME SO LONG AFTER MAN SINNED AND NOT IN THE BEGINNING?
      (pp. 75-76)

      Because everything beautiful comes from the highest beauty which is God, and temporal beauty is achieved by the passing away and succession of things. Moreover, in each individual man each individual period of life from infancy to old age possesses its own beauty. Therefore, just as it is absurd for someone to want only youth in a man subject to time (for he would begrudge the other beauties which in the other years of a man’s life have their own place and order), thus is it absurd for someone to desire one particular age for the whole of mankind, for...

    • 45. AGAINST THE MATHEMATICIANS
      (pp. 76-78)

      (1) The ancients did not mean by the term mathematician those to whom we now give the name. Rather, they used the term for those who investigated the measure and harmony of the times by the movement of the heavens and the stars.¹ Concerning the latter the Holy Scriptures quite rightly say: “Nor, again, ought these to be excused. For if they were able to know so much that they could prize the created order,² how have they not more readily found its Lord?”³ For the human, mind, in passing judgement on visible things, can know that it itself is...

    • 46. ON THE IDEAS
      (pp. 79-81)

      (1) Plato is said to have been the first to use the name ideas. However, I do not mean to imply by this that, if there was no such name before he himself instituted it, there were accordingly no such things as those which he termed ideas, or that they were understood by no one. Rather, various people called them possibly by one name, possibly by another, for one is at liberty to impose any name whatever on something which is not yet defined and has no commonly accepted name. For it is not likely either that there were no...

    • 47. WILL WE EVER BE ABLE TO SEE OUR OWN THOUGHTS?
      (pp. 82-82)

      It is usual to ask how, after the resurrection and transformation of the body which are promised to the saints, we can see our thoughts. Accordingly any conjecture must start from that part of our body which has more light, since it is necessary to believe that the bodies of angels, such as we hope to have, are completely full of light and are ethereal.¹ If therefore many of the movements of our mind² are now recognized in the eyes, it is probable that no movement of the mind will be hidden, since the entire body will be an ethereal...

    • 48. ON WHAT CAN BE BELIEVED
      (pp. 83-83)

      Three classes of things are objects of belief. First, there are those things which always are believed and never understood, e.g., history, which deals with events both temporal and human. Second, there are those things which are understood as soon as they are believed, e.g., all human reasonings either in mathematics or in any of the sciences. Third, there are those things which are first believed and afterwards understood.² Of such a character is that which cannot be understood of divine things except by those who are pure in heart. This understanding is achieved through observing those commandments which concern...

    • 49. WHY IS IT THAT THE SONS OF ISRAEL USED TO MAKE VISIBLE SACRIFICES OF ANIMAL VICTIMS?
      (pp. 84-84)

      Because there are also sacred things of a spiritual nature whose images a carnal people had to celebrate in order that the new people might be prefigured by the servitude of the old. One may also note in each one of us the same difference between these two peoples, since each person necessarily leads the life of the “old man” from his mother’s womb until he arrives at the age of youth, where now it is not necessary to know in a carnal manner, but he can by an act of will² turn himself to spiritual things and be reborn...

    • 50. ON THE EQUALITY OF THE SON
      (pp. 84-84)

      Since God could not beget something better than himself (for nothing is better than God), then the one whom he did beget he had to beget as his equal. For if he had the desire and not the power, then he is weak; if he had the power and not the desire, then he is envious. From this it follows that God has begotten the Son as his equal....

    • 51. ON MAN MADE IN THE IMAGE AND LIKENESS OF GOD
      (pp. 84-88)

      (1) Since the divine Scripture mentions the outer and the inner man and distinguishes them to the point that it is said by the Apostle: “And if our outer man is corrupted, nonetheless, the inner man is renewed from day to day,”¹ it can be asked whether one of these is made in the image and likeness of God. Now obviously it is foolish to ask, if one of these has been so created, which one? For who hesitates to say that it is the one who is renewed rather than the one who is corrupted? But whether both men...

    • 52. ON THE SCRIPTURE: “I AM SORRY THAT I HAVE MADE MAN”
      (pp. 88-89)

      To raise us from the earthly and human meaning up to the divine and heavenly, the divine Scriptures have [themselves] come down to those words which even the most simple customarily use among themselves. And so those men through whom the Holy Spirit has spoken have not hesitated to employ in those books, as the occasion best demands, names of even those passions which our soul experiences and which the man who knows better already understands to be completely foreign to God. For example, because it is very difficult for a man to avenge something without experiencing anger, the authors...

    • 53. ON THE GOLD AND SILVER TAKEN BY THE ISRAELITES FROM THE EGYPTIANS
      (pp. 90-95)

      (1) Whoever considers the economies² of the two Testaments, which are carefully adapted in agreement with the times to the ages of the human race,³ understands sufficiently, I think, what is appropriate to the first age of the human race and what to the later. For, subject to the harmonious governance of all things by Divine Providence, the whole series of generations from Adam to the end of the world is administered as if it were the life of a single man who from boyhood through old age marks off the progress of his life into different age-levels. Accordingly the...

    • 54. ON THE SCRIPTURE: “AS FOR MYSELF, IT IS GOOD FOR ME TO CLING TO GOD”
      (pp. 95-97)

      Everything which exists is either unchangeable or not, and every soul is higher than the body. For everything which gives life is higher than that which receives life, and no one disputes that the body receives life from the soul, not the soul from the body.

      Moreover, what is not a body and yet is something is either the soul or something higher than the soul. For there is nothing lower than a body, since even if someone should mention that matter from which the body comes, it is correctly termed “nothing” because it lacks all form.²

      On the other...

    • 55. ON THE SCRIPTURE: “THERE ARE SIXTY QUEENS, EIGHTY CONCUBINES, AND YOUNG WOMEN WITHOUT NUMBER”
      (pp. 97-98)

      The number 10 can signify universal knowledge. If 10 refers to the inner and intelligible things which are signified by the number 6, this results in 10 x 6 which is 60. If 10 refers to earthly and corruptible things which are signified by the number 8, the result is 10 x 8 which is 80. Therefore the word queens refers to the souls which rule in the realm of the intelligible and spiritual. The word concubines [refers] to the souls which receive an earthly reward, concerning whom it is said: “They have received their reward.”² The phrase young women...

    • 56. ON THE FORTY-SIX YEARS FOR THE BUILDING OF THE TEMPLE
      (pp. 98-98)

      The numbers 6 + 9 + 12 + 10 + 8 make 45. Therefore add 1 and they make 46. This times 6 makes 276. Now it is said that human fetal development¹ reaches completion in the following way. In the first six days [the fetus] is similar to a kind of milk, in the following nine days it is changed to blood, then in the following twelve days it becomes solid, in the remaining ten and eight days the features of all its members achieve complete formation, and in the remaining time until birth it grows in size. Therefore...

    • 57. ON THE ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY-THREE FISH
      (pp. 99-103)

      (1) “All things are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.”² If one counts from the beginning of the series, one gets 1, 2, 3, and 4.³ Again: “The head of the woman is the man, the head of the man, Christ, and the head of Christ, God.”⁴ If one counts in the same way, one similarly gets 1, 2, 3, and 4. Furthermore the sum of 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 is 10. Accordingly the number 10 rightly signifies the teaching which presents God as the maker and the creature as the made. And since...

    • 58. ON JOHN THE BAPTIST
      (pp. 103-108)

      (1) When one has carefully examined the Gospel passages concerning him, it is not absurd to think of John the Baptist as the embodiment of prophecy,¹ and this because of many cogent reasons, and especially because of what the Lord says of him: “He is more than a prophet.”² [This is so] because, indeed, he bears the stamp³ of all the prophecies made about the Lord from the beginning of mankind until the Lord’s coming. However, the embodiment of the gospel foretold by prophecy is the Lord himself, and the proclamation [of that gospel] throughout the world from the time...

    • 59. ON THE TEN VIRGINS
      (pp. 108-114)

      (1) Among the parables spoken by the Lord, what is said concerning the ten virgins habitually occupies serious investigators. Indeed many investigators have observed here many things which are not contrary to faith; but what needs to be worked out is an explanation of the parable which will fit together all of its parts. I have also read in a certain apocryphal text something which is not contrary to Catholic faith, but it seemed to me to be an interpretation poorly matched to this passage, if one considers all the pieces of the parable. Nevertheless, I dare make no rash...

    • 60. “CONCERNING THAT DAY AND HOUR NO ONE KNOWS, NEITHER THE ANGELS IN HEAVEN NOR THE SON OF MAN—NO ONE EXCEPT THE FATHER”
      (pp. 114-115)

      God is said to know even when he causes someone to know, as it has been written: “The Lord your God puts you to the test that he might know if you love him.”² Now this manner of speaking does not mean that God does not know; rather, [it was said] in order that men might know how far they have progressed in the love of God—a thing which is not fully recognized by them except by way of the testings which come about. As for the expression he puts to the test, it means that God permits testing....

    • 61. ON THE GOSPEL STORY THAT THE LORD FED THE MULTITUDE ON THE MOUNTAIN WITH FIVE LOAVES OF BREAD
      (pp. 115-124)

      (1) The five barley loaves with which the Lord fed the multitude on the mountain signify the Old Law, either because that Law was given to those not yet spiritual but still carnal, i.e., to those given over to the five bodily senses, for the multitude itself numbered five thousand men,¹ or because the Old Law was given through Moses, for Moses wrote five books.² The fact that the loaves were of barley aptly signifies either: (1) the Law itself, which was so given that its life-sustaining nourishment of the soul was covered over by mysteries of a physical character,...

    • 62. ON THE GOSPEL PASSAGE: “THAT JESUS WAS BAPTIZING MORE THAN JOHN, ALTHOUGH HE HIMSELF BAPTIZED NO ONE. RATHER, HIS DISCIPLES [WERE BAPTIZING]”
      (pp. 124-127)

      The question is whether they received the Holy Spirit who were baptized at the time when, according to the gospel, the Lord through his disciples had baptized more than John, for in another place in the gospel it says: “For the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet been glorified.”² The easiest answer to the question is this: they did receive the Holy Spirit, because the Lord Jesus, who was raising even the dead, could have prevented any of them from dying until after his glorification, i.e., his resurrection from the dead and ascension into heaven....

    • 63. ON THE WORD
      (pp. 127-127)

      “In the beginning was the Word.”¹ The Greek word logos signifies in Latin both “reason”² and “word.”³ However, in this verse the better translation is “word,” so that not only the relation to the Father is indicated, but also the efficacious power with respect to those things which are made by the Word. Reason, however, is correctly called reason even if nothing is made by it....

    • 64. ON THE SAMARITAN WOMAN
      (pp. 127-135)

      (1) The gospel mysteries signified by the words and deeds of our Lord Jesus Christ are not open to all, and some, through interpreting them less attentively and less circumspectly, very often occasion destruction in place of salvation and error in place of knowledge of the truth. Among these mysteries is the Scripture passage that the Lord at the sixth hour of the day had come to Jacob’s well, sat wearied from the journey, requested a drink from a Samaritan woman, and the other things requiring discussion and investigation which are mentioned in the same Scripture passage. In regard to...

    • 65. ON THE RESURRECTION OF LAZARUS
      (pp. 136-138)

      Although we have complete confidence in the gospel history of the resurrection of Lazarus, nonetheless, I have no doubt that the event also has an allegorical significance. However, when events are interpreted allegorcially, they do not lose their historical value. For example, Paul explains the allegory of the two sons of Abraham, that they are the two Covenants.² But then did Abraham not exist, and did he not have those two sons? Therefore let us understand Lazarus in the tomb as an allegory for the soul buried by earthly sins, i.e., all mankind. In another place the Lord represents the...

    • 66. ON THE TEXT: “OR DO YOU KNOW, BROTHERS (FOR I SPEAK TO THOSE WHO KNOW THE LAW), THAT THE LAW IS THE MASTER OF A MAN AS LONG AS HE LIVES?” TO THE TEXT: “HE WILL BRING EVEN YOUR MORTAL BODIES TO LIFE THROUGH HIS SPIRIT LIVING IN YOU”
      (pp. 138-149)

      (1) The Apostle in this analogy, in which he says of a husband and a wife that the wife is bound by law to the husband, commends three things for consideration: the wife, the husband, and the law, i.e., the wife subject to the husband through the bond of law, from which bond she is freed by the death of the husband to marry whom she wants. For he says the following: “For the woman subject to a husband is joined by law to the husband while he is alive; but if her husband should die, then she is released...

    • 67. ON THE TEXT: “FOR I DO NOT CONSIDER THE SUFFERINGS OF THIS WORLD TO BE WORTH MUCH IN COMPARISON WITH THE FUTURE GLORY WHICH WILL BE REVEALED IN US,” TO THE TEXT: “FOR WE HAVE BEEN SAVED BY HOPE”
      (pp. 149-157)

      (1) This section is obscure because it is not sufficiently clear here what the word creature² refers to under these circumstances. Now, according to Catholic teaching, creature refers to whatever has been made and created by God the Father through the only begotten Son in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, not only the body, but even our souls and spirits are included in the term creature. However, the text says the following: “the creature itself will be delivered from the bondage of destruction to the freedom of the glory of the sons of God,”³ as if we are...

    • 68. ON THE SCRIPTURE: “O MAN, WHO ARE YOU TO ANSWER BACK TO GOD?”
      (pp. 158-166)

      (1) Although the Apostle seems to have reproached the prying by saying: “O man, who are you to answer back to God?” they raise a question about this very matter and do not cease to pry about that judgment by which prying itself was rebuked. And indeed the impious do this in an abusive way, saying that the Apostle failed to solve the question and rebuked inquirers because he could not explain what was under investigation. Moreover, some heretics,² because they do not deceive except when they promise a knowledge which they do not produce, and who are enemies of...

    • 69. ON THE SCRIPTURE: “THEN EVEN THE SON HIMSELF WILL BE SUBJECT TO HIM WHO HAS SUBORDINATED ALL THINGS TO HIM”
      (pp. 166-177)

      (1) Those who contend that the Son of God is not equal to the Father² customarily and habitually make use of the Apostle’s claim in which he says: “But when all things have been subordinated to him, then even the Son himself will be subject to him who has subordinated all things to him, in order that God may be all in all.”³ Their error, to be sure, could not spring up clothed with the name Christian except from a failure to understand the Scriptures. For they say: “If the Son is equal, how wiil he be subject to the...

    • 70. ON THE APOSTLE’S CLAIM: “DEATH HAS BEEN SWALLOWED UP INTO VICTORY. WHERE, O DEATH, IS YOUR CONTENDING? WHERE. O DEATH, IS YOUR STING? NOW THE STING OF DEATH IS SIN; BUT THE POWER OF SIN, THE LAW”
      (pp. 178-179)

      I think that death in this passage signifies a carnal habit² which resists the good will through a delighting in temporal pleasures. For the passage would not say, “Where, O death, is your contending?” if there had not been resistance and struggle. The “contending” of [the carnal habit] is also described in the following passage: “The flesh has longings contrary to the spirit’s, and the spirit, contrary to the flesh’s; for these resist and are opposed to one another, so that you do those things you do not want to do.”³ Therefore perfect sanctification achieves this: every carnal desire is...

    • 71. ON THE SCRIPTURE: “BEAR ONE ANOTHER’S BURDENS, AND IN THIS WAY WILL YOU FULFILL THE LAW OF CHRIST”
      (pp. 179-185)

      (1) Because obedience in the Old Testament was characterized by fear, there could be no clearer an indication that the gift of the New Testament is love than in this passage where the Apostle says: “Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way will you fulfill the law of Christ.” For one understands the law of Christ to refer to the fact that the Lord himself commanded us to love one another, placing so much weight on the significance of the maxim that he said: “In this will one know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”²...

    • 72. ON THE ETERNAL TIMES
      (pp. 185-186)

      One can inquire into the meaning of the apostle Paul’s expression, before the eternal times.¹ For if times, how are they eternal? However, perhaps he wanted us to understand “before all times,” because if he had said, “before the times,” and not added the adjective eternal, we could understand, “before certain times which were preceded by other times.” But he preferred to use the word eternal rather than all for possibly this reason, that time does not begin from time.² Or did the eternal times signify the aeuum,³ the difference between the latter and time being this: the aeuum is...

    • 73. ON THE SCRIPTURE: “AND HAVING BEEN FOUND IN THE [BODILY] HABIT (HABITUS) OF A MAN”
      (pp. 186-189)

      (1) We use the word habit (habitus) in many ways. We use it to refer to a “habit” (habitus) of the mind, e.g., the comprehension, strengthened and established by usage, of any body of knowledge, or to the “habit” (habitus) of the body in respect to which we say that one is more vigorous and robust than another (the more appropriate and usual word here is condition [habitudo]), or to the “habit” (habitus) which is fitted onto us externally, in respect to which we say that one is clothed, shod, armored, and other such things. In all these cases, since...

    • 74. ON THE TEXT IN PAUL’S LETTER TO THE COLOSSIANS: “IN WHOM WE HAVE REDEMPTION AND REMISSION OF SINS, WHO IS THE IMAGE OF THE INVISIBLE GOD”
      (pp. 189-191)

      Image and equality² and likeness must be distinguished. For where there is an image, there is necessarily a likeness, but not necessarily an equality; where an equality, necessarily a likeness, but not necessarily an image; where a likeness, not necessariiy an image and not necessarily an equality.

      Where there is an image, there is necessarily a likeness, but not necessarily an equality. For example, there is in a mirror an image of a man. Because the image has been copied from him, there is also necessarily a likeness; but, nonetheless, there is no equality, because there is absent from the...

    • 75. ON THE INHERITANCE OF GOD
      (pp. 191-193)

      (1) Inasmuch as the Apostle says to the Hebrews: “A testament becomes valid with the death of the one who made the testament,”¹ he therefore asserts that, with Christ’s death for us, the New Testament has become valid. Its likeness was the Old Testament, in which the death of the testator was prefigured in the sacrificial victim. Therefore, if one should ask how it is that we, in the words of the same Apostle, are “coheirs with Christ, and sons and heirs of God,”² since of course the inheritance is made valid by the death of the deceased, and since...

    • 76. ON THE CLAIM OF THE APOSTLE JAMES: “WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW, YOU EMPTY-HEADED MAN, THAT FAITH WITHOUT WORKS IS USELESS?”
      (pp. 193-196)

      (1) The apostle Paul, in proclaiming that a man is justified by faith without works, was not properly understood by those who took this word in such a way that they considered, when once they had believed in Christ, that they could be saved through faith, even though they carried on their wicked deeds and lived scandalously and dissolutely. For this reason, this passage in the letter before us explains how that particular thought of the apostle Paul is to be understood.²

      Accordingly [James] prefers to use³ the example of Abraham, that faith is barren if not accompanied by good...

    • 77. IS FEAR A SIN?
      (pp. 197-198)

      “All emotion is passion;² all coveting is emotion; therefore all coveting is passion. Moreover, when any passion is present in us, we are in a passive state³ by virtue of that passion, and we are in a passive state to whatever extent there is a passion. Therefore when any coveting is present in us, we are in a passive state by virtue of the coveting, and we are in a passive state to whatever extent there is coveting. But, according as we are in a passive state because of passion, no passion is sin. Thus, likewise, if our experience of...

    • 78. ON THE BEAUTY OF PAGAN IDOLS
      (pp. 198-199)

      That supreme art of the omnipotent God through which all things have been made from nothing, which is also called his Wisdom, also works through artists to produce things of beauty and proportion, although they do not produce from nothing, but from some material such as wood or marble or ivory or whatever other kind of material is supplied for the artist’s hands. But these artists cannot make something from nothing because they work with existing matter.²

      Still, nonetheless, those numbers and the harmony of lines which they impress upon matter with material tools³ are received in their minds from...

    • 79. WHY DID PHARAOH’S MAGICIANS PERFORM CERTAIN MIRACLES IN THE MANNER OF MOSES THE SERVANT OF GOD?
      (pp. 200-205)

      (1) Every soul, to some degree, exercises an authority belonging to it in virtue of a certain private law, and, to some degree, is constrained and ruled by universal laws analogous to public laws.² Therefore, since each and every visible thing in this world has an angelic power set over it, as divine Scripture declares, in respect to that thing in its charge the angelic power acts in one way by a sort of private law and is compelled to act in another way before the public, as it were. For the whole is more powerful than the part, because...

    • 80. AGAINST THE APOLLINARIANS
      (pp. 206-212)

      (1) The heretics who are said to have been called Apollinarians after a certain Apollinaris,² who was their founder, maintained that our Lord Jesus Christ, insofar as he deigned to become man, did not have a human mind. Some, clinging to them and hearing them with eagerness, have indeed taken delight in that perversity whereby [Apollinaris] diminished the human nature³ in God by saying that he did not have a mind, i.e., a rational soul, which, as intellect,⁴ distinguishes man from the animals. But upon realizing that it was necessary, if this is so, to agree to the supposition that...

    • 81. ON QUADRAGESIMA AND QUINQUAGESIMA
      (pp. 212-215)

      (1) All instruction in wisdom, the purpose of which is the education of men, is for distinguishing the creator and the creature, and worshipping the one as Lord and confessing the other as subject. And the creator is God, from whom are all things, through whom are all things, and in whom are all things,² and he is threfore a trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The creature, however, as soul, is partly invisible; as body, partly visible. To the invisible the number 3 is assigned. For this reason, we are commanded to love God in a three-fold way: “with...

    • 82. ON THE SCRIPTURE: “FOR WHOM THE LORD LOVES, HE REBUKES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES”
      (pp. 215-218)

      (1) Many who murmur under the discipline² of God raise a question when they see the righteous often experiencing serious difficulties in this life. [They murmur] as if no benefit comes to the righteous for serving God, because either they suffer the common hardships—hardships involving indiscriminately [their] bodies and injuries and insults and all other things which mortals consider evil—or they suffer even greater hardships than others on account of the word of God and righteousness. [The latter, being] irksome to sinners, stirs up tumultuous outbreaks or plots or enmities against its proclaimers.

      The answer to this objection...

    • 83. ON MARRIAGE, IN THE LIGHT OF THE LORD’S CLAIM: “IF ANYONE SHOULD DIVORCE HIS WIFE, EXCEPT FOR REASON OF FORNICATION”
      (pp. 218-220)

      If the Lord admits fornication as the only grounds for divorce in marriage, and if he does not forbid divorce in pagan marriages, then it follows that paganism should be considered fornication. Moreover, it is clear that the Lord, when speaking in the gospel of the dissolution of marriage, makes an exception only for the grounds of fornication. However, divorce in pagan marriages is not forbidden, because when the Apostle advised in respect to this matter that the believer not divorce the unbelieving spouse who wanted to stay with him, he said: “I myself speak, not the Lord.”² The purpose...

  8. Indices