Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Augustine on Answers in Genesis

In Homily 260c Augustine compares the promises of Isaiah 57:19, “peace upon peace,” with the sabbath day of rest that is contained "in this temporal round of days.” God rested on the seventh day in order to indicate the eternal rest of his saints. This is foretold in Job 5:19, “He will deliver you from six troubles; in seven no harm shall touch you." The reason Genesis does not indicate an evening on the seventh day is because it moves into the eighth of eternity. But the eighth day is not the only thing that should be an indicator of eternity for Augustine. He chides “lovers of this world” who do not consider the “symbolic meaning of the days.” Failure to do so shows that their focus "is not the rest of a spiritual sabbath, from which their thoughts could also be directed to the eternity of the eighth." Rather, they are "given over … to the round of temporal thoughts, unable to entertain any idea of the eternal."—Early Christian Readings of Genesis One, pages 296–97

<idle musing>
Quite an indictment. I suspect Augustine would have these same words for those who are fixated on a scientific interpretation of the Genesis 1–2. Something to think about, at least, isn't it?

Just an
</idle musing>

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Morning and evening as Augustine sees them

In the days we experience, light declines as we get closer to sunset and we call that evening. Also, light returns as we get closer to sunrise, and we call that morning. But since we have a “surer light,” we also have a “surer day” and, therefore, “both a truer evening and a truer morning.” It thus makes perfect sense to Augustine that a spiritual evening occurs when there is a turning away from contemplating the Creator, and a spiritual morning when there is a move from knowledge of the Creator to praise of him. For Augustine, this is actually a literal interpretation, not allegorical. He recognizes that some may not be satisfied with “the line which I have been able in my sma11 measure explore or trace.” He encourages those who disagree to find another explanation, but it must be “as a strict and proper account of the way the foundations of this creation were made." In other words, it must also be a literal interpretation.—Early Christian Readings of Genesis One, pages 285–86 (emphasis original)

Monday, January 21, 2019

Augustine had more sense that we do…

There is, he [Augustine] states, just one day, and it should not be understood in the same way we understand days that are measured and counted by the sun’s circuit. The day that was originally repeated three times before the creation of the sun and moon on the fourth repetition is not the same kind of day we experience. Thus, the night and day that God divided in Genesis 1:4 “are to be taken in quite a different sense from this night and day, between which he said that the lamps he created were to divide, when he said, And let them divide between day and night (Gen 1:14). The fourth day was when God fashioned the kind of day we know. But the day that was originally created had already gone through three repetitions before the lights were created on the fourth repetition.—Early Christian Readings of Genesis One, page 285 (italics in the original translation)

<idle musing>
And don't try to tell me he was influenced by Darwin and therefore compromised! He lived 1400 years before Darwin was around. And by the way, this was from his "literal" commentary.
</idle musing>

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Does anybody who knows Greek proofread the covers?

I was checking a bibliographic reference yesterday and ran across this:
The accent in σὖν is impossible, and, besides, the word σύν makes no sense in the context. It should be οὖν. The worst of it is that it has ended up in OCLC, the database that drives interlibrary loan, as sun instead of oun—and that's how it ended up that way in the bibliography I was checking.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Children of the day

The knowledge of the angels being connected to evening and morning simply repeats itself in the days of creation. Morning indicates knowledge of their own spiritual “higher” order, albeit not what God is, while evening indicates a “lesser degree of knowledge”—that is, a knowledge of the lower order of creation. For Augustine, knowledge of a thing in the Word of God is “day,” while knowledge of its own specific nature is “evening.”—Early Christian Readings of Genesis One, page 283

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Even Augustine!

On the seventh day God rests from all his works and sanctifies that day. Augustine explains that just as the first six days are not to be understood in their literal sense, neither is the idea of God resting: “We are not to understand this in a childish way, as if God labored at his work.” Rather, God spoke and the heavens and earth were created (Ps 33:9; 148:5). In keeping with Augustine’s belief that this word was intelligible and eternal rather than audible, God’s rest signifies those who rest in God.—Early Christian Readings of Genesis One, page 275

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

St. Basil on the prowl

Basil points out various scientific theories about the shape of the earth and how each one overthrows the previous. He labels the purveyors of these theories as employing “foolish wisdom.” But his reason for this accusation is not because Moses' account trumps those scientific explanations. In fact, he concedes that Moses does not discuss them in Genesis because they are “useless for us, things in no Way pertaining to us.” [Basil, Hexaemeron 91] Scripture simply does not speak about these things in a scientific manner—this is not the architecture of Scripture. Basil claims value for “our version of creation” because they are the “words of the Spirit” that give us not scientific theories but “things . . . written for the edification and guidance of our souls.” He is critical of those who go beyond what Moses himself has written and give it a dignity on that basis. Scripture needs to be “understood as it has been written” because adding to it with translational allegory or scientific theories goes beyond its scope and intent.—Early Christian Readings of Genesis One, pages 198–99