Book Twelve

For the trinitarian structure of the last three books, see on the beginning of Bk. 11. Bk. 12 is devoted to the second person of the trinity: as Bk. 11 balanced the eternity of God and the temporality of humankind, so Bk. 12 sets the unity and clarity of the Word side by side with the plurality and ambiguity of the words through which we approach the Word. The focus is kept on the second person of the trinity in another way as well: the substantive exegesis of Genesis concentrates on the verse of Genesis that is about the presence and absence of species ([2]: see on 1.7.12) in the sequence of creation. The book begins with straightforward exemplary exegesis, but then shifts to reflections on the process of exegesis itself, reflections by which the exegesis is gradually extended and enriched.

  • Introduction.
  • 12.2.2 - 12.13.16
  • Gn. 1.1--substantive exegesis.
  • 12.2.2 - 12.8.8
  • caelum caeli and materia informis.
  • 12.9.9 - 12.11.14
  • Creation before time began
  • 12.12.15 - 12.13.16
  • Summary.
  • 12.14.17 - 12.29.40
  • Gn. 1.1--methodological considerations
  • 12.15.19 - 12.15.22
  • Conflicting views.
  • 12.16.23 - 12.26.36
  • How to deal with conflicting views, with examples.
  • 12.20.29 - 12.22.31
  • Five views of Gn. 1.1 assessed.
  • 12.23.32 - 12.26.36
  • How to assess author's intention.
  • 12.27.37 - 12.29.40
  • Gn. 1.1 reconsidered
  • 12.30.41 - 12.32.43
  • Conclusion: many intentions, many readings, one Spirit.
  • Many streams come together here, not least those that had lately fed his attempt to write a handbook of exegetical practice, doctr. chr. His principles were a mixture of Christianity and philosophy, his practice, a mixture of Christianity and his own professional training as a student of classical literature. When, for example, at util. cred. 4.10-5.11, he gives a short `grammar of misreading' 1 it is hard to feel that we are far from the classroom.

    Not all scripture is scriptural for Augustine. Not that he denies the authoritativeness of any passage--far from it, but the sheer bulk of scripture means that not all texts will be reflected in his texts, and some texts do appear with more authority and frequency and significance than others (e.g. in conf. Rom. 1.20 or Phil. 3.13). The act of reading creates a smaller canon of scripture by its choices: all Christian theology evolves by a like process. A.'s own defense of the practice would rely on the univocality of the verbum behind the words (one might say, `The Tao that is spoken is not the Tao'), and the force of caritas working through the church to guarantee his choices; he would admit that his own choices might well be wrong and misleading (which is why he defers to scriptural authority to begin with: hence the regula fidei), but then he would only claim that there is nothing better to be done. So here in Bk. 12, the individual text attracts a plurality of interpretations, and the global text attracts a plurality of synecdoches: groups of texts taken from the whole and reputed to stand for it fairly and accurately.

    text of 12.1.1


    multa satagit: Echoing the most famous gospel text on contemplation and action (text from ss. 103 and 104): Lk. 10.40-42, `Martha autem satagebat circa frequens ministerium. . . . (41) dixit illi dominus, “Martha, Martha, circa multa es occupata, (42) quando unum est necessarium.”' s. 104.3.4, `quae ambae fuerant domino gratae, ambae amabiles, ambae discipulae: videtis ergo, et magnum aliquid intellegitis, quicumque intellegitis, quod audire et scire debetis, etiam qui non intellegitis; in his duabus mulieribus duas vitas esse figuratas, praesentem et futuram, laboriosam et quietam, aerumnosam et beatam, temporalem et aeternam. . . . quod agebat Martha, ibi sumus. quod agebat Maria, hoc speramus.'

    pulsatum: See on 10.6.8, `percussisti cor meum verbo tuo'.

    copiosa . . . egestas: vera rel. 21.41, `temporalium enim specierum multiformitas ab unitate dei hominem lapsum per carnales sensus diverberavit, et mutabili varietate multiplicavit eius affectum. ita facta est abundantia laboriosa, et si dici potest copiosa egestas, dum aliud et aliud sequitur, et nihil cum eo permanet.' c. Iul. imp. 6.32, `ut haberes occasionem qua tuum multiloquium copiosa, si dici potest, egestate diffunderes'.

    inquisitio . . . inventio: This line offers an anticipatory gloss on Mt. 7.7-8, quoted just below, suggesting that the imperative verb in each pair represents the active life, and the future indicative promises the contemplative future.

    si deus pro nobis: Rom. 8.31, `quid ergo dicimus ad haec? si deus pro nobis, quis contra nos?' en. Ps. 143.10, `non enim deus sic aestimat hominem, quomodo homo aestimat hominem. . . . ille quanti te aestimet vide, ut possis dicere, “si deus pro nobis, quis contra nos?”'

    petite . . . aperietur: Mt. 7.7-8 (exactly as in the quotation marks in the text here); see on 1.1.1 and 13.38.53 (and n.b. echoes at the beginning of Bk. 11: 11.2.3, 11.2.4, 11.3.5).

    veritas: Jn. 14.6. On the promises given by truth: trin. 4.18.24, `promittitur autem nobis vita aeterna per veritatem, a cuius perspicuitate rursus tantum distat fides nostra quantum ab aeternitate mortalitas. . . . cum fides nostra videndo fiet veritas, tunc mortalitatem nostram commutatam tenebit aeternitas.'

    text of 12.2.2


    altitudini: Ps. 11.9, `secundum altitudinem tuam'; cf. 11.31.41 (ending that book), `et non cadunt quorum celsitudo tu es'.

    humilitas linguae meae: Rom. 14.11, `vivo ego, dicit dominus, “mihi flectetur omne genu, et omnis lingua confitebitur deo” [Is. 45.23 (LXX)].' The confessing lingua also at 9.1.1, 11.2.2, 11.2.3.

    tu fecisti . . . tu fecisti: Punctuation returns with Verheijen to the Maurist distinction (slightly modified), against the divagation of Knöll (followed by Skutella, Vega, Pellegrino). The second `tu fecisti' governs `hoc caelum . . . terramque', repeating the scriptural data with clarifying expansions.

    Gn. 1.1: No verse of scripture is quoted and echoed so frequently in conf. `Heaven and earth' are joined 114x (58x in Bk. 12), while in 51 cases `caelum et terram' is governed by some form of facio/fio; in 18 of those cases, `in principio' occurs as well.2

    haec terra quam porto: Cf. Gn. 18.27, Eccles. 10.9 (see on 1.6.7); 9.11.28, `ut coniuncta terra amborum coniugum terra tegeretur'.

    caelum caeli: Ps. 113.23-24(15-16), `benedicti vos domino, qui fecit caelum et terram; (24) caelum caeli domino, terram autem dedit filiis hominum.' (Cf. Ps. 148.4, `laudate eum caeli caelorum'.) The Psalm verse demands to be placed on the table here because it stands in the scriptural text as itself already an interpretation of Gn. 1.1, and the interpretations of scripture proposed by scripture are always peculiarly authoritative (if often problematic) for A.

    The caelum caeli is a vexed subject, but the complications that lie beyond this text should not be allowed to obscure what clarity A. imparts to his presentation. At 12.17.24 the caelum of Gn. 1.1ff is for him identical with the caelum caeli. `Earth' (terra) in Gn. 1 is therefore visible material creation, and `heaven' is all that hangs `above', which appears in A. in various ways in various contexts: that part of creation endowed with intellect (12.9.9, `creatura aliqua intellectualis', 12.11.12, `mentem puram'), as the domus dei (12.15.19), and as Wisdom (not identical with the Word, but as first creature--see on 12.15.20 and cf. Sirach 1.4). In every case, caelum caeli is creature not creator, but just the same not bound in time yet not coeternal with God. The image is vivid and polysemous, and well exemplifies the richness of texture that Augustinian exegesis at its best possesses.

    s. dom. m. 2.13.44, `“thesaurizate autem vobis thesauros in caelo . . .” [Mt. 6.20]: . . . caelum autem hoc loco non corporeum acceperim, quia omne corpus pro terra habendum est. totum enim mundum debet contemnere qui sibi thesaurizat in caelo; in illo ergo caelo, de quo dictum est, “caelum caeli domino”, id est in firmamento spiritali. non enim in eo quod transiet constituere et conlocare debemus thesaurum nostrum et cor nostrum, sed in eo quod semper manet.' Sim. in the parallel exegetical position at Gn. litt. 1.9.15, 1.9.17, 1.17.32. BA 48.587 suggests that the phrase loses force for A. over time; it is not so powerful a presence after Gn. litt. 1, and a later text shows it subdued by the plural: civ. 11.33, `illam [societatem angelicam] in caelis caelorum habitantem, istam inde deiectam in hoc infimo aerio caelo tumultuantem; illam luminosa pietate tranquillam, istam tenebrosis cupiditatibus turbulentam.' It is far from clear whether the caelum caeli is to be identified with the angels at the time of conf. (see Pépin, ALMA 23 (1953), 191-198). Only a little before that, the familiar meaning is summoned at en. Ps. 113. s. 2.11 [414], `tamquam diceret, “benedicti vos domino, qui vos fecit caelum in magnis, terram in pusillis”; sed caelum non istud visibile, plenum luminaribus ad hos oculos pertinentibus. “caelum” enim “caeli domino”, qui erexit3 et sublimavit quorundam sanctorum mentes in tantum ut nulli hominum sed ipsi deo suo docibiles fierent; in cuius caeli comparatione quidquid carneis oculis cernitur, terra dicenda est, quam “dedit filiis hominum”, ut eius consideratione sive ab ea parte quae super inlustrat, sicut est hoc quod dicitur caelum, sive ab ea quae subter inlustratur, cui proprie terra nomen est, cum totum sicut commemoravimus, in illius comparatione quod caelum caeli dicitur, terra sit.'

    For concise treatment, see BA 14.592-598; fuller discussion in the classic article of J. Pépin, ALMA 23(1953), 185-274, and see Knauer 101-105. There are analogies in Philo and Origen (Pépin), but probably not direct dependence (BA), and the result is a powerful and original contribution on A.'s part. The value is perhaps mainly in seeing the analogous consequences of approaching scripture with platonizing notions. BA 14.597: `Pour conclure, il vaut mieux reconnaître que la notion du caelum caeli, telle que l'expriment les Confessions, reste malaisée à définir. Le plus simple est d'y voir une synthèse d'éléments plotiniens et d'éléments chrétiens. Plus précisément, le caelum caeli est une donnée de la foi chrétienne--les allusions scripturaires en font foi--mais cette donnée s'exprime dans une metaphysique plotinienne qui ne lui est pas parfaitement adaptée.' Perhaps better to say that it represents a `donnée' of the faith that has been interpreted--as it needed to be--in a context in which the Plotinian categories were available. It is changed by the exposure to those categories, but so also are the categories of interpretation themselves--to every action is an equal and opposite reaction.

    totum corporeum: Cf. 4.13.20, `totum et ideo pulchrum'; BA 14.598 thinks here of Plotinus 3.2 and 5.8, according to which in the intelligible order each part is itself all in all; while in the sensible world, each element is an isolated fragment.

    non ubique totum: See on 1.3.3, `ubique totus'.

    in novissimis: See on 2.2.3.

    text of 12.3.3


    Gn. 1.2, `terra invisibilis erat et incomposita, et tenebrae erant super abyssum. et spiritus dei superferebatur super aquas.'

    invisibilis: Amb. exam. 1.7.26, gives several explanations for invisibilis, including: `et merito invisibilis quia incomposita, quae figuram et speciem congruentem adhuc non acceperat a proprio conditore.'

    non erat lux: Amb. exam. 1.7.26 (a few lines earlier), `invisibilis etiam terra, quia nondum lux quae inluminaret mundum, nondum sol.'

    species: For modus/species/ordo, see on 1.7.12; the triadic pattern appears clearly at 12.9.9. The denotation of species/forma differs from imago as the external fact of `shape' differs from its internal correlative in the mind (7.1.2, `per quales enim formas ire solent oculi mei, per tales imagines ibat cor meum'). The word is frequent from here through 12.13.16 (as A. gives his own reading of this verse: from there, he concentrates on others' readings); cf. civ. 8.6, `deinde viderunt [isti philosophi] omnem speciem in re quacumque mutabili, qua est quidquid illud est, quoquo modo et qualiscumque natura est, non esse posse nisi ab illo qui vere est, quia incommutabiliter est.'

    The word is specially apt to link A.'s reading of scripture to the Platonic realm of discourse. For Cicero, species = i)de/a, and is often combined with its synonym forma (Cic. top. 7.30-31): see J. E. Sandys, M. Tulli Ciceronis ad M. Brutum Orator (Cambridge, 1885), 2n; cf. orator 3.10, `has rerum formas appellat ideas ille non intellegendi solum sed etiam dicendi gravissimus auctor et magister Plato, easque gigni negat et ait semper esse ac ratione et intellegentia contineri; cetera nasci, occidere, fluere, labi, nec diutius esse uno et eodem statu. quidquid est igitur de quo ratione et via disputetur, id est ad ultimam sui generis formam speciemque redigendum.' See therefore with caution BA 14.598-603 on species, at 598-9: `En tant qu'elle informe la corps, la species leur confère aussi la beauté; la signification du mot semble alors dériver de Plotin: "nous disons que les choses sont belles parce qu'elles participent à une idée . . . car toute chose privée de forme et destinée à recevoir forme et idée . . . reste laide et hors de la raison divine tant qu'elle est privée de raison et d'idée" Enn.' Insisting on Plotinian ancestry (and not merely cousinage) for that formulation runs against the purport of the discussion of the de pulchro et apto (esp. 4.13.20), where species is already presented as the vehicle of beauty. With similar caution, see Theiler, P.u.A. 174-180.

    tenebrae: See civ. 12.7 (quoted on 2.6.12) for this definition of darkness (and the same view of silence as given here just below) juxtaposed to a neo-Platonic view of evil as `privatio boni.' An alternate view (one throwing light on the juxtaposition in civ.) is tacitly evaded by this definition, but confronted by Amb. exam. 1.8.28, `non enim [tenebras] malas intellegendas arbitror potestates, quod dominus earum malitiam creaverit, cum utique non substantialis sed accidens sit malitia, quae a naturae bonitate deflexerit.' Cf. 12.6.6, `privatione omnis formae', 12.12.15, `omnimodam speciei privationem', and 13.33.48, `speciem et privationem'.

    docuisti: Ps. 70.17, `deus, docuisti me a iuventute me'; see Knauer 76n1 (6.8.13, 10.31.44, 10.31.46, and 12.6.6).

    informem materiam: The message of Gn. 1.2 is reinforced by Wisd. 11.18 (VL), `qui fecisti mundum de informi materia'. A.'s trouble imagining formless matter exactly parallels his problem imagining matter-less God at, e.g., 5.10.20 and 7.1.1 (see BA 14.599, quoted on 12.6.6 below). He will insist (at 13.33.48) that though matter was without form, form was created simultaneously with matter, and that the order here is logical but not temporal (cf. c. adv. leg. 1.9.12, `nec putandus est deus informem prius fecisse materiam et intervallo aliquo interposito temporis formasse quod informe prius fecerat, sed sicut a loquente fiunt verba sonantia, ubi non prius vox informis post accipit formam sed formata profertur, ita intellegendus est deus de materie quidem informi fecisse mundum, sed simul eam concreasse cum mundo').

    On the background, cf. A. H. Armstrong, Aug. Mag. 1.277-283. The subject first appears in Gn. c. man. when A. comes to handle Gn. 1.2, which obtrudes the idea upon the interpreter (du Roy 272-279). First approximations to this position at Gn. c. man. 1.5.9ff and Gn. litt. imp. 3.10; fully worked out at Gn. litt. 1.15.29, `non quia informis materia formatis rebus tempore prior est, cum sit utrumque simul concreatum, et unde factum est et quod factum est--sicut enim vox materia verborum est, verba vero formatam vocem indicant, non autem qui loquitur prius emittit informem vocem quam possit postea conligere atque in verba formare: ita et deus creator non priore tempore fecit informem materiam et eam postea per ordinem quarumque naturarum quasi secunda consideratione formavit; formatam quippe creavit materiam--sed quia illud unde fit aliquid, etsi non tempore, tamen quadam origine prius est quam illud quod inde fit, potuit dividere scriptura loquendi temporibus quod deus faciendi temporibus non divisit.' See also Gn. litt. 5.5.13 and 5.5.16, emphasizing the priority in the causal, not the temporal, order. Wisd. 11.18 also at f. et symb. 2.2, Gn. litt. 1.14.28, 5.17.35, and c. adv. leg. 1.8.11.

    For formatio and its links both to creation and to conversion (a second creation for A.), bear in mind the link to species (see above on 12.2.2) and see Gn. litt. 1.4.9-1.5.10, partially quoted on 13.2.3. Some explanation for A.'s cautious handling (and avoidance of the term u(/lh common among the philosophers here) lies in Manichean doctrines about the primordial matter (nat. b. 18, `neque enim vel illa materies, quam hylen antiqui dixerunt, malum dicenda est. non eam dico quam Manichaeus hylen appellat . . . sed hylen dico quandam penitus informem et sine qualitate materiem unde istae quas sentimus qualitates formantur'; cf. c. Faust. 21.4, `si enim materies informis corporalium formarum capax ab eis hyle appellaretur . . .').

    A measure of A.'s achievement in his discussion here can be made by comparing the much less sophisticated and successful interpretation of Ambrose in his exameron, on which see J. C. M. Van Winden, Vig. Chr. 16(1962), 205-215, and Vig. Chr. 18(1964), 144-145. If there was influence of Amb. on A. here, it was slight (van Winden's first article has an interesting parallel between Amb. and nat. b. 18).

    distingueres: G-M note 7.5.7, `massam grandem distinctam generibus corporum creaturam tuam', and translate as `adorned with,' but see on that passage and cf. Gn. litt. imp. 3.10 for a likely contrary sense. 5.2.2, `distinguis umbras', and 10.8.13, `distincte', seem to reflect the same practice, taking this as a verb for the action of adding species/forma to matter as yet formless.

    text of 12.4.4


    The first verse of Gn. has now been expanded by the exegetical juxtaposition of two other authoritative verses (Ps. 113.24 for caelum caeli and Wisd. 11.18 for informis materia) that have the effect of erasing the common sense meaning of the verse and expanding the problems of, and therefore the possibilities for, interpretation.

    speciosa . . . perlucida et luculenta: Light and species are linked: both are attributes of the second person of the trinity.

    text of 12.5.5


    There are three possible punctuations: The punctuation here is that of Knöll, linking 12.4.4 and 12.5.5 in a single sentence. Skutella put a period at the end of 12.4.4, and a question mark at the end of 12.5.5. Verheijen (omitting the `ut' at the beginning here) has a question mark ending 12.4.4, period ending 12.5.5.

    ut, cum ut, cum G S Maur. Knöll Skut. Vega:   et cum C D:   cum O Ver.

    cogitatio . . . sensus: cogitatio is (like contuitus) an inner correlative of exterior sensus; A. shows the two working on complementary lines at trin. 11.3.6, `pro illa specie corporis quae sentiebatur extrinsecus, succedit memoria [1] retinens illam speciem quam per corporis sensum combibit anima, proque illa visione quae foris erat cum sensus ex corpore sensibili formaretur succedit intus similis visio [2] cum ex eo quod memoria tenet formatur acies animi et absentia corpora cogitantur, voluntasque ipsa [3] quomodo foris corpori obiecto formandum sensum admovebat formatumque iungebat, sic aciem recordantis animi convertit ad memoriam ut ex eo quod illa retinuit ista formetur, et fit in cogitatione similis visio.'

    vel nosse ignorando vel ignorare nesciendo: See on 1.6.10, `et amet non inveniendo invenire potius quam inveniendo non invenire te'; cf. ord. 2.16.44, `de summo illo deo, qui scitur melius nesciendo'. See also Eliot, quoted on 13.21.30.

    text of 12.6.6


    See above on 12.3.3 for the parallels in argument between darkness, silence, evil, and here formlessness.

    ore meo et calamo meo: Cf. Ps. 44.2, `lingua mea calamus scribae velociter scribentis'; but at en. Ps. 44.6 it is God whose tongue is in question; cf. 11.2.2, `lingua calami'. Cf. below, `vox et stilus', where the lengthy anacoluthon of this sentence is resumed, after a brief history of his opinions on formlessness.

    docuisti: Cf. 12.3.3 (2x).

    qui non intellegerent: i.e., the Manichees: BA 14.599, `dans le manichéisme, en effet, Dieu n'était pas con[ccedil]u sans matière, ni la matière sans formes. Pour cette raison, Augustin échoua longtemps à parvenir à la cogitatio--construction plus imaginative qu'intellectuelle--d'une matière absolument informe.'

    eam cum speciebus innumeris et variis: His error began in attributing species [2] to materia [1], and thus treating it as a more finished part of creation than it really is. His mature view in one sense demeans materia to a level far below that which would be assigned it by the Manichees; but at the same time, it rescues material things (materia [1] + species [2] + relatio [3]) for a higher destiny.

    variantem: A verb of mutability (the juxtaposition here is not uncommon: see on 12.28.38, `mutationes'), 6x in Bk. 12 (and the noun varietas 2x).

    mutabilitatem: Sign of creatureliness (see on 7.1.1); an intrinsic mark of materia informis (see next note).

    capax . . . formarum: vera rel. 18.36, `bonum est enim esse formatum. nonnullum ergo bonum est et capacitas formae et ideo bonorum omnium auctor, qui praestitit formam, ipse fecit etiam posse formari.'

    text of 12.7.7


    a quo sunt omnia: Rom. 11.36, `quoniam ex ipso et per ipsum et in ipso omnia, ipsi gloria in saecula'; 1 Cor. 8.6, `nobis tamen unus deus pater, ex quo omnia et nos in illum, et unus dominus Iesus Christus per quem omnia et nos per ipsum.' See on 1.2.2.

    dissimilius: See on 7.10.16, `in regione dissimilitudinis', and cf. 11.9.11, 13.2.2, and esp. 12.28.38, `dissimilitudinem informem'.

    idipsum et idipsum et idipsum idipsum et idipsum et idipsum C D O Maur. Ver.:   idipsum et idipsum G S Skut.
    See on 9.4.11 and 9.10.24.

    sanctus, sanctus, sanctus: Apoc. 4.8, `sanctus, sanctus, sanctus, dominus deus omnipotens, qui erat et qui est et qui venturus est'; Is. 6.3, `sanctus, sanctus, sanctus dominus, deus exercituum'. en. Ps. 49.4, `dicunt ad invicem seraphim duo, sanctus, sanctus, sanctus dominus deus sabaoth.' The immediate echo may come from liturgy, but the question is open; cf. J. Jungmann, The Early Liturgy (London, 1960), 71: `we find the Sanctus in all liturgies. As early as the beginning of the third century . . . we find indications that . . . the Sanctus was part of the Mass', with van der Meer 401, `there was as yet no Sanctus, for it is nowhere mentioned'.

    in principio . . . in sapientia [2]: (see on 11.5.7). The context is anti-Manichean; at c. Adim. 1.1, the Manichean claims that Gn. 1.1-5 refutes the catholic view, to which A.'s refutation depends on showing (1) that all three persons are present; (2) that `fiat' works `per verbum', and (3) that silence is no argument; but in that work he does not make the argument that `in principio' = `per verbum'. That argument appears at Gn. c. man. 1.2.3, `his [manichaeis] respondemus, deum in principio fecisse caelum et terram, non in principio temporis sed in Christo, cum verbum esset apud patrem, per quod facta et in quo facta sunt omnia.4 dominus enim noster Iesus Christus, cum eum Iudaei interrogassent quis esset, respondit, “principium qui et loquor vobis.” [Jn. 8.25: see on 11.8.10]'

    in sapientia . . . fecisti: Ps. 103.24, `omnia in sapientia fecisti' : see on 11.9.11.

    de nihilo: Cf. 12.17.25, `ex nihilo cuncta facta sunt', and 7.11.17. The phrase (see BA 14.603-606) has thin scriptural warrant (doctr. chr. 2.8.13 knows Macc. as scripture, but those books are infrequently cited in A.) at 2 Macc. 7.28, `peto, nate, ut aspicias ad caelum et terram, et ad omnia quae in eis sunt; et intellegas, quia ex nihilo fecit illa deus, et hominum genus.' It has the effect of ruling out Gnostic/Priscillianist emanation, but also--and importantly--Platonic procession. Hence the possibility of sin: c. Sec. 8.9, `et ideo [i.e., quia de nihilo facta] potest vergere ad nihilum quando peccat illa creatura . . . non ut nihil sit, sed ut minus vigeat minusque firma sit.'

    aequale unigenito tuo: Phil. 2.6, `qui cum in forma dei esset non rapinam arbitratus est esse se aequalem deo.' Cf. 13.2.2, `bonum quod tibi nihil prodesset nec de te aequale tibi esset'; G-M identify the argument as a vicious circle: `non de te, for (if de te), it would be aequale tibi, and it would not be right for what is non de te to be aequale tibi.' Vega thinks that G-M inadequately distinguish de te from ex te (but ex te is nowhere in this sentence [it does occur further on in the text cited from 13.2.2]). For the idea, cf. Gn. c. man. 1.2.4, `sicut omnia quae fecit deus bona sunt valde, sed non sic bona sunt quomodo bonus est deus, quia ille fecit, haec autem facta sunt: nec ea genuit de seipso ut hoc essent quod ipse est, sed ea fecit de nihilo ut non essent aequalia, nec ei a quo facta sunt nec filio eius per quem facta sunt; iustum est enim.' J. Rousselet, REAug 8(1962), 329-331, proposes a period after `ut aequale tibi esset' and punctuates thus: `quod de te non esset et aliud praeter te, non erat, unde faceres ea . . .'

    See also J. Pépin, Lectio X-XIII, 92-93, on de to indicate causalité génératrice; cf. 12.17.25, `non de ipsa substantia dei', and note the variation between ex nihilo (12.17.25) and the more common (and on P.'s reading, more consistent) de nihilo (12.7.7, 12.22.31, 12.28.38, 12.29.40). P.'s treatment of prepositional usage in this book (Lectio X-XIII, 91-95) is excellent, especially for the places where inconsistencies arise out of A.'s desire to follow the wording of scriptural citations, e.g., the frequent use of in with the ablative of instrument (here `in principio . . . in sapientia tua', and frequent elsewhere with verbum, principium, and sapientia, e.g., 12.19.28, `verum est esse principium sapientiam tuam, in qua fecisti omnia').

    trinitas: first here in conf.; in his works first at double remove, in a quotation from Ambrose in the mouth of Monnica at Cassiciacum (given Alypius' reluctance [see on 9.4.7] to employ the nomen Christi, there may have been a comparable reticence about using a word both unclassical and unscriptural): beata v. 4.35, `fove precantes, trinitas.' The doctrine of the trinity is implicit from Cassiciacum (see du Roy, passim), and explicit as the goal of the Christian understanding of the faith at, e.g., lib. arb. 3.21.60, `cui trinitati pie sobrieque intellegendae omnis excubat vigilantia christiana et omnis eius provectus intenditur.' The word itself is slow coming into use: in the published works once only demonstrably before 391 (at mor. 1.16.29), then on the brink of ordination at mus. 6.17.59 and vera rel. 7.13, 8.14, 18.35, and 55.113; then after ordination at lib. arb. 3.21.60 (just quoted) and 3.25.75. There is one other intriguing early text, ep. 11.2-3 (to Nebridius: 389?): `ista trinitas catholica fide ita inseparabilis commendatur et creditur, ita etiam a paucis sanctis beatisque intellegitur . . . . (3) sed breuiter tibi aperire uolui, si tamen egi quod uolui, quam subtiliter et quanta ueritate in catholica intellegatur huiusce inseparabilitas trinitatis.' The unsureness of touch in that passage is unmistakable; see du Roy 391-401. After ordination, the word is ubiquitous: approximately 881x in all A.'s works; see also on 13.5.6, `ecce trinitas deus meus, pater et filius et spiritus sanctus'.

    magnum caelum: i.e., caelum caeli.

    parvam terram: i.e., visible creation, formless and void.

    alterum prope . . . nihil esset: Creation stretches in its variety from just short of divine to just above nothingness.

    text of 12.8.8


    It is attractive in a poetic way to think of God, who is all, creating out of nothing that which is just the slightest degree of something (`de quo paene nihil'), and in turn elevating that by the imposition of forma. This is un-Plotinian: for P., descent is the first rule of coming to be; for A., descent is a contingent, creature-chosen failure, against which the universal will of God that all humanity be saved militates ineluctably. The history of creation is the history of an ascent.

    caelum caeli: Ps. 113.24(16), `caelum caeli domino, terram autem dedit filiis hominum'; see on 12.2.2.

    abyssus: See on 2.4.9.

    id est magis quam: G-M rightly see that up to now we have had what we regard as the obvious interpretation, and that here he is proposing an alternative, saying that here `super abyssum' is not to be taken locally but as a comparative, i.e., that the `tenebrae' were even greater than in the abyss of ocean.

    piscibus et repentibus . . . animantibus: Gn. 1.20, `producant aquae reptilia animarum viventium'; Gn. 1.26, `et dominetur piscium maris et volatilium caeli . . . et omnium repentium quae repunt super terram' (hence `repentibus').

    prope nihil: 12.7.7, `unum prope te, alterum prope nihil'.

    fecisti . . . informi: Wisd. 11.18 (VL), `fecisti mundum de materia informi'; see on 12.3.3, `informem materiam'.

    firmamentum: Gn. 1.6ff, `et dixit deus, fiat firmamentum . . . (8) et facta est vespera et factum est mane, dies secundus.'

    quae (fecisti): i.e., terra et mare: Gn. 1.9-10, `et dixit deus, “congregetur aqua quae est sub caelo in congregationem unam . . .” (10) et vocavit deus aridam terram et congregationem aquae vocavit mare, et vidit deus quia bonum est.' (`tertio die': Gn. 1.13.)

    tempora: One of A.'s habits of mind is to explore one subject (in Bk. 11, time), then move on to another subject (here in Bk. 12, creation ex nihilo), then circle back with his latter acquisition to revisit the turf explored the first time, integrating the parts into the whole. (But the next words retreat slightly from the achievement of Bk. 11, the view that time exists as distension of consciousness: this could be read as the former view, that time is change.)

    vertuntur species: Mutability is a characteristic of formless matter (see on 12.6.6), but movement and beauty come through the elevation of formless matter by the imposition of divine resemblance through the polymorphous working of the Word in the world.

    text of 12.9.9


    famuli tui: i.e., Moses. Virtually a proper title for him, even in scripture: so used 12x in the book of Joshua (1.13, etc.). The phrase appears 13x in en. Ps. (9x of Moses, 1x of Samuel, 2x generic [religious], 1x generic [non-religious]). In conf., also at 12.14.17, 12.15.22, 12.20.29, 12.23.32, 12.25.34, 12.26.36, 12.30.41.

    creatura . . . intellectualis: Cf. 12.11.12, `mentem puram'.

    intellectualis: The period here is mine. Knöll has a semicolon; Skutella, Vega, BA, Pellegrino, and Verheijen have merely a comma (i.e., a run-on sentence); Vega, Pellegrino, and Ryan translations require a strong punctuation, while BA's translation fudges by rendering particeps with a verb, and Pusey inserts an `and'.

    lapsu: See on 12.8.8 for the un-Plotinian quality of this discussion.

    inhaerendo tibi: Ps. 72.28, `mihi autem adhaerere deo bonum est'; see on 7.11.17; in this book also (with different verb prefixes) at 12.11.12, 12.11.13, 12.15.19, 12.15.21, 12.15.22, 12.19.28.

    terra terra G S Maur. Knöll Skut.:   terrae CDO Ver. (deleting preceding comma).

    nulla species, nullus ordo: See on 1.7.12, modus/species/ordo.

    nec venit quicquam nec praeterit: Time falls between eternity and the empty timelessness of formless matter; in one perspective a limitation, in another a privilege--a quality of creatureliness as modified by species [2]. Bk. 13 will show a history only fully possible upon the action of all three persons.

    text of 12.10.10


    veritas: Jn. 14.6.

    lumen: Jn. 1.9. Cf. 13.24.36, `lumen meum, veritas'.

    defluxi: Cf. esp. 2.10.18, `defluxi abs te', with 10.29.40, `in multa defluximus', and 12.15.19, 13.7.8, 13.8.9.

    obscuratus: Cf. 7.9.14 (echoing Rom. 1.22), `sed evanescunt in cogitationibus suis et obscuratur insipiens cor eorum'.

    erravi et recordatus sum tui: Ps. 118.176, `erravi sicut ovis perdita; quaere servum tuum, quia mandata tua non sum oblitus'; Jonah 2.8, `cum angustiaretur in me anima mea, domini recordatus sum'; cf. Luke 15.4-7 (the lost sheep also at 12.15.21). On remembering God, cf. Bk. 10 passim, esp. 10.21.31 and 10.25.36.

    audivi vocem tuam post me: Ezech. 3.12, `et assumpsit me spiritus et audivi vocem post me commotionis magnae, “benedicta gloria domini de loco suo”'; cf. Is. 30.21, `et aures tuae audient verbum post tergum monentis: “haec est via, ambulate in ea.”' Cf. also Jer. 2.27 (see on 2.3.6).

    audivi vocem: Cf. 11.2.3, `et audiam vocem laudis et te bibam'; other important voices at Milan (7.10.16 and 8.12.29), and cf. 10.31.45, 11.8.10, 11.29.39, 12.15.22.

    redirem: See on 1.18.28; cf. esp. 4.16.31 and 7.10.16.

    tumultus impacatorum: BA ad loc. equates to hostes (12.14.17) and contradictores (12.15.18); is this not too literal? G-M refer to Ps. 119.7 (`cum his qui oderunt pacem') and en. Ps. 119.9, `qui sunt qui oderunt pacem? qui conscindunt unitatem.' Vega: `alusión inequívoca a los maniqueos'.

    anhelans: See on 10.27.38.

    fontem tuum: Jn. 4.14, `sed aqua quam ego dabo ei, fiet in eo fons aquae salientis in vitam aeternam'; see on 3.8.16, `fons vitae', and cf. esp. the mystic fontes of 9.10.23 and 13.13.14.

    hinc (vivam) hinc G2 Maur.:   hunc G1 O S Knöll Skut. Ver.:   tunc C D
    Required by sense, though G2 may be emending the archetype.

    vita: Jn. 14.6.

    tu me alloquere: 12.16.23, `deus meus, ne tu sileas a me. tu loquere in corde meo veraciter [Ps. 27.1]; solus enim sic loqueris [Ps. 14.3].'

    verba eorum arcana valde: The editions cite 2 Cor. 12.4, `quoniam raptus erat in paradisum: et audivit arcana verba quae non licet homini loqui', but A. always (20x) reads for `arcana' in that verse `ineffabilia', a better translation of Gk. a)/rrhta.

    text of 12.11.11


    iam dixisti mihi, domine, voce forti in aurem interiorem: The phrase recurs below here and at 12.11.12, 12.15.18 (2x, beginning the second movement of this book, the methodological reflections), and (with slight changes, mainly present for perfect tense) 13.29.44 (the end of his exegesis of Gn.). The three occurrences together here preface doctrinal statements of the nature of God (in timeless eternity), the nature of creature (in time and mutability), and the relation of God and creature. As such, they resume the doctrine of Bk. 11. The connection to Bk. 11 is also in the repetitions at 12.15.18. To be borne in mind is the power of divine speech in Genesis (`dixitque deus, “fiat lux”'): dicere is not loosely used.

    aurem interiorem: See on 10.6.8 on the interior senses.

    solus habens immortalitatem: 1 Tim. 6.15-16, `rex regnantium et dominus dominantium, (16) qui solus habet immortalitatem, lucem habitans inaccessibilem, quem vidit nullus hominum nec videre potest, cui honor et imperium sempiternum. amen.' Gn. litt. 8.19.38 expressly says that v. 16 refers to the whole trinity, not one person or another.

    specie [2] motuve [3]: cf. below, `motusque voluntatis'.

    hoc in conspectu tuo . . . clarescat: Ps. 18.15, `et per hoc ut complaceant eloquia oris mei et meditatio cordis mei in conspectu tuo semper.' This phrase also appears below in this paragraph and at 12.11.13, in each case concluding the statement begun with the phrase `dixisti . . . voce forti.' God speaks, creating a truth, and A. sees that creation in reality; God acts upon A.'s passivity to create A.'s own activity (for sight is active: see on 10.6.9).

    sub alis tuis: Protective divine wings at 4.16.31, 10.4.6 (where see on crucifixion imagery), and 10.36.59.

    motusque voluntatis . . .: Evil in the will: 7.16.22; cf., e.g., s. 142.3.3, `quae si se ipsam amaret, neglecto a quo facta est, iam minus esset, iam deficeret amando quod minus est. minus est enim ipsa quam deus, et longe minus, tantoque minus, quanto minus est res facta quam factor'; cf. also civ. 12.7, quoted on 2.6.12.

    ordinem [3]: See on 1.7.12.

    text of 12.11.12


    If the fundamental philosophical issues of creation as understood in the Greek tradition are to be faced, and if at the same time the Genesis text is to be taken as the authoritative reading of history, then some compromise such as5 Augustine's is necessary.

    item dixisti mihi: See on 12.11.11; this repetition is matched by `hoc in conspectu tuo . . .' at the end of 12.11.13.

    cuius voluptas tu solus es: Cic. fin. 1.16.54., quoted on 1.6.7, `delectationibus'; the subject for C. there is Epicureanism; the structure and language are Ciceronian; A., as often, inherits by transforming.

    teque: sc. qui from the preceding cuius.

    castitate: In a broad sense that includes but is not limited to the physical meaning, as at 4.2.3; cf. 10.29.40, `continentiam'.

    nulla vice variatur: vera rel. 3.3, `incommutabilem rerum formam et eodem modo semper se habentem atque undique sui similem pulchritudinem nec distentam locis nec tempore variatam, sed unum atque idem omni ex parte servantem'; that passage is clearly describing the second person of the trinity. On the expression, Hensellek, Sitzungsber. Akad. Wien 376(1981), 9-10.

    distenditur: See on 11.26.33.

    inhaerendo: See on 12.8.8

    sempiterno inhabitatore . . . contemplantem delectationem tuam: Ps. 26.4, `unam petii a domino, hanc requiram, ut inhabitem in domo domini omnes dies vitae meae, ut contempler delectationem domini' : see on 11.22.28.

    caelum caeli: Ps. 113.24(16): see on 12.2.2.

    domum: The domus dei, introduced here as a rough equivalent for caelum caeli, recurs at 12.11.12, 12.11.13, 12.15.19, 12.15.21, 12.15.22, 12.17.25; elsewhere at 2.2.4, 8.1.2, 8.3.6, 11.31.41, 13.9.10; cf. en. Ps. 126.3, `domus dei et ipsa civitas. domus enim dei, populus dei; quia domus dei, templum dei'; see C. Mohrmann, Hommages a Max Niedermann (= Coll. Latomus, 23), 244-250.

    defectu: See on 12.11.13; cf. 4.16.31, `sine ullo defectu'.

    mentem puram: n.b., not Mens but mens: a fruitful misreading of Plotinus? See BA 14.594 and cf. on 11.23.30, `distentionem' (for Soul/soul). See also on 12.2.2, `caelum caeli'.

    concordissime . . . caelestia: Cf. Eph. 2.19, `estis concives sanctorum et domestici dei'; cf. Eph. 4.3, `solliciti servare unitatem spiritus in vinculo pacis'.

    text of 12.11.13


    See on 12.11.11 and 12.11.12 for the pattern that still obtains here.

    peregrinatio longinqua: Lk. 15.13 (the prodigal: see on 1.18.28), `filius peregre profectus est in regionem longinquam et ibi dissipavit substantiam.'

    iam sitit tibi: Ps. 41.2ff, `quemadmodum cervus desiderat ad fontes aquarum, ita desiderat anima mea ad te, deus: (3) sitivit anima mea ad deum vivum. quando veniam et apparebo ante faciem dei? (4) fuerunt mihi lacrimae meae panis diei ac nocte cum dicitur mihi per singulos dies, “ubi est deus tuus?” . . . (11) exprobaverunt mihi qui tribulant me, dum dicunt mihi per singulos dies, “ubi est deus tuus?”' (Same verse at 13.13.14.) en. Ps. 41.5-7, `sitio in peregrinatione, sitio in cursu, satiabor in adventu. . . . ex illo desiderio est et hoc, ex quo clamatur alibi, “unam petii a domino, hanc requiram, ut inhabitem in domo domini per omnes dies vitae meae.” [cf. 12.11.12] quare hoc? “ut contempler,” inquit, “delectationem domini”. . . . (6) “fuerunt mihi,” inquit, “lacrimae meae”, non amaritudo, sed “panis”. suaves erant mihi ipsae lacrimae; sitiens illum fontem, quia bibere nondum poteram, avidius meas lacrimas manducabam. . . . et utique manducando lacrimas suas, sine dubio plus sitit ad fontes. . . . (7) caelum suspicio et pulchritudinem siderum; admiror splendorem solis exserendo diei sufficientem, lunam nocturnas tenebras consolantem. mira sunt haec, laudanda sunt haec, vel etiam stupenda sunt haec; neque enim terrena, sed iam caelestia sunt haec. nondum ibi stat sitis mea; haec miror, haec laudo; sed eum qui fecit haec, sitio. redeo ad meipsum, et quis sim etiam ipse qui talia quaero, perscrutor.'

    ut inhabitet: Ps. 26.4 (see on 12.11.12).

    anni tui: Ps. 101.28, `tu idem ipse es et anni tui non deficient' (quoted at Heb. 1.12); see on 1.6.10. The verse is echoed once each in the last three books, in each case about the middle of the book (here, 11.13.16, and 13.18.22).

    tua domus: = caelum caeli (12.11.12).

    indeficienter: Cf. `qui non deficiunt' above; `defects' in conf. at 1.6.10, 1.15.24, 2.4.9, 3.6.10 (`tu amor meus, in quem deficio'), 4.16.31, 5.3.4, 5.6.10, 6.4.6, 8.3.8, 9.11.27, 10.38.63 (`donec reficiatur defectus meus et perficiatur usque in pacem'), 11.9.11, 11.13.16, 12.11.12, 12.12.15, 13.1.1, 13.18.22, 13.33.48.

    sobrius: See on 12.11.11.

    text of 12.11.14


    infimarum: infima in conf.: 2.5.10, 2.5.11, 4.11.16, 7.7.11, 7.16.22 (`detortae in infima voluntatis'), 12.4.4.

    inania cordis: 3.6.10, `cor inane veri', 4.14.23, `cor vanum et inane'.

    phantasmatis: See on 3.6.10.

    text of 12.12.15


    ad pulsandum . . . aperis: Mt. 7.7 (see on 12.1.1). Here the reference brackets the expository section of Bk. 12, which was placed under the divine aegis by appeal to that proof text at the outset of the search (`I propose to knock, in the expectation that you will open'); what follows is summary of the results.

    unum: i.e., caelum caeli.

    sine ullo defectu: See on 12.11.13.

    alterum: i.e., materia informis.

    in quam formam . . . mutaretur: Forma thus makes possible motion, from species to ordo.

    quibus verbis insinuatur . . .: Gn. litt. imp. 4.11, `quae confusio materiae sic potuit insinuari populari intellegentiae, si diceretur terra invisibilis et incomposita, vel inordinata vel imparata, et tenebrae super abyssum, id est super profunditatem vastissimam: quae rursus profunditas ex eo fortasse nominata est, quia nullius intellegentia propter ipsam informitatem penetrari potest'; sim. (including the verb insinuare) at Gn. c. man. 1.7.12 and Gn. litt. 1.15.30.

    unde fieret: as narrated in the rest of Gn. 1.

    ordinatas [3] commutationes motionum atque formarum [2].

    text of 12.13.16


    interim sentio: The results of exegesis are provisional and unstable, `in hoc interim saeculo' (civ. 11.1); the phrase occurs 3x in this paragraph.

    in principio . . . super abyssum: With the exact quotation here of Gn. 1.1, the substantive exegesis of those words is concluded, and with it the first movement of Bk. 12.

    non in aenigmate . . . facie ad faciem: 1 Cor. 13.12, `videmus nunc per speculum in aenigmate, tunc autem facie ad faciem; nunc cognosco ex parte, tunc autem cognoscam, sicut et cognitus sum'; of partial knowledge, also echoed at 6.3.4, 8.1.1, 9.10.25, 10.5.7, 13.5.6, 13.15.18.

    manifestatione: Cf. 12.11.11 (2x) and 12.11.13, `in ea manifestatione persistam'.

    vicissitudine temporum: 8x between 12.9.9 and 12.15.22 (in one case, `temporalium').

    secundo die: Gn. 1.7-8.

    text of 12.14.17


    profunditas: A favorite image (e.g., 4.14.22, `grande profundum est ipse homo'); of scripture at en. Ps. 118. prooem, `quanto enim videtur apertior [iste psalmus], tanto mihi profundior videri solet, ita ut etiam quam sit profundus demonstrare non possem'; en. Ps. 143.1, `ubi possit dici totum sine mysterii profunditate simpliciter dictum'.

    horror . . . tremor: the `effroi sacré' (BA) also at 7.10.16 (first Milan `ascent') 9.4.9 (expounding Ps. 4), then at the beginning, middle and end of Bk. 10 (10.4.6, 10.30.42, 10.39.64), and at 11.9.11 (`et inhorresco et inardesco').

    odi hostes eius vehementer: Ps. 138.21-22, `nonne eos qui oderant te, domine, odio habui? et super inimicis tuis tabescam? (22) perfecto odio oderam illos'; en. Ps. 138.28, `oderam in eis iniquitates eorum, diligebam conditionem tuam.'

    gladio bis acuto: Ps. 149.6, `et frameae bis acutae in manibus eorum' (Sirach 21.4, `quasi romphaea bis acuta omnis iniquitas, plagae illius non est sanitas'); en. Ps. 149.12, `magnum mysterium habet hoc genus ferramenti, quod ex utraque parte acutum est. . . . sermo ergo dei, gladius bis acutus. unde bis acutus? dicit de temporalibus, dicit de aeternis. in utroque probat quod dicit et eum quem ferit separat a mundo. . . . duo testamenta ad gladium bis acutum pertinent: vetus testamentum terrena promittit, novum aeterna.' Sim. at en. Ps. 58. s. 1.16, c. Faust. 16.25, civ. 20.21.

    hostes eius: The Manichees are certainly meant; in this context, then, `bis acuto' defies the Manichean refusal to accept the OT.

    sic enim amo . . . vivant tibi: Cf. Io. ev. tr. 23.9, `secundum mutabilitatem vitae huius et mortalis [anima] dici potest, quia si vivebat sapienter et desipit, mortua est in deterius; si vivebat insipienter et sapit, mortua est in melius. . . . reviviscendo moriuntur in melius.'

    famulum: See on 12.9.9. These lines introduce the theme of the rest of Bk. 12, the polysemy of scripture and licit plurality of interpretation. A. has not been shown to have had specific adversaries in mind for the following paragraphs, not even the Manichees. His imagined opponents grant the truth of his conclusions (and he grants the truth of theirs): the only dispute is over author's intention. BA 14.611: `un même texte pouvait recevoir des interprétations doctrinales différentes, également acceptables si elles s'expriment en affirmations conformes à la foi et donc authentiquées par la Vérité divine.' The principle is consistently espoused by A. throughout his episcopal career (and not to the exclusion of attention to author's intention: c. Adim. 14.2 attacks those `qui particulas quasdam de scripturis eligunt quibus decipiant imperitos, non connectentes quae supra et infra scripta sunt, ex quibus voluntas et intentio scriptoris possit intellegi'). The following table, following BA 14.608-609, sketches the range of opinions canvassed through the rest of the book: I. caelum et terram (12.17.24-26):

    1. caelum is the spiritual celestial creature, terra materia informis (A's position);

    2. caelum et terram = the visible world as a whole;

    3. caelum et terram = together the confusion of unformed matter;

    4. caelum = invisible nature, terra = visible nature;

    5. caelum et terram = the unformed first state of creatures which, when formed, would be called caelum (spiritual creature) and terra (corporal creature). II. in principio (12.20.29):

    1.-2.-3.-4. the coeternal Word;

    5. merely `in the beginning'. III. terra invisibilis et incomposita (12.21.30):

    1. the unformed matter of corporal things;

    2. the unformed matter of corporal heaven and earth;

    3. unformed matter from which would come intelligible heaven and corporal heaven and earth;

    4. unformed matter from which would come heaven (= spiritual creature) and earth (=corporal creature);

    5. pre-existent informity that would be the matter out of which corporal heaven and earth would be drawn.

    text of 12.15.18


    voce forti . . .: The echo refers us back to 12.11.11.

    vera aeternitate [1]: See esp. 7.17.23, and cf. 11.7.9, 11.10.12.

    nec eius voluntas . . . sit: 11.10.12, `ad ipsam ergo dei substantiam pertinet voluntas eius'.

    deus autem noster aeternus est: Ps. 47.15, `hic est deus noster in aeternum et in saeculum saeculi, et ipse reget nos in saecula.'

    item: So far in this paragraph, the topic was eternity; from here on, time (both as expounded in Bk. 11).

    expectatio . . . contuitus . . . memoria . . . intentio: See on 11.20.26.

    invenio deum: Cf. 10.17.26: vocabulary of the ascent.

    text of 12.15.19


    This dialogue is both internal and imaginary: the real conflict is between different interpretations that A. himself might choose to present.

    contradictores: The noun and the related verb are regularly used through the rest of the book (12.15.22, 12.16.23 [2x], 12.25.34, 12.25.35).

    omnem naturam formatam . . .: From here A. reviews the conclusions of 12.1.1-12.12.15.

    ostendis ei te: Jn. 14.8-9, `dicit ei Philippus, “domine, ostende nobis patrem, et sufficit nobis.” (9) dicit ei Iesus, “tanto tempore vobiscum sum, et non cognovisti me, Philippe? qui vidit me, vidit patrem.”'

    declinat: en. Ps. 101. s. 1.12, `potuerunt enim esse dies tui non declinantes, si tu a die vero non declinasses: declinasti, et accepisti dies declinantes'; sim. at en. Ps. 118. s. 9.1, 148.2.

    ad se ad se C D G O Skut. Ver. Pell.:   a se S Knöll G-M Vega
    G-M argue that `nec' is unnecessary with `ad', and cite 7.11.17, `si non manebo in illo, nec in me potero'. There are two choices that sinners imagine they have: to turn away from God, or to turn towards themselves. A. believes the two are identical, but represents them here so as to show their seeming difference.

    domus dei: See on 12.11.12. Gn. 28.17 (Jacob after his dream), `non est hic aliud nisi domus dei, et porta caeli'; Ps. 26.4, `ut inhabitem in domo domini omnes dies vitae meae'.

    particeps aeternitatis tuae: 12.9.9.

    sine labe: Not scriptural, but a common image: en. Ps. 103. s. 2.11, `sine labe, sine coeno fluebat'; en. Ps. 122.4, `et ipsum desiderium facit animam desudare sordes peccatorum, et mundari ab omni labe, ut fiat et ipsa caelum'; sim. at en. Ps. 136.9 and 146.6.

    statuisti enim . . . saeculi: Ps. 148.6, `statuit ea in saeculum et in saeculum saeculi; praeceptum posuit et non praeteribit'; en. Ps. 148.8, `omnia caelestia, omnia superiora, virtutes omnes atque angelos, civitatem quandam supernam, bonam, sanctam, beatam; unde quoniam peregrinamur, miseri adhuc sumus; et quo redituri in spe beati; et quo cum redierimus, in re beati. . . . quale praeceptum putatis habere caelestia et angelos sanctos? . . . quale, nisi ut laudent illum? beati quorum hoc est negotium, laudare deum.' This verse was omitted when the Psalm was quoted at length at 7.13.19.

    text of 12.15.20


    The doctrine of the first fifteen paragraphs of Bk. 12 is restated for the benefit of the contradictores; cf. esp. 12.9.9.

    etsi: The paragraph is marked by anacoluthon; the thought is resumed with the same etsi clause near the end of the paragraph.

    prior quippe omnium: Sirach 1.1-5, `omnis sapientia a domino deo est, et cum illo fuit semper, et est ante aevum. . . . (3) sapientiam dei praecedentem omnia quis investigavit? (4) prior omnium creata est sapientia et intellectus prudentiae ab aevo. (5) fons sapientiae verbum dei in excelsis.'

    aequalis: Phil. 2.6, `non rapinam arbitratus est esse se aequalem deo' (see on 7.9.14). For divine wisdom [2], see 12.7.7.

    per quam creata sunt omnia: Col. 1.16-17, `quoniam in ipso condita sunt universa in caelis et in terra, visibilia et invisibilia, sive throni sive dominationes, sive principatus sive potestates, omnia per ipsum et in ipso creata sunt, (17) et ipse est ante omnes, et omnia in ipso constant' --therefore of the second person of the trinity; cf. Jn. 1.3.

    quod inluminat et quod inluminatur: Plotinian (BA cites Plot., the One seen by the Nous, while G-M think of Enn., fw=s e)k fwto/s,--which of course is also the exact wording of the Nicene Creed). Gn. litt. 1.17.32 makes it clear that light created on the first day is not the same as the `light of the world', but like the wisdom of Sir. 1.4 (quoted above).

    inter iustitiam . . . facta est: the phrase here suggests the doctrine of Romans, but the phraseology is not close enough to any given passage to make a specific connection.

    ut nos simus iustitia dei in ipso: 2 Cor. 5.21, `eum qui non noverat peccatum pro nobis peccatum fecit, ut nos simus iustitia dei in ipso'; en. Ps. 150.4, `omnia ista ipsi sunt sancti eius; quomodo dicit apostolus, “ut nos simus iustitia dei in ipso.”'

    castae civitatis tuae: Gal. 4.26, `illa autem quae sursum est Hierusalem, libera est, quae est mater nostra'; see on 12.16.23, `Hierusalem'.

    aeterna in caelis: 2 Cor. 5.1, `aedificationem ex deo habemus, domum non manufactam, aeternam in caelis.'

    qui te laudant caeli caelorum: Ps. 148.4, `laudate eum caeli caelorum et aquae quae super caelos sunt laudent nomen domini.' Sim. at 13.15.18, 13.33.48.

    caelum caeli: See on 12.2.2.

    text of 12.15.21


    idipsum: See on 9.4.11 and 9.10.24; already at 12.7.7.

    faciem tuam semper videre: Mt. 18.10, `angeli eorum in caelis semper vident faciem patris mei, qui in caelis est'; here below the search is forever: Ps. 104.4, `quaerite faciem eius semper'. Cf. 12.17.24, `semper faciem dei contemplantem'.

    varietur: See on 12.15.19.

    tibi cohaerens: See on 12.9.9; en. Ps. 72.34, `deo adhaerere nihil est melius, quando eum videbimus facie ad faciem.'

    tamquam semper meridies: Is. 58.10, `orietur in tenebris lux tua et tenebrae tuae erunt sicut meridies'; also at 10.5.7, 13.8.9. en. Ps. 7.19, `iam vero tenebris significari peccata et in propheta invenitur, qui dixit, et tenebrae tuae tamquam meridies erunt.'

    o domus luminosa et speciosa: Ps. 25.8, `domine dilexi decorem domus tuae et locum habitationis gloriae tuae.' The caelum caeli possesses species to a high degree from the outset, just as terra invisibilis et incomposita lacks it. See on 12.11.12, `domum tuam'.

    peregrinatio: 12.11.13, `anima, cuius peregrinatio longinqua facta est'; 9.13.37, `in aeterna Hierusalem, cui suspirat peregrinatio populi tui'; cf. 11.2.4, 12.16.23, 13.14.15. (For `suspiret', cf. also 3.6.10, 7.10.16.)

    erravi sicut ovis perdita: Ps. 118.176, `erravi sicut ovis perdita; quaere servum tuum, quia mandata tua non sum oblitus'; the lost sheep already at 12.10.10.

    in umeris pastoris mei . . . reportari tibi: Lk. 15.5, `et cum invenerit eam, imponit in umeros suos gaudens'; sim. at 8.3.6.

    text of 12.15.22


    tamen: Has the effect of limiting the contradictores to those whom the relative clause characterizes.

    domus dei: See on 12.11.12.

    modum [1] suum: See on 1.7.12.

    aeterna in caelis: 2 Cor. 5.1 (see on 12.15.20).

    frustra quaeritis: Mt. 7.7-8, but frustrated (!); the effect is rather like the play with Ps. 102.3 in Bk. 10 (see on 10.3.3). The same verses in this book at 12.1.1, 12.12.15, 12.23.32, 12.24.33.

    distentionem: See on 11.23.30.

    inhaerere deo: Ps. 72.28, `mihi autem adhaerere deo bonum est' (see on 7.11.17; in this book see on 12.9.9).

    clamavit: See Knauer 79-80, with full citations; cf. esp. 11.9.11 and 9.4.11; Ps. 118.145, `exclamavi in toto corde meo, exaudi me, domine'; Ps. 17.7, `et in tribulatione mea invocavi dominum et ad deum meum clamavi'; Ps. 60.3, `a finibus terrae ad te clamavi dum angeretur cor meum.'

    audiret interius: Hearing the voice within (cf. 12.11.11, etc., `dixisti mihi voce forti in aurem interiorem'), proclaiming confession without; the same movement at 11.9.11, `audiat te intus sermocinantem qui potest: ego fidenter ex oraculo tuo clamabo, “quam magnificata sunt opera tua, domine, omnia in sapientia fecisti!”'

    vocem laudis: Heard before at the beginning and end of Bk. 11 (11.2.3 and 11.29.39). Cf. Ps. 25.7, `lavabo in innocentibus manus meas et circumdabo altare tuum, domine, ut audiam vocem laudis tuae'; en. Ps. 25. en. 2.11, `id est, ex ipso bono meo non de me praesumam, sed de te qui dedisti, ne laudari velim de me in me, sed de te in te.'

    nullam formam: (= speciem [2]): therefore nullus ordo [3].

    paene nihil: 12.8.8, `fecisti de nulla re paene nullam rem . . . de quo paene nihilo faceres haec omnia.'

    a quo est: 1 Cor. 8.6 (see on 12.7.7).

    text of 12.16.23


    coram te: These words a sign of confessio: see on 10.1.1.

    intus in mente mea . . . veritas tua: 10.6.10, `intus cum veritate conferunt'; cf. Jn. 14.6.

    latrent: 4.16.31, 6.3.4, 9.4.11.

    obstrepant: 11.22.28.

    ne tu sileas a me: Ps. 27.1, `ad te, domine, clamavi deus meus ne sileas a me'; en. Ps. 27.2, `ad te, domine, clamavi, deus meus ne separes unitatem verbi tui ab eo quod homo sum. . . . ex eo enim quod aeternitas verbi tui non intermittit unire se mihi, fit ut non sim talis homo quales sunt ceteri qui nascuntur in profundam miseriam saeculi huius, ubi tamquam sileas non cognoscitur verbum tuum.' (That prayer might easily have come to the lips of the pharisee of the parable [Lk. 18.11, `deus, gratias ago tibi quia non sum sicut ceteri hominum' ].)

    loquere: Ps. 14.3, `qui loquitur veritatem in corde suo'; cf. 12.10.10, `tu me alloquere, tu mihi sermocinare.'

    sufflantes in pulverem: A parody of God's work, making Adam in his own image: civ. 13.24 (of Gn. 2.7), `et finxit deus hominem pulverem de terra et insufflavit sive inspiravit in faciem eius spiritum vitae . . . in eo quod scriptum est: inspiravit, vel si magis proprie dicendum est, insufflavit in faciem eius spiritum vitae.' They try to make man in their own image, but when they blow upon the dust, it just flies up into their own eyes. (At Gn. litt. 7.1.2, A. checks the Greek of Gn. 2.7 and decides the text should read either flavit or sufflavit.)

    et intrem in cubile meum: Mt. 6.6, `vos autem cum oratis, introite in cubicula vestra'; s. dom. m. 2.3.11, `quae sunt ista cubicula nisi ipsa corda quae in psalmo etiam significantur ubi dicitur, “quae dicitis in cordibus vestris, et in cubilibus vestris compungimini?” [Ps. 4.6] . . . claudendum est ergo ostium, id est carnali sensui resistendum est, ut oratio spiritalis dirigatur ad patrem, quae fit in intimis cordis, ubi oratur pater in abscondito.'

    cantem tibi amatoria: Mystic love imagery elsewhere: 10.27.38 as a whole, 11.2.3 (`sint castae deliciae meae scripturae tuae' and cf. here delicias), and `amplexus' at 2.2.3 and 13.8.9; at 7.17.23, `amantem memoriam' breathes a Platonic atmosphere. At c. Faust. 15.5-6, a Manichean hymn is called `canticum amatorium,' but the phrase is common elsewhere: en. Ps. 143.18, `videte amatoria sancta cantica; videte cantica canticorum, nuptiarum caelestium Christi et ecclesiae' (sim. of Song of Songs at s. Den. 12.2 and s. 46.15.35); en. Ps. 64.3, `dicit apostolus, exhortans ipsos cives ad amatoria quaedam cantica et desideria redeundi ad illam pulcherrimam civitatem, visionem pacis: “cantantes”, inquit, “et psallentes in cordibus vestris domino” [Eph. 5.19]'; en. Ps. 66.6, `cantate amatoria patriae vestrae.' The adj. appears most dangerously in the rejected accusation that he had been sending love tokens to a married lady: c. litt. Pet. 3.16.19, `eulogias panis simpliciter et hilariter datas ridiculo nomine venenosae turpitudinis ac furoris infamet et de vestro corde tam male sentiat, ut amatoria maleficia data mulieri marito non solum conscio, verum etiam <favente> credi sibi posse praesumat.' At util. cred. 7.17 he is aware of secular traditions of allegorical interpretation of indiscreet poetry, as of the `carmen amatorium' that Plato is said to have written to a boy named Alexis.

    gemens inenarrabiles gemitus: Rom. 8.26, `similiter autem et spiritus adiuvat infirmitatem nostram; nam quid oremus sicut oportet, nescimus, sed ipse spiritus interpellat gemitibus inenarrabilibus'; exp. prop. Rom. 46 (54), `gemere dicit spiritum, quod nos gemere faciat caritate concitans desiderium futurae vitae.'

    peregrinatione: See on 12.15.21.

    recordans Hierusalem: Ps. 136.1ff, `super flumina Babylonis ibi sedimus et flevimus cum recordaremur Sion. . . . (5) si oblitus fuero tui, Hierusalem, oblivioni detur dextera mea. (6) adhaereat lingua mea faucibus meis, si non meminero tui.'

    sursum corde: Phil. 3.13, `extentus' (text at 9.10.23); Col. 3.1-2, `igitur si consurrexistis Christo, quae sursum sunt quaerite, ubi Christus est in dextera dei sedens, (2) quae sursum sunt sapite, non quae supra terram.'

    The phrase sursum cor is liturgical (attested in Greek in the traditio apostolica of Hippolytus [AD 215?], and in Latin at Cypr. dom. orat. 31 of AD 251) rather than scriptural; for the phrase in A., see E. de la Peza, REAug 7(1961), 361n79, M. Pellegrino, RA 3(1965), 179-206 (with 45 citations6 and discussion); its presence here is a sure sign that the church as liturgical community is meant (Pellegrino 180: this and the immediately preceding dominus vobiscum were `i testi più significativi della partecipazione dei fedeli al sacro rito'; see esp. s. Guelph. 7.3, one of the few surviving sermons initiating neophytes into the liturgical mysteries). It appears as early as 391 (vera rel. 3.5, as the ninth and climactic element in a list of signs of true religion spreading through the world: `si denique per urbes atque oppida, castella, vicos, agros etiam villasque privatas in tantum aperte suadetur et appetitur a terrenis aversio et in unum deum verumque conversio, ut cotidie per universum orbem humanum genus una paene voce respondeat, sursum cor habere se ad dominum . . .'). A. assigns the phrase high significance: s. Den. 6.3, `post salutationem quam nostis, id est “dominus vobiscum,” audistis “sursum cor”. tota vita christianorum verorum, “sursum cor”: non christianorum nomine solo, sed christianorum re ipsa et veritate, tota vita sursum cor. quid est, sursum cor? spes in deo, non in te: tu enim deorsum es, deus sursum est. si spem habes in te, cor deorsum est, non est sursum. ideo, cum audieritis a sacerdote, sursum cor, respondetis, “habemus ad dominum.”' He often uses it as a shorthand expression to refer to the eucharist itself (a more explicit reference is ruled out by the disciplina arcani--Pellegrino 189 is incomplete on this). The same liturgical moment is invoked in a way that shows its significance at spir. et litt. 11.18, `dei cultus dici poterat, qui in hoc maxime constitutus est, ut anima ei non sit ingrata; unde et in ipso verissimo et singulari sacrificio, domino deo nostro agere gratias admonemur.' That `giving thanks' (= `eucharist': that word is infrequent in A. but appears as early as 392 [en. Ps. 10.6]) thus stands for the whole of the eucharistic liturgy. Cf. civ. 10.3, `cum ad illum sursum est, eius est altare cor nostrum.' (For other references, see Pellegrino, art. cit. [and add to his list persev. 13.33]. The discussion of S. Poque, Le langage symbolique 325-331, sets aside the liturgical significance in favor of studying the image in its relation to other symbols of ascent.) Cf. 13.7.8, `ut sursum cor habeamus ad te'.

    Hierusalem matrem meam: Gal. 4.26, `illa autem quae sursum est Hierusalem libera est, quae est mater nostra'; implied ref. already at 12.15.20. conf. as a whole displays A. yielding his natural parents in order to find a more satisfactory form of fatherhood and motherhood in this vision; see excursus on mothers and fathers at 1.11.17.

    delicias: For holy delights elsewhere, see on 11.2.3.

    ineffabilia: Regularly of God and the afterlife, e.g., en. Ps. 85.12, `deus ineffabilis est'; en. Ps. 85.17, `vita ineffabilium gaudiorum'.

    in eius pacem: See on 10.27.38, `exarsi in pacem tuam'. Ps. 121.6, `interrogate quae ad pacem sunt Hierusalem'; cf. esp. en. Ps. 124.10, `Hierusalem interpretatur: visio pacis' (the regular etymology).

    primitiae spiritus mei: Rom. 8.23, `sed et nos ipsi primitias spiritus habentes et ipsi intra nos gemimus, adoptionem filiorum exspectantes'; see on 9.10.24; also at 13.13.14.

    conligas totum quod sum a dispersione: Is. 11.12, `et dispersos Iuda conliget' (see on 1.3.3; cf. 2.1.1, `conligens me a dispersione').

    conformes: from forma [2].

    deus meus, misericordia mea: Ps. 58.18, `deus meus, misericordia mea'; en. Ps. 58. s. 2.11, `totum quidquid sum, de misericordia tua est. sed promerui te, invocando te! ut essem, quid feci? ut essem qui te invocarem, quid egi?' (The same phrase at 9.9.21, 13.1.1.)

    culmine: See on 6.11.19; of auctoritas there and at 12.26.36, 12.31.42.

    arbiter: Of God at 5.6.11, 12.14.17.

    text of 12.17.24


    semper faciem dei contemplantem: Mt. 18.10 (see on 12.15.21, `faciem tuam semper videre').

    elocutus elocutus C D S Knöll Skut. Ver.   From just above here (12.15.22, `sed tamen secundum modum') to 12.23.32 manuscript S is viii saec.:   locutus G O
    The verb occurs only 4x elsewhere in conf., and in every case at least one MS drops the prefix: 5.9.16, 11.8.10, 12.25.34, 12.26.36.

    aiunt: For the views now reviewed (here, the first contradictores), see on 12.14.17. This view is essentially that of the critical modern reader: that `in the beginning God created heaven and earth' is a general statement of what is then enunciated seriatim, for effect; and that by `heaven and earth' the scriptural author means the visible sky and land. (But the contradictores agree with his reading of `terra invisibilis et incomposita'.) The next views represented appear in 12.17.25, `si dicat alius' (repeated to introduce the second and third set of views outlined above), and 12.17.26 (`est adhuc quod dicat', the fourth set of views).

    enumeratione enumeratione G O Knöll Skut. Ver.:   enumerationem C D S

    rudis ille atque carnalis: The judgment is not absolutely negative, but certainly condescending: 1 Cor. 3.1, `et ego, fratres, non potui vobis loqui quasi spiritalibus, sed quasi carnalibus, tamquam parvulis in Christo'; en. Ps. 130.10, `ipsis infirmis . . . quos dicit animales et carnales'; en. Ps. 105.35, `audiamus itaque scripturam humiliter excelsa dicentem, cum et parvulis nutriendis sumenda porrigit et maioribus exercendis perscrutanda proponit.'

    materiam materiam C D G O Maur. Ver.:   materiem S Knöll Skut.

    The two forms occur about equally often in conf. (in Skut., materia 30x, materies 22x; in Würzburg data base materia 255x, materies 139x) and seem interchangeable in substance (modified by informis: materia, 13x, materies, 7x); cf. Gn. litt. 1.1.3, `terra vero corporalis materies adhuc imperfecta', with Gn. litt. 1.1.2, `informis materia dicta est caelum et terra', and trin. 3.5.11, `communis est terrena materies . . . sed cum eandem materiam', two lines apart); TLL finds the -es ending mainly among older writers and in poets, and rare except in nom. and acc. sg. There are various late etymological attempts (e.g., Marius Vict. rhet. 1.2) to find a distinction, but there is no such distinction in A.'s usage.

    text of 12.17.25


    Two further (increasingly hypothetical) alternatives: that caelum et terram are already the materia informis; then (`quid si dicat'), that caelum et terram = invisible and visible creation as a whole.

    quam fecit in sapientia: Ps. 103.24, `quam magnificata sunt opera tua, domine! omnia in sapientia fecisti!' See on 11.9.11, and cf. 12.7.7, 12.19.28, 13.2.2.

    ex nihilo cuncta facta sunt: See on 12.7.7.

    idipsum: See on 9.4.11 and 9.10.24; in Bk. 12, see on 12.7.7.

    communem communem O Knöll Skut. Ver.:   commune C D G S

    text of 12.17.26


    The fifth hypothesis. BA ad loc. invokes Anaxagoras, according to whom everything started as a formless mass, later distinguished by the ordering intelligence of the *Nou=s, prior to any distinction of spiritual and corporal creature. A. must not be thought to be intending an echo of that teaching; he is rather creating possible alternatives as he goes along, half from memory, half ex nihilo.

    inchoationem: For the word, see A.'s text of Gn. 1.16, `in inchoationem dei . . . in inchoationem noctis et stellas'.

    formisque [2] distincta: See on 12.3.3, `distingueres'.

    ordinibus [3].

    text of 12.18.27


    This paragraph begins at the mid-point of the book. In the first three sentences, an important nest of thematic scriptural quotations and echoes (all repeated later in the book) is constructed to use in resolving the dilemma posed by the variety of competing interpretations.

    quibus omnibus: 12.17.24-6, the four alternative views.

    nolo verbis contendere: 2 Tim. 2.14, `haec commone, testificans coram deo: noli verbis contendere, ad nihil enim utile nisi ad subversionem audientium.'

    aedificationem: 16x in Paul, not common in A. (most often in Pauline quotations): cf. Eph. 4.29, `omnis sermo malus ex ore vestro non procedat, sed si quis bonus ad aedificationem opportunitatis, ut det gratiam audientibus.'

    finis eius: 1 Tim. 1.4-9, `neque intenderent fabulis et genealogiis interminatis, quae quaestiones praestant magis quam aedificationem dei quae est in fide. (5) finis autem praecepti est caritas de corde puro et conscientia bona et fide non ficta. (6) a quibus quidam aberrantes conversi sunt in vaniloquium, (7) volentes esse legis doctores, non intellegentes neque quae loquuntur neque de quibus affirmant. (8) scimus autem quia bona est lex, si quis ea legitime utatur: (9) sciens hoc quia iusto lex non est posita, sed iniustis.' Other partial echoes at 9.12.29, 12.25.35, 12.30.41. en. Ps. 140.2, `caritas ergo de puro corde est quae est secundum deum, et conscientia bona, et fide non ficta. ista caritas definita ab apostolo habet duo praecepta: dilectionis dei, et dilectionis proximi. in nullis scripturis aliud requiratis, nemo vobis aliud praecipiat. quidquid obscurum est in scriptura, haec ibi occulta est; quidquid ibi planum est, haec ibi aperta est. si nusquam aperta esset, non te pasceret; si nusquam occulta, non te exerceret.' doctr. chr. 1.40.44 expounds 1 Tim. 1.5 to show that it commands the exegete to embrace the three theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity.

    novi novi G O S Ver. Vega:   novit C D Maur. Knöll Skut. Pell.
    The postponement of the relative pronoun until after the subject is not common in A., but it is possible; and the `correction' to novit is easier to imagine than the contrary alteration; and the force of the MSS is clearly on the side of novi. There is not, after all, much reason to say the obvious, that `our teacher knows on which two commands he made the law and prophets depend.' For the two great commands, see also 12.25.35.

    magister noster: Mt. 23.10, `nec vocemini magistri, quia magister vester unus est, Christus' (important throughout A., esp. in mag.). See on 9.9.21.

    in quibus duobus praeceptis: Mt. 22.40, `in his duobus mandatis universa lex pendet et prophetae'; n.b. Mt. 22.36, where the question that evokes this response begins, `magister, quod est . . . ?' The two commandments at 3.8.15, 10.37.61, 12.26.36, 12.30.41, 13.17.21, 13.24.36.

    lumen oculorum (and `lux . . . mentium' below): Ps. 37.11, `cor meum conturbatum est et deseruit me fortitudo mea et lumen oculorum meorum non est mecum'; en. Ps. 37.15, `nam lumen oculorum ipsius ipse deus erat'; cf. 7.7.11, 11.19.25, `dulce lumen occultorum oculorum meorum'.

    omnium: The sequence is: we believe Moses to be veridicus, and since God/veritas is the indwelling source of truth in all minds, whatever truth there is in his text we are authorized to employ in its exposition. Seeking the author's intention is legitimate, but missing it is legitimate as well. This does not detach the text from author's intention: rather it posits a higher order of intention for every veridical author, and authorizes the reader to seek it, guided by the same higher order of divine intention. The remainder of Bk. 12 explores this position, and it is expressed in full form at 12.32.43.

    The argument matches that at 10.3.3 concerning the readership of conf. The link between reader and author is fragile and unreliable. If confidence is to be had in that link, it must be guaranteed by divine truth and love. This is a general principle of readership for A., combining pragmatic pessimism with theological hope.

    text of 12.19.28


    verum est: The phrase appears 10x in this paragraph, as he concedes the truth of the content of the interpretations proposed by his contradictores (in this, he exactly balances 12.15.18-22, where he defended his own interpretation by demanding his opponents concede the truth of the content of his own remarks). A text may beget a variety of interpretations, all of which are plausible expositions of the text and all of which contain propositions to which other interpreters would assent. The debate is over which body of propositions is best placed alongside the text and presented as its authentic interpretation. This assumes that the text requires interpretation (i.e., is not intelligible per se), and advances the view (clearly not prima facie obvious to his audience) that a single, decisive interpretation is not within the realm of practical expectations, and even more, is not the goal to which interpretation aspires.

    Why not the goal? Because the text itself is contingent and imperfect, while truth is not. The truth that the text obliquely represents is the object of the inquiry. The text is an instrument, but ultimately dispensable. The goal is not a stable situation in which text and interpretation sit side-by-side happily married for eternity, but one in which both text (first pretext) and interpretation (second pretext) have fallen by the way as direct cognition of things replaces the mediated cognition through signs that is a condition of material, time-bound creation.

    verum est enim, domine, fecisse te caelum et terram: 12.17.24, `quamvis vera sunt haec . . . caelum et terram'.

    et verum et verum C D G O Maur. Ver.:   verum S Knöll Skut.

    et verum est . . . in qua fecisti omnia: 12.17.25, `si dicat et alius caelum et terram . . . duobus vocabulis esse comprehensam'. Ps. 103.24, `quam magnificata sunt opera tua, domine! omnia in sapientia fecisti' (see on 11.9.11). He grants his contradictores the text, and a fundamentally sound interpretation, of scripture to use in opposing him.

    item verum est . . . conditarumque naturarum: 12.17.24, `nomine . . . caeli et terrae . . . dierum enumeratione'.

    et verum est quod omne . . . verum est nulla tempora . . . verum est informitatem . . . non posse: 12.17.25, `et inest quaedam mutabilitas . . . his nominibus enuntiatam'.

    cohaeret formae incommutabili: = adhaerere deo: See on 7.11.17 (from Ps. 72.28) and for Bk. 12, 12.9.9.

    verum est quod . . . unde factum est caelum et terra: 12.17.26, `sed ipsam adhuc informem . . . materiam his nominibus appellatam'.

    genere locutionis: For the sense, cf. the title of A.'s loc. hept., and cf. qu. hept. 1.31, `si autem defenduntur scripturae secundum locutiones proprias, quae idiomata vocantur, quanto magis secundum eas quas cum aliis linguis communes habent!'

    verum est omnium formatorum . . . terram et abyssum: 12.17.25, `ea distinctione . . . ante inluminationem sapientiae'.

    verum est quod non solum . . . verum est omne . . . deinde formatum: 12.17.25, `si dicat alius eandem informitatem . . . conditus atque perfectus est'.

    ex quo sunt omnia: 1 Cor. 8.6 and Rom. 11.36: see on 12.7.7.

    prius: Of logical but not temporal priority: see 12.29.40.

    text of 12.20.29

    Through this and the next paragraph, A. continues to rehearse and begins to integrate the possible interpretations of Gn. 1.1 and Gn. 1.2. In the immediately preceding paragraphs, he has concentrated on the truth/falsehood of the opinions in themselves; now he turns to their applicability as interpretations of this text. In both cases, the first view presented is the one he has expounded in his own name earlier; the rest repeat (but with variations, inconsistencies, and incompletenesses) the other views presented as recently as paragraph 28. It is in the variations, inconsistencies, and incompletenesses that we have the strongest evidence that what A. is doing here is not directed to specific, named opponents (he would be more cautious then) but towards the possibility of pluralism, as vividly imagined as he can. He defends his own interpretation not against the views of others but against its own contingency and imperfection; and his line of defense is mainly that it is bound to be contingent and imperfect, and that he has arrived at it as responsibly and un-self-assertively as possible.

    To each statement here beginning `aliud qui dicit: in principio fecit deus caelum et terram, id est . . .,' there corresponds a similar statement in 12.21.30 beginning `aliud quid dicit: terra autem erat invisibilis et incomposita, et tenebrae erant super abyssum, id est . . . .' The correspondences are noted here with quotation of the first few words following sufficient to identify each text here and each text in 12.21.30. Any attempt to correlate these last views closely with those expressed earlier in Bk. 12 (see on 12.14.17 above) runs aground on the inconsistencies and duplications in this largely hypothetical structure of arguments. For example, the first interpretation given here of `terra invisibilis' is probably meant to correspond to the first interpretation given of `caelum et terra', and both are meant to represent A.'s own position; but as BA 13.608 observes, the expression as given has correspondences as well to the views of two different contradictores as presented in 12.17.25-26.

    interiori oculo: not elsewhere, but cf. 10.6.8, `amo deum meum, lucem, vocem, odorem, cibum, amplexum interioris hominis mei', 7.10.16, `oculo animae meae', and auris interior at 11.6.8 and 12.11.11f.

    in spiritu veritatis: cf. 9.4.9; Jn. 14.16-17, `et ego rogabo patrem et alium paracletum dabit vobis ut maneat vobiscum in aeternum, (17) spiritum veritatis, quem mundus non potest accipere, quia non vidit eum nec cognoscit.'

    intellegibilem atque sensibilem vel spiritalem corporalemque creaturam: 12.21.30, `id est corporale illud, quod fecit deus . . . .'

    universam istam molem corporei mundi: 12.21.30, `id est hoc totum . . . unde fieret caelum corporeum . . . .'

    informem materiam creaturae spiritalis et corporalis: 12.21.30, `id est hoc totum . . . unde fieret caelum intellegibile . . . .'

    informem materiam creaturae corporalis: 12.21.30, `non illam informitatem nomine caeli et terrae scriptura appellavit . . . .'

    informem materiam confuse habentem caelum et terram: 12.21.30, `informitas quaedam iam materies erat, unde caelum et terram deum fecisse scriptura praedixit . . . .'

    text of 12.21.30


    1. sine ordine, [3] sine luce [2].

    text of 12.22.31


    This paragraph is almost entirely given over to the purported words of A.'s (non-existent) opponents (contradictores), and (first) their opponents. By presenting the quarrel this way, A. makes clear that in it his ego has no stake. A.'s interest is not the particular debate, but the exemplary function of a debate at all. If this grows tedious, A. was intent on finding a sure line of approach to the scriptural text (in spite of the scandal that brethren bound in caritas could differ widely in their opinions), and exemplifying that approach to show the magnanimity that could (but did not always) characterize it.

    nisi nisi O S Knöll Skut. Ver.:   nisi ut C D G

    praescriptum praescriptum C D O Maur. Ver.:   perscriptum G S Knöll Skut.
    G-M: `Praescriptum: doubtless literally “which is written above,” in contrast with the [preceding] “quod sequitur”.'

    a quo sunt omnia: 1 Cor. 8.6 (See on 12.7.7).

    bona valde: Gn. 1.31, `et vidit deus omnia quae fecit et ecce bona valde.'

    ut cherubim . . . potestates: The several ranks of angels make erratic appearances in scripture; cf. here Gn. 3.24, `posuit autem deus cherubim et flammeam frameam quae versatur' (text from Gn. c. man. 2.23.35); Is. 37.16, `domine exercituum, deus Israhel, qui sedes super cherubim, tu es deus solus omnium regnorum terrae, tu fecisti caelum et terram'; Is. 6.2, `replebant templum. seraphim stabant super illud: sex alae uni, et sex alae alteri; duabus velabant faciem eius, et duabus velabant pedes eius, et duabus volabant.' en. Ps. 79.2, `cherubim sedes est gloriae dei, et interpretatur plenitudo scientiae.' See on 7.5.7, `angelos'.

    super quas ferebatur spiritus dei: Gn. 1.2, `et spiritus dei superferebatur super aquas' (for interpretation, see 13.4.5).

    speciosas: = formatas [2]; cf. `decora specie' and `ut congregatio sit ipsa formatio' below.

    factum firmamentum: Gn. 1.7, `et fecit deus firmamentum, et divisit deus inter aquam quae est super firmamentum et inter aquam quae est sub firmamento, (8) et vocavit deus firmamentum caelum' (see 13.15.16).

    congregatur aqua: Gn. 1.9, `et dixit deus “congregetur aqua quae sub caelo est in congregationem unam”'.

    nec sana fides: i.e., that which is held by everyone who can recite the baptismal creed.

    nec certus ambigit intellectus: That exercised by those, like A., who read further and see deeper (cf. `docente veritate' [2]).

    text of 12.23.32


    Author's intention is elusive; the more so in scriptural texts, where the author whose intention matters is God: cons. ev. 2.28.67, `quae cum ita sint, per huiusmodi evangelistarum locutiones, varias sed non contrarias, rem plane utilissimam discimus et pernecessariam, nihil in cuiusque verbis nos debere inspicere nisi voluntatem cui debent verba servire, nec mentire quemquam si aliis verbis dixerit quid ille voluerit cuius verba non dicit, ne miseri aucupes vocum apicibus quodammodo litterarum putent ligandam esse veritatem'.

    infirmitatis . . . quam . . . confiteor: see on 10.43.70, `tu scis imperitiam meam et infirmitatem meam: doce me et sana me'; cf. 11.2.2, `tibi confiteri scientiam et imperitiam meam'.

    duo video dissensionum genera: Disagreement as to facts (whether things are as the speaker says they are) and disagreement as to interpretation (whether we have correctly matched the speaker's words to the things he describes)--only the second is really at issue here (cf. `in illo primo'). In the absence of the original speaker/writer, this becomes the focus of disagreement with other hearers/readers. A. further removes from consideration here (`in hoc item altero') those whose disagreement as to interpretation consists of affirming of Moses that he intended things that are untrue.

    domesticus: See on 12.9.9, `famuli tui'.

    coniungar . . . in te: See on 12.18.27 and 10.3.3.

    qui veritate tua [2] pascuntur in latitudine caritatis [3]: Eph. 3.18-19, `ut possitis comprehendere cum omnibus sanctis quae sit latitudo et longitudo, altitudo et profundum, (19) scire etiam supereminentem scientiae caritatem Christi.' 7

    quaeramus: --> 12.24.33, `invenit' : Mt. 7.7.

    quaeramus in eis voluntatem tuam: Jn. 5.30, `quia non quaero voluntatem meam, sed voluntatem eius qui misit me'.

    dispensasti: See on 6.9.15.

    text of 12.24.33


    util. cred. 4.10, `tertium est cum ex alieno scripto intellegitur aliquid veri, cum hoc ille qui scripsit non intellexerit. in quo genere non parum est utilitatis; immo si diligentius consideres, totus legendi fructus est integer. . . . hic error non modo humanus est, sed saepe etiam homine dignissimus.'

    eam: i.e., voluntatem tuam.

    ecce enim: This `confessional' insertion keeps the meditation in line. The aim of interpretation is partly doctrinal instruction (but that task is obviously secondary here, where there is such agreement between him and his imaginary contradictores on the doctrinal issues at stake) and partly edification: lifting mind and heart (12.16.23, `extento . . . sursum corde') to God. A. is searching for authentic words to use in confession, and he has come full circle to the perplexity of 10.3.3--how to say the truth in a way that fulfills the demands of confession and yet does not divide his audience?

    ego servus tuus: Ps. 115.16(7)-17(8), `o domine, ego servus tuus; ego servus tuus et filius ancillae tuae, (17) disrupisti vincula mea, tibi sacrificabo sacrificium laudis'; cf. esp. 9.1.1.

    reddam tibi vota mea: Note that in both Psalms where the phrase occurs, the context is one that A. read as eucharistic: Ps. 115.18(9), `vota mea domino reddam'; en. Ps. 115.8, `quae vota redditurus es? quas vovisti victimas? quae incensa? quae holocausta? an ad illud respicis, quod paulo ante dixisti, “calicem salutaris accipiam, et nomen domini invocabo” [Ps. 115.13(4)]; et, “tibi sacrificabo sacrificium laudis”? et re vera quisquis bene cogitat quid voveat domino et quae vota reddat, seipsum voveat, seipsum reddat: hoc exigitur, hoc debetur.' Ps. 21.26, `vota mea reddam coram timentibus eum'; en. Ps. 21. en. 2.27, `quae sunt vota sua? sacrificium quod obtulit deo. nostis quale sacrificium? norunt fideles vota quae reddit coram timentibus eum; nam sequitur, “edent pauperes et saturabuntur.” [Ps. 21.27: cf. 10.43.70] beati pauperes quia ideo edunt ut saturentur.' Cf. J. Stiglmayr, Zschr. für Azk. u. Myst. 5(1930), 234-245.

    invisibilia et visibilia: Col. 1.16 (see on 12.22.31).

    in ipso faciendi exordio: Amb. exam. 1.4.16, `alii [sc. codices] dixerunt en kephalaioi quasi in capite, quo significatur in brevi et in exiguo momento summa operationis impleta.'

    verum eum . . . dubitem: For Moses' truthfulness, see on 12.22.31.

    text of 12.25.34


    nemo iam mihi molestus sit: Gal. 6.17, `de cetero nemo mihi molestus sit; ego enim stigmata Iesus in corpore meo porto.'

    o vita pauperum: Jn. 14.6; see on 1.4.4. A. himself as pauper: 10.38.63, 10.43.70, 11.1.1, 11.2.3.

    plue: `deus' as subject in ordinary material sense is common (Mt. 5.45, `pluit super iustos et iniustos', en. Ps. 80.1, `et vetus quidem, sed a temporibus christianis coepit proverbium: non pluit deus, duc ad christianos'; sim. at en. Ps. 84.15, quoted on 13.17.21, `det fructum suum').

    mitigationes: The noun is unique here in A. (but n.b. a technical term of oratory: rhet. Her. 4.37.49, Cic. de orat. 3.30.118.), and appears in Vg. only once (Sir. 36.25, in an irrelevant sense); but cf. Ps. 93.12-13, `beatus vir quem tu erudieris, domine, et ex lege tua docueris eum, (13) ut mitiges eum a diebus malignis, donec fodiatur peccatori fovea.' Cf. Prud. peristeph. 13.12, `liquor ambrosius cor mitigat'.

    sed quia superbi sunt: Again the issue of interpretive confidence in scriptural matters is tied, inexplicitly, to the issue of how conf. will be read (cf. 10.3.3).

    et ideo iam nec ipsorum est, quia verum est: en. Ps. 75.17, `omnes qui intellegunt communem esse omnibus veritatem et non illam faciunt quasi suam superbiendo de illa, ipsi offerent munera quia humilitatem habent; qui autem quasi suum faciunt quod omnibus commune est, tamquam in medio positum, ad partem seducere conantur, non offerent hi munera.' Cf. Heraclitus fr. 2 Diels, eou= lo/gou d' e)o/ntos cunou= zw/ousin oi( polloi/ w(s i)di/an e)/xontes fro/nhsin.

    audaciae: The noun only here in conf.; D. J. Macqueen, Mél sc. rel. 34(1977), 196-197 suggests this may represent Greek to/lma (e.g., Plot. [see M. Atkinson, Plotinus: Ennead V.1 (Oxford, 1983), 4-6]).

    visus: See on 6.13.23.

    typhus: See on 7.9.13 (this the last appearance).

    communionem: If the word carries a eucharistic sense, the overtone is important, with veritas = Christ; but the matter is far from clear. Both Souter and TLL think they find the sense in the fourth century, but TLL 3.1965 does not distinguish between eucharistic phrases (e.g., communio altaris) and the absolute use of unmodified communio in the same sense (as in English, `receive communion', `prepare for communion'). The only text TLL offers of A. under that heading is s. 351.4.10, `nos vero a communione prohibere quemquam non possumus (quamvis haec prohibitio nondum sit mortalis, sed medicinalis)'; but even the usage is dubious, and that sermon is one of much-contested authenticity. Of TLL's passages, only one stray passage in `Palladius' historia monachorum 2.10 is compelling; the next clear-cut texts are all sixth-century: one in Venantius Fortunatus and a large sampling from the letters of Gregory the Great. In any event, the sense is that there is no private gnosis, but public and common sharing of truth.

    ut eam nolimus habere privatam: 1 Tim. 6.5, `qui veritate privati sunt'; 2 Pet. 1.20, `omnis prophetia scripturae propria interpretatione non fit.'

    qui enim loquitur mendacium: Jn. 8.44 (text reconstructed from A.'s citations), `qui loquitur mendacium, de suo loquitur, quia mendax est et pater eius'; also at 13.25.38. en. Ps. 91.6, `qui enim loquitur mendacium, de suo loquitur: hoc evangelium dicit. omne peccatum mendacium est. contra legem enim et contra veritatem quidquid est, mendacium dicitur. ergo quid ait? qui loquitur mendacium, de suo loquitur, id est, qui peccat, de suo peccat.'

    text of 12.25.35


    attende: See on 11.18.23. Elsewhere in voc. to God at 11.2.3, to himself at 11.27.34, and to the reader at 13.24.36. Jer. 18.19, `attende, domine, ad me, et audi vocem adversariorum meorum.'

    deus, ipsa veritas: Jn. 14.6.

    coram te: See on 12.16.23.

    qui legitime utuntur lege: 1 Tim. 1.8, `scimus autem quia bona est lex, si quis ea legitime utatur' (see on 12.18.27 for this and next phrase).

    usque ad finem caritatis: 1 Tim. 1.5, `finis autem praecepti est caritas de corde puro et conscientia bona et fide non ficta.'

    attende et vide: Lam. 1.9ff, `vide, domine, afflictionem meam . . . (12) attendite et videte si est dolor sicut dolor meus!' Cf. Ps. 9.14, `miserere mei, domine, vide humilitatem meam'; Ps. 28.18, `vide humilitatem meam'; Ps. 58.6, `exsurge . . . et vide . . . intende'.

    sed ambo in ipsa quae supra mentes nostras est: Cf. on 10.3.3 and cf. 10.26.37, `ubi ergo te inveni ut discerem te, nisi in te supra me?'

    unus pro altero infletur: 1 Cor. 4.6-7, `haec autem, fratres, transfiguravi in me et Apollo propter vos, ut in nobis discatur, ne supra quam scriptum est unus adversus alterum infletur pro alio. (7) quis enim te discernit? quid autem habes quod non accepisti? si autem accepisti, quid gloriaris, quasi non acceperis?' The echo invokes the history of Paul and Apollo and their followers, and the Pauline style of interpretation as well.

    diligamus . . . nosmet ipsos: The two great commandments of Mt. 22.37-39 (from Deut. 6.5; see on 12.18.27; recurs at 12.26.36, 12.30.41).

    mendacem faciemus dominum: 1 Jn. 1.10, `si dixerimus quoniam non peccavimus, mendacem facimus eum et verbum eius non est in nobis'; 1 Jn. 5.10, `qui non credit deo, mendacem facit eum.'

    temere adfirmare: See on 11.2.3 (where temeritas is the vice within and mendacium its external manifestation); cf. 12.25.34, `ista temeritas non scientiae sed audaciae est.' This caution is attractive. Cf. Gn. litt. 1.18.37, `et in rebus obscuris atque a nostris oculis remotissimis, si qua inde scripta etiam divina legerimus, quae possint, salva fide qua inbuimur, alias atque alias parere sententias, in nullam earum nos praecipiti adfirmatione ita proiciamus, ut, si forte diligentius discussa veritas eam recte labefactaverit, corruamus, non pro sententia divinarum scripturarum, sed pro nostra ita dimicantes, ut eam velimus scripturarum esse quae nostra est, cum potius eam quae scripturarum est nostram esse velle debeamus.' Sim. at ep. 95.4 (against `temeritas affirmandi').

    text of 12.26.36


    celsitudo humilitatis: 2.6.13, `nam et superbia celsitudinem imitatur'; cf. 11.31.41, `tu enim erigis elisos et non cadunt, quorum celsitudo tu es.'

    requies: 13.37.52 - 13.38.53.

    dimittis peccata mea: Mt. 6.15 (summarizing the Lord's prayer), `si autem non dimiseritis hominibus, nec pater vester dimittet peccata vestra.'

    praecipis: Mt. 22.39; see on 12.25.35.

    si tempore illo natus essem: The fantasy of how someone would act if born at another time is one to which A. recurs; cf. vera rel. 3.3 (`si enim Plato ipse viveret', he would be Christian) and civ. 22.27 (if Plato and Porphyry could compare notes they would perhaps both have turned Christian). A. has already presented himself in a Mosaic role when at 7.10.16, in his first `Plotinian ascent', a divine voice addressed himself as Moses had been addressed at the burning bush: `et clamasti de longinquo, “immo vero ego sum qui sum.”'

    tanto auctoritatis culmine: See on 6.11.19 (also at 8.2.4, 12.16.23, 12.31.42).

    ex eadem . . . massa: Rom. 9.21, `an non habet potestatem figulus luti ex eadem massa facere aliud quidem vas in honorem, aliud vero in contumeliam?' (Fuller echo at 13.14.15.) In the present context, massa corresponds to informitas: by sin, we lose the species/forma/imago dei in ourselves and return to the primal formlessness, in need of the action of the second person and reformation secundum imaginem dei to return to health.

    As early as div. qu. 68.3-4, A. says (reflecting the views of Ambrosiaster ad Rom. 5.12.3 [b and g recensions]), `et omnes una massa luti facti summus, quod est massa peccati'. So div. qu. Simp. 1.2.16 (`sunt igitur omnes homines--quando quidem, ut apostolus ait, in Adam omnes moriuntur, a quo in universum genus humanum origo ducitur offensionis dei--una quaedam massa peccati supplicium debens divinae summaeque iustitiae'), and many later (anti-Pelagian) passages. See E. Buonaiuti, HThR 20(1927), 118, `It seems to me that when Augustine borrowed from Ambrosiaster the term “massa,” and adopted this characteristic figure of speech to express human solidarity in sin, this term itself led him back to a fundamental notion with which he had become familiar in the days of his Manichaean initiation.' For Manichean parallels, see Adam, Zschr. für Kirchengesch. 69(1958), 17-18.

    The most interesting parallel is en. Ps. 51.12, of threshing, where it is clear in the same context that massa is what goes into the barn, palea to the fire: hence massa is not in itself undesirable. BA indeed insists, rightly, that no notion of original sin is present in the word here, and adduces `quid est homo, nisi quia memor es eius' in defense of that interpretation.

    et quid est homo: Ps. 8.5, `quid est homo, quoniam memor es eius?'

    vellem ergo: A. indulges in a potent fantasy (the more potent because it actually came true for Moses), of a text that will convey its message at once clearly and unmistakably (to the untutored), and at the same time ambiguously and polysemously (to the erudite). He distinguishes among audiences: those to whom the text speaks in a primary way, conveying things hitherto unheard and untaught; and those to whom it speaks in a secondary way, where what is communicated is not so much the primary doctrine (`God created heaven and earth'), where the complaisant text is taken over by someone other than its author (and/or the group for/to which the author speaks: here the transformation made when the OT was taken away from the Jews by the Christians) and is used to authorize what is already believed or taught on other grounds.

    texendi: 1.14.23, `Homerus peritus texere tales fabellas'. en. Ps. 104.27, `libera enim est laudatio a lege narrantis et texentis historiam.' (The metaphor of a `text' is still in the making at this time: Souter and Lewis and Short identify the hist. aug. and Amm. as the earliest witnesses for `textus' in anything like the modern sense; the verb is classical but infrequent.)

    text of 12.27.37


    sicut enim fons: The metaphor becomes classical: Greg. Mag. praef. in mor. (= ep. 5.53a [MGH]) 2, `sacri enim tractor eloquii morem fluminis debet imitari. fluvius quippe dum per alveum defluit, si valles ex latere concavas contingit, in eas protinus sui impetus cursum divertit, cumque illas sufficienter impleverit, repente sese in alveum refundit.'

    dispensatoris tui: See on 6.9.15.

    fluenta: acc. pl., paralleling `fluxum' earlier in the sentence; cf. 9.10.23, `superna fluenta fontis tui': see G. Luongo, Parola del Passato 135(1970), 423-429.

    cogitant deum quasi hominem: Now A., in a palinode to the intolerance of his Manichean days, offers a measured tolerance for anthropomorphism. Thus the haughty reader below (`quispiam') might be the Manichee who cannot be content with such `cheap' words; see Gn. c. man. 1.17.27, quoted on 3.7.12. Though the view represented here goes beyond the stereotype anthropomorphism (`hair and nails'), A. makes an important concession here: yes, he says, there are catholic Christians whose view of God is strongly anthropomorphic. His explanation, that there are various licit levels of comprehension among Christians, is one he would not have found compelling twenty years earlier.

    aliquam molem immensa praeditam potestate: Textually confused; for best display of the variants and discussion, see Isnenghi 15-19. The reading followed here is necessary for sense (it is against Latin usage to imagine an abstract noun [potestas: and God is potestas nowhere else in conf.] endowed with a physical object [moles]), though it appears in full in only one of the four main witnesses (CD1). The main alternative (mole immensa praeditam potestatem: printed by Knöll, Skut., Ver.--the version printed here agrees with the Maurist text) appears only in S(G and O both have intermediate combinations, while the MSS of Eugippius differ in ways similar to those of conf.). For the sense, see also 1.9.14, of his childish image of God: `sentientes te . . . esse magnum aliquem'.

    aliquam aliquam C D G S:   aliqua O

    molem molem C D G:   mole O S

    immensa immensa C D O S:   immensam G

    praeditam praeditam C D G S:   praedita O

    potestate potestate C D1:   potestatem D2 G O S

    novo . . . placito: Also a view that the Manichees would attack: see 11.10.12.

    verba coepta et finita: 9.10.24, `reliquimus ibi religatas primitias spiritus et remeavimus ad strepitum oris nostri, ubi verbum et incipitur et finitur'; cf. the reflections on the transience of words at 11.6.8 and 11.22.28.

    in quibus adhuc parvulis animalibus: 1 Cor. 3.1-3, `et ego, fratres, non potui vobis loqui quasi spiritalibus sed quasi carnalibus, tamquam parvulis in Christo [see on 12.17.24]. (2) lac vobis potum dedi, non escam, nondum enim poteratis sed ne nunc quidem potestis, (3) adhuc enim estis carnales'; 1 Cor. 2.14, `animalis autem homo non percepit ea quae sunt spiritus dei' (where animalis renders Gk. yuxiko/s). div. qu. Simp. 1.1.7, `appellati sunt enim ad quendam modum carnales iam etiam sub gratia constituti, iam redempti sanguine domini, et renati per fidem, quibus idem apostolus dicit, “et ego, fratres, non potui vobis loqui quasi spiritalibus, sed quasi carnalibus. tamquam parvulis in Christo lac vobis potum dedi non escam.”' See also Io. ev. tr. 98, where he canvasses the question whether this text indicates that Christianity has a secret inner gnosis for adepts--and decides that it does not: but he could come close, much earlier in his career, to suggesting just that: vera rel. 28.51, `temporibus novi populi . . . . sapientiam enim loquuntur [magni et spiritales viri] inter perfectos, carnalibus vero et animalibus et quamvis novis hominibus adhuc tamen parvulis nonnulla obtegunt, sed nulla mentiuntur'; see on 6.3.3 and cf. also below on 12.30.41.

    conculcent: Ps. 55.2, `miserere mei, domine, quoniam conculcavit me homo'; Job 39.15 (VL), `et bestiae agri conculcabunt ea.'

    qui transeunt viam: Lam. 1.12, `o vos omnes qui transitis per viam, attendite et videte si est dolor sicut dolor meus, quoniam vindemiavit8 me ut locutus est dominus in die irae furoris sui.' (For a different echo of the same verse, see on 12.25.35, `attende et vide'.)

    mitte angelum tuum: Knauer 65n1, `eine Formel, die öfter in der Bibel begegnet' : cf. Mal. 3.1, `ecce ego mitto angelum meum'; 2 Macc. 15.23, `et nunc dominator caelorum, mitte angelum tutum bonum ante nos in timore et tremore magnitudinis brachii tui'; Mt. 11.10, `hic est enim quo scriptum est, “ecce ego mitto angelum meum ante faciem tuam, qui praeparabit viam tuam ante te” [quoting Exod. 23.20].'

    in nido: Cf. 4.16.31, `in nido ecclesiae' and s. 51.5.6, `quam securi discitis, quam tuti, quicumque adhuc parvuli estis in nido fidei, et spiritalem escam accipitis. ego autem miser, cum me ad volandum idoneum putarem, reliqui nidum; et prius cecidi, quam volarem. sed dominus misericors me, a transeuntibus ne conculcarer et morerer, levavit, et in nido reposuit.'

    text of 12.28.38


    alii: The corresponding first `alii' at 12.27.37.

    non iam nidus: The metaphor emerges to full form only gradually, surprising us with its charm.

    garriunt: See on 7.20.26.

    stabili permansione: 11.8.10, `stabilis veritas', 13.36.51, `permansionem sempiternam'; anticipation here of the unblinking contuitus (11.20.26, 12.15.18) of eternity.

    cuius voluntas, quia id est quod tu: 11.10.12, `ad ipsam ergo dei substantiam pertinet voluntas eius'; sim. at 12.11.11, 12.15.18.

    nullo modo mutata: immutability: see on 7.1.1.

    non de te similitudinem tuam . . . quae formaretur per similitudinem tuam: the accs. `similitudinem' and `dissimilitudinem' are in apposition with `omnia', while `de te' and `de nihilo' are instrumental with `fecisti'. BA implicitly supplies ducens (`tirant'); Ryan and Pusey erant.

    similitudinem: Gn. 1.26, esp. 13.22.32.

    dissimilitudinem: See on 7.10.16, `regione dissimilitudinis' (and cf. on 12.26.36, `massa').

    recurrens in te unum: See on 1.18.28, `redire'; cf. Plotinus, h( a)nagwgh\ . . . e)f' e(/n.

    ordinato [3]: Cf. `formam' [2]. Creation still takes the pattern: creation of materia informis [1], addition of forma [2], addition of ordo [3], but not in a temporal sequence (see below 12.29.40); see on 1.7.12.

    mutationes mutationes ODonnell  scripsi (REAug 35[1989], 128):   variationes ed. Lov. 1576 Maur. Knöll Skut. Pell. Ver.:   narrationes MSS Eugippius Vega?
    The paradosis is clearly wrong (in modern editions, printed only in Vega, and that perhaps by mistake, for his app. crit. is arranged as though variationes were in the text), and the emendation of the Louvain editors has stood in the text for four hundred years; it has the merit of palaeographical proximity to the reading of the MSS. But not only does variatio appear nowhere else in conf., it appears nowhere else in A. The suggestion printed here has the merit of parallels in conf.: 7.1.1, `et quod nullam patitur mutationem melius esse quam id quod mutari potest'; 12.11.14, `ecce nescio quid informe in istis mutationibus rerum extremarum atque infimarum'; and `mutata' earlier in this same sentence. The Louvain editors may have been looking at passages like 11.4.6, `mutantur enim atque variantur', or 12.6.6, `mutantem atque variantem', 12.8.8, `rerum mutationibus fiunt tempora, dum variantur et vertuntur species', 12.11.11, `ex nulla specie motuve mutaris nec temporibus variatur voluntas tua,' and 12.15.21, `ut nulla mutatione varietur'; but they chose the wrong verb. (Vega's app. crit. ad loc. ends with the suggestion, `fort. gradationes'.)

    text of 12.28.39


    A.'s purpose here is to demonstrate the variety of truths that arise from a single fons, as suggested at 12.27.37. One could diagram this paragraph by a branching out of rivers from a single source (the reverse of the natural habit of rivers). In taking what is to us a contra-instinctual metaphor, A. is choosing the more pluralistic and polysemous against the more authoritarian.

    alius: 9x here, with numerous, but not methodically presented, parallels to the views catalogued in earlier paragraphs.

    intendit: For `attention', see on 11.18.23.

    respicit respicit C D2 O2 G Maur. Knöll Skut. Pell.:   resipiscit D1O1 S Eug. Isnenghi Ver. Vega  (but he translates: `y vuelve sus ojos a la sabiduría')
    but resipisco does not take an accusative object; Isnenghi objects that respicit suggest human, rather than divine, action at this juncture, but surely that is appropriate after intendit.

    principium: Jn. 8.25, `principium quia et loquor vobis'; see on 11.8.10.

    primo fecit: Amb. exam. 1.8.28, `fecit ergo deus primo caelum et terram.'

    text of 12.29.40


    One point of view of those mentioned in 12.28.39 runs the risk of being untrue: and A. is at pains now to deal only with contradictores who speak truth--to keep the focus on the question of interpretation. So this paragraph rescues that view from its own contradictions. For the philosophical issues, see BA 14.611-612: this is a touchstone for distinguishing A.'s attitudes from those of Plotinus. The four types of priority are the vehicle for A.'s escape route, the fourth category, where (BA 14.612), `en fait Augustin veut parler d'une sorte de priorité logique, priorité de la matière sur la forme qui ne préjuge pas de l'excellence de la forme par rapport à la matière.'

    aeternitate, sicut deus omnia: i.e., the way eternity is prior to time, though not measurable in temporal terms: BA 14.611, `la priorité selon l'éternité comporte en effet que l'on saisisse le paradoxe d'un Dieu créant immuablement des êtres muables; c'est une priorité de transcendance qui suppose, pour être pleinement comprise, des esprits habitués aux spéculations métaphysiques'--or perhaps spirits habituated to heaven. The other examples are concise and intelligible.

    quomodo sit prior sonus quam cantus: Emily Dickinson, `The Brain is Wider than the Sky':

    The brain is just the weight of God,
         For, lift them, pound for pound,
    And they will differ, if they do,
         As syllable from sound.

    cantus est formatus sonus: The example is useful because the act of formatio is the imposition of words on inarticulate sound by the intelligence, hence an apt parallel to the creative role of the second person of the trinity.

    esse utique . . . potest: Something unformed can exist, but something that does not exist cannot be formed, therefore, formed things require the logical existence of unformed ones; but unformed ones do not require the existence of formed ones.

    cum enim cantatur: For the same analysis of how a poem works, see 11.27.35 (on `deus creator omnium').

    speciosus sonus: = formatus sonus.

    text of 12.30.41


    The key scriptural texts here have all been important earlier in Bk. 12.

    veritas [2] . . . deus noster [1] . . . pura caritate [3]: Invoking the trinity, and standing Terence on his ear (Andria 67-68): `namque hoc tempore obsequium amicos, veritas odium parit' (echoed straightforwardly at 10.23.34).

    deus noster misereatur nostri: Ps. 66.2, `deus misereatur nostri et benedicat nos.'

    ut legitime lege utamur: 1 Tim. 1.8, `scimus autem quia bona est lex, si quis ea legitime utatur' (see on 12.18.27, and see 12.25.35).

    praecepti fine, pura caritate: Cf. 1 Tim. 1.5, `finis autem praecepti est caritas de corde puro et conscientia bona et fide non ficta' (see on 12.18.27).

    exceptis carnalibus: The correct interpretation is that of Verheijen, Augustiana 31(1981), 161-164, but the punctuation here seeks to improve on his. Paraphrasing, not translating, we may read: `I know that those sententiae (rehearsed in the several preceding paragraphs, and cf. `in hac diversitate . . .') are true (leaving aside the carnales, i.e., the harmless Anthropomorphites of 12.27.37, concerning whom I think I have said enough--they are children of promise, and these words of your book do not frighten them), but let all those of us who see the truth in your words (i.e., A. along with those other interpreters just reviewed) love one another and equally love you, God . . . .' Other interpretations have taken carnalibus to imply the substantive sententiis, in which case quibus has one antecedent and quos another. The punctuation in all editions before Verheijen is accordingly misleading. Verheijen punctuates thus:

    `et scio tamen illas veras esse sententias. exceptis carnalibus, de quibus quantum existimavi locutus sum--quos tamen bonae spei . . . pauca copiose--sed omnes, quos in eis verbis . . .'

    Skutella's punctuation can stand as representative of earlier interpretations:

    `si tibi non confiteor: nescio et scio tamen illas veras esse sententias exceptis carnalibus, de quibus quantum existimavi locutus sum. quos tamen bonae spei parvulos haec verba . . . pauca copiose; sed omnes, quos in eis verbis . . .'

    See Verheijen's article for translations that attempted to make sense of earlier punctuations. Verheijen adduces virg. 7.7, `ut hoc solo esset Mariae fecunditas carnis excepta virginitate praestantior'. The expression (in the sense, `making no mention of . . .') is as Verheijen says not unattested elsewhere in A.; cf. en. Ps. 109.8, `sed exceptis aliis peccatis, quae possent remitti per fidem, hoc unum peccatum nominavit'; s. 21.2, `excepto peccato, ab illo habes quidquid aliud habes.'

    bonae spei parvulos: See on 1.16.26, `bonae spei puer'; for `parvulos' (the detail that confirms the reference of `exceptis carnalibus'), see 12.27.37, `in quibus adhuc parvulis animalibus'.

    pauca copiose: The oxymoron was forecast at 12.1.1, `plerumque in sermone copiosa est egestas humanae intellegentiae'.

    diligamus nos . . . diligamus te: Mt. 22.37-39: see on 12.18.27; also at 12.25.35, 12.26.36.

    fontem veritatis: For various metaphorical fontes in conf., see on 3.8.16; but cf. 12.10.10, `o veritas, lumen cordis mei . . . et nunc ecce redeo aestuans et anhelans ad fontem tuum.'

    dispensatorem: See on 6.9.15.

    attendisse: as often (see on 11.18.23).

    veritatis [2]. . . utilitatis [3]: For the latter equivalence, cf. doctr. chr. 1.4.4 (and 1 Tim. 1.8 quoted above).

    text of 12.31.42


    Logically A. has nothing to oppose to the prospect of an endless variety of truths in scripture for an endless variety of people; this possibility opens for him without inducing vertigo, because he believes that the truth in each person is finally the one truth (12.18.27, `lux omnium veridicarum mentium'), and hence that all variety of opinion will be reduced eventually to unity in a different and higher order. That process is carried out in these last three books of conf., as the individual A. seeks union in truth and spirit with the whole ecclesia. Hence the emphasis in this book on allowing the plurality of views to thrive as an embodiment of the command to love one's neighbor.

    si ad culmen auctoritatis: For the beginning of this fantasy, see on 12.26.36.

    quam ut . . . apertius ponerem: This preference for writing ambiguously comes more easily to some than to others; perhaps to A., less easily, as something achieved by argument rather than instinct. The view achieved here appears fully developed in doctr. chr. 3.27.38, `quando autem ex eisdem scripturae verbis non unum aliquid sed duo vel plura sentiuntur, etiam si latet quid senserit ille qui scripsit, nihil periculi est, si quodlibet eorum congruere veritati ex aliis locis sanctarum scripturarum doceri potest, id tamen eo conante, qui divina scrutatur eloquia, ut ad voluntatem perveniatur auctoris, per quem scripturam illam sanctus operatus est spiritus; sive hoc assequatur sive aliam sententiam de illis verbis, quae fidei rectae non refragatur, exculpat, testimonium habens a quocumque alio loco divinorum eloquiorum.' (This comes a page or so after the place where [he tells us in retr. 2.4.1] he broke off writing doctr. chr. in 396 or so.)

    text of 12.32.43


    non caro et sanguis: Especially apt as address to the incarnate second person of the trinity, patron of this book: `you are, after all, God and not (as might appear) flesh and blood.' Cf. Mt. 16.17, `beatus es, Simon Bariona, quia caro et sanguis non revelavit tibi sed pater meus qui in caelis est'; 1 Cor. 15.50, `caro et sanguis regnum dei possidere non possunt.'

    spiritum tuum bonum: Ps. 142.10, `spiritus tuus bonus deducet me in terram rectam'; cf. 9.4.9, `cum conversus ad nos spiritus tuus bonus ait nobis' (introducing a quotation of Ps. 4.3); also expanding Gn. 1.2 at 13.4.5, and sim. at 13.34.49. This guidance by the third person of the trinity will provide the structure to Bk. 13.

    demonstra demonstra C D G O2 Maur.:   demonstras O1 S Knöll Skut. Ver.
    The manuscripts of Eugippius disagree on this passage. (Skut. and Ver. misreport O; Knöll's app. crit. has it correctly.) The -as form is from erroneous assimilation with patefacias and pascas.

    pascas: 9.10.24, `regionem ubertatis indeficientis, ubi pascis Israhel in aeternum veritate pabulo' (sim. at 9.12.32, 12.23.32, 13.27.42).

    quae nostrae vires, quae tempora: The frustration at the impossibility of encompassing in the text of conf. all that A. wishes to say goes back to Bk. 9 (see on 9.4.7) and is thematically important to the work, not to be taken as mundane evidence of changes of plan and abridgements of content.

    sine me: Prayer for permission to speak runs throughout the text, from 1.5.5, `miserere ut loquar', and 1.6.7, `sine me tamen loqui'.

    brevius: cf. Prov. 10.19, `ex multiloquio non effugies peccatum.' When faced generally with the polysemy of scripture, hermeneutic runs the risk of floundering in the `opaca frutecta' (12.28.38) and never getting out of the woods. The willingness to cease hunting the unicorn of author's intention and to settle for (mere!) truth is the key to delimiting interpretation and connecting it to life.

    ea fide confessionis meae: A.'s bargain is not only with God, but with his readers, and so once again, as often in this book, a return to the topic of credibility raised originally at 10.3.3.

    si hoc dixero: For a bald statement not long after conf., see Gn. litt. 1.21.41, `et cum divinos libros legimus in tanta multitudine verorum intellectuum qui de paucis verbis eruuntur et sanitate catholicae fidei muniuntur, id potissimum deligamus quod certum apparuerit eum sensisse quem legimus; si autem hoc latet, id certe quod circumstantia scripturae non impedit et cum sana fide concordat; si autem et scripturae circumstantia pertractari ac discuti non potest, saltem id solum quod fides sana praescribit. aliud est enim quid potissimum scriptor senserit non dinoscere, aliud autem a regula pietatis errare. si utrumque vitetur, perfecte se habet fructus legentis; si vero utrumque vitari non potest, etiam si voluntas scriptoris incerta sit, sanae fidei congruam non inutile est eruisse sententiam.'


    He identifies there three kinds of error: where you believe something false your author did not believe (e.g., if we believe Vergil's tale of the underworld), where you believe something false that your author did believe (e.g., if you accept Lucretius' treatment of the atoms), and where you believe something true that your author did not believe (e.g., if you are persuaded by Epicurus' arguments to adopt a continent way of life).


    For all quotations from Gn. 1-2, a reconstruction of A.'s text is printed preceding comm. on 13.1.1.


    For the significance of erigere in such contexts, see on 9.10.24.


    This is the first place where A. uses the equation of Verbum = Christus (D. Johnson, RA 8[1972], 25-53).


    `Such as': Origen's attempt was another such, which met with less favor; Eriugena was the last to attempt this so naively.


    An incomplete computer check suggests the list could easily be doubled.


    From this point, manuscript Sreturns to the original hand (see footnote on 12.17.24).


    = Gk. e)tapei/nwsen; the same idea here in `conculcent'.

    back to text and commentary book 11     only commentary on book 11     only text of book 11
    forward to text and commentary for book 13     only commentary on book 13     only text of book 13