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Platonic and Christian Creation

i (1) In my needy life, Lord, my heart is much exercised under the impact made by the words of your holy scripture. All too frequently the poverty of human intelligence has plenty to say, for inquiry employs more words than the discovery of the solution; it takes longer to state a request than to have it granted, and the hand which knocks has more work to do than the hand which receives.1 We hold on to the promise, which none can make null and void. ‘If God is for us, who can be against us?’ (Rom. 8: 31). ‘Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and the door shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives and the door is opened to the one who knocks’ (Matt. 7: 7–8). These are your promises, and when the promise is given by the Truth, who fears to be deceived?

ii (2) My humble tongue makes confession to your transcendent majesty that you were maker of heaven and earth—this heaven which I see, the earth which I tread under foot and is the source of the earthly body which I carry. You were their maker. But where is the ‘heaven of heaven’, Lord, of which we have heard in the words of the psalm: ‘The heaven of heaven belongs to the Lord, but the earth he has given to the sons of men’ (Ps. 113: 16)? Where is the heaven which we do not see, compared with which everything we can see is earth? For this physical totality, which is not in its entirety present in every part of it,2 has received a beautiful form in its very lowest things, and at the bottom is our earth. But in comparison with ‘the heaven of heaven’, even the heaven of our earth is earth. And it is not absurd to affirm that both of these vast physical systems are earth in relation to that heaven whose nature lies beyond knowledge, which belongs to the Lord, not to the sons of men.

iii (3) Certainly this earth ‘was invisible and unorganized’ (Gen. 1: 2), a kind of deep abyss over which there was no light because it had no form. So at your command it was written that ‘darkness was over the abyss’. This simply means the absence of light. For if light existed, it could only be above, shining down from on high. Where, then, light did not yet exist, the presence of darkness was the lack of light. That is why the darkness was ‘above’, because the light above it was not present, just as when there is no sound there is silence, and the place where there is silence, is the place where there is no sound. Is it not you, Lord, who instructed the soul which is making confession to you? Do I not owe to you the insight that before you gave form and particularity to that ‘unformed matter’ (Wisd. 11: 18), there was nothing—no colour, no shape, no body, no spirit? Yet it was not absolute nothingness. It was a kind of formlessness without any definition.

iv (4) To give slower minds some notion of the meaning here no word is available except that of familiar usage. But among all the parts of the world what can be found to be closer to total formless-ness than earth and abyss? For because of their lowly position they are less beautiful than all other things which are full of light and radiance. I have no reason to doubt that the formlessness of matter, which by your creation was made lacking in all definition and was that out of which you made so lovely a world, is conveniently described for human minds in the words ‘the earth invisible and unorganized’.

v (5) In this matter thought seeks to grasp what perception has touched, and says to itself: ‘It is not an intellectual form like life or justice, because it is matter out of which bodies are made. Nor is it accessible to sense-perception, since in what is invisible and unor-ganized there is nothing of what we see and perceive.’ Human thinking employs words in this way; but its attempts are either a knowing which is aware of what is not knowable or an ignorance based on knowledge.3

vi (6) For myself, Lord, if I am to confess to you with my mouth and my pen everything you have taught me about this question of matter, the truth is that earlier in life I heard the word but did not understand it, and those who spoke to me about it [the Manichees] did not understand it either. I used to think of it as having countless and varied shapes,4 and therefore I was not thinking about matter at all. My mind envisaged foul and horrible forms nevertheless. I used to use the word formless not for that which lacked form but for that which had a form such that, if it had appeared, my mind would have experienced revulsion from its extraordinary and bizarre shape, and my human weakness would have been plunged into confusion. But the picture I had in my mind was not the privation of all form, but that which is relatively formless by comparison with more beautiful shapes. True reasoning convinced me that I should wholly subtract all remnants of every kind of form if I wished to conceive the absolutely formless.5 I could not achieve this. I found it easier to suppose something deprived of all form to be non-existent than to think something could stand between form and nothingness, neither endowed with form nor nothing, but formless and so almost nothing.

From this point onwards my mind ceased to question my spirit which was full of images of bodies endowed with forms which it could change and vary at will. I concentrated attention on the bodies themselves and gave a more critical examination to the mutability by which they cease to be what they were and begin to be what they were not. I suspected that this passing from form to form took place by means of something that had no form, yet was not absolutely nothing. I wanted to know, not to suspect. If my voice and pen were to confess to you all that you disentangled for me in examining this question, no reader would have the patience to follow the argument. Nevertheless my heart will never cease to give you honour for this, and to sing your praises for this, which I have not strength to express. For the mutability of changeable things is itself capable of receiving all forms into which mutable things can be changed. But what is this mutability? Surely not mind? Surely not body? Surely not the appearances of mind and body? If one could speak of ‘a nothing something’ or ‘a being which is non-being’, that is what I would say. Nevertheless it must have had some kind of prior existence to be able to receive the visible and ordered forms.6

vii (7) Where could this capacity come from except from you, from whom everything has being insofar as it has being? But the further away from you things are, the more unlike you they become7 though this distance is not spatial. And so you, Lord, are not one thing here, another thing there, but the selfsame, very being itself, ‘holy, holy, holy, Lord God almighty’ (Isa. 6: 3; Rev. 4: 8). In the beginning, that is from yourself, in your wisdom which is begotten of your substance, you made something and made it out of nothing. For you made heaven and earth not out of your own self, or it would be equal to your only-begotten Son and therefore to yourself. It cannot possibly be right for anything which is not of you to be equal to you. Moreover, there was nothing apart from you out of which you could make them, God one in three and three in one.8 That is why you made heaven and earth out of nothing, a great thing and a little thing, since you, both omnipotent and good, make all things good, a great heaven and a little earth. You were, the rest was nothing. Out of nothing you made heaven and earth, two entities, one close to you, the other close to being nothing; the one to which only you are superior, the other to which what is inferior is nothingness.

viii (8) But the ‘heaven of heaven’ is yours, Lord. The earth which you gave to the sons of men to see and to touch was not such as we now see and touch. For it was ‘invisible and unorganized’, and an abyss above which there was no light. ‘Darkness above the abyss’ implies more darkness than ‘in’ the abyss. This abyss, now of visible waters, has even in its depths a light of its own, which is somehow visible to fish and to living creatures creeping along its bottom. But at that first stage the whole was almost nothing because it was still totally formless. However, it was already capable of receiving form. For you, Lord, ‘made the world of formless matter’ (Wisd. 11: 18). You made this next-to-nothing out of nothing, and from it you made great things at which the sons of men wonder. An extraordinary wonder is the physical heaven, the solid firmament or barrier put between water and water on the second day after the creating of light, when you said ‘Let it be made’ and so it was made. This firmament you called ‘heaven’, but a heaven to this earth and sea, which you made on the third day by giving visible shape to formless matter which you made before any day existed at all. Already you made heaven before any day, and that is the ‘heaven of this heaven’, because in the beginning you had made heaven and earth. But the earth itself which you had made was formless matter; for it was ‘invisible and unorganized and darkness was above the abyss’. From the invisible and unorganized earth, from this formlessness, from this next-to-nothing, you made all these things of which this mutable world consists, yet in a state of flux. Its mutability is apparent in the fact that passing time can be perceived and measured. For the changes of things make time as their forms undergo variation and change. The matter underlying them is the ‘invisible earth’ of which I have been speaking.

ix (9) That is why the Spirit, the teacher of your servant (Moses), in relating that in the beginning you made heaven and earth, says nothing about time and is silent about days. No doubt the ‘heaven of heaven’ which you made in the beginning is a kind of creation in the realm of the intellect.9 Without being coeternal with you, O Trinity, it nevertheless participates in your eternity. From the sweet happiness of contemplating you, it finds power to check its mutability. Without any lapse to which its createdness makes it liable, by cleaving to you it escapes all the revolving vicissitudes of the temporal process. But even that formlessness, the ‘invisible and unorganized earth’, is not counted among the days of creation week. For where there is no form, no order, nothing comes or goes into the past, and where this does not happen, there are obviously no days and nothing of the coming and passing of temporal periods.

x (10) May the truth, the light of my heart, not my darkness, speak to me. I slipped down into the dark and was plunged into obscurity. Yet from there, even from there I loved you. ‘I erred and I remembered you’ (Ps. 118: 176). ‘I heard your voice behind me’ (Ezek. 3: 12) calling me to return. And I could hardly hear because of the hubbub of people who know no peace. Now, see, I am returning hot and panting to your spring. Let no one stand in my path. Let me drink this and live by it. May I not be my own life. On my own resources I lived evilly. To myself I was death. In you I am recovering life. Speak to me, instruct me, I have put faith in your books. And their words are mysteries indeed.

xi (11) Already you have said to me, Lord, with a loud voice in my inner ear, that you are eternal. ‘You alone have immortality’ (1 Tim. 6: 16), for you are changed by no form or movement, nor does your will undergo any variation at different times. For that is not an immortal will which is first one thing and then another. ‘In your sight’ (Ps. 18: 15) this truth is clear to me. Let it become more and more evident, I pray you, and as it becomes manifest may I dwell calmly under your wings (cf. Ps. 35: 8).

Again you said to me, Lord, with a loud voice to my inner ear, that you created all natures and substances which are not what you are and nevertheless exist. The only thing that is not from you is what has no existence. The movement of the will away from you, who are, is movement towards that which has less being. A movement of this nature is a fault and a sin, and no one’s sin harms you or disturbs the order of your rule, either on high or down below. ‘In your presence’ (Ps. 18: 15) this truth is clear to me. Let it become more and more evident, I pray you, and as it becomes manifest may I dwell calmly under your wings.

(12) Again you said to me, in a loud voice to my inner ear, that not even that created realm, the ‘heaven of heaven’, is coeternal with you. Its delight is exclusively in you. In an unfailing purity it satiates its thirst in you. It never at any point betrays its mutability. You are always present to it, and it concentrates all its affection on you. It has no future to expect. It suffers no variation and experiences no distending in the successiveness of time.10 O blessed creature, if there be such: happy in cleaving to your felicity, happy to have you as eternal inhabitant and its source of light! I do not find any better name for the Lord’s ‘heaven of heaven’ (Ps. 113: 16) than your House. There your delight is contemplated without any failure or wandering away to something else. The pure heart enjoys absolute concord and unity in the unshakeable peace of holy spirits, the citizens of your city in the heavens above the visible heavens.

(13) From this may the soul, whose pilgrimage is far off, understand if it has the experience of thirsting for you. Already its tears have become its bread, while each day someone says to it: ‘Where is your God?’ (Ps. 41: 3–4, 11). It now begs of you and makes this single request, that it ‘may dwell in your house all the days of its life’ (Ps. 26: 4)—and what is its life but you? and what are your ‘days’ but your eternity, as are ‘your years which do not fail, because you are the same‘? (Ps. 101: 28). From this, then, may the soul with power to understand grasp how far above time you are in your eternity, seeing that your House, which is not wandering in alien realms, although not coeternal with you, nevertheless experiences none of the vicissitudes of time because, ceaselessly and unfailingly, it cleaves to you. In your sight this truth is clear to me. May it become more and more evident, and as it becomes manifest may I dwell calmly under your wings.

(14) There is an inexpressible formlessness in the changes under-gone by the lowest and most inferior creatures. Only a person whose empty heart makes his mind roll and reel with private fantasies would try to tell me that temporal successiveness can still be manifested after all form has been subtracted and annihilated, so that the only remaining element is formlessness, through the medium of which a thing is changed and transformed from one species to another. It is absolutely impossible for time to exist without changes and movements. And where there is no form, there can be no changes.11

xii (15) In the light of these reflections, in the measure that you grant me understanding, Lord, in that you stir me to knock and open to my knocking, I find there are two things created by you which lie outside time, though neither is coeternal with you. One of them is so given form that, although mutable, yet without any cessation of its contemplation, without any interruption caused by change, it ex-periences unswerving enjoyment of your eternity and immutability. The other is so formless that it has no means, either in movement or in a state of rest, of moving from one form to another,12 which is synonymous with being subject to time. But you did not leave it to its formless state since, before any day was created, in the begin-ning you made heaven and earth, and they are the two of which I have been speaking. ‘Now the earth was invisible and unorganized, and darkness was above the abyss.’ These words suggest the notion of formlessness to help people who cannot conceive of any kind of privation of form which falls short of utter nothingness. Out of this were made a second heaven and a visible ordered earth and beauti-ful waters and everything else mentioned in the creation narrative after days had come into existence. These things are such that they are subject to ordered changes of movement and form, and so are subject to the successiveness of time.

xiii (16) This is my provisional understanding, my God, when I hear your scripture saying ‘In the beginning God made heaven and earth. Now the earth was invisible and unorganized and darkness was above the abyss’ (Gen. 1: 1–21). It does not mention a day as the time when you did this. My provisional interpretation of that is that ‘heaven’ means the ‘heaven of heaven’, the intellectual, non-physical heaven where the intelligence’s knowing is a matter of simultaneity—not in part, not in an enigma, not through a mirror, but complete, in total openness, ‘face to face’ (1 Cor. 13: 12). This knowing is not of one thing at one moment and of another thing at another moment, but is concurrent without any temporal successive-ness. ‘Earth’ I take to mean the invisible and unorganized earth which experiences no temporal succession in which first this happens, then that. Where there is no form, there can be no differentiation of this and that. So my interim judgement is that when scripture mentions no days in saying ‘In the beginning God created heaven and earth’, the reason for this is that it is referring to these two things. The one is endowed with form from the very first, the other is utterly formless; the one, ‘heaven’ being the ‘heaven of heaven’, the other, ‘earth’, being ‘the earth invisible and unorganized’. For scripture immediately goes on to mention the ‘earth’ to which it was the second day and calls it heaven suggests what heaven is being referred to in the earlier text where no days are mentioned.

xiv (17) What wonderful profundity there is in your utterances! The surface meaning lies open before us and charms beginners. Yet the depth is amazing, my God, the depth is amazing.13 To concentrate on it is to experience awe—the awe of adoration before its transcendence and the trembling of love.‘14 Scripture’s enemies I vehemently hate (Ps. 138: 22). I wish that you would slay them with a two-edged sword (Ps. 149: 6); then they would no longer be its enemies. The sense in which I wish them ‘dead’ is this: I love them that they may die to themselves and live to you (Rom. 14: 7–8; 2 Cor. 5: 14–15).

But see, there are others who find no fault with the book of Genesis and indeed admire it. Yet they say: ‘The Spirit of God who wrote this by Moses his servant did not intend this meaning by these words; he did not mean what you are saying, but another meaning which is our interpretation.‘15 Submitting to you as arbiter, God of all of us, this is my reply to them.

xv (18) You will surely not assert to be false what the truth proclaims with a loud voice to my inner ear concerning the true eternity of the Creator, namely that his nature will never vary at different times, and his will is not external to his nature. It follows that he does not will one thing at one time, and another thing at another time. Once and for all and simultaneously, he wills everything that he wills. He does not need to renew his resolution. He does not want this now and that then, nor does he later come to will what formerly he did not will, or reject what previously he wished. For such a will is mutable, and nothing mutable is eternal. ‘But our God is eternal’ (Ps. 47: 15).

Again, surely you would not deny what he speaks to me in my inner ear, that the expectation of future events becomes direct apprehension when they are happening, and this same apprehension becomes memory when they have passed.

But every act of attention which undergoes change in this way is mutable, and anything mutable cannot be eternal. But ‘our God is eternal’. I put together these propositions, make an inference, and find that my God, the eternal God, did not experience a new act of will when he made the creation, and his knowledge admits no transient element.

(19) What then will you who contradict me say? Are these proposi-tions untrue? ‘No’, they say. What then? Surely it is not false that the only source of all nature endowed with form and matter capable of form is he who is supremely good because he supremely is. They say, ‘We do not deny that.’ What then? Do you deny that there is a sublime created realm cleaving with such pure love to the true and truly eternal God that, though not coeternal with him, it never detaches itself from him and slips away into the changes and successiveness of time, but rests in utterly authentic contemplation of him alone? For as it loves you to the extent you command, you, God, show yourself to it and are sufficient for it.16 So it does not decline from you into self-concern. This House of God is not made of earth, nor is it corporeal made from any celestial mass, but is spiritual and participates in your eternity, because it is without stain for ever. For you have ‘established it for ever and ever’; you have ‘appointed a law and it will never pass away’ (Ps. 148: 6). Yet it is not coeternal with you, because it had a beginning; for it belongs to the created order.

(20) We do not find that time existed before this created realm, for ‘wisdom was created before everything’ (Ecclus. 1: 4). Obviously that does not mean your wisdom, our God, father of the created wisdom. Your wisdom is manifestly coeternal and equal with you, by whom all things were created, and is the ‘beginning’ in which you made heaven and earth. Evidently ‘wisdom’ in this text is that which is created, an intellectual nature which is light from contemplation of the light.17 For although created, it is itself called wisdom. But just as there is a difference between light which illuminates and that which is illuminated, so also there is an equivalent difference between the wisdom which creates and that which is created, as also between the justice which justifies and the justice created by justification.18 For even we are said to be your justice. A certain servant of yours says ‘That we may be the justice of God in him’ (2 Cor. 5: 21). So there was a wisdom created before all things which is a created thing, the rational and intellectual mind of your pure city, our ‘mother which is above and is free’ (Gal. 4: 6) and is ‘eternal in the heavens’ (2 Cor. 5: 1). In this text ‘heavens’ can only be ‘the heavens of heavens’ which praise you (Ps. 148: 4); this is also the Lord’s ‘heaven of heaven’ (Ps. 113: 16). We do not find there was time before it, because it precedes the creation of time; yet it is created first of all things. However, prior to it is the eternity of the Creator himself. On being created by him it took its beginning—not a beginning in time, since time did not yet exist, but one belonging to its own special condition.

(21) Therefore it is derived from you, our God, but in such a way as to be wholly other than you and not Being itself. We do not find time either before it or even in it, because it is capable of continually seeing your face and of never being deflected from it. This has the consequence that it never undergoes variation or change. Nevertheless in principle mutability is inherent in it. That is why it would grow dark and cold if it were not lit and warmed by you as a perpetual noonday sun (Isa. 58: 10) because it cleaves to you with a great love. O House full of light and beauty! ‘I have loved your beauty and the place of the habitation of the glory of my Lord’ (Ps. 25: 7–9), who built you and owns you. During my wandering may my longing be for you! I ask him who made you that he will also make me his property in you, since he also made me. ‘I have gone astray like a sheep that is lost’ (Ps. 118: 176). But on the shoulders of my shepherd, who built you, I hope to be carried back to you (Luke 15: 4 f.).

(22) What do you say to me, you opponents whom I was addressing? You contradict my interpretation, though you believe Moses to be God’s devout servant and his books to be oracles of the Holy Spirit. Is not this House of God, though not coeternal with God, nevertheless in its own way ‘eternal in the heavens’ (2 Cor. 5: 1) where you look in vain for the successiveness of time because it is not to be found there? For it transcends all distension between past and future, and all the fleeting transience of time. ‘It is good for it always to cleave to God’ (Ps. 72: 28). ‘It is’, they say. Which then of those things which ‘my heart cried out to my God’ (Ps. 17: 7) when it heard inwardly ‘the voice of his praise’ (Ps. 25: 7), do you now contend to be untrue? Is it that there was a formless matter and that because there was no form there was no order? But where no order existed, there could be no temporal successiveness. And yet this almost nothing, to the degree to which it was not absolutely nothing, was source of whatever exists, insofar as it is anything at all. ‘This also’, they say, ‘we do not deny.‘

xvi (23) Those with whom I wish to argue in your presence, my God, are those who grant the correctness of all these things which your truth utters in my inner mind. Those who deny them may bark as much as they like and by their shouting discredit themselves. I will try to persuade them to be quiet and to allow your word to find a way to them. If they refuse and repel me, I beg you, my God, not to ‘stay away from me in silence’ (Ps. 27: 1). Speak truth in my heart; you alone speak so. I will leave my critics gasping in the dust, and blowing the soil up into their eyes. I will ‘enter my chamber’ (Matt. 6: 6) and will sing you songs of love,19 groaning with inexpressible groanings (Rom. 8: 20) on my wanderer’s path, and remembering Jerusalem with my heart lifted up towards it—Jerusalem my home land, Jerusalem my mother (Gal. 4: 26), and above it yourself, ruler, illuminator, father, tutor, husband, pure and strong delights and solid joy and all good things to an unexpressible degree, all being enjoyed in simultaneity because you are the one supreme and true Good. I shall not turn away until in that peace of this dearest mother, where are the first-fruits of my spirit (Rom. 8. 23) and the source of my certainties, you gather all that I am from my dispersed and distorted state to reshape and strengthen me for ever, ‘my God my mercy’ (Ps. 58: 18). But with those who do not criticize as false all those points which are true, who honour your holy scripture written by that holy man Moses and agree with us that we should follow its supreme authority, but who on some point contradict us, my position is this: You, our God, shall be arbiter between my confessions and their contradictions.

xvii (24) They say: ‘Although this may be true, yet Moses did not have these two things in mind when by the revelation of the Spirit he said: "In the beginning God made heaven and earth" (Gen. 1: 1). By the word "heaven" he did not mean the spiritual or intellectual creation which continually looks on God’s face, nor by the word "earth" did he intend formless matter.’ What then? They say: ‘What that man had in mind was what we say he meant, and this is what he expressed in those words.‘

And what is that?

‘By the phrase "heaven and earth"’, they say, ‘Moses meant to signify in general and concise terms the entire visible world, so that thereafter under the successive days he could arrange one by one each category which it pleased the Holy Spirit to list in this way. The character of the people addressed was rough and carnal, and so he decided to present to them only the visible works of God.‘

They agree, however, that if one understands formless matter to be referred to as ‘the earth invisible and unorganized’ and a ‘dark abyss’, there is no incongruity. For it was from this that in the following verses all the visible things, known to everyone, are shown to be created and ordered during those days.

(25) What is to be said? Another interpretation may propose that the phrase ‘heaven and earth’ is used by anticipation to mean this formless and chaotic matter, because out of that the visible world was created and perfected with all the natures which are clearly evident to us; and this world is by common custom often called ‘heaven and earth’. A yet further interpretation could be that ‘heaven and earth’ is a proper way to describe invisible and visible nature, and that by this phrase there is included in these two words the entire created order which God made in wisdom, that is, in the beginning. Nevertheless, all things were made not of the very substance of God but out of nothing, because they are not being itself, as God is, and a certain mutability is inherent in all things, whether they are permanent like the eternal House of God or if they suffer change, like the human soul and body. So the common material of all things invisible and visible, when still formless but of course receptive of form, is that from which heaven and earth originate—that is the invisible and visible creation formed of both elements. On this view this formless creation is intended by the words ‘the earth invisible and unorganized’ and ‘darkness above the abyss’, but with the difference that ‘the invisible and unorganized earth’ means physical matter before it was given the quality of form, whereas ‘darkness above the abyss’ means the spiritual realm before its uncontrolled fluidity was checked20 and before it was illuminated by wisdom.

(26) There is a further interpretation that one can hold if one is so inclined, namely that in the text ‘In the beginning God made heaven and earth’, the words ‘heaven and earth’ do not mean already perfect and formed visible or invisible natures, but a still unformed beginning of things; what these words refer to is a matter capable of being formed and open to creativeness. In this inchoate state things were confused, not yet distinct in qualities and forms, which now are divided into their own orders and are called ‘heaven and earth’, the former meaning the spiritual creation, the latter the physical.

xviii (27) After hearing and considering all these interpretations, I do not wish to ‘quarrel about words, for that is good for nothing but the subversion of the hearers’ (2 Tim. 2: 14). Moreover, ‘the law is good’ for edification ‘if it is lawfully used, since its end is love out of a pure heart and a good conscience and unfeigned faith.’ (1 Tim. 1: 8, 5). Our Master well knows on which two precepts he hung all the law and the prophets (Matt. 22: 40).21 My God, light of my eyes in that which is obscure, I ardently affirm these things in my confession to you. So what difficulty is it for me when these words [of Genesis] can be interpreted in various ways, provided only that the interpretations are true? What difficulty is it for me, I say, if I understand the text in a way different from someone else, who understands the scriptural author in another sense? In Bible study all of us are trying to find and grasp the meaning of the author we are reading, and when we believe him to be revealing truth, we do not dare to think he said anything which we either know or think to be incorrect. As long as each interpreter is endeavouring to find in the holy scriptures the meaning of the author who wrote it, what evil is it if an exegesis he gives is one shown to be true by you, light of all sincere souls, even if the author whom he is reading did not have that idea and, though he had grasped a truth, had not discerned that seen by the interpreter?

xix (28) It is true, Lord, that you made heaven and earth. It is true that the ‘beginning’ means your wisdom, in which you made all things (Ps. 103: 24). It is true that the visible world has its vast constituent parts, called heaven and earth in summary description of all natures made and created. It is also true that everything mutable implies for us the notion of a kind of formlessness, which allows it to receive form or to undergo change and modification. It is true that no experience of time can ever touch what has so close an adherence to immutable form that, although mutable, it undergoes no changes. It is true that formlessness, which is next to nothing, cannot suffer temporal successiveness. It is true that the source from which something is made can by a certain mode of speaking bear the name of the thing which is made from it. Hence the kind of formlessness from which heaven and earth are made can be called ‘heaven and earth’. It is true that, of all things with form, nothing is closer to the formless than earth and the abyss. It is true that you made not only whatever is created and endowed with form but also whatever is capable of being created and receiving form. From you all things have their existence (1 Cor. 8: 6). It is true that everything which from being formless acquires form, is first formless and is then given form.

xx (29) All these true propositions are no matters of doubt to those to whom you have granted insight to see them with their inward eye, and who unmoveably believe that your servant Moses spoke ‘in the spirit of truth’ (John 14: 17). On the basis of all these axioms, a view may be urged to this effect: ‘In the beginning God made heaven and earth’ means that by his Word coeternal with himself God made the intelligible and sensible (or spiritual and corporeal) worlds. Another view could be that ‘In the beginning God made heaven and earth’ means that by his Word coeternal with himself, God made the universal mass of this physical world with all the natures it contains, manifest and well known to us. A third view might be that ‘In the beginning God made heaven and earth’ means that by his Word coeternal with himself he made the formless matter of the spiritual and physical creation. A fourth view might be that ‘In the beginning God made heaven and earth’ means that by his Word coeternal with himself God made the formless matter of the physical creation, when heaven and earth were still chaotic, though now we perceive them to be distinct and endowed with form in the physical mass of the world. A fifth view might say, ‘In the beginning God made heaven and earth’ means that at the very start of his making and working, God made formless matter containing in a confused condition heaven and earth, but now they are given form and are manifest to us, with all the things that are in them.

xxi (30) In regard to the interpretation of the words which then follow, on the basis of all those true propositions, a view may be urged to this effect: ‘Now the earth was invisible and unorganized and darkness was above the abyss’ (Gen. 1: 2) means that the physical stuff which God made was still the formless matter of corporeal things without order or light. Another interpretation would say the text means that this totality called heaven and earth was still formless and dark matter, and out of it were made the physical heaven and physical earth with all the objects in it perceived by the bodily senses. Another interpretation would say that the text means that this totality called heaven and earth was still formless and dark matter, out of which was made the intelligible heaven, elsewhere called ‘the heaven of heaven’, and the earth, meaning the entire physical world of nature, including under that title the physical heaven also; that is, it was the source for the entire creation, invisible and visible. A yet further view would say the text does not mean that scripture called that formlessness by the name ‘heaven and earth; for, it is urged, the formlessness was already in existence and was called ‘the invisible and unorganized earth and the abyss’, and the scripture had already said that God made heaven and earth, meaning the spiritual and physical creation. Another interpretation is that which says the text means there already existed a kind of formlessness, a matter out of which, scripture previously said, God made heaven and earth, that is the entire physical mass of the world divided into two very large parts, one above, the other below, with all the created beings in them familiar and known to us.

xxii (31) One might be tempted to object to these last two opinions as follows: ‘If you reject the view that this formlessness of matter is called heaven and earth, then something existed which God had not made, out of which he made heaven and earth. For scripture has not recorded that God made this formless matter unless we understand it to be referred to as heaven and earth or as earth alone in the words "In the beginning God made heaven and earth". In the words which come next "Now the earth was invisible and unorganized", though this is how scripture describes formless matter, we shall not understand this except as referring to that which God made, as in the previous text "he made heaven and earth".‘

When these objections are heard by those who maintain these two opinions which we have put last in the list, or one or other of them, their reply will be along the following lines: ‘We do not deny that the matter made by God was formless, though from God come all things and they are very good (Gen. 1: 31). Just as we say that what is created and given form has more of goodness, so we concede that there is less good in what is created and receptive of form. Nevertheless, it is good. Although scripture has not mentioned that God made this formlessness, it is also true that it has not mentioned the creation of Cherubim and Seraphim, and those powers separately enumerated by the apostle—"thrones, dominations, principalities, powers" (Col. 1: 16). Yet it is evident that God made them all. If in the sentence "he made heaven and earth", everything is included, what are we to say about the waters above which the Spirit was borne (Gen. 1:2)? If the waters are understood to be included in the heading "earth", how can "earth" then be taken to mean formless matter, when we see how beautiful waters are? Or, if we do accept that exegesis, why does scripture say that out of this formlessness the firmament was made and called heaven, and why does it not say that the waters were made? For waters are not still formless and "invisible". We see them looking beautiful as they flow. If it is being suggested that they received their beauty at the time when God said "Let the water which is under the firmament be gathered together", understanding this gathering to be the bestowing of form, what reply can be made about "the waters which are above the firmament"? They would not have deserved to receive so honour-able a position had they lacked form, and scripture does not record the utterance by which they received form. Genesis may be silent on God’s making of something; yet sound faith and sure reasoning put it beyond any doubt that God made it. So also no sensible teaching will dare to say that the waters are coeternal with God on the ground that we hear about them in the narrative of the book of Genesis but find no record of when they were made. Why then with truth as our teacher may we not understand that the matter which this text of scripture calls "invisible and unorganized" and "a dark abyss", is formless, made by God out of nothing, and therefore not coeternal with him, even though the narrative omitted to record when it was made?‘

xxiii (32) After hearing and considering these views to the best of my weak capacity, which I confess to you, my God, who know it, I see that two areas of disagreement can arise, when something is recorded by truthful reporters using signs.22 The first concerns the truth of the matter in question. The second concerns the intention of the writer. It is one thing to inquire into the truth about the origin of the creation. It is another to ask what understanding of the words on the part of a reader and hearer was intended by Moses, a distinguished servant of your faith. In the first category I will not be associated with all those who think they know things but are actually wrong. In the second category I will have nothing to do with all those who think Moses could have said anything untrue. But in you, Lord, those with whom I wish to be associated, and ‘in you take my delight’ (Ps. 103: 34), are those who feed on your truth in the breadth of charity (Eph. 3: 18–19). Together with them I would approach the words of your book to seek in them your will through the intention of your servant, by whose pen you imparted them to us.

xxiv (33) Among many truths which are met by inquiring minds in those words which are variously interpreted, which of us can discover your will with such assurance that he can confidently say ‘This is what Moses meant and this was his meaning in that narrative’ as confidendy as he can say, ‘Whether Moses meant this or something else, this is true‘? See, our God, ‘I am your servant’ (Ps. 115:16). have vowed a sacrifice of confession in this book, and I pray that, of with utter confidence that in your immutable Word you made all things invisible and visible. I cannot say with equal assurance that this was exactly what Moses had in mind when he wrote ‘In the beginning God made heaven and earth’. Though in your truth I see the proposition to be certain, yet I cannot see in Moses’ mind that this is what he was thinking when he wrote this. When he wrote ‘In the beginning’, he could have been thinking of the initial start of the making process. In the words about heaven and earth in this text, he could also have meant not a nature endowed with form and perfection, whether spiritual or physical, but one both inchoate and still formless. I see of course that all the propositions stated above can be true statements. But which of them Moses had in mind in writing these words, I do not see so clearly. Nevertheless, whether it was one of these propositions or some other which I have failed to mention, which that great man had in mind when he uttered these words, I do not doubt that what he saw was true and that his articulation of it in words was appropriate.

xxv (34) ‘Let no one trouble me’ (Gal. 6: 17) by telling me: ‘Moses did not have in mind what you say, but meant what I say’. If someone were to say to me ‘How do you know Moses thought what you make his words mean?’ I should have to take it in good part and reply perhaps as I have replied above, or at rather greater length if the critic were harder to convince. But when he says ‘He did not have in mind what you say but what I say’, yet does not deny that what each of us is saying is true, then my God, life of the poor, in whose bosom there is no contradiction, pour a softening rain into my heart that I may bear such critics with patience. They do not say this to me because they possess second sight and have seen in the heart of your servant the meaning which they assert, but because they are proud. They have no knowledge of Moses’ opnion at all, but love their own opinion not because it is true, but because it is their own. Otherwise they would equally respect another true interpretation as valid, just as I respect what they say when their affirmation is true, not because it is theirs, but because it is true. And indeed if it is true, it cannot be merely their private property. If they respect an affirmation because it is true, then it is already both theirs and mine, shared by all lovers of the truth. But their contention that —I Moses did not mean what I say but what they say, I reject. I do not respect that. Even if they were right, yet their position would be the temerity not of knowledge but of audacity. It would be the product not of insight but of conceit. Lord, ‘your judgements are to be feared’ (Ps. 118: 120); for your truth does not belong to me nor to anyone else, but to us all whom you call to share it as a public possession. With terrifying words you warn against regarding it as a private possession, or we may lose it (Matt. 25: 14–30). Anyone who claims for his own property what you offer for all to enjoy, and wishes to have exclusive rights to what belongs to everyone, is driven from the common truth to his own private ideas, that is from truth to a lie. For ‘he who speaks a lie’ speaks ‘from his own’ (John 8: 44).

(35) Listen, best of judges, God, truth itself, listen to what I say to this opponent, listen. Before you I speak and before my brothers who ‘use the law lawfully for the end of charity’ (1 Tim. 1: 8, 5). Listen to what I say to him and see (Lam. 1: 9–12) if it is pleasing to you. This is the brotherly and conciliatory reply which I make to him. ‘If both of us see that what you say is true and that what I say is true, then where, I ask, do we see this? I do not see it in you, nor you in me, but both of us see it in the immutable truth which is higher than our minds. If then we do not quarrel about the light from the Lord our God, why should we quarrel about the ideas of our neighbour, which we cannot see as clearly as the immutable truth is seen. If Moses himself had appeared to us and said "This is my meaning", even so we would not see it but believe. Therefore "let no one be puffed up for one against another beyond what is written" (1 Cor. 4: 6). "Let us love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and our neighbour as ourselves" (Matt. 22: 37–9). On the basis of those two commandments of love, Moses meant whatever he meant in those books. If we do not believe, we make the Lord a liar (1 John 1: 10; 5: 10) because we attribute to the mind of a fellow servant a notion other than that which he taught. See now how stupid it is, among so large a mass of entirely correct interpretations which can be elicited from those words, rashly to assert that a particular one has the best claim to be Moses’ view, and by destructive disputes to offend against charity itself, which is the principle of everything he said in the texts we are attempting to expound.’

xxvi (36) And yet, for my part, my God—you raise high my humble self and give rest to my toil, you hear my confessions and forgive my sins—since you bid me love my neighbour as myself, I cannot believe you gave a lesser gift to your most faithful servant Moses than I would wish and desire to be granted by you, if I had been born at the same time as he, and if you had appointed me to his position. I would wish that through the service of my heart and tongue those books should be published, which later were to be of such assistance to all nations and, throughout the entire world, would conquer by weight of authority the words of all false and proud doctrines. We all come ‘from the same lump’ (Rom. 9: 21) and ‘what is man except that you are mindful of him?’ (Ps. 8: 5). So had I been Moses—had I been what he was, and had been com-missioned by you to write the book of Genesis, I would have wished to be granted such skill in eloquence and facility of style that those unable to understand how God creates would not set aside the language as beyond their power to grasp; that those who had this ability and by reflection had attained to some true opinions would find in some terse words _used by your servant that their true perceptions were not left out of account; and that if, in the light of the truth, another exegete saw a different meaning, that also would not be found absent from the meaning of the same words.

xxvii (37) A spring confined in a small space rises with more power and distributes its flow through more channels over a wider expanse than a single stream rising from the same spring even if it flows down over many places.23 So also the account given by your minister, which was to benefit many expositions, uses a small measure of words to pour out a spate of clear truth. From this each commentator, to the best of his ability in these things, may draw what is true, one this way, another that, using longer and more complex channels of discourse.

When they read or hear these texts, some people think of God as if he were a human being or a power immanent in a vast mass which, by some new and sudden decision external to itself, as if located in remote places, made heaven and earth, two huge bodies, one high, the other low, containing everything. When they hear ‘God said, Let there be that, and that is made’, they think of words with beginnings and endings, making a sound in time and passing away. They suppose that after the words have ceased, at once there exists that which was commanded to exist, and have other similar notions which they hold because of their familiarity with the fleshly order of things. In such people who are still infants without higher insight, faith is built up in a healthy way, while in their state of weakness they are carried as if at their mother’s breast by an utterly simple kind of language. By their faith they hold and maintain with assurance that God made all the natures which their senses perceive around them in all their wonderful variety. If any among them comes to scorn the humble style of biblical language and in proud weakness pushes himself outside the nest in which he was raised, he will fall, poor wretch.24 ‘Lord God, have mercy’ (Ps. 55: 2), protect the chick without wings from being trodden on the path by passers-by. Send your angel (Matt. 18: 10) to replace it in the nest, so that it may live until it can fly.

xxviii (38) There are others for whom these words are no nest but a dark thicket. They see fruit concealed in them, to which they fly in delight, chirping as they seek for it and pluck it. For when they read or hear these words of yours, eternal God, they see that by your stable permanence you transcend all past and future time, and yet there is nothing in the time-conditioned creation which you have not made. Your will, which is identical with your self,25 has made all things by a choice which in no sense manifests change or the emergence of anything not present before. You did not make the creation out of yourself in your own likeness, the form of all things, but out of nothing, which is a formless dissimilarity26 to you, though, nevertheless, given form through your likeness. So it returns to you, the One, according to the appointed capacity granted to each entity according to its genus. And all things are very good, whether they abide close to you or, in the graded hierarchy of being, stand further away from you in time and space, in beautiful modifications which they either actively cause or passively receive. To the limited extent that they can grasp the light of your truth in this life those who see these things rejoice.

(39) One interpreter gives attention to the text ‘In the beginning God made’ and interprets wisdom to be the ‘beginning’ because this also ‘speaks’ to us (John 8: 25). Another interpreter of the same text understands ‘beginning’ to mean the starting-point of the creation and takes ‘in the beginning he made’ to mean ‘first he made’. Moreover, among those who understand ‘in the beginning’ to mean ‘in wisdom you made heaven and earth’, one of them may believe ‘heaven and earth’ to mean the matter out of which heaven and earth is capable of being created, while another takes the phrase to refer to already formed and distinct natures. Yet another thinks one nature called ‘heaven’ is endowed with form and spiritual, while the other called ‘earth’ is formless physical matter. But those who understand ‘heaven and earth’ to be formless matter do not hold the same interpretation. On one view this is the source from which the intelligible and sensible creation are brought to perfection. On another view it is merely the source from which came the sensible physical mass containing within its vast womb the natures now evident and apparent to our eyes. Furthermore, those who believe that ‘heaven and earth’ in this passage means that the creatures were made already ordered and distinct, do not interpret this in only one sense. On one view this includes the invisible as well as the visible realm; on another view it refers only to the visible creation, in which we contemplate the heaven as source of light and the dark earth, together with everything they contain.

xxix (40) However, the interpreter who takes ‘in the beginning he made’ simply to mean ‘first he made’ has no alternative but to understand ‘heaven and earth’ to refer to the matter of heaven and earth—that is, the entire intelligible and physical creation. If he tries to make it mean the entire creation already formed, the question will rightly be put to him what, if God made this first, he went on to make next. After the universe he will find nothing left to create, and will not be pleased to hear the question ‘How did he make this first if later he did nothing?‘

But if he says that first he made the formless creation, and then that with form, his position is not absurd—not at least if he is capable of distinguishing priority in eternity, priority in time, priority in preference, priority in origin.27 An instance of priority in eternity would be that of God’s priority to everything; of priority in time, that of the blossom to the fruit; of preference that of the fruit to the blossom; of origin, that of sound to song. In these four, the first and last which I have mentioned are the hardest to understand, the middle two very easy. For it is rare to see and very hard to sustain the insight, Lord, of your eternity immutably making a mutable world, and in this sense being anterior. And then who has a sufficiently acute mental discernment to be able to recognize, without intense toil, how sound is prior to song? The difficulty lies in the point that song is formed sound, and something not endowed with form can of course exist, but can what does not exist receive form? In this sense matter is prior to that which is made out of it. It is not prior in the sense that it actively makes; it is rather that it is made. Nor is priority one of temporal interval here. For it is not that first we emit unformed sound without it being song, and later adapt or shape it into the form of a song, in the way we make a box out of wood or a vase out of silver. In the latter instances the materials are in time anterior to the forms of the things made out of them, whereas in the case of a song, that is not so. When a song is sung, the sound is heard simultaneously. It is not that unformed sound comes first and is then shaped into song. Any sound that is made first passes away, and you will find no remnant of it which you can recover to impart coherence to it with artistic skill. That is why a song has its being in the sound it embodies, and its sound is its matter. The matter is given form to be a song. In this sense, as I was saying, the matter of making sound is prior to the form of singing. The priority does not consist in the potentiality to make song. The sound is not the maker causing the singing, but is provided by the body for the singer’s soul to turn into song. It is not prior in time. It is emitted at the same time as the song. It is not prior in preference, for sound is not something preferred to song, seeing that song is not merely sound but also beautiful sound. But there is priority in origin; for a song is not endowed with form to become sound, but sound receives form to become song.

This illustration may help any who can understand that the matter of things was made first and called ‘heaven and earth’ because heaven and earth were made out of this. But the matter was not made first in a temporal sense, because the forms of things provide the originating cause of the time process. This matter was formless, but now in time matter and form are perceived simultaneously. Nevertheless it is impossible to put into words any statement about formless matter without speaking as if it were prior in time.28In value it is on the lowest level, since obviously things with form are better than formless things. It is preceded by the Creator’s eternity, so that the material out of which anything is made is itself out of nothing.

xxx (41) In this diversity of true views, may truth itself engender concord, and may our God have mercy upon us that we may ‘use the law lawfully’, for the ‘end of the precept, pure love’ (1 Tim. 1: 8, 5). On this principle if anyone asks me which view was held by Moses your great servant, I would not be using the language of my confessions if I fail to confess to you that I do not know. Yet I know that those interpretations are true except for the carnal notions of which I have given my opinion as I thought right. But those immature in the faith, who are of good hope, are not alarmed by the language of your book, humbly profound and rich in meaning contained in few words. May all of us who, as I allow, perceive and affirm that these texts contain various truths, show love to one another, and equally may we love you, our God, fount of truth—if truth is what we are thirsting after and not vanity. And may we agree in so honouring your servant, the minister of this scripture, full of your Holy Spirit, that we believe him to have written this under your revelation and to have intended that meaning which supremely corresponds both to the light of truth and to the reader’s spiritual profit.

xxxi (42) So when one person has said ‘Moses thought what I say’, and another ‘No, what I say’, I think it more religious in spirit to say ‘Why not rather say both, if both are true?’ And if anyone sees a third or fourth and a further truth in these words, why not believe that Moses discerned all these things? For through him the one God has tempered the sacred books to the interpretations of many, who could come to see a diversity of truths. Certainly, to make a bold declaration from my heart, if I myself were to be writing something at this supreme level of authority I would choose to write so that my words would sound out with whatever diverse truth in these matters each reader was able to grasp, rather than to give a quite explicit statement of a single true view of this question in such a way as to exclude other views—provided there was no false doctrine to offend me. Therefore my God, I do not want to be so rash as not to believe that Moses obtained this gift from you. When he wrote this passage, he perfectly perceived and had in mind all the truth we have been able to find here, and all the truth that could be found in it which we have not been able, or have not as yet been able, to discover.

xxxii (43) Finally, Lord—who are God and not flesh and blood—even if human insight perceived less than the truth, surely whatever you were intending to reveal to later readers by those words could not be hidden from ‘your good Spirit who will lead me into the right land’ (Ps. 142: 10). This must be true, even if it were the case that Moses, through whom this was said, had in mind perhaps only one out of the many true interpretations. If this was so, we may allow that the meaning which he had in his mind was superior to all others. Lord, we beg you to show us either what that one meaning is or some other true meaning of your choice. Make clear to us either the understanding possessed by your servant or some other meaning suggested by the same texts, that we may feed on you and not be led astray by error.

My Lord God, I pray you, see how much we have written, how much indeed on only a few words! How much energy and time would at this rate be required to expound all your books! Grant me therefore to make confession to you more briefly in commenting on these words, and to select some one truth which you have inspired, certain and good, even though many meanings have occurred to me where several interpretations are possible. The understanding pre-supposed in my confessions is that if I have said what your minister meant, that is correct and the best interpretation; and that is the attempt I have to make. But if I have been unsuccessful in that endeavour, I pray that nevertheless I may say what, occasioned by his words, your truth wished me to say. For that Truth also spoke what it wished to him.

1 An echo of Cicero’s Hortensius, cited in VIII. vii (17).

2 The idea is in Plotinus 2. 3. 13. That even the lowest things have their proper beauty is in 3. 2. 7. 42–3.

The citation from the Psalter is one of very few to be marked as such.

3 The language and ideas here are in Plotinus 2. 4. 10 (the indefiniteness of matter cannot be the object of definite knowledge; yet the not knowing is capable of positive statement).

In a later letter (130) Augustine epigrammatically sums up his view of the inadequacy of human talk about God in the phrase ‘learned ignorance’.

4 Simplicius Commentary on Epictetus 34 (27 p. 168 Salmasius) reports that Mani’s Prince of Darkness has 5 shapes: lion’s head, eagle’s shoulders, serpent’s stomach, fish’s tail, demon’s feet. The concept of matter in Manicheism is wholly different from that in Neoplatonism. For Plotinus 3. 6. 10–13 matter is so distinct from form as to be as immutable as God.

5 The process of intellectual abstraction is described by Plotinus 1. 8. 9.

6 Plotinus 3. 6 argues that only things with body are passible; not only are souls always active, never passive, but matter also is unaffected by form, incorporeal and ghostly, an underlying substrate which is non-being, apparently seeming to be either soul or body without being either (3. 6. 7).

7 Plotinus 6. 9. 9. 12: we exist more as we turn to him, less as we turn away.

8 ‘Una trinitas et trina unitas’. Cf. below XIII. xxii (32).

9 Augustine interprets Genesis 1 not to describe any material creation, but the intelligible realm of mind. His ‘heaven of heaven’ is, like the world-soul in Porphyry (Senlentiae 30), created but eternally contemplating the divine.

10 Above, XI. xxix (39).

11 In a section far from easy to follow Plotinus argued that matter, in the sense of the ultimate formless sludge out of which particular things come to take shape and form, is immune from change (3. 6. 10—13).

In XI. xxiv (31) above, Augustine has argued that no change can occur except in time.

12 Plotinus (3. 6. 7. 19) speaks of the total impotence of ‘matter’.

13 Above, III. v (9).

14 Above, VII. xvii (23); XI. ix (11).

15 Augustine now turns his critique not on Manichees but on Catholic critics (uniden-tifiable), dissatisfied perhaps with his exposition of Genesis i in his book De Genesis contra Maichaeos, written in 388–9.

16 Analogous language in Plotinus 5. 3. 8. 31 f. on Soul’s relation to Mind.

17 Plotinus 4. 3. 17. 13 and 6. 4. 7. 27 has ‘light from light’, the derived light (unlike that of the Nicene creed) being inferior.

18 Augustine distinguishes here (and elsewhere) between the act of God in justification to which there is no human contribution, and the righteousness that grace imparts to transform the co-operating will.

19 Among Manichee hymns there was one called ‘Love Song’ to God.

20 Plotinus (5. 3. 8. 31) says the light of Intellect (Nous) does not allow the soul to disperse.

21 Augustine regarded the two commandments to love God and to love one’s neighbour as the central principle for the interpretation of all scripture. See below XII. xxv (35).

22 Augustine was very aware that words mean different things to different people; the ‘signs’ which arc words are ambivalent. His theory of signs enabled him to integrate principles of biblical interpretation with ideas about grammar, rhetoric, and logic; but biblical ‘signs’ convey sacred mysteries and therefore are particularly open to varied interpretation.

23 Plotinus 3. 8. 10. 5 uses the illustration of a spring, but for a different point.

24 Augustine has himself in mind.

25 Plotinus 6. 8. 21. 13 says God’s will is his substance.

26 On ‘the region of dissimilarity’ see above, VII. X (16). The sentence here is remarkable for interpreting ‘out of nothing’ to mean out of next-to-nothing, relative but not absolute non-being.

27 Aristotle (Categories 12. 14a 26 ff.) distinguished five kinds of priority, including Augustine’s second, third, and fourth, but not first which has a strongly Neoplatonic ring. The question, also discussed with a different list by Aristotle in the Metaphysics (4. II. 1018b 9 ff.), was important in the debate whether universals are prior to particulars or vice versa. Plotinus alludes to the discussion in 1. 4. 3. 18; 6. 1. 25. 17; 6. 2. 17. 17. Porphyry’s commentary on the Categories does not survive for this chapter, but is no doubt a likely source for Augustine here.

28 Likewise Plotinus 5. 9. 8. 20.

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