Eighty-three Different Questions (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 70)
a new translation.
Publication Year: 1982
Published by: The Catholic University of America Press
Title Page, Copyright
Reading St. Augustine in Latin is a delightful task, not so much because of his grace of style as because of the majesty and rich nuance of the thoughts which he expresses in that language. If one is captivated by this aspect of his writings, then translating St. Augustine into some other language is an even more delightful task, ...
Rarely has a great and influential thinker taken pains to let others look at his previous literary career through his very own eyes. St. Augustine, however, has provided us with a rich opportunity to do just that. In his Retractations,2 written a couple of years before his death in 430, St. Augustine reflects ...
1. Is the Soul Self-existent?
Everything true is true by truth, and every soul is a soul in virtue of that by which it is a true soul. Accordingly every soul is dependent upon truth for its very existence as a soul. Now the soul is one thing, truth another. For truth is never susceptible of falsehood, whereas the soul is often mistaken and deceived. ...
2. On Free Choice
Nothing which comes into being can be equal to that which brings it into being. Otherwise one necessarily does away with justice, which must render to each its due. Therefore, when God made man, although he made him very good, nevertheless he did not make him what he himself is. ...
3. Is God Responsible for Human Perversity?
No wise man is responsible for human perversity, because the blame for this is not small. Rather [the blame] is so great that it cannot be charged to any wise man. But God far excells every wise man. Much less, therefore, is God responsible for man's perversity, for God's will is far more excellent than the wise man's. ...
4. What is the Cause of Human Perversity?
The cause of man's perversity is either man himself, or something else, or nothing. If [it is] nothing, there is no cause. However, if the sentence the cause is nothing is understood to mean "man is made from nothing or from those things drawn from nothing," on the contrary the cause will be found to be man himself, ...
5. Can an Animal without Reason be Happy?
6. On Evil
Everything which is, is either corporeal or incorporeal. The corporeal is embraced by sensible form,1 and the incorporeal, by intelligible form. Accordingly everything which exists is not without some form. But where there is form there necessarily is measure,2 and measure is something good. ...
7. What does 'Soul' Properly Refer to in a Living Being?
In speaking of soul,2 one sometimes understands it to involve mind,3 as when we say that a man consists of a soul and a body. At other times, mind is excluded from the meaning of the term. But when mind is excluded from its meaning, soul is understood in relation to those activities ...
8. Is the Soul Self-moving?
One is aware that the soul moves of itself when one is aware of the will within oneself. For if we will, no one else wills for us. And this movement of the soul is spontaneous, for this has been granted to the soul by God. But this movement is not from place to place as is that of the body, ...
9. Can Truth be Perceived by the Bodily Senses?
Everything which the bodily sense touches and which is called sensible is constantly changing.1 Thus, when the hairs on our head grow, or the body declines into old age or blooms out into youth, this happens continually, and there is never any letup in the process. ...
10. Does Body Come from God?
Everything good comes from God. Everything that has form is good insofar as it has form, and everything which form embraces has form. Now all body in order to be body is embraced by some form. Therefore all body comes from God.1
11. Why was Christ Born of a Woman?
When God sets free, he does not free a part, but he frees the whole of that which chances to be in danger. Therefore the Wisdom and Power of God, who is called the only begotten Son, has declared mankind's deliverance through the assumption of human nature. ...
12. The Opinion of a Certain Wise Man
"Come now, O wretched mortals," he says, "take heed that the wicked spirit may never foul this habitation, and that, intermingled with the senses, it may not pollute the sanctity of the soul and becloud the light of the mind. This evil thing creeps stealthily through all the entrances of sense: ...
13. What Proof is There that Men are Superior to Animals?
Among the many ways in which it can be shown that man is superior to animals by virtue of his reason, this is clear to all: animals can be domesticated and tamed by men, but men not at all by animals.
14. That the Body of Christ was not a Phantom
15. On the Intellect
Everything which understands itself comprehends itself. But what comprehends itself is limited with respect to itself. Now the intellect understands itself. Therefore it is limited in respect to itself. Nor does· it wish to be without limits, although it could be, ...
16. On the Son of God
God is the cause of all that exists. But because he is the cause of all things, he is also the cause of his own Wisdom, and God is never without his Wisdom. Therefore, the cause of his own eternal1 Wisdom is eternal as well, nor is he prior in time to his Wisdom. ...
17. On God's Knowledge
Everything past no longer exists, everything future does not yet exist, therefore nothing past and nothing future exists. But in God's sight there is nothing which does not exist. Therefore, in God's sight, [nothing exists] as past or future, but everything is now. ...
18. On the Trinity
For every existing thing there is something responsible for its existing, something responsible for its distinguishing marks, and something responsible for its coherence.2 Accordingly if any created thing exists in some sense, differs in practically all respects from what is absolutely indeterminate, ...
19. On God and the Created
What is unchangeable is eternal, for it always exists in the same state. But what is changeable is subject to time, for it does not always exist in the same state and accordingly is not correctly said to be eternal. For what changes does not remain, and what does not remain is not eternal. ...
20. On the Place of God
God is not anywhere. For what is somewhere is contained in a place, and what is contained in a place is body. But God is not body, so he is not anywhere. Nevertheless, since he is and yet is not in a place, all things are in him rather than he himself being anywhere. ...
21. Is not God the Author of Evil?
Whoever is the author of all things which are and whose goodness is responsible for the existence of all that exists cannot have anything at all to do with nonbeing. Now everything which lacks anything lacks in relation to being and tends toward nonbeing. ...
22. That God is not Subject to Need
23. On the Father and the Son
Everything chaste is chaste by chastity, and everything eternal is eternal by eternity, and everything beautiful, beautiful by beauty, and everything good, good by goodness. As well, therefore, everything wise is wise by wisdom, and everything alike, alike by likeness. ...
24. Do Sin and Right Conduct Result from a Free Choice of the Will?
Whatever happens by chance happens without design. Whatever happens without design does not happen due to Providence. If therefore some things in the world happen by chance, then not all the world is governed by Providence. If not all the world is governed by Providence, ...
25. On the Cross of Christ
The Wisdom of God became man in order to show us how to live virtuously. Part of living the virtuous life involves not fearing those things which ought not to be feared. But death is not to be feared. Therefore it was necessary to show this by the death of that Man whom the Wisdom of God became. ...
26. On the Diversity of Sins
There are sins of weakness, others, of ignorance, others, of malice. Weakness is the opposite of strength, ignorance is the opposite of wisdom, and malice is the opposite of goodness. Consequently whoever knows what is the strength and wisdom of God can judge which are the pardonable sins. ...
27. On Providence
Through an evil man Divine Providence can both punish and succor. For the impiety of the Jews was the Jews' downfall and yet provided salvation for the Gentiles. Again, Divine Providence through a good man can both condemn and help, as the Apostle says: ...
28. Why did God Want to Make the World?
To inquire into why God wanted to make the world is to inquire into the cause of God's will. But every cause is productive of some result, everything productive of some result is greater than that which is produced, and nothing is greater than God's will. ...
29. Is There an 'Above' and a 'Below' in the Universe?
"Set your mind on the things which are above."1 We are bidden to set our minds on those things which are above, viz., spiritual things, which must not be understood to exist above in respect to the places and parts of this world, but by virtue of their excellence, ...
30. Has Everything been Created for Man's Use?
There is the same difference between the terms honorable1 and useful as between the terms enjoyable and useful. For although it can be maintained (though requiring some subtlety) that everything honorable is useful and everything useful is honorable, nevertheless, since the term honorable more appropriately ...
31. Cicero's Opinion on the Division and Definition of the Virtues of the Soul
(1) Virtue is a habit of the soul conformable to the ways of nature and to reason. Therefore, when all the parts of virtue are known, we will have considered the full nature of honor, simply understood.2 Accordingly virtue has four parts: prudence, justice, courage, and moderation. ...
32. Can Someone Understand Something Better than Someone Else, and Therefore Can There be an Endless Advance in the Understanding ofthe Thing?
Whoever understands a thing to be other than it really is makes a mistake, and everyone who is mistaken does not understand that about which he is mistaken. Accordingly whoever understands a thing to be other than it really is does not really understand it. Therefore nothing can be understood except as it really is. ...
33. On Fear
Unquestionably the only cause for fear lies in the fact that what is loved2 might be lost, once acquired, or might not be acquired, once hoped for. Therefore, for each one who has loved and possessed freedom from fear, what fear is there that he can lose this freedom? ...
34. Must Nothing Else be Loved but Freedom from Fear?
If freedom from fear is a vice, then it must not be loved. But no one who is completely happy is fearful, and everyone who is completely happy is without vice. Accordingly it is not a vice not to be afraid. Now presumptuousness is a vice. Therefore not everyone who does not fear is presumptuous, ...
35. What Ought to be Loved?
(1) Since lifeless things do not fear, nor would we be persuaded to deprive ourselves of life so that we could be free of fear, a life without fear ought to be loved. But, on the other hand, since life free of fear is not even desirable if it lacks a capacity for reason,2 life without fear but possessed of this capacity ought to be loved. ...
36. On Nourishing Charity
(1) Charity denotes that whereby one loves those things whose worth, in comparison to the lover itself, must not be thought to be of lesser value, those things being the eternal and what can love the eternal. Therefore in its consummate and purest sense charity is used only of the love of God ...
37. On the Forever Born
He who is forever born is superior to one who is forever in the process of birth, because the one who is forever in the process of birth has not yet been born, and neither has he ever been born nor will he ever be born if he is forever in the process of birth. ...
38. On the Structure of the Soul
Although nature, learning, and habit differ, they are understood [to exist] in a soul which is one without distinction of nature. Again, native endowment, courage, and tranquillity differ, yet similarly they belong to one and the same substance. The soul, furthermore, is a substance other than God, although made by him. ...
39. On the Sources of Nourishment
What is it that takes the thing which it changes? The animal eating food. What is it that is taken and changed? Food. What is it that is taken and not changed? Light by the eyes and sound by the ears. However, the soul gets these things through the body; ...
40. Since the Nature of Souls is the Same, Why are the Choices of Men Different?
Diverse sense impressions give rise to diverse desires in souls; diverse desires, to diverse means of getting; diverse means of getting, to diverse habits; and diverse habits, to diverse choices. Now the order of things produces the differing sense impressions ...
41. Since God has Made Everything, Why did He not Make Everything Equal?
Because there would not be everything if everything were equal. For there would not be the many kinds of things which make up the universe in its hierarchy of created things from the first and second levels of created things right down to the last. ...
42. How was Christ Both in His Mother's Womb and in Heaven?
43. Why did the Son of God Appear as a Man and the Holy Spirit as a Dove?
Because the Son of God came to show men a pattern for living, whereas the Holy Spirit made his appearance to indicate the gift which virtuous living attains. Moreover, both of these events came about in a visible manner for the sake of the carnal, who must pass by degrees through the sacraments from those things ...
44. Why did the Lord Jesus Christ Come so Long After Man Sinned and not in the Beginning?
Because everything beautiful comes from the highest beauty which is God, and temporal beauty is achieved by the passing away and succession of things. Moreover, in each individual man each individual period of life from infancy to old age possesses its own beauty. ...
45. Against the Mathematicians
(1) The ancients did not mean by the term mathematician those to whom we now give the name. Rather, they used the term for those who investigated the measure and harmony of the times by the movement of the heavens and the stars.1 Concerning the latter the Holy Scriptures quite rightly say: ...
46. On the Ideas
(1) Plato is said to have been the first to use the name ideas. However, I do not mean to imply by this that, if there was no such name before he himself instituted it, there were accordingly no such things as those which he termed ideas, or that they were understood by no one. Rather, various people called them possibly by one name, possibly by another, ...
47. Will We Ever be Able to See our Own Thoughts?
It is usual to ask how, after the resurrection and transformation of the body which are promised to the saints, we can see our thoughts. Accordingly any conjecture must start from that part of our body which has more light, since it is necessary to believe that the bodies of angels, ...
48. On What can be Believed
Three classes of things are objects of belief. First, there are those things which always are believed and never understood, e.g., history, which deals with events both temporal and human. Second, there are those things which are understood as soon as they are believed, ...
49. Why is it that the Sons of Israel Used to Make Visible Sacrifices of Animal Victims?
Because there are also sacred things of a spiritual nature whose images a carnal people had to celebrate in order that the new people might be prefigured by the servitude of the old. One may also note in each one of us the same difference between these two peoples, ...
50. On the Equality of the Son
Since God could not beget something better than himself (for nothing is better than God), then the one whom he did beget he had to beget as his equal. For if he had the desire and not the power, then he is weak; if he had the power and not the desire, then he is envious. ...
51. On Man Made in the Image and Likeness of God
(1) Since the divine Scripture mentions the outer and the inner man and distinguishes them to the point that it is said by the Apostle: "And if our outer man is corrupted, nonetheless, the inner man is renewed from day to day,"1 it can be asked whether one of these is made in the image and likeness of God. ...
52. On the Scripture: "I am sorry that I have made man"
To raise us from the earthly and human meaning up to the divine and heavenly, the divine Scriptures have [themselves] come down to those words which even the most simple customarily use among themselves. And so those men through whom the Holy Spirit has spoken have not hesitated to employ in those books, ...
53. On the Gold and Silver Taken by the Israelites from the Egyptians
(1) Whoever considers the economies2 of the two Testaments, which are carefully adapted in agreement with the times to the ages of the human race,3 understands sufficiently, I think, what is appropriate to the first age of the human race and what to the later. ...
54. On the Scripture: "As for myself, it is good for me to cling to God"
Everything which exists is either unchangeable or not, and every soul is higher than the body. For everything which gives life is higher than that which receives life, and no one disputes that the body receives life from the soul, not the soul from the body. ...
55. On the Scripture: "There are sixty queens, eighty concubines, and young women without number"
The number 10 can signify universal knowledge. If 10 refers to the inner and intelligible things which are signified by the number 6, this results in 10 x 6 which is 60. If 10 refers to earthly and corruptible things which are signified by the number 8, the result is 10 x 8 which is 80. ...
56. On the Forty-six Years for the Building of the Temple
The numbers 6, 9, 12, 10, and 8 make 45. Therefore add 1 and they make 46. This times 6 makes 276. Now it is said that human fetal development1 reaches completion in the following way. In the first six days [the fetus] is similar to a kind of milk, in the following nine days it is changed to blood, ...
57. On the One Hundred and Fifty-three Fish
(1) "All things are yours, and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's."2 If one counts from the beginning of the series, one gets 1, 2, 3, and 4. 3 Again: "The head of the woman is the man, the head of the man, Christ, and the head of Christ, God."4 If one counts in the same way, one similarly gets 1, 2, 3, and 4. ...
58. On John the Baptist
(1) When one has carefully examined the Gospel passages concerning him, it is not absurd to think of John the Baptist as the embodiment of prophecy,1 and this because of many cogent reasons, and especially because of what the Lord says of him: "He is more than a prophet."2 ...
59. On the Ten Virgins
(1) Among the parables spoken by the Lord, what is said concerning the ten virgins habitually occupies serious investigators. Indeed many investigators have observed here many things which are not contrary to faith; but what needs to be worked out is an explanation of the parable which will fit together all of its parts. ...
60. "Concerning that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven nor the Son of Man—no one except the Father"
God is said to know even when he causes someone to know, as it has been written: "The Lord your God puts you to the test that he might know if you love him."2 Now this manner of speaking does not mean that God does not know; rather, [it was said] in order that men might know how far they have progressed ...
61. On the Gospel Story that the Lord Fed the Multitude on the Mountain with Five Loaves of Bread
(1) The five barley loaves with which the Lord fed the multitude on the mountain signify the Old Law, either because that Law was given to those not yet spiritual but still carnal, i.e., to those given over to the five bodily senses, for the multitude itself numbered five thousand men,1 ...
62. On the Gospel passage: "that Jesus was baptizing more than John, although he himself baptized no one. Rather, his disciples [were baptizing]"
The question is whether they received the Holy Spirit who were baptized at the time when, according to the gospel, the Lord through his disciples had baptized more than John, for in another place in the gospel it says: "For the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet been glorified."2 ...
63. On the Word
"In the beginning was the Word."1 The Greek word logos signifies in Latin both "reason"2 and "word."3 However, in this verse the better translation is "word," so that not only the relation to the Father is indicated, but also the efficacious power ...
64. On the Samaritan Woman
(1) The gospel mysteries signified by the words and deeds of our Lord Jesus Christ are not open to all, and some, through interpreting them less attentively and less circumspectly, very often occasion destruction in place of salvation and error in place of knowledge of the truth. ...
65. On the Resurrection of Lazarus
Although we have complete confidence in the gospel history of the resurrection of Lazarus, nonetheless, I have no doubt that the event also has an allegorical significance. However, when events are interpreted allegorcially, they do not lose their historical value. ...
66. On the Text: "Or do you not know, brothers (for I speak to those who know the Law), that the Law is the master of a man as long as he lives?" to the Text: "He will bring even your mortal bodies to life through his Spirit living in you"
(1) The Apostle in this analogy, in which he says of a husband and a wife that the wife is bound by law to the husband, commends three things for consideration: the wife, the husband, and the law, i.e., the wife subject to the husband through the bond of law, ...
67. On the Text: "For I do not consider the sufferings of this world to be worth much in comparison with the future glory which will be revealed in us," to the Text: "For we have been saved by hope"
(1) This section is obscure because it is not sufficiently clear here what the word creature2 refers to under these circumstances. Now, according to Catholic teaching, creature refers to whatever has been made and created by God the Father through the only begotten Son in the unity of the Holy Spirit. ...
68. On the Scripture: "O man, who are you to answer back to God?"
(1) Although the Apostle seems to have reproached the prying by saying: "O man, who are you to answer back to God?" they raise a question about this very matter and do not cease to pry about that judgment by which prying itself was rebuked. ...
69. On the Scripture: "Then even the Son himself will be subject to him who has subordinated all things to him"
(1) Those who contend that the Son of God is not equal to the Father2 customarily and habitually make use of the Apostle's claim in which he says: "But when all things have been subordinated to him, then even the Son himself will be subject to him who has subordinated all things to him, ...
70. On the Apostle's Claim: "Death has been swallowed up into victory. Where, O death, is your contending? Where, O death, is your sting? Now the sting of death is sin, but the power of sin, the Law"
I think that death in this passage signifies a carnal habit2 which resists the good will through a delighting in temporal pleasures. For the passage would not say, "Where, O death, is your contending?" if there had not been resistance and struggle. The "contending" of [the carnal habit] is also described in the following passage: ...
71. On the Scripture: "Bear one another's burdens, and in this way will you fulfill the law of Christ"
(1) Because obedience in the Old Testament was characterized by fear, there could be no clearer an indication that the gift of the New Testament is love than in this passage where the Apostle says: "Bear one another's burdens, and in this way will you fulfill the law of Christ." ...
72. On the Eternal Times
One can inquire into the meaning of the apostle Paul's expression, before the eternal times.1 For if times, how are they eternal? However, perhaps he wanted us to understand "before all times," because if he had said, "before the times," and not added the adjective eternal, we could understand, ...
73. On the Scripture: "And having been found in the [bodily] habit (habitus) of a man"
(1) We use the word habit (habitus) in many ways. We use it to refer to a "habit" (habitus) of the mind, e.g., the comprehension, strengthened and established by usage, of any body of knowledge, or to the "habit" (habitus) of the body in respect to which we say that one is more vigorous and robust than another ...
74. On the Text in Paul's Letter to the Colossians: "In whom we have redemption and remission of sins, who is the image of the invisible God"
Image and equality2 and likeness must be distinguished. For where there is an image, there is necessarily a likeness, but not necessarily an equality; where an equality, necessarily a likeness, but not necessarily an image; where a likeness, not necessariiy an image and not necessarily an equality. ...
75. On the Inheritance of God
(1) Inasmuch as the Apostle says to the Hebrews: "A testament becomes valid with the death of the one who made the testament,"2 he therefore asserts that, with Christ's death for us, the New Testament has become valid. Its likeness was the Old Testament, in which the death of the testator was prefigured in the sacrificial victim. ...
76. On the Claim of the Apostle James: "Would you like to know, you emptyheaded man, that faith without works is useless?"
(1) The apostle Paul, in proclaiming that a man is justified by faith without works, was not properly understood by those who took this word in such a way that they considered, when once they had believed in Christ, that they could be saved through faith, even though they carried on their wicked deeds ...
77. Is Fear a Sin?
"All emotion is passion;2 all coveting is emotion; therefore all coveting is passion. Moreover, when any passion is present in us, we are in a passive state3 by virtue of that passion, and we are in a passive state to whatever extent there is a passion. ...
78. On the Beauty of Pagan Idols
That supreme art of the omnipotent God through which all things have been made from nothing, which is also called his Wisdom, also works through artists to produce things of beauty and proportion, although they do not produce from nothing, but from some material such as wood or marble or ivory ...
79. Why did Pharaoh's Magicians Perform Certain Miracles in the Manner of Moses the Servant of God?
(1) Every soul, to some degree, exercises an authority belonging to it in virtue of a certain private law, and, to some degree, is constrained and ruled by universal laws analogous to public laws.2 Therefore, since each and every visible thing in this world has an angelic power set over it, as divine Scripture declares, ...
80. Against the Apollinarians
(1) The heretics who are said to have been called Apollinarians after a certain Apollinaris,2 who was their founder, maintained that our Lord Jesus Christ, insofar as he deigned to become man, did not have a human mind. Some, clinging to them and hearing them with eagerness, ....
81. On Quadragesima and Quinquagesima
(1) All instruction in wisdom, the purpose of which is the education of men, is for distinguishing the creator and the creature, and worshipping the one as Lord and confessing the other as subject. And the creator is God, from whom are all things, through whom are all things, and in whom are all things,2 ...
82. On the Scripture: "For whom the Lord loves, he rebukes, and he scourges every son whom he receives"
(1) Many who murmur under the discipline2 of God raise a question when they see the righteous often experiencing serious difficulties in this life. [They murmur] as if no benefit comes to the righteous for serving God, because either they suffer the common hardships-hardships involving indiscriminately [their] bodies ...
83. On Marriage, in the Light of the Lord's Claim: "If anyone should divorce his wife, except for reason of fornication"
If the Lord admits fornication as the only grounds for divorce in marriage, and if he does not forbid divorce in pagan marriages, then it follows that paganism should be considered fornication. Moreover, it is clear that the Lord, when speaking in the gospel of the dissolution of marriage, ...
Page Count: 279
Publication Year: 1982
Series Title: The Fathers of the Church: A New Translation
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