Nicene and Post Nicene-Fathers, Vol. I:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Confessions: Chapter XXIV
Chapter XXIV.—Out of the Many True Things, It is Not Asserted Confidently that Moses Understood This or That.
33. But which of us, amid so many truths which occur to inquirers in these words, understood as they are in different ways, shall so discover that one interpretation as to confidently say “that Moses thought this,” and “that in that narrative he wished this to be understood,” as confidently as he says “that this is true,” whether he thought this thing or the other? For behold, O my God, I Thy servant, who in this book have vowed unto Thee a sacrifice of confession, and beseech Thee that of Thy mercy I may pay my vows unto Thee, 1146 behold, can I, as I confidently assert that Thou in Thy immutable word hast created all things, invisible and visible, with equal confidence assert that Moses meant nothing else than this when he wrote, “In the beginning God created. the heaven and the earth.” 1147 No. Because it is not as clear to me that this was in his mind when he wrote these things, as I see it to be certain in Thy truth. For his thoughts might be set upon the very beginning of the creation when he said, “In the beginning;” and he might wish it to be understood that, in this place, “the heaven and the earth” were no formed and perfected nature, whether spiritual or corporeal, but each of them newly begun, and as yet formless. Because I see, that which-soever of these had been said, it might have been said truly; but which of them he may have thought in these words, I do not so perceive. Although, whether it were one of these, or some other meaning which has not been mentioned by me, that this great man saw in his mind when he used these words, I make no doubt but that he saw it truly, and expressed it suitably.
It is curious to note here Fichtes strange idea (Anweisung zum seligen Leben, Werke, v. 479), that St. John, at the commencement of his Gospel, in his teaching as to the “Word,” intended to confute the Mosaic statement, which Fichte—since it ran counter to that idea of “the absolute” which he made the point of departure in his philosophy—antagonizes as a heathen and Jewish error. On “In the Beginning,” see p. 166, note 2, above.
Next: Chapter XXV
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