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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:
City of God: Chapter 4

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 4.—Concerning the Twins Esau and Jacob, Who Were Very Unlike Each Other Both in Their Character and Actions.

In the time of the ancient fathers, to speak concerning illustrious persons, there were born two twin brothers, the one so immediately after the other, that the first took hold of the heel of the second.  So great a difference existed in their lives and manners, so great a dissimilarity in their actions, so great a difference in their parents’ love for them respectively, that the very contrast between them produced even a mutual hostile antipathy.  Do we mean, when we say that they were so unlike each other, that when the one was walking the other was sitting, when the one was sleeping the other was waking,—which differences are such as are attributed to those minute portions of space which cannot be appreciated by those who note down the position of the stars which exists at the moment of one’s birth, in order that the mathematicians may be consulted concerning it?  One of these twins was for a long time a hired servant; the other never served.  One of them was beloved by his mother; the other was not so.  One of them lost that honor which was so much valued among their people; the other obtained it.  And what shall we say of their wives, their children, and their possessions?  How different they were in respect to all these!  If, therefore, such things as these are connected with those minute intervals of time which elapse between the births of twins, and are not to be attributed to the constellations, wherefore are they predicted in the case of p. 87 others from the examination of their constellations?  And if, on the other hand, these things are said to be predicted, because they are connected, not with minute and inappreciable moments, but with intervals of time which can be observed and noted down, what purpose is that potter’s wheel to serve in this matter, except it be to whirl round men who have hearts of clay, in order that they may be prevented from detecting the emptiness of the talk of the mathematicians?


Next: Chapter 5

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