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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:
City of God: Chapter 1

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 1.—Whether, After the Deluge, from Noah to Abraham, Any Families Can Be Found Who Lived According to God.

It is difficult to discover from Scripture, whether, after the deluge, traces of the holy city are continuous, or are so interrupted by intervening seasons of godlessness, that not a single worshipper of the one true God was found among men; because from Noah, who, with his wife, three sons, and as many daughters-in-law, achieved deliverance in the ark from the destruction of the deluge, down to Abraham, we do not find in the canonical books that the piety of any one is celebrated by express divine testimony, unless it be in the case of Noah, who commends with a prophetic benediction his two sons Shem and Japheth, while he beheld and foresaw what was long afterwards to happen.  It was also by this prophetic spirit that, when his middle son—that is, the son who was younger than the first and older than the last born—had sinned against him, he cursed him not in his own person, but in his son’s (his own grandson’s), in the words, “Cursed be the lad Canaan; a servant shall he be unto his brethren.” 858   Now Canaan was born of Ham, who, so far from covering his sleeping father’s nakedness, had divulged it.  For the same reason also he subjoins the blessing on his two other sons, the oldest and youngest, saying, “Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.  God shall gladden Japheth, and he shall dwell in the houses of Shem.” 859   And so, too, the planting of the vine by Noah, and his intoxication by its fruit, and his nakedness while he slept, and the other things done at that time, and recorded, are all of them pregnant with prophetic meanings, and veiled in mysteries. 860



Gen. 9.25.


Gen. 9:26, 27.


See Contra Faust. xii. c. 22 sqq.

Next: Chapter 2

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