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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:
City of God: Chapter 12

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 12.—Of the Era in Abraham’s Life from Which a New Period in the Holy Succession Begins.

Let us now survey the progress of the city of God from the era of the patriarch Abraham, from whose time it begins to be more conspicuous, and the divine promises which are now fulfilled in Christ are more fully revealed.  We learn, then, from the intimations of holy Scripture, that Abraham was born in the country of the Chaldeans, a land belonging to the Assyrian empire.  Now, even at that time impious superstitions were rife with the Chaldeans, as with other nations.  The family of Terah, to which Abraham belonged, was the only one in which the worship of the true God survived, and the only one, we may suppose, in which the Hebrew language was preserved; although Joshua the son of Nun tells us that even this family served other gods in Mesopotamia. 888   The other descendants of Heber gradually became absorbed in other races and other languages.  And thus, as the single family of Noah was preserved through the deluge of water to renew the human race, so, in the deluge of superstition that flooded the whole world, there remained but the one family of Terah in which the seed of God’s city was preserved.  And as, when Scripture has enumerated the generations prior to Noah, with their ages, and explained the cause of the flood before God began to speak to Noah about the building of the ark, it is said, “These are the generations of Noah;” so also now, after enumerating the generations from Shem, Noah’s son, down to Abraham, it then signalizes an era by saying, “These are the generations of Terah:  Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot.  And Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees.  And Abram and Nahor took them wives:  the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai; and the name of Nahor’s wife Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah, and the father of Iscah.” 889   This Iscah is supposed to be the same as Sarah, Abraham’s wife.


Footnotes

318:888

Josh. 24.2.

318:889

Gen. 11.27-29.


Next: Chapter 13

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