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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:
City of God: Chapter 40

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 40.—About the Most Mendacious Vanity of the Egyptians, in Which They Ascribe to Their Science an Antiquity of a Hundred Thousand Years.

In vain, then, do some babble with most empty presumption, saying that Egypt has understood the reckoning of the stars for more than a hundred thousand years.  For in what books have they collected that number who learned letters from Isis their mistress, not much more than two thousand years ago?  Varro, who has declared this, is no small authority in history, and it does not disagree with the truth of the divine books.  For as it is not yet six thousand years since the first man, who is called Adam, are not those to be ridiculed rather than refuted who try to persuade us of anything regarding a space of time so different from, and contrary to, the ascertained truth?  For what historian of the past should we credit more than him who has also predicted things to come which we now see fulfilled?  And the very disagreement of the historians among themselves furnishes a good reason why we ought rather to believe him who does not contradict the divine history which we hold.  But, on the other hand, the citizens of the impious city, scattered everywhere through the earth, when they read the most learned writers, none of whom seems to be of contemptible authority, and find them disagreeing among themselves about affairs most remote from the memory of our age, cannot find out whom they ought to trust.  But we, being sustained by divine authority in the history of our religion, have no doubt that whatever is opposed to it is most false, whatever may be the case regarding other things in secular books, which, whether true or false, yield nothing of moment to our living rightly and happily.


Next: Chapter 41

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