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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:
City of God: Chapter 46

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 46.—Of the Birth of Our Saviour, Whereby the Word Was Made Flesh; And of the Dispersion of the Jews Among All Nations, as Had Been Prophesied.

While Herod, therefore, reigned in Judea, and Cæsar Augustus was emperor at Rome, the state of the republic being already changed, and the world being set at peace by him, Christ was born in Bethlehem of Judah, man manifest out of a human virgin, God hidden out of God the Father.  For so had the prophet foretold:  “Behold, a virgin shall conceive in the womb, and bring forth a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which, being interpreted, is, God with us.” 1224   He did many miracles that He might commend God in Himself, some of which, even as many as seemed sufficient to proclaim Him, are contained in the evangelic Scripture.  The first of these is, that He was so wonderfully born, and the last, that with His body raised up again from the dead He ascended into heaven.  But the Jews who slew Him, and would not believe in Him, because it behoved Him to die and rise again, were yet more miserably wasted by the Romans, and utterly rooted out from their kingdom, where aliens had already ruled over them, and were dispersed through the lands (so that indeed there is no place where they are not), and are thus by their own Scriptures a testimony to us that we have not forged the prophecies about Christ.  And very many of them, considering this, even before His passion, but chiefly after His resurrection, believed on Him, of whom it was predicted, “Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, the remnant shall be saved.” 1225   But the rest are blinded, of whom it was predicted, “Let their table be made before them a trap, and a retribution, and a stumbling-block.  Let their eyes be darkened lest they see, and bow down their back alway.” 1226   Therefore, when they do not believe our Scriptures, their own, which they blindly read, are fulfilled in them, lest perchance any one should say that the Christians have forged these prophecies about Christ which are quoted under the name of the sibyl, or of others, if such there be, who do not belong to the Jewish people.  For us, indeed, those suffice which are quoted from the books of our enemies, to whom we make our acknowledgment, on account of this testimony which, in spite of themselves, they contribute by their possession of these books, while they themselves are dispersed among all nations, wherever the Church of Christ is spread abroad.  For a prophecy about this thing was sent before in the Psalms, which they also read, where it is written, “My God, His mercy shall prevent me.  My God hath shown me concerning mine enemies, that Thou shalt not slay them, lest they should at last forget Thy law:  disperse them in Thy might.” 1227   Therefore God has shown the Church in her enemies the Jews the grace of His compassion, since, as saith the apostle, “their offence is the salvation of the Gentiles.” 1228   And therefore He has not slain them, that is, He has not let the knowledge that they are Jews be lost in them, although they have been conquered by the Romans, lest they should forget the law of God, and their testimony should be of no avail in this matter of which we treat.  But it was not enough that he should say, “Slay them not, lest they should at last forget Thy law,” unless he had also added, “Disperse them;” because if they had only been in their own land with that testimony of the Scriptures, and not every where, certainly the Church which is everywhere could not have had them as witnesses among all nations to the prophecies which were sent before concerning Christ.


Footnotes

389:1224

Isa. 7.14, as in Matt. 1.23.

389:1225

Isa. 10.22, as in Rom. 9:27, 28.

389:1226

Ps. 69:22, 23, Rom. 11:9, 10.

389:1227

Ps. 69:10, 11.

389:1228

Rom. 11.11.


Next: Chapter 47

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