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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. III:
Doctrinal Treatises of St. Augustin: Chapter 13

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 13.—The Opinion of Those Who Have Thought that the Mind Was Signified by the Man, the Bodily Sense by the Woman.

20. Nor does it escape me, that some who before us were eminent defenders of the Catholic faith and expounders of the word of God, while they looked for these two things in one human being, whose entire soul they perceived to be a sort of excellent paradise, asserted that the man was the mind, but that the woman was the bodily sense. And according to this distribution, by which the man is assumed to be the mind, but the woman the bodily sense, all things seem aptly to agree together if they are handled with due attention: unless that it is written, that in all the beasts and flying things there was not found for man an helpmate like to himself; and then the woman was made out of his side. 780 And on this account I, for my part, have not thought that the bodily sense should be taken for the woman, which we see to be common to ourp. 163 selves and to the beasts; but I have desired to find something which the beasts had not; and I have rather thought the bodily sense should be understood to be the serpent, whom we read to have been more subtle than all beasts of the field. 781 For in those natural good things which we see are common to ourselves and to the irrational animals, the sense excels by a kind of living power; not the sense of which it is written in the epistle addressed to the Hebrews, where we read, that “strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil;” 782 for these “senses” belong to the rational nature and pertain to the understanding; but that sense which is divided into five parts in the body, through which corporeal species and motion is perceived not only by ourselves, but also by the beasts.

21. But whether that the apostle calls the man the image and glory of God, but the woman the glory of the man, 783 is to be received in this, or that, or in any other way; yet it is clear, that when we live according to God, our mind which is intent on the invisible things of Him ought to be fashioned with proficiency from His eternity, truth, charity; but that something of our own rational purpose, that is, of the same mind, must be directed to the using of changeable and corporeal things, without which this life does not go on; not that we may be conformed to this world, 784 by placing our end in such good things, and by forcing the desire of blessedness towards them, but that whatever we do rationally in the using of temporal things, we may do it with the contemplation of attaining eternal things, passing through the former, but cleaving to the latter.


Footnotes

162:780

Gen. 2.20-22Gen. ii. 20-22

163:781

Gen. 3.1Gen. iii. 1

163:782

Heb. 5.14Heb. v. 14

163:783

1 Cor. 11.71 Cor. xi. 7

163:784

Rom. 12.2Rom. xii. 2


Next: Chapter 14

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