Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IV:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Writings in Connection with the Manichæan Controversy.: Book IV
Faustuss reasons for rejecting the Old Testament, and Augustins animadversions thereon.
1. Faustus said: Do I believe the Old Testament? If it bequeaths anything to me, I believe it; if not, I reject it. It would be an excess of forwardness to take the documents of others which pronounce me disinherited. Remember that the promise of Canaan in the Old Testament is made to Jews, that is, to the circumcised, who offer sacrifice, and abstain from swines flesh, and from the other animals which Moses pronounces unclean, and observe Sabbaths, and the feast of unleavened bread, and other things of the same kind which the author of the Testament enjoined. Christians have not adopted these observances, and no one keeps them; so that if we will not take the inheritance, we should surrender the documents. This is my first reason for rejecting the Old Testament, unless you teach me better. My second reason is, that this inheritance is such a poor fleshly thing, without any spiritual blessings, that after the New Testament, and its glorious promise of the kingdom of heaven and eternal life, I think it not worth the taking.
2. Augustin replied: No one doubts that promises of temporal things are contained in the Old Testament, for which reason it is called the Old Testament; or that the kingdom of heaven and the promise of eternal life belong to the New Testament. But that in these temporal things were figures of future things which should be fulfilled in us upon whom the ends of the ages are come, is not my fancy, but the judgment of the apostle, when he says of such things, "These things were our examples;" and again, "These things happened to them for an example, and they are written for us on whom the ends of the ages are come." 314 We receive the Old Testament, therefore, not in order to obtain the fulfillment of these promises, but to see in them predictions of the New Testament; for the Old bears witness to the New. Whence the Lord, after He rose from the dead, and allowed His disciples not only to see but to handle Him, still, lest they should doubt their mortal and fleshly senses, gave them further confirmation from the testimony of the ancient books, saying, "It was necessary that all things should be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and in the Prophets and Psalms, concerning me." 315 Our hope, therefore, rests not on the promise of temporal p. 162 things. Nor do we believe that the holy and spiritual men of these times—the patriarchs and prophets—were taken up with earthly things. For they understood, by the revelation of the Spirit of God, what was suitable for that time, and how God appointed all these sayings and actions as types and predictions of the future. Their great desire was for the New Testament; but they had a personal duty to perform in those predictions, by which the new things of the future were foretold. So the life as well as the tongue of these men was prophetic. The carnal people, indeed, thought only of present blessings, though even in connection with the people there were prophecies of the future.
These things you do not understand, because, as the prophet said, "Unless you believe, you shall not understand." 316 For you are not instructed in the kingdom of heaven,—that is, in the true Catholic Church of Christ. If you were, you would bring forth from the treasure of the sacred Scriptures things old as well as new. For the Lord Himself says, "Therefore every scribe instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like an householder who brings forth from his treasure things new and old." 317 And so, while you profess to receive only the new promises of God, you have retained the oldness of the flesh, adding only the novelty of error; of which novelty the apostle says, "Shun profane novelties of words, for they increase unto more ungodliness, and their speech eats like a cancer. Of whom is Hymenæus and Philetus, who concerning the faith have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already, and have overthrown the faith of some." 318 Here you see the source of your false doctrine, in teaching that the resurrection is only of souls by the preaching of the truth, and that there will be no resurrection of the body. But how can you understand spiritual things of the inner man, who is renewed in the knowledge of God, when in the oldness of the flesh, if you do not possess temporal things, you concoct fanciful notions about them in those images of carnal things of which the whole of your false doctrine consists? You boast of despising as worthless the land of Canaan, which was an actual thing, and actually given to the Jews; and yet you tell of a land of light cut asunder on one side, as by a narrow wedge, by the land of the race of darkness,—a thing which does not exist, and which you believe from the delusion of your minds; so that your life is not supported by having it, and your mind is wasted in desiring it. 319
1 Cor. 10:6, 11.161:315
Luke xxiv. 44.162:316
Isa. vii. 9.162:317
Matt. xiii. 52.162:318
2 Tim. ii. 16-18.162:319
[A good argumentum ad hominem, a species of argument which Augustin is fond of using.—A.H.N.]
Next: Book V
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