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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Soul and its Origin.: Chapter 27

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 27 [XVII.]—Augustin Did Not Venture to Define Anything About the Propagation of the Soul.

For whence comes it that he is so careless about the Scriptures, which he talks of, as not to notice that when he reads of human beings being from God, it is not merely, as he contends, in respect of their soul and spirit, but also as regards their body? For the apostle’s statement, “We are His offspring,” 2378 this man supposes must not be referred to the body, but only to the soul and spirit. If, indeed, our human bodies are not of God, then that is false which the Scripture says: “For of Him are all things, through Him are all things, and in Him are all things.” 2379 Again, with reference to the same apostle’s statement, “For as the woman is of the man, so also is the man by the woman,” 2380 let him explain to us what propagation he would choose to be meant in the process,—that of the soul, or of the body, or of both? But he will not allow that souls come by propagation: it remains, therefore, that, according to him and all who deny the propagation of souls, the apostle signified the masculine and feminine body only, when he said, “As the woman is of the man, so also is the man by the woman;” the woman having been made out of the man, in order that the man might afterwards, by the process of birth, come out of the woman. If, therefore, the apostle, when he said this, did not intend the soul and spirit also to be understood, but only the bodies of the two sexes, why does he immediately add, “But all things are of God,” 2381 unless it be that bodies also are of God? For so runs his entire statement: “As the woman is of the man, so also is the man by the woman; but all things are of God.” Let, then, our disputant determine of what this is said. If of men’s bodies, then, of course, even bodies are of God. How comes it to pass, therefore, that whenever this person reads in Scripture the phrase, “of God,” when man is in question, he will have the words understood, not in reference to men’s bodies, but only as concerning their souls and spirits? But if the expression, “All things are of God,” was spoken both of the body of the two sexes, and of their soul and spirit, it follows that in all things the woman is of the man, for the woman comes from the man, and the man is by the woman: but all things of God. What “all things” are meant, except those he was speaking of, namely, the man of whom came the woman, and the woman who was of the man, and also the man who came by the woman? For that man came not by woman, out of whom came the woman; but only he who afterwards was born of man by woman, just as men are now born. Hence it follows that if the apostle, when he said the words we have quoted from him, spoke of men’s bodies, undoubtedly the bodies of persons of both sexes are of God. Furthermore, if he insists that nothing in man comes p. 327 from God except their souls and spirits, then, of course, the woman is of the man even as regards her soul and spirit; so that nothing is left to those who dispute against the propagation of souls. But if he is for dividing the subject in such a manner as to say that the woman is of the man as regards her body, but is of God in respect of her soul and spirit, how, then, will that be true which the apostle says, “All things of God,” if the woman’s body is of the man in such a sense that it is not of God? Wherefore, allowing that the apostle is more likely to speak the truth than that this person must be preferred as an authority to the apostle, the woman is of the man, whether in regard to her body only, or in reference to the entire whole of which human nature consists (but we assert nothing on these points as an absolute certainty, but are still inquiring after their truth); and the man is through the woman, whether it be that his whole nature as man is derived to him from his father, and is born in him through the woman, or the flesh alone; about which points the question is still undecided. “All things, however, are of God,” and about this there is no question; and in this phrase are included the body, soul, and spirit, both of the man and the woman. For even if they were not born or derived from God, or emanated from Him as portions of His nature, yet they are of God, inasmuch as whatever is created, formed, and made by Him, has from Him the reality of its existence.



Acts xvii. 28.


Rom. xi. 36.


1 Cor. xi. 12.


1 Cor. xi. 12.

Next: Chapter 28