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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Soul and its Origin.: Chapter 30

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 30—The Danger of Arguing from Silence.

Now, while the disputants are thus contending with one another in alternate argument, I so judge between them that they must not rely on uncertain evidence; nor make bold assertions on points of which they are ignorant. For if the Scripture had said, “God breathed into the woman’s face the breath of life, and she became a living soul,” it would not have followed even then that the human soul is not derived by propagation from parents, except the same statement were likewise made concerning their son. For it might have been that whilst an unensouled 2392 member taken from the body might require to be ensouled, 2393 yet that the soul of the son might be derived from the father, transfused by propagation through the mother. There is, however, an absolute silence on the point; it is entirely concealed from our view. Nothing is denied, but at the same time nothing is affirmed. And thus, if in any place the Scripture is possibly not quite silent, the point requires to be supported by clearer proofs. Whence it follows, that neither they who maintain the propagation of souls receive any assistance from the circumstance that God did not breathe into the woman’s face; nor ought they, who deny this doctrine on the ground that Adam did not say, “This is soul of my soul,” to persuade themselves to believe what they know nothing of. For just as it has been possible for the Scripture to be silent on the point of the woman’s having received her soul, like the man, by the inbreathing of God, without the question before us being solved, but, on the contrary, remaining open; so has it been possible for the same question to remain open and unsolved, notwithstanding the silence of Scripture, as to whether or not Adam said, This is soul of my soul. And hence, if the soul of the first woman comes from the man, a part signifies the whole in his exclamation, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh;” inasmuch as not her flesh alone, but the entire woman, was taken out of man. If, however, it is not from the man, but came by God’s inbreathing it into her, as at first into the man, then the whole signifies a part in the passage, “She was taken out of the man;” since on the supposition it was not her whole self, but her flesh that was taken.



Animari,” or endued with the “anima,” or soul.


Animari,” or endued with the “anima,” or soul.

Next: Chapter 31