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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Soul and its Origin.: Chapter 20

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 20.—Victor Quotes Scriptures for Their Silence, and Neglects the Biblical Usage.

As for the passage which affirms that “God hath made of one blood all nations of men,” 2428 and that in which Adam says, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh,” 2429 inasmuch as it is not said in the one, “of one soul,” and in the other, “soul of my soul,” he supposes that it is denied that children’s souls come from their parents, or the first woman’s from her husband just as if, forsooth, had the sentence run in the way suggested, “of one soul,” instead of “of one blood,” anything else than the whole human being could be understood, without any denial of the propagation of the body. So likewise, if it had been said, “soul of my soul,” the flesh would not be denied, of course, which evidently had been taken out of the man. Constantly does Holy Scripture indicate the whole by a part, and a part by the whole. For certainly, if in the passage which this man has quoted as his proof it had been said that the human race had been made, not “of one blood,” but “of one man,” it could not have prejudiced the opinion of those who deny the propagation of souls, although man is not soul alone, nor only flesh, but both. For they would have their answer ready to this effect, that the Scripture here might have meant to indicate a part by the whole, that is to say, the flesh only by the entire human being. In like manner, they who maintain the propagation of souls contend that in the passage where it is said, “of one blood,” the human being is implied by the term “blood,” on the principle of the whole being expressed by a part. For just as the one party seems to be assisted by the expresp. 341 sion, “of one blood,” instead of the phrase, “of one man,” so the other side evidently gets countenance from the statement being so plainly written, “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for in him all sinned,” 2430 instead of its being said, “in whom the flesh of all sinned.” Similarly, as one party seems to receive assistance from the fact that Scripture says, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh,” on the ground that a part covers the whole; so, again, the other side derives some advantage from what is written in the immediate sequel of the passage, “She shall be called woman, because she was taken out of her husband.” For, according to their contention, the latter clause should have run, “Because her flesh was taken out of her husband,” if it was not true that the entire woman, soul and all, but only her flesh, was taken out of man. The fact, however, of the whole matter is simply this, that after hearing both sides, anybody whose judgment is free from party prejudice sees at once that loose quotation is unavailing in this controversy; for against one party, which maintains the opinion of the propagation of souls, those passages must not be adduced which mention only a part, inasmuch as the Scripture might mean by the part to imply the whole in all such passages; as, for instance, when we read, “The Word was made flesh,” 2431 we of course understand not the flesh only, but the entire human being; nor against the other party, who deny this doctrine of the soul’s propagation, is it of any avail to quote those passages which do not mention a part of the human being, but the whole; because in these the Scripture might possibly mean to imply a part by the whole; as we confess that Christ was buried, whereas it was only His flesh that was laid in the sepulchre. We therefore say, that on such grounds there is no ground on the one hand for rashly constructing, nor on the other hand for, with equal rashness, demolishing the theory of propagation; but we add this advice, that other passages be duly looked out, such as admit of no ambiguity. 2432



Acts xvii. 26.


Gen. ii. 23.


Rom. v. 12.


John i. 14.


Compare on this chapter Book i. 29.

Next: Chapter 21

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