Wednesday, March 1, 2017

On the Literal and Figurative Understanding of Genesis 2 (St. Augustine of Hippo)


By St. Augustine of Hippo

The listing of the seven days and the presentation of their works is given a kind of conclusion, in which everything that has been said already is called "the book of the creating of heaven and earth" (Gen. 2:4), even though it is only a small part of the book as a whole. But still it was entirely appropriate to give it this name, because these seven days furnish us with a miniature symbolic picture of the entire span of world history from start to finish. Then it goes on to tell the story of the man in more detail; and this whole account is to be analyzed in figurative, not literal terms, to put the minds of those who seek the truth through their paces, and lure them away from the business of the world and the flesh to the business of the spirit....