Christianity before modern times.

Abrahamic religion, you know, the one with the cross...

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Re: Christianity before modern times.

#101  Postby Moses de la Montagne » Nov 11, 2010 12:39 am

quas wrote:Moses,

earlier on you posted, "The Incarnation, for example, (which is still de fide) must be understood as a historical fact by the believing Catholic, upon which a variety of allegorical takes can later be applied (“God became man so that man might become divine;” “I live, yet not I, but Christ within me,” &c.)"

so what do you think of the following criticism:

"Augustine just happened to work under the premise that he was dealing with historical factuality, and wrote his text from that perspective. Deriving from this that he believed that historical factuality is a prerequisite for an allegorical meaning is begging the question. All it shows that he believed in the premise, not that he believed that the premise must be true for an allegorical meaning to exist."


That criticism appears ignorant of City of God, XV.27—Augustine said that the Flood could not be just an allegory, and he refuted those who suggested as much. Of course you can have the allegory without the history, but in Augustine’s case he really believed that the Flood actually happened, and he thought that a strictly allegorical take was “a very silly calumny” against the author(s) of the Torah.

The reason that Augustine was “working under the premise that he was dealing with historical factuality” is because he believed that the bible was relating a history. He was plenty aware of the rationalist views of his time which contended that the Genesis stories were made-up Hebrew fairy tales, but he flew in the face of those views and plumped for the holy book's veracity instead.

quas wrote:Is it necessary for people like Augustine to take a similar approach to the flood and other genesis stories as he would for The Incarnation? Did he have to believe that all those Genesis stories must be true, before any allegorical meaning could be applied?


Not quite, no, because belief in a literal Flood wasn’t (and hasn’t yet been) solemnly declared de fide. Belief in the Incarnation is non-negotiable, while the Flood can be cautiously debated; as to why this is the case, I have no clue. If the Church is going to flout reason and science in one instance, I’m not sure why the other stories are considered any more outrageous. Tertullian’s “credo quia absurdum” would seem to be a more consistent approach if applied across the board (willhud9’s contention notwithstanding).

If, however, someday the Catholic Church does define a dogma of the deluge, she’ll likely include Augustine’s writings as part of her appeal to the Church Fathers. And not only that, but a wider consensus would even support a dogma of six literal days of creation. A modern Catholic scholar (who believes in geocentrism, no less!) offers this survey of early Church theologians on Genesis:

Of the thirty or so Church Fathers that gave at least some interpretation to Genesis 1, all of them, with the exception of one (Origen), and possibly two (Augustine), believed that the days of Genesis 1 were six literal days of twenty-four hours each. Many of them even use the words “twenty-four hours” or its equivalent. We don’t possess many defined dogmas in Catholicism that have as much patristic evidence behind them as we do for a literal six-day creation (e.g., doctrines of Mary, purgatory, indulgences, etc).


Patristically speaking, a Catholic Christian should be hedging his or her bets on a literal flood. There’s always the scientific view to the contrary, of course, but even Augustine gave pride of place to the bible: which he called “the true account as given by our documents, which are truly sacred.” Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus ...
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Re: Christianity before modern times.

#102  Postby quas » Nov 11, 2010 3:13 am

I have also read somewhere that Augustine believes creation occurred in a single instant, rather than being successive events. Could this mean that Augustine didn't fully believe that Genesis stories was somewhat less than 100% historical?
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those who think alike than those who think differently. -Nietzsche
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Re: Christianity before modern times.

#103  Postby Moses de la Montagne » Nov 11, 2010 4:37 am

quas wrote:I have also read somewhere that Augustine believes creation occurred in a single instant, rather than being successive events. Could this mean that Augustine didn't fully believe that Genesis stories was somewhat less than 100% historical?


Yes. The six-day creation account seems to be the Genesis story that Augustine found the most difficult to swallow, and for this reason he’s the go-to guy for modern Catholics who want to cut down on the number of miraculous things they believe in.

Augustine’s “creation in a single instant” idea, however, didn’t necessarily carry the sense of the world just suddenly appearing presto!—fully-formed, oceans and trees and animals and all. That, indeed, would’ve been kind of him: a genuine gift to the rustic and simple sinner for whom the faith was apparently intended. But no, there were all kinds of florid elaborate headache-inducing theological subtleties attached. There still are. :ill:
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Re: Christianity before modern times.

#104  Postby paarsurrey » Nov 12, 2010 7:55 pm

Onyx8 wrote:Certainly reasonable just completely unsupported by the only possible documentary evidence: the bible


Since when the Bible has become the only documentary evidence; it is not even written by Jesus; it is written by the sinful and unbelieving scribes who deserted Jesus and ran away.
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Re: Christianity before modern times.

#105  Postby Onyx8 » Nov 13, 2010 12:23 am

so the documentary evidence that supports the position is...?
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Re: Christianity before modern times.

#106  Postby quas » Feb 15, 2012 4:32 am

Moses de la Montagne wrote:Augustine’s “creation in a single instant” idea, however, didn’t necessarily carry the sense of the world just suddenly appearing presto!—fully-formed, oceans and trees and animals and all.

Why not?
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Re: Christianity before modern times.

#107  Postby GakuseiDon » Feb 15, 2012 9:33 pm

Moses de la Montagne wrote:That criticism appears ignorant of City of God, XV.27—Augustine said that the Flood could not be just an allegory, and he refuted those who suggested as much. Of course you can have the allegory without the history, but in Augustine’s case he really believed that the Flood actually happened, and he thought that a strictly allegorical take was “a very silly calumny” against the author(s) of the Torah.

The reason that Augustine was “working under the premise that he was dealing with historical factuality” is because he believed that the bible was relating a history. He was plenty aware of the rationalist views of his time which contended that the Genesis stories were made-up Hebrew fairy tales, but he flew in the face of those views and plumped for the holy book's veracity instead.

I think it was generally accepted in those times that there was a Great Flood. There was the story of Gilgamesh, and the Greeks and Romans had a flood myth of their own involving Deucalion.

Augustine's point on the Biblical stories generally in that passage is interesting:
http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/120115.htm

    Yet no one ought to suppose either that these things were written for no purpose, or that we should study only the historical truth, apart from any allegorical meanings; or, on the contrary, that they are only allegories, and that there were no such facts at all, or that, whether it be so or no, there is here no prophecy of the church. For what right-minded man will contend that books so religiously preserved during thousands of years, and transmitted by so orderly a succession, were written without an object, or that only the bare historical facts are to be considered when we read them?

In other words, the fact that the Bible had been preserved for so long suggested to Augustine that the stories had a purpose beyond relating mere historical facts.
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Re: Christianity before modern times.

#108  Postby quas » Feb 16, 2012 4:06 am

So, essentially, Augustine believed that the Bible stories are accurate historical accounts, plus there are significant meanings behind these stories, whatever those meanings might be. Is that right?
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Re: Christianity before modern times.

#109  Postby willhud9 » Feb 16, 2012 4:35 am

quas wrote:So, essentially, Augustine believed that the Bible stories are accurate historical accounts, plus there are significant meanings behind these stories, whatever those meanings might be. Is that right?


No, Augustine believed the stories contained more than just historical fact. That as well as having a basis in reality the story told another story that transcends the event.
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