augustine viewed creation through plato’s theory of forms

Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Gen 1:2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

In Augustine’s Confessions, he uses chapter 12 to criticize those who take the Bible literally. One of his first criticisms is a literal understanding of Genesis 1:1-2. Augustine in part had rejected Christianity because he grew up being told that the earth was originally physical. Augustine only converted back to Christianity after he reinterpreted the creation of the Earth to be the creation of an ideal form of Earth (a metaphysical blueprint), from which the physical Earth could be created. This is Plato’s theory of forms. Augustine writes:

Wherefore then may I not conceive the formlessness of matter (which Thou hadst created without beauty, whereof to make this beautiful world) to be suitably intimated unto men, by the name of earth invisible and without form.

…the name whereof hearing before, and not understanding, when they who understood it not, told me of it, so I conceived of it as having innumerable forms and diverse…

But this same earth which Thou madest was formless matter, because it was invisible and without form, and darkness was upon the deep, of which invisible earth and without form, of which formlessness, of which almost nothing, Thou mightest make all these things of which this changeable world consists, but subsists not; whose very changeableness appears therein, that times can be observed and numbered in it. For times are made by the alterations of things, while the figures, the matter whereof is the invisible earth aforesaid, are varied and turned.

…In the Beginning created heaven and earth, speaks nothing of times, nothing of days. For verily that heaven of heavens which Thou createdst in the Beginning, is some intellectual creature, which, although no ways coeternal unto Thee, the Trinity, yet partaketh of Thy eternity, and doth through the sweetness of that most happy contemplation of Thyself, strongly restrain its own changeableness; and without any fall since its first creation, cleaving close unto Thee, is placed beyond all the rolling vicissitude of times.

About christopher fisher

The blog is meant for educational/entertainment purposes. All material can be used and reproduced in any length for any purpose as long as I am cited as the source.
This entry was posted in Augustine, Church History, History, Theology. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to augustine viewed creation through plato’s theory of forms

  1. Pingback: Biblical interpretation | reality is not optional

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