This post is part of an on-going series in which I and others systematically read through Augustine of Hippo’s City of God in 2014.

City of God 18.42–18.54

18.42–43. Augustine defends his use of the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Scriptures. Christians adopted the Septuagint as part of their canon from the earliest days of the church. When Christianity moved into Latin-speaking communities, people translated this Greek translation of the Hebrew into Latin. We usually call these the Old Latin versions of the Old Testament.

Augustine recounts the traditional story of the Septuagint’s creation, in which seventy-two scholars independently arrive at the same translation. This legend, which attempts to prove the translation’s accuracy, is almost as old as the Septuagint itself.

Jerome had recently finished his own translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, a translation for which the Bishop of Rome had asked. Augustine is a bit uncomfortable with a translation based on the work of one man.

Augustine provides some of his own views on textual criticism. Good Latin translations should acknowledge differences in the Hebrew text and the Greek text. Christians should view both, even when they differ, as inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit might wish to communicate one thing through the prophets and another through the translators.

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This post is part of an on-going series in which I and others systematically read through Augustine of Hippo’s City of God in 2014.

City of God 18.29–18.41

18.29–31. Augustine mentions some passages in the prophets that speak of Christ. He does not dwell long on these. He believes that their references to Christ are self-evident and need little commentary.

He claims that he doesn’t know when Obadiah, Nahum, and Habakkuk were written. Since tradition includes them in the canon, he must follow suit. These three books do not contain much evidence about when they should be dated. Nahum can be dated to the 600s BC, but the other two are pretty wide open.

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This post is part of an on-going series in which I and others systematically read through Augustine of Hippo’s City of God in 2014.

City of God 16.26–16.43.

16.26–27. Augustine discusses the promise of Isaac’s birth and the covenant of circumcision.

Circumcision represents newness of life. Old skin is sloughed off on the eighth day. Augustine claims that the number eight symbolizes Christ’s resurrection because he rose on Sunday. The Sabbath was the seventh day of the week, and Jesus rose on the day after the Sabbath, the eighth day, inaugurating a new creation.

Augustine continues to protect Abraham from any criticism. Abraham’s laughter becomes laughter of thankfulness rather than laughter of incredulity.

But why must boys who aren’t circumcised on the eighth day die? The text says that they’ve broken the covenant. How can an infant have broken the covenant?

Augustine claims that the covenant mentioned here is actually God’s covenant with Adam. Children are born as covenant breakers because they are born with original sin. Circumcision symbolizes that even the infant needs rebirth in order to be set free from sin and death.

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Apocalypse Now and Then: America, Rome, and The City of God

This post is part of an on-going series in which I and others systematically read through Augustine of Hippo’s City of God in 2014.

The Augustine reading group is still in full swing over at Facebook, but I have been lax in posting updates to the blog. I got a request to resume updating the blog, so here’s my attempt to catch up.

City of God 14.12–14.28.

14.12–14. Augustine speculates that Adam and Eve had become sinners even before they committed the first sinful act. A sinful act must be preceded by a sinful will.

He ties together previous discussions. He explains how a good will can pervert itself. Sin tends toward non-being. Pride is the root of sin.

We also see Augustine employ one of his famous inversions. Humans are laid low in the act of their self-exultation. Humility, however, is a necessary characteristic for those in the City of God.

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