Christian Platonism

Rediscovering Ancient Wisdom

Archive for the ‘Genesis’ Category

Philo’s Psychological Exegesis of Cain and Abel

leave a comment »

Cain's Fight, Fernand Cormon, 1880

Cain is egoism, Abel is holiness.

TN HE STORY of Cain and Abel in Chapter 4 of Genesis follows immediately after the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, and, like the latter, is a ethical myth of great and fundamental significance.

Here the Bible first presents in allegorical form one of it’s main themes: the primal conflict or psychomachia within the human soul between good and bad dispositions, vice and virtue, worldliness and piety. The same contrast and conflict symbolized by Cain and Abel is recapitulated and developed throughout the Bible in the stories of Jacob and Esau, Noah and the wicked men, Moses and Pharaoh, the Israelites and their various enemies, and, later, in St. Paul’s analysis of the ‘earthy-minded ‘ and ‘heavenly-minded’ person.

The Jewish philosophy, Philo of Alexandria (c.20 BC − c.50 AD), exerted considerable influence on Christian allegorical interpretation of the Bible. He dedicated several books to the story of Cain and Abel, which he interpreted, as he usually did, according to a mix of Platonic, Stoic and Pythagorean ethical philosophy and Judaism. Philo’s allegorical exegetical insights are unmatched in excellence (and supported by modern cognitive science) — but tend to be obscured by his discursive writing style. In order to present Philo’s interpretations in a more accessible way, the key points of his commentaries are here excerpted and re-arranged to correspond to the Genesis account verse-by-verse. …
Link for full article:

Art: Cain Fleeing Before Jehovah’s Curse (1880), Fernand Cormon (1845–1924, French)


The Monomyth of Fall and Salvation

with one comment

The Monomyth of Fall and Salvation

Gustave Dore - Banishment of Adam and Eve

(A summary appears following the article.)

We address here what can be termed the monomyth of fall and salvation. By monomyth we mean a core myth that is expressed in different forms by different cultures. By fall and salvation here we do not mean so much the ultimate eternal destiny of a soul, but a cycle which recurs frequently within ones life — perhaps even on a daily basis.

We borrow the term monomyth from the writings of the noted mythographer, Joseph Campbell. Campbell (1949) explored in detail a different, but related and somewhat overlapping monomyth, which we might call the heroic quest. The heroic myth somewhat neglects the question of why the hero needs to go on a quest to begin with; it’s as though the quest is the result of someone else’s difficulties or negligence. The fall and salvation monomyth, on the other hand, pays much more attention to moral failing of the protagonist as causing the need for redemption.

In any case, it is vital to understand that our approach here is psychological more than religious in the traditional sense. That is, the goal here is to examine this myth in a way that would be of interest to religious and nonreligious readers alike. We take it as axiomatic, that is, that if there is such a thing as spiritual salvation in the sense of obtaining a propitious afterlife or immortality of soul, that this is congruent and consistent with the nearer task of obtaining psychological and moral well-being in this life. In short, then, it is the loss and re-attainment of an authentic psychological well-being that is our present concern.

We wish to be exceptionally brief here — and therefore extremely efficient — for the following reasons. First the present is not so much a self-contained work as much as one intended to serve as a reference or appendix for future articles that will discuss moral fall and salvation from a psychological viewpoint. Second, because it is likely this concept has appeared multiple times in the previous literature; unfortunately, partly due to its interdisciplinary nature, it is not immediately evident what the major touchstones of this literature are (besides those which are cited herein.) As new relevant references are encountered, they will be added to the References below.

Our initial premise is that myths express and communicate certain psychological and existential themes. These themes are of vital importance to individual welfare and to the integrity of society, but they either cannot be clearly stated in explicit, rationalistic terms or there is some reason not to, and they are instead expressed in metaphorical or symbolic terms via myth. In some sense, myths constitute a cultural ‘manual of life.’

A corollary is that in the degree to which the existential concerns of all human beings are the same, then the myths of different times and cultures reflect these common concerns and are structurally similar. This is helpful because our situation is then analogous to having multiple roadmaps of some terrain. Just as no single map is fully complete, accurate, and decipherable, neither is any single myth. Additional maps enable us to fill in gaps in some other map. The same principle applies to myths.

Structure of the Monomyth

The basic features of the monomyth of fall and salvation can be characterized as follows:

monomyth-fall-salvationFigure 1.  The Monomyth of Fall and Salvation

  1. In their interior life, human beings characteristically go through a recurring cycle — which we can call an ethical cycle. By ‘ethical’ here we mean in the broad sense of that which pertains to happiness and choices in ones way of life. We do not mean the narrower sense of ethical as pertaining only to proper or normative social actions (e.g., business or professional ethics).
  2.  At least initially we can define this cycle by four characteristic parts or landmarks. To begin we can imagine a person in a state of happiness. We will adopt provisionally and without much comment the widely accepted view of Abraham Maslow (1968, 1971) that the most significant moments of happiness correspond to certain peak (relatively short and intense) and plateau (somewhat more sustained, if less intense) experiences. Happiness here is not just emotional, but also implies feelings of fulfilment, satisfaction, and meaning, and enhanced cognitive function (including moral, intellectual, and aesthetic abilities). These states are the basis on which we could even imagine something like a paradise or Garden of Eden. Maslow and others have written extensively on characteristic features of these peak and plateau experiences. Of special interest to us here, however, are two features: (1) a sense of unity, such that one feels an absence of internal conflict, with all elements of oneself at peace, harmonized, and ‘pulling together’; and (2) feelings of reverence, piety, sacredness, humility, gratitude, and dependence on a higher power or something much greater than ones own ego. In the Christian tradition this is called the state of grace.
  3. These states, however, are impermanent. If we do attain such a ‘high’, the inevitable result is that we will eventually experience a fall or descent to a less happy and exalted condition. The fall may begin imperceptibly, but it typically progresses to such a point that we are not only aware of, but saddened by our lost paradise. Again, in Christianity this is sometimes called a fall from grace.
  4.  When the awareness and sadness over our lost happiness become sufficiently acute, and when the various life problems associated with being in an unhappy and conflicted state accumulate, there comes the turning point. We could call this, following St. Paul, the metanoia, literally, the change of mind. After this point our principle concern is to regain the state of lost happiness. Whereas before we were in the phase of the fall, now we are in the movement of ascent.
  5. Within the Platonic and the Christian traditions, three very broad phases or aspects of this ascent are called the (1) purification, (2) illumination, and (3) unitive phases. We can accept these as at least provisionally plausible, provided we don’t insist that these always occur in the same order and without overlapping. It might be more accurate to call these three aspects rather than stages of ethical ascent. Principles of process symmetry suggest a possible corresponding three-fold movement in the descending phase: progressive impurity, darkening or loss of illumination, and disunity and conflict.

That something like does in fact characterize the human condition can be deduced from many modern personality theories, the evidence of traditional religion, literature and art, common language and figurative expressions, and individual experience.

Jungian Personality Theory

The monomyth of fall and salvation is very similar to a model of cyclical personality dynamics advanced the Jungian writer Edward Edinger in a series books (e.g., 1986a, 1992, 1994); many of his works explicitly address this model in the context of myths and religion.

For Edinger (who is basically following Jung here) this cycle involves the relationship of the ego to a much greater entity, the Self. The ego is our empirical self, our conscious identify. The Self in Jungian psychology includes our conscious mind, the unconscious, our body, our social life, our spiritual soul, and all facets of our being. In many respects, the Self in Jungian theory has features which are customarily ascribed to God. It is mysterious, sacred, numinous, and very powerful.

edinger-cycle-adaptedFigure 2. Cycle of ego-Self separation and union (adapted from Edinger, 1992, p. 5)

Edinger describes a characteristic cyclical process of personality dynamics in which the ego alternates between phases of being more united with, and separate from the Self. The process, which recurs throughout life, could better be described as “spiral” rather than circular per se, because it allows for cumulative overall personality development.


Figure 3. Gradual separation of the ego from the Self (adapted from Edinger, 1992, p. 5)

The unitive state (leftmost panel in Figure 3) in the Jung/Edinger framework is one in which the ego subordinates itself to, and maintains an attitude of humility towards the Self. The ego receives direction from the Self by intuitions, inspirations, and perhaps dreams, and is guided by them.

The fall occurs, according to this view, when the ego no longer looks to the Self for guidance and direction. As it relies more and more on itself, the ego may become a virtual tyrant or dictator, seeking its own narrow interests and following a distorted view of reality. (Edinger calls this state ‘ego inflation’. ) Once headed in this direction, the person inevitably experiences progressively more unhappiness, accompanied by more pronounced, ineffective attempts by the ego to salvage things. In the later stages, the personality is marked by symptoms of conflict, neurosis, anxiety and neurosis, etc.   Eventually problems become sufficiently acute that the ego sees further progress along the same trajectory as impossible. A personality crisis ensues, which can be resolved only by the ego’s regaining a sense of proper humility (Edinger, 1986b). Thus chastised it must then begin the upward ascent.

We should, however, note peculiarities and potential biases of the Jungian framework, lest we too naively accept it in its entirety. Jung was much influenced by Nietzsche. To put the matter briefly, Jung (and Edinger) are Nietzschean in their reaction against the Apollonian elements of religious orthodoxy and classical philosophy, and in their overemphasizing the Dionysian elements of self-will and unrestrained personal freedom. As a result, it is hard to find much more than lip service paid by Jung or Edinger to any concept of virtue ethics. Instead they have a kind of neo-Gnostic orientation in which one is saved more by esoteric knowledge than by genuine moral reformation or renewal — or, for that matter, by any form of self-culture that requires work and discipline.

Nevertheless this example suffices to establish that there at least one plausible psychological basis for the fall/salvation monomyth, that it corresponds to something very basic and important in the human condition, and is something universal. We would therefore expect it to find expression in myths and religions across cultures.

Some examples will serve to illustrate the nature of the monomyth. We could look to virtually any culture or religion for suitable examples, but for brevity and convenience we will restrict attention to two here: the Bible, and ancient Greek myth, literature and philosophy.

The Bible

In the Bible the monomyth is presented continually and at many levels: in the lives of individuals, in the history of the Jews, and relative to all humankind. Indeed the Bible as a whole is, as it were, an epic portrayal of the monomyth that extends from the fall of Adam and Eve and their banishment from the Garden of Eden to the restoration of the Tree of Life and a soul’s attainment of the New Jerusalem in the final book, Revelation. The monomyth is the essential message of the Bible: to live in union with God or with God’s will, once in the state not to fall, and if fallen, to regain it.

The clearest portrayal of the descending arc is of course the fall of Adam and Eve. The psychological significance of this story has long been known to religious writers. It was thoroughly explained even before the Christian era by the Jewish Platonist philosopher Philo of Alexandria (Uebersax, 2012), who influenced such major Christian exegetes as St. Ambrose and St. Augustine in the West, and St. Gregory of Nyssa in the West (just to name a few figures).

We find in the story of Adam and Eve not simply a turning away from God, but a complex psychological process which also involves a deliberate turn towards self-will, and a re-ordering of interests which mistakenly places sensual concerns above pursuit of higher, spiritual, moral, and intellectual goods and pleasures. The motif of the fall is recapitulated frequently throughout Genesis — for example in the stories of Cain, the flood, and the tower of Babel.

The exodus and wandering of the Jews as they are liberated from bondage to the Egyptians (symbolizing a mind dominated by passions), their wandering in the desert, and their eventual arrival in the Promised Land represents the upward arc of the monomyth.

As the Old Testament continues, the Jews or individual figures are continually falling (e.g., worship of idols, David’s adultery), and being called back to the upward journey by prophets.

Again, the motif of fall and salvation permeates the New Testament. There the central concept of the kingdom of heaven can, at the psychological level, be understood as basically corresponding to the state of grace. Virtually all of Jesus’ parables address the monomyth and its phases or aspects. A particularly good example of the complete monomyth, including fall and restoration, is the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11–32).

Greek Mythology, Literature and Philosophy

Similarly, the monomyth is found throughout Greek myth and literature. Its falling arc is symbolized by the ‘Ages of Man’ in Hesiod’s Works and Days (106–201), which describes a progression of historical epochs from a past Golden Age, through increasingly less noble Silver, Bronze, and ‘heroic’ ages, to the present, fallen, Iron Age. Here we see the characteristic Greek motif in which humility, union with God, and direction by God’s will is associated with happiness and harmony, but man’s pride (hubris) leads to a fall, conflict, and suffering. It seems universally agreed that Hesiod borrowed or adapted this myth from earlier Middle Eastern, Indian, or perhaps Egyptian sources (see e.g., Woodard, 2009). Just before this section Hesiod supplies another fall myth — that of Prometheus, Epimetheus, and Pandora (42–105).

The Iliad and the Odyssey taken together comprise a complete monomyth. The events of the Iliad begin with the famous Judgment of Paris, which thematically parallels fall of Adam and Eve. At the instigation of Strife (who assumes the devil’s role), and under circumstances involving a garden and apples, Paris, prince of Troy, is asked to judge who is fairest: the voluptuous Aphrodite, the domestic Hera, or the brave and wise Athena. Being bribed Aphrodite by the promise of a romance with the beautiful Helen, Paris chooses Aphrodite as fairest. He thus wins Helen. But since Helen is already married to Menelaus, king of Sparta, this leads to war between the Greeks and Trojans. In short, the story’s theme is that when Paris (symbolizing us), choose pleasure over virtue, the result is a war — and in fact a long, terrible one.

The upward arc of the Homeric cycle is symbolized by the Odyssey. There the protagonist, Odysseus, after the Trojan War ends, must undergo many difficult trials before finally returning to his homeland, where he is reunited with his wife, father, and countrymen, and lives in peace.

Amongst the tragic poets — Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides — the peril of hubris is, of course, is a staple motif.

Virtually all of Plato’s dialogues might be construed as, in one way or another, concerned with the monomyth — especially the upward movement (anagogy) of the soul brought about through philosophy (love of Wisdom), and moral and mental renewal. This is particularly clear in the many myths Plato employs, especially in the Cave Allegory of the Republic and the Chariot Myth of Phaedrus.

Similarly the hierarchical metaphysical system of the Neoplatonist, Plotinus, with its emphasis on the reciprocal movements of emanation and return, could be understood as a metaphor for the ethical/psychological monomyth (Fleet, 2112; Hadot, 1998, 2002).

Summary and Conclusions

The purpose of this article could be understood as to survey the vast and complex array of data which constitute the great myths of humanity, and to bring into focus one part: the portrayal of a core psychological dynamic which we may at least provisionally call the cyclical process of fall and salvation. We have proposed, based on the frequency with which this monomyth is encountered, that it must logically express some core existential concern of human nature. It is universal in that people in every culture and condition must grapple with it. Because it symbolizes something that is psychologically real, we should be able to understand it by studying it in terms of scientific cognitive and personality psychology.

To accept that the monomyth expresses core psychological concerns does not, per se, commit us to any particular theological or doctrinal position. It is fully compatible with a religious or a non-religious view of man. That is, what a religious person may call “following God’s will” is evidently some experiential and phenomenological reality. An atheist may accept the reality of this subjective experience and simply conclude that the person is ‘merely’ following their higher unconscious, or, say, their right brain hemisphere (McGilchrist, 2009).

But in any case, the cultural evidence of the monomyth suggests that human beings have traditionally associated such a state of pious humility as corresponding to perhaps the greatest happiness and psychic harmony obtainable. It is the height of hubris to disregard our myths and traditions simply because they originate in a religious climate that may no longer be fashionable amongst some segments of the intelligentsia.

Moral philosophers and cognitive scientists alike should scientifically study religious mythos — and in particular that concerning fall and salvation. By this the former will gain deeper understanding of man and the nature of religious salvation. The latter will gain insight into phenomenological realities that cannot be ignored if we are to have any effective science or technology of human happiness.

1st draft


Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Princeton, 1949.

Edinger, Edward F. The Bible and the Psyche: Individuation Symbolism in the Old Testament. Toronto, 1986a.

Edinger, Edward F. Encounter With the Self: A Jungian Commentary on William Blake’s Illustrations of the Book of Job. Toronto, 1986b.

Edinger, Edward F. Ego and Archetype. Boston, 1992.

Edinger, Edward F. The Eternal Drama: The Inner Meaning of Greek Mythology. Boston, 1994.

Fleet, Barrie. Plotinus: Ennead IV.8: On the Descent of the Soul into Bodies. Las Vegas, 2012.

Hadot, Pierre. Plotinus:The Simplicity of Vision. Trans. Michael Chase. Chicago, 1998.

Hadot, Pierre. What is Ancient Philosophy? Trans. Michael Chase. Cambridge, MA, 2002.

Jung, Carl G. The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious. R.C.F. Hull, Trans. Collected Works of C. G. Jung, vol. 9, part 1. Princeton, 1959 (repr. 1969, 1981).

Jung, Carl G. (author); Segal, Robert Alan (editor). Jung on Mythology. London, 1998.

Maslow, Abraham H. Toward a Psychology of Being, 2nd edition. New York: Van Nostrand, 1968.

Maslow, Abraham H. The Farther Reaches of Human Nature. New York: Viking, 1971.

McGilchrist, Iain. The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World. New Haven, 2009.

Uebersax, John S. Psychological Allegorical Interpretation of the Bible. Paso Robles, CA, 2012.

Woodard, Roger D. Hesiod and Greek Myth. In: Roger D. Woodard (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Greek Mythology, Cambridge, 2009, pp. 83–165.

Philo – On Melchizedek

leave a comment »

Melchizedek Blesses Abram - The Bible and its Story (1909)

Melchizedek Blesses Abram - The Bible and its Story (1909)

Abram (Abraham) and Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18–20)

[18] And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.
[19] And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:
[20] And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.

Philo, Allegorical Interpretation (Legum Allegoriarum) 3.7982

(79) Moreover, God made Melchisedek, the king of peace, that is of Salem, for that is the interpretation of this name, “his own high priest” [Gen 14:18], without having previously mentioned any particular action of his, but merely because he had made him a king, and a lover of peace, and especially worthy of his priesthood. For he is called a just king, and a king is the opposite of a tyrant, because the one is the interpreter of law, and the other of lawlessness.

(80) Therefore the tyrannical mind imposes violent and mischievous commands on both soul and body, and such as have a tendency to cause violent suffering, being commands to act according to vice, and to indulge the passions with enjoyment. But the other, the kingly mind, in the first place, does not command, but rather persuades, since it gives recommendations of such a character, that if guided by them, life, like a vessel, will enjoy a fair voyage through life, being directed in its course by a good governor and pilot; and this good pilot is right reason.

(81) We may therefore call the tyrannical mind the ruler of war, and the kingly mind the guide to peace, that is Salem. And this kingly mind shall bring forth food full of cheerfulness and joy; for “he brought forth bread and wine,” which the Ammonites and Moabites were not willing to give to the beholder, that is Israel; by reason of such unwillingness they are shut out from the companionship and assembly of God. For the Ammonites being they who are sprung from the outward sense of the mother, and the Moabites, who originate in the mind of the father, are two different dispositions, which look upon the mind and the outward sense as the efficient causes of all existing things, but take no notice of God. Therefore “they shall not come,” says Moses, “into the assembly of the Lord, because they did not come to meet you with bread and water when you came out of Egypt” [Deut 23:4], that is, out of the passions.

(82) But Melchisedek shall bring forward wine instead of water, and shall give your souls to drink, and shall cheer them with unmixed wine, in order that they may be wholly occupied with a divine intoxication, more sober than sobriety itself. For reason is a priest, having, as its inheritance the true God, and entertaining lofty and sublime and magnificent ideas about him, “for he is the priest of the most high God.” [Gen 14:18] Not that there is any other God who is not the most high; for God being one, is in the heaven above, and in the earth beneath, and there is no other besides Him.” [Deut 4:39] But he sets in motion the notion of the Most High, from his conceiving of God not in a low and grovelling spirit, but in one of exceeding greatness, and exceeding sublimity, apart from any conceptions of matter.

Source: Yonge, Charles Duke.  The Works of Philo. Complete and Unabridged, New Updated Edition. David M. Scholer, editor. Hendrickson Publishers, 1993. ISBN 0943575931.

Written by John Uebersax

March 28, 2012 at 4:39 pm

Psychological Interpretation of Psalm 1

with one comment

The religious life, explained in detail throughout the Bible, is summarized in a single, short passage, namely Psalm 1. Further, the essential message is conveyed in just the first two or three verses. Noting this and studying the psalm will therefore greatly assist ones spiritual progress, in a very direct way, and with comparatively little effort…. click here for the rest.

Written by John Uebersax

July 28, 2009 at 6:00 am

Philo – the Rivers of Eden in On the Posterity of Cain

leave a comment »


XXXVII. (127) On which account it is said in Genesis, “And a fountain went up from the earth, and watered all the face of the Earth.”{55}{#ge 2:6.} For since nature has allotted the most excellent portion of the whole body, namely the face, to the outward senses, therefore the fountain which goes up from the superior part, being diffused over various parts, and sending up its streams like so many watercourses as high as the face, by their means conducts the faculties to each of the organs of the outwards senses. In this way in truth, it is that the word of God irrigates the virtues; for that is the beginning and the fountain of all good actions. (128 ) And the lawgiver shows this, when he says, “And a river went out of Eden to water the Paradise; and from thence it is divided into four Heads.”{56}{#ge 2:10. } For there are four generic virtues: prudence, courage, temperance, and justice. And of these, every single one is a princess and a ruler; and he who has acquired them is, from the moment of the acquisition, a ruler and a king, even if he has no abundance of any kind of treasure; (129) for the meaning of the expression, “it is divided into four heads,” is […]{57}{here again is an hiatus, which Mangey does not attempt to supply.} nor distance; but virtue exhibits the pre-eminence and the power. And these spring from the word of God as from one root, which he compares to a river, on account of the unceasing and everlasting flow of salutary words and doctrines, by which it increases and nourishes the souls that love God.

Source: C. D. Yonge’s translation at Peter Kirby’s Early Jewish Writings website

Written by John Uebersax

February 12, 2009 at 8:50 pm

Philo on the temptation of Adam and Eve

leave a comment »


II. (4) …”For I will make him,” says God, “a help-meet for him.” And, in the second place, is younger than the object to be helped; for, first of all, God created the mind [i.e., Adam], and subsequently he prepares to make its helper [Eve, as we shall see]. But all this is spoken allegorically, in accordance with the principles of natural philosophy; for external sensation and the passions of the soul are all younger than the soul, and how they help it we shall see hereafter, but at present we will consider the fact of their being helpers younger than the object helped.

[Philo argues that Eve represents sensation, one of two helpers to the intellect.]

III. … (7) But now let us see how that part, which was postponed before, acts as an assistant: how does our mind comprehend that such and such a thing is black or white, unless it employs sight as its assistant? and how does it know that the voice of the man who is singing to his harp is sweet, or, on the contrary, out of tune, if it has not the assistance of the faculty of hearing to guide it? And how can it tell that exhalations are fragrant or foul-smelling, unless it makes use of the sense of smell as its ally? How again does it judge of the different flavors, except through the instrumentality of its assistant, taste? (8) How can it distinguish between what is rough and what is smooth, except by touch? …

[The second category of assistants are the passions, represented by animals.]

IV. (9) Now of assistants there are two kinds, the one consisting in the passions and the other in the sensations. … (11) But the passions he compares to beasts and birds, because they injure the mind, being untamed and wild, and because, after the manner of birds, they descend upon the intellect; for their onset is swift and difficult to withstand; …

[He next explains why the creation of animals is mentioned twice: first before the creation of man (Gen 1:20-25), and then after man (Gen 2:19 ); he suggests that the former represent the genera of passions — e.g., anger itself, whereas the latter represent species or instances of passion — a specific angry thought, for instance.]

V. (14) This therefore he denominated the species of assistants, but the other part of the creation, the description, that is, of the formation of the external sensations, was postponed till he began to form the woman;…

VI. (16) But the moral meaning of this passage is as follows:–We often use the expression ti instead of dia ti; (why?) as when we say, why (ti) have you washed yourself? why (ti) are you walking? why (ti) are you conversing? for in all these cases ti is used instead of dia ti; when therefore Moses says, “to see what he would call them,” you must understand him as if he had said dia ti (why), instead of ti (what): and the mind will invite and embrace each of these meanings. Is it then only for the sake of what is necessary that the mortal race is of necessity implicated in passions and vices? or is it also on account of that which is immoderate and superfluous? And again, is it because of the requirements of the earth-born man, or because the mind judges them to be most excellent and admirable things; (17) as for instance, is it necessary for every created thing to enjoy pleasure? But the bad man flies to pleasure as to a perfect good, but the good man seeks it only as a necessary; for without pleasure nothing whatever is done among the human race. Again, the bad man considers the acquisition of riches as the most perfect good possible; but the good man looks upon riches only as a necessary and useful thing. (18) Very naturally, therefore, God desires to see and to learn how the mind denominates and appreciates each of these things, whether it looks upon them as good, or as things indifferent, or as evil in themselves, but nevertheless in some respects necessary. On which account, thinking that everything which he invited towards himself, and embraced as a living soul, was of equal value and importance with the soul, this became the name, not only of the thing which was thus invited, but also of him who invited it: as for instance, if the man embraced pleasure, he was called a man devoted to pleasure; if he embraced appetite, he was called a man of appetite; if he invited intemperance, he himself also acquired the name of intemperate; if he admitted cowardice, he was called cowardly; and so on in the case of the other passions. For as he who has any distinctive qualities according to the virtues, is called from that virtue with which he is especially endowed, prudent, or temperate, or just, or courageous, as the case may be; so too in respect of the vices, a man is called unjust, or foolish, or unmanly, when he has invited and embraced these habits of mind and conduct.

VII. (19) “And God cast a deep trance upon Adam, and sent him to sleep; and he took one of his ribs,” and so on. The literal statement conveyed in these words is a fabulous one; for how can any one believe that a woman was made of a rib of a man, or, in short, that any human being was made out of another? And what hindered God, as he had made man out of the earth, from making woman in the same manner? For the Creator was the same, and the material was almost interminable, from which every distinctive quality whatever was made. And why, when there were so many parts of a man, did not God make the woman out of some other part rather than out of one of his ribs? Again, of which rib did he make her? And this question would hold even if we were to say, that he had only spoken of two ribs; but in truth he has not specified their number. Was it then the right rib, or the left rib? (20) Again, if he filled up the place of the other with flesh, was not the one which he left also made of flesh? and indeed our ribs are like sisters, and akin in all their parts, and they consist of flesh. What then are we to say? (21) ordinary custom calls the ribs the strength of a man; for we say that a man has ribs, which is equivalent to saying that he has vigor; and we say that a wrestler is a man with strong ribs, when we mean to express that he is strong: and we say that a harp player has ribs, instead of saying that he has energy and power in his singing. (22) Now that this has been premised we must also say, that the mind, while naked and free from the entanglement of the body (for our present discussion is about the mind, while it is as yet entangled in nothing) has many powers, namely, the possessive power, the progenitive power, the power of the soul, the power of reason, the power of comprehension, and part of others innumerable both in their genus and species. Now the possessive power is common to it with other inanimate things, with stocks and stones, and it is shared by the things in us, which are like stones, namely, by our bones. And natural power extends also over plants: and there are parts in us which have some resemblance to plants, namely, our nails and our hair: (23) and nature is a habit already put in motion, but the soul is a habit which has taken to itself, in addition, imagination and impetuosity; and this power also is possessed by man in common with the irrational animals; and our mind has something analogous to the soul of an irrational animal.

Again, the power of comprehension is a peculiar property of the mind; and the reasoning power is perhaps common to the more divine natures, but is especially the property of the mortal nature of man: and this is a twofold power, one kind being that in accordance with which we are rational creatures, partaking of mind; and the other kind being that faculty by which we converse. (24) There is also another power in the soul akin to these, the power of sensation, of which we are now speaking; for Moses is describing nothing else on this occasion except the formation of the external sense, according to energy and according to reason.

VIII. For immediately after the creation of the mind it was necessary that the external sense should be created, as an assistant and ally of the mind; therefore God having entirely perfected the first, proceeded to make the second, both in rank and power, being a certain created form, an external sense according to energy, created for the perfection and completion of the whole soul, and for the proper comprehension of such subject matter as might be brought before it. (25) How then was this second thing created? As Moses himself says in a subsequent passage, when the mind was gone to sleep: for, in real fact, the external sense then comes forward when the mind is asleep. And again, when the mind is awake the outward sense is extinguished; and the proof of this is, that when we desire to form an accurate conception of anything, we retreat to a desert place, we shut our eyes, we stop up our ears, we discard the exercise of our senses; and so, when the mind rises up again and awakens, the outward sense is put an end to. (26) Let us now consider another point, namely, how the mind goes to sleep: for when the outward sense is awakened and has become excited, when the sight beholds any works of painting or of sculpture beautifully wrought, is not the mind then without anything on which to exercise its functions, contemplating nothing which is a proper subject for the intellect? What more? When the faculty of hearing is attending to some melodious combination of sound, can the mind turn itself to the contemplation of its proper objects? by no means. And it is much more destitute of occupation, when taste rises up and eagerly devotes itself to the pleasures of the belly; (27) on which account Moses, being alarmed lest some day or other the mind might not merely go to sleep, but might become absolutely dead, says in another place, “And it shall be to you a peg in your girdle; and it shall be, that when you sit down you shall dig in it, and, heaping up earth, shall cover your Shame.”{2}{Deuteronomy 23:13.} Speaking symbolically, and giving the name of peg to reason which digs up secret affairs; (28) and he bids him to bear it upon the affection with which he ought to be birded, and not to allow it to slacken and become loosened; and this must be done when the mind, departing from the intense consideration of objects perceptible by the intellect, is brought down to the passions, and sits down, yielding to, and being guided by, the necessities of the body: (29) and this is the case when the mind, being absorbed in luxurious associations, forgets itself, being subdued by the things which conduct it to pleasure, and so we become enslaved, and yield ourselves up to unconcealed impurity. But if reason be able to purify the passion, then neither when we drink do we become intoxicated, nor when we eat do we become indolent through satiety, but we feast soberly without indulging in folly. (30) Therefore, the awakening of the outward senses is the sleep of the mind; and the awakening of the mind is the discharge of the outward senses from all occupation. Just as when the sun arises the brightness of all the rest of the stars becomes invisible; but when the sun sets, they are seen. And so, like the sun, the mind, when it is awakened, overshadows the outward senses, but when it goes to sleep it permits them to shine.

IX. (31) After this preface we must now proceed to explain the words: “The Lord God,” says Moses, “cast a deep trance upon Adam, and sent him to sleep.” He speaks here with great correctness, for a trance and perversion of the mind is its sleep. And the mind is rendered beside itself when it ceases to be occupied about the things perceptible only by the intellect which present themselves to it. And when it is not energizing with respect to them it is asleep. And the expression, “it is in a trance,” is very well employed, as it means that it is perverted and changed, not by itself, but by God, who presents to it, and brings before it, and sends upon it the change which occurs to it. (32) For the case is this:–if it were in my own power to be changed, then whenever I chose I should exercise this power, and whenever I did not choose I should continue as I am, without any change. But now change attacks me from an opposite direction, and very often when I am desirous to turn my intellect to some fitting subject, I am swallowed up by an influx contrary to what is fitting: and on the other hand, when I conceive an idea respecting something unseemly, I discard it by means of pleasant notions while God by his own grace pours into my soul a sweet stream instead of the salt flood. (33) It is necessary therefore, that every created thing should at times be changed. For this is a property of every created thing, just as it is an attribute of God to be unchangeable. But of these beings who have been changed, some remain in their altered state till their final and complete destruction, though others are only exposed to the ordinary vicissitudes of human nature; and they are immediately preserved. (34) On which account Moses says that “God will not suffer the destroyer to enter into your houses to smite them.”{3}{Exodus 12:23.} For he does permit the destroyer (and change is the destruction of the soul) to enter into the soul, in order to exhibit the peculiar characteristic of the created being. But God will not permit the offspring of the seeing Israel to be changed in such a manner as to be stricken down by the change; but he will compel it to emerge and rise up again like one who rises up from the deep, and so he will cause it to be saved.

X. (35) “He took one of his ribs.” He took one of the many powers of the mind, namely, that power which dwells in the outward senses. And when he uses the expression, “He took,” we are not to understand it as if he had said, “He took away,” but rather as equivalent to “He counted, He examined;” as he says in another place, “Take the chief of the spoils of the captivity.”{4} {Numbers 31:26.} What, then, is it which he wishes to show? (36) Sensation is spoken of in a twofold manner; –the one kind being according to habit, which exists even when we are asleep, and the other being according to energy. Now, in the former kind, the one according to habit, there is no use: for we do not comprehend any one of the objects presented to our view by its means. But there is use in the second, in that which exists according to energy; for it is by means of this that we arrive at a comprehension of the objects perceptible by the outward senses.

(37) Accordingly, God, having created the former kind of sensation, that existing according to habit, when he was creating the mind (for he was furnishing that with many faculties in a state of rest), desires now to complete the other kind which exists according to energy. And this one according to energy is perfected when the one which exists according to habit is put in motion, and extended as far as the flesh and the organs of sense. For as nature is perfected when the seed is put in motion, so, also, energy is perfected when the habit is put in motion.

XI. (38) “And he filled the space with flesh instead of it.” That is to say, he filled up that external sense which exists according to habit, leading it on to energy and extending it as far as the flesh and the whole outward and visible surface of the body. In reference to which Moses adds that “he built it up into a woman:” showing by this expression that woman is the most natural and felicitously given name for the external sense. For as the man is seen in action, and the woman in being the subject of action, so also is the mind seen in action, and the external sense, like the woman, is discerned by suffering or being the subject of action. (39) And it is easy to learn this from the way in which it is affected in practice. Thus the sight is affected by these objects of sight which put it in motion, such as white and black, and the other colors. Again, hearing is affected by sounds, and taste is disposed in such or such a way by flavors; the sense of smell by scents; and that of touch by hardness or softness. And, on the other hand all the outward senses are in a state of tranquility until each is approached from without by that which is to put it in motion.

XII. (40) “And he brought her to Adam. And Adam said, this is now bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh.” God leads the external sense, existing according to energy, to the mind; knowing that its motion and apprehension must turn back to the mind. But the mind, perceiving the power which it previously had (and which, while it was existing according to habit was in a state of tranquility), now have to become a complete operation and energy, and to be in a state of motion, marvels at it, and utters an exclamation, saying that it is not unconnected with it, but very closely akin to it. (41) For Adam says, “This now is bone of my bone;” that is to say, this is power of my power; for bone is here to be understood as a symbol of strength and power. And it is, he adds, suffering of my sufferings; that is, it is flesh of my flesh. For every thing which the external sense suffers, it endures not without the support of the mind; for the mind is its fountain, and the foundation on which it is supported. (42) It is also worth while to consider why Adam added the word “now,” for he says, “This now is bone of my bone.” The explanation is, external sensation exists now, having its existence solely with reference to the present moment. For the mind touches three separate points of time; for it perceives present circumstances, and it remembers past events, and it anticipates the future. (43) But the external sensations have neither any anticipation of future events, nor are they subject to any feeling resembling expectation or hope, nor have they any recollection of past circumstances; but are by nature capable only of being affected by that which moves them at the moment, and is actually present. As, for example, the eye is made white by a white appearance presented to it at the moment, but it is not affected in any manner by that which is not present to it. But the mind is agitated also by that which is not actually present, but which may be past; in which cast it is affected by its recollection of it; or it may be future, in which case it is, indeed, the influence of hope and expectation.

XIII. (44) “And she shall be called woman.” This is equivalent to saying, on this account the outward sensation shall be called woman, because it is derived from man who sets it in motion. He says “she;” why, then, is the expression “she” used? Why, because there is also another kind of outward sensation, not derived from the mind, but having been created, at the same moment with it. For there are, as I have said before, two different kinds of outward sensation; the one kind existing according to habit, and the other according to energy. (45) Now, the kind existing according to habit is not derived from the man, that is to say from the mind, but is created at the same time with him. For the mind, as I have already shown, when it was created was created with many faculties and habits; namely, with the faculty and habit of reasoning, and of existing, and of promoting what is like itself, as also with that of receiving impressions from the outward senses. But the outward sensation, which exists according to energy, is derived from the mind. For it is extended from the outward sensation which exists in it according to habit, so as to become the same outward sense according to energy. So that this second kind of outward sense is derive from the mind, and exists according to motion. (46) And he is but a foolish person who thinks that any thing is in true reality made out of the mind, or out of itself. Do you not see that even in the case of Rachel (that is to say of outward sensation) sitting upon the images, while she thought that her motions came from the mind, he who saw her reproved her. For she says, “Give me my children, and if you give them not to me I shall Die.”{5}{Genesis 30:1.} And he replied: “Because, O mistaken woman, the mind is not the cause of any thing, but he which existed before the mind; namely God.” On which account he adds: “Am I equal to God who has deprived you of the fruit of your womb?” (47) But that it is God who creates men, he will testify in the case of Leah, when he says, “But the Lord, when he saw that Leah was hated, opened her womb. But Rachel was Barren.”{6}{Genesis 29:31.} But it is the especial property of man to open the womb.

Now naturally virtue is hated by men. On which account God has honored it, and gives the honor of bearing the first child to her who is hated. (48) And in another passage he says: “But if a man has two wives, one of them being loved and one of them being hated, and if they bear him children, and if the first-born son be the child of her who is hated; he will not be able to give the honors of the birthright to the child of the wife whom he loves, overlooking the firstborn son the child of her who is Hated.”{7}{Deuteronomy 21:15.} For the productions of virtue which is hated, are the first and the most perfect, but those of pleasure, which is loved, are the last.

XIV. (49) “On this account a man will leave his father and his mother and will cleave to his wife; and they two shall become one flesh.” On account of the external sensation, the mind, when it has become enslaved to it, shall leave both its father, the God of the universe, and the mother of all things, namely, the virtue and wisdom of God, and cleaves to and becomes united to the external sensations, and is dissolved into external sensation, so that the two become one flesh and one passion. (50) And here you must observe that it is not the woman who cleaves to the man, but on the contrary, the man who cleaves to the woman; that is to say, the mind cleaves to the external sensations. For when that which is the better, namely, the mind, is united to that which is the rose, namely, the external sensation, it is then dissolved into the nature of flesh, which is worse, and into outward sensation, which is the cause of the passions. But when that which is the inferior, namely, the outward sensation, follows the better part, that is the mind, then there will no longer be flesh, but both will become one, namely, mind. And this is a thing of such a nature that it prefers the affections to piety. (51) There is also another being called by an opposite name, Levi; he who says to his father and mother: “He saw you not, and he did not recognize his brethren, and repudiated his Children.”{8}{Deuteronomy 33:9.} This man leaves his father and mother; that is to say, his mind and the material of his body, in order to have as his inheritance the one God; “For the Lord himself is his Inheritance.”{9}{Deuteronomy 10:9.} (52) And, indeed, suffering is the inheritance of him who is fond of suffering; but the inheritance of Levi is God. Do you not see that “he bids him on the tenth day of the months bring two goats as his share, one lot for the Lord and one lot for the scape-Goat.”{10}{Leviticus 16:7.} For the sufferings inflicted on the scape goat are in real truth the lot of him who is fond of suffering.

XV. (53) “And they were both naked, both Adam and his wife, and they were not ashamed; but the serpent was the most subtle of all the beasts that were upon the earth, which the Lord God had Made:”{11}{Genesis 2:25; 3:1.}–the mind is naked, which is clothed neither with vice nor with virtue, but which is really stripped of both: just as the soul of an infant child, which has no share in either virtue or vice, is stripped of all coverings, and is completely naked: for these things are the coverings of the soul, by which it is enveloped and concealed, good being the garment of the virtuous soul, and evil the robe of the wicked soul. (54) And the soul is made naked in these ways. Once, when it is in an unchangeable state, and is entirely free from all vices, and has discarded and laid aside the covering of all the passions. With reference to this Moses also pitches his tabernacle outside of the camp, a long way from the camp, and it was called the tabernacle of Testimony.{12}{Exodus 33:7.} (55) And this has some such meaning as this: the soul which loves God, having put off the body and the affections which are dear to it, and having fled a long way from them, chooses a foundation and a sure ground for its abode, and a lasting settlement in the perfect doctrines of virtue; on which account testimony is borne to it by God, that it loves what is good, “for it was called the tabernacle of testimony,” says Moses, and he has passed over in silence the giver of the name, in order that the soul, being excited, might consider who it is who thus bears witness to the dispositions which love virtue. (56) On this account the high priest “will not come into the holy of holies clad in a garment reaching to the feet; {13}{Leviticus 16:1.} but having put off the robe of opinion and vain fancy of the soul, and having left that for those who love the things which are without, and who honor opinion in preference to truth, will come forward naked, without colors or any sounds, to make an offering of the blood of the soul, and to sacrifice the whole mind to God the Savior and Benefactor; (57) and certainly Nadab and Abihu, {14}{Leviticus 10:1.} who came near to God, and left this mortal life and received a share of immortal life, are seen to be naked, that is, free from all new and mortal opinion; for they would not have carried it in their garments and borne it about, if they had not been naked, having broken to pieces every bond of passion and of corporeal necessity, in order that their nakedness and absence of corporeality might not be adulterated by the accession of atheistical reasonings; for it may not be permitted to all men to behold the secret mysteries of God, but only to those who are able to cover them up and guard them; (58) on which account Mishael and his partisans concealed them not in their own garments, but in those of Nadab and Abihu, who had been burnt with fire and taken upwards; for having stripped off all the garments that covered them, they brought their nakedness before God, and left their tunics about Mishael. But clothes belong to the irrational part of the animal, which overshadow the rational part. Abraham also was naked when he heard, (59) “Come forth out of thy land and from thy kindred;”{15} {Genesis 13:1.} and as for Isaac, he indeed was not stripped, but was at all times naked and incorporeal; for a commandment was given to him not to go down into Egypt, {16}{Genesis 26:2.} that is to say, into the body. Jacob also was fond of the nakedness of the soul, for his smoothness is nakedness, “for Esau was a hairy man, but Jacob,” says Moses, “was a smooth Man,”{17}{Genesis 25:25.} on which account he was also the husband of Leah.

XVI. (60) This is the most excellent nakedness, but the other nakedness is of a contrary nature, being a change which involves a deprivation of virtue, when the soul becomes foolish and goes astray. Such was the folly of Noah when he was naked, when he drank Wine.{18}{Genesis 9:21.} But thanks be to God, that this change and this tripping naked of the mind according to the deprivation of virtue, did not extend as far as external things, but remained in the house; for Moses says, that “he was stripped naked in his house:” for even if a wise man does commit folly, he still does not run to ruin like a bad man; for the evil of the one is spread abroad, but that of the other is kept within bounds, and therefore he becomes sober again, that is to say, he repents, and as it were recovers from his disease. (61) But let us now more accurately examine the statement, “that the stripping of him naked took place in his house.” When the soul, being changed, only conceives some evil thing and does not put it in execution, so as to accomplish it in deed, then the sin is only in the private domain and abode of the soul. But if, in addition to thinking some wickedness it proceeds also to accomplish it and carry it into execution, then the wickedness is diffused over the parts beyond his house: (62) and on this account he curses Canaan also, because he related the change of his soul abroad, that is to say, he extended it into the parts out of doors, and gave it notoreity, adding to his evil intention an evil consummation by means of his actions: but Shem and Japhet are praised, because they did not attack his soul, but rather concealed its deterioration. (63) On this account also the prayers and vows of the soul are invalidated when “they are made in the house of one’s father or one’s husband, {19}{Genesis 25:25.} while the reasoning powers are in a state of quiescence, and do not attack the alteration which has taken place in the soul, but conceal the delinquency; for then also “the master of all things” will purify it: but he hears the prayer of the widow and of her who is divorced without revoking it; for “whatever,” says he, “she has vowed against her own soul shall abide to her,” and very reasonably; for if, after she has been put away, she has advanced as far as the parts out of the house, so that not only is her place changed, but that she also sins in respect of deeds that she has perfected, she remains incurable, having no communion of conversation with her husband, and being deprived also of the advocacy and consolation of her father. (64) The third description of stripping naked is the middle one, according to which the mind is destitute of reason, having no share in either virtue or vice; and it is with reference to this kind of nakedness which an infant also is partaker of, that the expression is used which says, “And the two were naked, both Adam and his wife;” and the meaning of it is this, neither did their intellect understand, nor did their outward senses perceive this nakedness; but the former was devoid of all power of understanding, and naked; and the latter was destitute of all perception.

XVII. (65) And the expression, “they were not ashamed,” we will examine hereafter: for there are three ideas brought forward in this passage. Shamelessness, modesty, and a state of indifference, in which one is neither shameless nor modest. Now shamelessness is the property of a worthless person, and modesty the characteristic of a virtuous one; but the state of being neither modest nor shameless, is a sign of a person who is void of comprehension, and who does not act from any settled opinion; and it is of such a one that we are now speaking: for he who has not yetacquired any comprehension of good or evil, is not able to be either shameless or modest, (66) therefore the examples of shamelessness are all the unseemly pieces of conduct, when the mind reveals disgraceful things, while it ought rather to cover them in the shade, instead of which it boasts of and glories in them. It is said also in the case of Miriam, when she was speaking against Moses, “If her father had spit in her face, ought she not to keep herself retired for seven Days?”{20}{Numbers 12:14.} (67) For the external sense, being really shameless and impudent, though considered as nothing by God the father, in comparison of him who was faithful in all his house, to whom God himself united the Ethiopian woman, that is to say, unchangeable and well-satisfied opinion, dared to speak against Moses and to accuse him, for the very actions for which he deserved to be praised; for this is his greatest praise, that he received the Ethiopian woman, the unchangeable nature, tried in the fire and found honest; for as in the eye, the part which sees is black, so also the part of the soul which sees is what is meant by the Ethiopian woman. (68) Why when, as there are many works of wickedness, does he mention one only, namely, that which is conversant about what is shameful, saying, “they were not ashamed:” but were they not doing wrong, or were they not sinning, or were they not acting indecorously? But the cause is at hand. No, by the only true God, I think nothing so shameful as to suppose that I comprehend with my intellect, or perceive by my outward sense. (69) Is my mind the cause of my comprehending? How so? for does it even comprehend itself, and know what it is, or how it came to exist? And are the outward senses the cause of man’s perceiving anything? How can it be said to be so, when it is neither understood by itself nor by the mind? Do you not see, that he who fancies that he comprehends is often found to be foolish in his acts of covetousness, in his drunkenness, in his deeds of folly? Where then is his intellectual capacity shown in these actions? Again, is not the outward sensation often deprived of the power of exercising itself? Are there not times when seeing we do not see, and hearing we do not hear, when the mind has its attention ever so little drawn off to some other object of the intellect, and is applied to the consideration of that? (70) As long as they are both naked, the mind naked of its power of exciting the intellect, and the outward sense of its power of sensation, they have nothing disgraceful in them; but the moment that they begin to display any comprehension, they become masked in shame and insolence: for they will often be found behaving with simplicity and folly rather than with any sound knowledge, and this not only in particular acts of covetousness, or spleen, or folly, but also in the general conduct of life: for when the outward sense has the dominion the mind is enslaved, giving its attention to no one proper object of its intellect, and when the mind is predominant, the untoward sense is seen to be without employment, having no comprehension of any proper object of its own exercise.

XVIII. (71) “Now the serpent was the most subtle of all the beasts which are upon the earth, which the Lord God Made.”{21}{Genesis 3:1.} Two things having been previously created, that is, mind and outward sense, and these also having been stripped naked in the manner which has already been shown, it follows of necessity that pleasure, which brings these two together, must be the third, for the purpose of facilitating the comprehension of the objects of intellect and of outward sense: for neither could the mind, without the outward sense, be able to comprehend the nature of any animal or of any plant, or of a stone or of a piece of wood, or, in short, of any substance whatever; nor could the outward sense exercise its proper faculties without the mind. (72) Since, therefore, it was necessary for both these things to come together for the due comprehension of these objects, what was it which brought them together except a third something which acted as a bond between them, the two first representing love and desire, and pleasure not obtaining the dominion and mastery, which pleasure Moses here speaks of symbolically, under the emblem of the serpent. (73) God, who created all the animals on the earth, arranged this order very admirably, for he placed the mind first, that is to say, man, for the mind is the most important part in man; then outward sense, that is the woman; and then proceeding in regular order he came to the third, pleasure. But the powers of these three, and their ages, are different only in the night, for in point of time they are equal; for the soul brings forward everything at the same moment with itself: but some things it brings forward in their actuality, and others in their power of existing, even if they have not yet arrived at the end. (74) And pleasure has been represented under the form of the serpent, for this reason, as the motion of the serpent is full of many windings and varied, so also is the motion of pleasure. At first it folds itself round a man in five ways, for the pleasures consist both in seeing, and in hearing, and in taste, and in smell, and in touch. But the most vehement and intense are those which arise from connection with woman, through which the generation of similar beings is appointed by nature to be effected. (75) And yet this is not the only reason why we say that pleasure is various in appearance, namely, because it folds itself around all the divisions of the irrational part of the soul, but because it also folds itself with many windings around each separate part. For instance, the pleasures derived from sight are various, there is all the pleasure which arises from the contemplation of pictures or statues; and all other works which are made by art delight the sight. So also do the different stages through which plants go while budding and flowering and bearing fruit; and likewise the diversified beauty of the different animals. In the same manner the flute gives pleasure to the sense of hearing, as does the harp, and every kind of instrument, and the harmonious voices of the irrational animals, of swallows, of nightingales; and likewise the melody of such rational beings as nature has made musical, the tuneful voice of the harp-players, and of those who represent comedy, or tragedy, or any other historionic performance.

Cf. Questions on Genesis 1.38

(38) What is the meaning of the expression, “And she gave it to her husband to eat with her?” (Genesis 3:6). What has been just said bears on this point also, since the time is nearly one and the same in which the outward senses are influenced by the object which is presented to them, and the intellect has an impression made on it by the outward senses.

(39) What is the meaning of the expression, “And the eyes of both of them were opened?” (Genesis 3:7). That they were not created blind is manifest even from this fact that as all other things, both animals and plants, were created in perfection, so also man must have been adorned with the things which are his most excellent parts, namely, eyes. And we may especially prove this, because a little while before the earth-born Adam was giving names to all the animals on the earth. Therefore it is perfectly plain that he saw them before doing so. Unless, indeed, Moses used the expression “eyes” in a figurative sense for the vision of the soul, by which alone the perception of good and evil, of what is elegant or unsightly, and, in fact, of all contrary natures, arise. But, if the eye is to be taken separately as counsel, which is called the warning of the understanding, then again there is a separate eye, which is a certain something devoid of sound reason, which is called opinion.

Written by John Uebersax

February 11, 2009 at 8:09 pm

Exegesis of the Fall of Adam and Eve in Lombard’s Sentences

leave a comment »

Exegesis of the Fall Adam and Eve in Lombard’s Sentences

Book 2, Distinction 24

Chapter IV.

On (man’s) sensuality.

For the sensuality is a certain inferior force of the soul, out of which there is a movement, which is intended for [intenditur in] the senses of the7 body and the appetite for things pertaining to the body; but the reason is the superior force of the soul, which, as we thus say, has two parts and/or differences, the superior and the inferior.  According to the superior it intends to catch sight of [conspiciendis] and/or to take counsel with [consulendis] supernal (things), according to the inferior it looks forward to [prospicit]8 the arrangement of temporal (things).  Therefore whatever occurs in our soul when we are considering ourselves [nobis considerantibus], which is not common with the beasts [bestiis], pertains to the reason.  But what you find in it common with large animals [bellusis], pertains to the sensuality.  And where something occurs first to us, gradually progressing in the consideration of the parts of the soul, which is not common with the beasts, there begins the reason.  Moreover (St.) Augustine teaches this in the twelfth book On the Trinity,9 saying thus:  « Let us see, where there is a certain confine of the exterior and interior man.  For whatever we have in mind (which is) common with sheep [pecore], is rightly said to pertain to the “exterior man”. For not only will the body be deputed the “exterior man”, but certain adjuncts with his life, by which the companions of the body and all senses thrive, by which he has been instructed to sense exterior (things) ».  « Ascending, therefore, inward [introrsum] by certain steps of consideration through the parts of the soul, where something begins to occur, which for us is not common with the beasts, there begins the reason, where the interior man can already be acknowledged.10

Chapter V.

On (man’s) reason and its parts.

« But the superior part of reason clings to the eternal reasons to caught sight of [conspiciendis] and/or take counsel with [consulendis] (them), the inferior portion is deflected to govern temporal (things) ».1 « And that intention of reason, by which we contemplate eternals, is deputed to wisdom [sapientiae]; but the latter, by which we use temporal things well, is deputed to knowledge [scientiae] ». « However, when we speak in an orderly manner [disserimus] of the nature of the human mind, we treat of [disserimus] one certain thing, nor do we join it together in these two, which I have mentioned [commemoravi],2 except (when we consider it) through (its) offices ». « Moreover the movement of the carnal or sensual soul, which is intended for [intenditur in] the senses of the body, is common to us and to sheep [pecoribusque], which (movement) is secluded from the reckoning of wisdom [ratione sapientiae], but is near to the reckoning of knowledge [rationi scientiae] ».*

Chapter VI.

On the similar order of sinning in us and in (our) first parents.

That, too, must not be overlooked, that there is such an order and progression of temptation now in one man, as there then preceded in (our) first parents. For as the serpent then recommended [suasit] evil to the woman, and she consented, thereupon [deinde] she gave (the forbidden fruit) to the man, and thus the sin was consummated;

Chapter VII.

That in us is the man and the woman and the serpent.

So too now, in us, for the serpent there is the movement of the sensual soul, for the woman the inferior portion of the reason, for the man the superior portion of the reason.  And the latter is the man, who according to the Apostle is said (to be) “the image and glory of God”;3 and the former is the woman, which is said according to the same (to be) “the glory of the man”.

Chapter IX.

In what kind of manner is temptation consummated in us through those three?

Now it remains to show, in what manner sin is consummated in us through these three; where it can be acknowledged, if it be attended to [intendatur] diligently, what in the soul is a mortal, and/or venial sin. For as there the serpent recommended7 to the woman, and the woman to the man; so too in us a sensual movement, when it begins to feel [conceperit] the allurement of sin, suggests (it) [suggerit] as the serpent to the woman, namely to the inferior part of reason, that is to the reckoning of knowledge; which if she consents to the allurement, the woman eats the forbidden food; after she gives to the man from the same, when she suggests the same allurement to the superior part of reason, that is to the reckoning of wisdom, which if it consents then the man too tastes with the female the forbidden fruit.

English Translation  © 2008, 2009 by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

Br. Bugnolo’s efforts in translating Lombard’s Sentences are recognized and appreciated.

These short excerpts are displayed for research purposes only under the terms of fair use of copyrighted material.  The entire work, including footnotes, can be accessed by the link below.  I may replace these excerpts with a paraphrase.  The purpose is to compare Lombard’s psychological interpretation of Adam and Eve with that of Philo of Alexandria.

via LIBER SECUNDUS SENTENTIARUM — D. 24: Petri Lombardi.

Written by John Uebersax

February 9, 2009 at 7:24 pm