[1.] Conf. 11.2.2.
[2.] Augustine, De doctrina christiana; Latin text in PL 34; CCSL 31, CSEL 80, BA 11; Englsh translation in NPNF, ser. 1, v. 2; FC; Library of Liberal Arts. References in this chapter not otherwise identified are to this work.
[3.] Cf. O. O'Donovan, "Usus and fruitio in Augustine, De doctrina Christiana I," Journal of Theological Studies 33(1981) 361-397.
[4.] On trinitarian doctrine, see J. Pelikan, The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition, 100-600 (Chicago, 1971) 172-225; for Augustine, the Trinity is central.
[5.] For a sensitive criticism of Augustine on this point, see J. Burnaby, Amor Dei (London, 1938) 132-135.
[6.] Digression is a common feature of ancient literature and was considered an esthetically pleasing adornment. A historian recounting a great emperor's wars on the Persian frontier might break off for a few pages of geographical excursus about the Persian empire. In so doing, he would supply a genuine lack of information for a world without atlases and almanacs, provide the reader with a break for relief in a concentrated narrative, and display the author's erudition. Augustine's work was admired by his contemporaries for at least most of these same reasons, just because of the digressions we sometimes find distracting. They had a rhetorical function as well, as in the example discussed in our text. The task of rhetoric is persuasion. We are the heirs of medieval scholasticism, which held that the outline of an argument should be visible to a reader so its validity could be tested against the rules of logic. But the ancient world distrusted logic's clever tricks. The effectiveness of language was judged, not in the first instance according to principles of simplicity, clarity, and orderliness in the arrangement of the text itself, but according to the effectiveness with which it persuaded the intended audience in the matter at hand. This reflects the state of affairs when texts were still primarily imagined as consisting of the spoken word, with the manuscript serving as a kind of prompt copy for the speaker; our preoccupation with outward form depends on having the written (better, printed) text to examine.
[7.] Compare: "No one doubts we learn more cheerfully through simile and metaphor. What is sought with difficulty is found with more pleasure. ... The Holy Spirit [has] arranged the holy scriptures so the hunger for truth is satisfied with clear statements while surfeit and tedium are swept away by more obscure passages. Virtually nothing ... can be gotten from obscure passages that is not found elsewhere in scripture stated in perfectly clear terms." (2.6.8)
[8.] Crede ut intellegas: "Believe so you can understand" is an often quoted catchphrase of Augustine's, but not an exact quotation; cf. The Trinity 8.5.8. See Mandouze, Saint Augustin (Paris, 1968), 265-288.
[9.] The seven stages of wisdom are scriptural: "And there shall rest upon him the spirit of the Lord, the spirit of wisdom and purity of heart, the spirit of good counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and loyal obedience; and his heart will be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord." (Isaiah 11.2, for which Augustine's text differs slightly from modern editions.)
[10.] On the early history of the Bible in Christianity, see the Cambridge History of the Bible, volume 1 (Cambridge, 1970), esp. 67-158, 232-307.
[11.] Jerome, Liber interpretationis hebraicorum nominum, PL 23.771-858 and CCSL 72.57-161.
[12.] For the most part, the pre-Vulgate Latin versions have been lost and are being reconstructed by the Vetus Latina project of Beuron Abbey in Germany; see the Cambridge History of the Bible 1.541-562, and A.M. la Bonnardiere, Saint Augustin et la Bible (Paris: Beauchesne, 1986).
[13.] Augustine cites (2.12.17) a good example in the passage at Isaiah 7.9, where the Septuagint and early Latin translators read, "If you do not have faith, you will not have understanding," a theologically useful proof text (compare note 19 above), much more valuable than the philologically more accurate Vulgate, "Unless you have faith, you will not be established." Eriugena in the ninth century and Anselm in the eleventh had no qualms about preferring the older version. The irony is that modern Hebrew scholarship now discovers that the Septuagint may merely have beenmaking explicit what the Hebrew was saying figuratively.
[14.] Cf. Lubac, Exégèse Médiévale (Paris, 1959-1964), passim.
[15.] The earliest heresy, Marcionism, had challenged the use of the Old Testament; it may have been the decisive factor in propelling the orthodox churches to define their canons of received scriptural books. On Origen, see The Cambridge History of the Bible 1.454-488.
[16.] Cf. J. Pepin, Mythe et allegorie (Paris: Études augustiniennes, 1958; second edition 1976).
[17.] See also 3.2.2 and compare Book 12 of the Confessions.
[18.] For an edition with translation and notes of Book 4, by T. Sullivan (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1950).
[19.] See Cicero, Orator 76-99 on the
three styles; and cf. E. Auerbach, Mimesis (Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 1953), esp. 72-73.