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Saint Augustine: On Genesis: Two Books on Genesis against the Manichees; and, on the Literal Interpretation of Genesis: An Unfinished Book


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Augustine’s Two Books on Genesis against the Manichees and On the Literal Interpretation of Genesis: An Unfinished Book represent the first two of five explanations of the beginning of the Book of Genesis that he undertook between 388 and 418. In the first, a commentary on Genesis 1–3, Augustine counters the ignorant and impious attacks against Scripture by the Manichees, with whom he was a “hearer” for nine years. The second would have been a hexaemeron, a commentary on the six days of creation, but, as Augustine admits, his inexperience in scriptural exegesis collapsed under the weight of the burden, “and before I finished one book, I gave up the labor that I could not sustain.”

Although Augustine agrees that many things in Scripture may seem absurd to the unlearned, he holds that they can produce great pleasures once they have been explained. It was this tenet, realized in his spiritual rather than corporeal interpretation of Scripture, that led him to counter the impious attacks the Manichees used to attract those who sought a more intellectual understanding of God over and against an anthropomorphic view. Augustine’s brilliant assimilation of Christian revelation and the intellectual faith of the Neoplatonic circle around Ambrose in Milan gave rise to his “spiritual” interpretation of Genesis 1–3 in the Two Books on Genesis against the Manichees.

In On the Literal Interpretation of Genesis: An Unfinished Book, Augustine succeeds in presenting an ad litteram interpretation for 25 verses before arriving at the difficult verse on man’s having been made to God’s image and likeness. At this point he breaks off because, in the words of John O’Meara, “it either tended to blasphemy or could not be reconciled with the Catholic faith.” Perhaps because he later writes that he considers his literal attempt to interpret Genesis a failure, the texts herein translated have become today, in light of modern scriptural studies, fascinating and invaluable examples of Augustine’s developing thought on significant philosophical and theological issues in the interpretation of Genesis.

For The Fathers of the Church series in its entirety, see Fathers of the Church Series (127 vols.).

Key Features

  • Presents Augustine’s thoughts on Christian origins
  • Wrestles with the method of interpretation for the first few chapters of the Bible
  • One of 127 published volumes in a well-respected series on the Church Fathers
  • Title: Saint Augustine: On Genesis: Two Books on Genesis against the Manichees; and, on the Literal Interpretation of Genesis: An Unfinished Book
  • Author: Augustine of Hippo
  • Series: The Fathers of the Church
  • Volume: 84
  • Publisher: Catholic University of America
  • Print Publication Date: 1991
  • Logos Release Date: 2014
  • Pages: 211
  • Era: era:nicene
  • Language: English
  • Resources: 1
  • Format: Digital › Logos Research Edition
  • Subjects: Bible. O.T. Genesis › Commentaries--Early works to 1800; Manichaeism › Controversial literature--Early works to 1800
  • ISBNs: 0813200849, 0813210887, 9780813200842, 9780813210889
  • Resource Type: Monograph
  • Metadata Last Updated: 2022-09-30T00:18:11Z

In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

Aurelius Augustinus (354–430) is often simply referred to as St. Augustine or Augustine Bishop of Hippo (the ancient name of the modern city of Annaba in Algeria). He is the preeminent Doctor of the Church according to Roman Catholicism, and is considered by Evangelical Protestants to be in the tradition of the Apostle Paul as the theological fountainhead of the Reformation teaching on salvation and grace.


11 ratings

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  1. Glen Taylor

    Glen Taylor


  2. Jesame von Tronchin
  3. Faithlife User
  4. Robert Bishop

    Robert Bishop


  5. Ray Macedo

    Ray Macedo


  6. Dean Poulos

    Dean Poulos


  7. Victor Montes

    Victor Montes


    A good book of one of the father's of the Christianity. Thank you

  8. Jake ham

    Jake ham


  9. Agenor Dias

    Agenor Dias


    A wonderful book, received in a wonderful offer. Thank you

  10. David Squires

    David Squires


    I am very happy to have this resource as part of my library on Logos 8. I can't really review it as I have just now in the past few days added it. Also, I am in the midst of changing my internet service provider so I have been trying to use what internet connection as little as possible until the change is completed. Of course, I, as a Christian, am familliar with Augustine's reputation but I am not really familiar first hand with his body of work. When I was younger I remember reading a book about his City of God. I have read the introduction to this volume and was very interested to get to know the work better. Thank you for making these works accessible to us.


Digital list price: $24.99
Save $5.00 (20%)