Metaphor, history and the ineffability of God

Augustine's approach to reading the Old Testament

  • Levertijd: via de auteur
  • Aantal pagina's: 224 p.
  • ISBN 978-94-90393-68-7
€ 20,00 incl. btw BESTELLEN

Omschrijving

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This book is about two of Augustine's late works, De Genesi ad Litteram (‘The literal interpretation of Genesis’, which deals with the creation account) and Quaestiones in Heptateuchum (‘Questions on the Heptateuch’, his commentary on the first seven books of the Old Testament). It is very remarkable that Augustine, well-known for his use of allegorical interpretation, in these works shifts to a historical interpretation.

In De Genesi ad Litteram, Augustine argues that the creation narrative is historically true, but that it nevertheless contains metaphors, in order to convey the metaphysical meaning of the act of creation. Augustine develops a new, fascinating view of metaphor, in which metaphors are deemed necessary for understanding metaphysical concepts, which cannot be explained in literal terms. This surpasses the Aristotelian view of metaphor, which was the view of metaphor in Augustine's time, and it also goes beyond allegorical interpretation, which attempts to decode the divine message of Scripture.

Quaestiones in Heptateuchum is a relatively neglected work, in which Augustine meticulously investigates the historical narrative for its own sake. In addition, he uses generalization, a form of literal interpretation, to distil moral principles from the historical narrative. Furthermore, he investigates the Old Testament laws, and assesses which ones hold eternally.

Considering the scope of this study, this book might be of interest to Augustinian scholars, as well as metaphor theorists and exegetes.