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Natural Knowledge And Textual Meaning In Augustine'S Interpretation Of Genesis: The Three Functions Of Natural Philosophy

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Chapter Summary

This chapter explores Aurelius Augustine?s commentaries on Genesis to elucidate the fundamental structures of his thought in interpreting the creation story. It focuses on Augustine in the fifth century rather than on how he was interpreted later, but such a historical limitation may nevertheless afford a sharper picture of his hermeneutics for future comparison with the use made of him in the context of scientific debate. The chapter also explores specifically Augustine?s uses of natural truths and philosophy in his interpretation of Genesis to discern patterns of interaction between natural knowledge and the biblical text. Augustine tells us in the Confessions (5. 11.21) that when he was a Manichee he did not think the Old Testament could be defended against the Manichean criticisms.

Keywords: Aurelius Augustine; biblical text; Genesis; Manichee; natural philosophy; Old Testament



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