Angilbert (fl. ca. 840/50), On the Battle Which was Fought at Fontenoy

The Law of Christians is broken,
Blood by the hands of hell profusely shed like rain,
And the throat of Cerberus bellows songs of joy.

Angelbertus, Versus de Bella que fuit acta Fontaneto

Fracta est lex christianorum
Sanguinis proluvio, unde manus inferorum,
gaudet gula Cerberi.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Schubert on St. Augustine's Teaching on the Eternal Law, Part 12

Augustine's Lex Aeterna Teaching
Its Content and its Source

by: P. Alois Schubert, S.V.D.

Part II
What Sources Inform St. Augustine's Teaching on the Eternal Law?

Bust of St. Paul the Apostle by El Greco

C. PAUL (3-67 A.D.)

Without doubt, Apostle Paul had a controlling influence upon St. Augustine's teaching on the eternal law. Augustine had expansive knowledge of St. Paul's epistles. The bishop himself states that he read Paul above all others.(1) He cites the Pauline epistles often in his works.(2) Paul speaks in his Epistle to the Romans about law, the law which the Gentiles have by nature. "So although the Gentiles have no law, even so, they by nature (physei) do the work of the law. They, who have no law, are themselves law. They evidence that the wok of the law is written upon their hearts. Their conscience gives them minds instruction, so that it either accuses them or confirms them."(3) Paul states here that the Gentiles act by means of the natural moral law which is written upon their heart. This law is to them the norm and measure of good and evil. Augustine interprets this provision extensively. He asks from whence it is that the Gentiles have this law, and he answers: "God gave the Gentiles this law. He has written it in their hearts with his finger, with the Holy Spirit."(4) Men have this law by nature, since they are created in the image of God.(5) Since God has written the moral law in man's heart, it follows that it is a divine law, and it also flows that it is the eternal law. Similarly, St. Paul leads back the laws of the State to God, in that he says: "There is no power save from God."(6) Augustine cites and confirms these words of the Apostle.(7) So do both Paul and Augustine lead the moral law and the law of the State back to God.

St. John the Evangelist by Donatello (Detail)

D. JOHN (100 A.D. †)

In his prologue to his Gospel, John the Evangelist depicts his "Gospel of the Logos."(1) He calls the Logos eternal, the maker of all things, the life and light of all mankind. Augustine interprets this part of St. John's Gospel. He writes: "The Logos has created all things, all things without exception, that we find in nature, everything from angel to the littlest worm.(2) There is no form, no structure, no harmony of the parts, no substance, whether in weight, in measure, in number, that has its existence except through the Logos.(3) The Logos is uncreated form of all things.(4) The inner ground for the constitution and organization of all the things of the world. So do both Augustine and John lead all things back to the Logos, the Verbum, the divine Wisdom, which is nothing other than the eternal law.


(1) Aug., PL 32, col. 747. Paulum prae ceteris legit Augustinus . . .
(2) PL 44, col. 227, No. 44 and PL. 35, col. 1381.
(3) Rom. 2:14-16. ὅταν γὰρ ἔθνη τὰ μὴ νόμον ἔχοντα φύσει τὰ τοῦ νόμου ποιῶσιν, οὗτοι νόμον μὴ ἔχοντες ἑαυτοῖς εἰσιν νόμος. οἵτινες ἐνδείκνυνται τὸ ἔργον τοῦ νόμου γραπτὸν ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις αὐτῶν, συμμαρτυρούσης αὐτῶν τῆς συνειδήσεως καὶ μεταξὺ ἀλλήλων τῶν λογισμῶν κατηγορούντων . . .
(4) Augustin, PL 44, col. 227, No. 44. Deus dat leges in mentem ipsorum et in cordibus eorum scribit eas digito suo, spiritu sancto. [De spir. et lit. 26.46]
(5) Aug., PL 32, col. 229, No. 47. Imaginem Dei, in qua facti sumus.
(6) Rom. 13:1. . . . οὐ γὰρ ἔστιν ἐξουσία εἰ μὴ ὑπὸ θεοῦ, αἱ δὲ οὖσαι ὑπὸ θεοῦ . . .
(7) Aug., Epist. 93, PL 33, col. 331.

(1) John 1:3. πάντα δι’ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο, καὶ χωρὶς αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο οὐδὲ ἓν ὃ γέγονεν.
(2) Aug., PL 32, col. 1358. Quaecumque naturaliter facta sunt, quaecumque sunt in creaturis, omnia omino quae in coelo fix sunt, quae fulgent desuper, quae volitant sub coelo, quae moventur in universa natura rerum, omnis omnino creatura ab angelo usque ad vermiculum facta sunt per verbum (logos). [Conf., VIII, 3]
(3) Aug., PL 32, col. 1386. Nulla enim forma, nulla compages, nulla concordia partium, nulla qualiscumque substantia, quae potest habere pondus, numerum, mensuramm, nisi per illud verbum . . . cui dictum est omnia in mensura numero et pondere (Sap. 11:21).
(4) Aug., PL 38, col. 662. Verbum Dei est forma quaedam non formata, forma sine tempore et loco, form omnium formatorum, forma incommutabilis sine lapsu, sine temore, sine loco, superans omnia . . . hoc verbum dicitur sapientia. [Sermo 117, 2, 3]

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