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Chapter XXVI.—The Method Observed in the History of the Creation, in Reply to the Perverse Interpretation of Hermogenes.

We, however, have but one God, and but 492one earth too, which in the beginning God made.63666366    Gen. i. 1. The Scripture, which at its very outset proposes to run through the order thereof tells us as its first information that it was created; it next proceeds to set forth what sort of earth it was.63676367    Qualitatem ejus: unless this means “how He made it,” like the “qualiter fecerit” below. In like manner with respect to the heaven, it informs us first of its creation—“In the beginning God made the heaven:”63686368    Gen. i. 1. it then goes on to introduce its arrangement; how that God both separated “the water which was below the firmament from that which was above the firmament,”63696369    Gen. i. 7. and called the firmament heaven,63706370    Ver. 8.—the very thing He had created in the beginning.  Similarly it (afterwards) treats of man:  “And God created man, in the image of God made He him.”63716371    Gen. i. 27. It next reveals how He made him: “And (the Lord) God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”63726372    Gen. ii. 7. Now this is undoubtedly63736373    Utique. the correct and fitting mode for the narrative.  First comes a prefatory statement, then follow the details in full;63746374    Prosequi. first the subject is named, then it is described.63756375    Primo præfari, postea prosequi; nominare, deinde describere. This properly is an abstract statement, given with Tertullian’s usual terseness: “First you should (‘decet’) give your preface, then follow up with details:  first name your subject, then describe it.” How absurd is the other view of the account,63766376    Alioquin. when even before he63776377    Hermogenes, whose view of the narrative is criticised. had premised any mention of his subject, i.e. Matter, without even giving us its name, he all on a sudden promulged its form and condition, describing to us its quality before mentioning its existence,—pointing out the figure of the thing formed, but concealing its name! But how much more credible is our opinion, which holds that Scripture has only subjoined the arrangement of the subject after it has first duly described its formation and mentioned its name!  Indeed, how full and complete63786378    Integer. is the meaning of these words: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth; but63796379    Autem. the earth was without form, and void,”63806380    Gen. i. 1, 2.—the very same earth, no doubt, which God made, and of which the Scripture had been speaking at that very moment.63816381    Cum maxime edixerat. For that very “but63826382    The “autem” of the note just before this. is inserted into the narrative like a clasp,63836383    Fibula. (in its function) of a conjunctive particle, to connect the two sentences indissolubly together: “But the earth.” This word carries back the mind to that earth of which mention had just been made, and binds the sense thereunto.63846384    Alligat sensum. Take away this “but,” and the tie is loosened; so much so that the passage, “But the earth was without form, and void,” may then seem to have been meant for any other earth.


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