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Topic: [HM] Augustine Quote on Mathematicians
Replies: 6   Last Post: Dec 17, 1999 12:30 AM

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Barry Cipra

Posts: 21
Registered: 12/3/04
Re: [HM] Augustine Quote on Mathematicians
Posted: Dec 9, 1999 8:09 PM
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The passage appears near the end of Book 2 of De Genesi ad litteram (The
Literal Meaning of Genesis). There's a relatively recent (1982) English
translation by J.H. Taylor, S.J., in the series Ancient Christian Writers
(No. 41), published by the Newman Press. Unfortunately, Taylor modernizes
"mathematician" into "astrologer." Here's an excerpt:

37. Hence, we must admit that when astrologers speak the truth, they are
speaking by a mysterious instinct that moves a man's mind without his
knowing it. When this happens for the purpose of deceiving men, it is the
work of evil spirits. To these spirits some knowledge of the truth about
the temporal order has been granted, partly by reason of their keen and
subtle senses, since they possess bodies of a much more subtle nature than
ours, partly because of their shrewdness due to the experience they have had
over the long ages they have lived, partly because the good angels reveal to
them what they themselves have learnt from Almighty God, at the command of
Him who distributes man's merits by the right principles of His hidden
justice. But sometimes these wicked spirits also feign the power of
divination and foretell what they themselves intend to do. Hence, a devout
Christian must avoid astrologers and all impious soothsayers, especially
when they tell the truth, for fear of leading his soul into error by
consorting with demons and entangling himself with the bonds of such

Barry Cipra

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