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Ruth I am currently reading 'The trinity' by Augustine.

I am quite baffled by two statements that for me seem to come out of thin air. I don't see at all how they follow from what he previously said.
I was hoping someone here who may have read this book, or knows more about what others wrote on the topic, could shed some light on my questions.

Both statements are in Book VI-5,7

The first statement is where he says that the Holy Spirit is that by which the two are joined to each other.
The second statement is And therefore there are not more than three.

About the first: that the Holy Spirit is the Love between Father and Son. My question is basically, how did he arrive at that conclusion? So, although I rather like the idea, and I think I understand (a bit) the meaning of those words, I am just utterly blank about how he came to say that.

Is this something that he has been trying to prove in the previous books, or was this common knowledge in those times?

Same type of question about the second statement. Why does Augustine say: And therefore... How can he say 'therefore'; what reasoning preceded it? I seem to have lost the thread of his reasoning.


Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1503 comments Ruth wrote: "I am currently reading 'The trinity' by Augustine.

I am quite baffled by two statements that for me seem to come out of thin air. I don't see at all how they follow from what he previously said.
..."


It might help to quote the whole passage from Augustine, for the benefit of those who don't have the book at hand. It is definitely better to read Augustine in his own words than what others say about him.

If I understand and remember Augustine correctly, when the Scripture says "God is Love", it does not merely mean that God constantly feels the emotion of love, but that Love is the substance of Godhead, in the same way that "God is Sprit" means Spirit is the substance of Godhead.

Love, by definition, is between two (subject and object). In this case, between Father and Son.


message 3: by Ruth (last edited Aug 16, 2018 11:25AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ruth I think I might have to quote the whole book then :-)
It seems to me that he is building up a series of statements that lead to some conclusion. Only I lost track of the line of argument.

I suppose I will have to go back and make some notes about the various steps.

But about the first statement, I think perhaps he takes it for granted that the Spirit is that which joins the two together. He is busy with an argument about why all three are equal and then says: Therefore the Holy Spirit too takes his place in the same unity and equality of substance. For whether he is the unity of both the others or their holiness or their charity because their holiness, it is clear that he is not one of the two, since he is that by which the two are joined each to the other, by which the begotten is loved by the one who begets him and in turn loves the begetter. (highlights by me)

Now what a sentence eh? Anyway, it seems to me that this fact that the Spirit is the bond of Father and Son is not a conclusion but an assumption.

I was just wondering if there was some more background information on how he came to that assumption


message 4: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 317 comments Ruth wrote: "About the first: that the Holy Spirit is the Love between Father and Son. My question is basically, how did he arrive at that conclusion?"

That's basic Catholic teaching. I didn't encounter this definition until I attended Mass on a regular basis. This was one of the "aha!" moments for me. Now I understand!

How this was arrived at I would have to dig a bit.


message 5: by Clark (new)

Clark Wilson | 586 comments About the first of the two difficulties. You can skip to the end to see my idea, which is only a suggestion.

Here is the translation I'm reading:

For whether He is the unity of both, or the holiness, or the love, or therefore the unity because the love, and therefore the love because the holiness, it is manifest that He is not one of the two, through whom the two are joined, through whom the Begotten is loved by the Begetter, and loves Him that begat Him, and through whom, not by participation, but by their own essence, neither by the gift of any superior, but by their own, they are “keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace;” which we are commanded to imitate by grace, both towards God and towards ourselves. “On which two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

First, to clear away some underbrush: I mentally tried to diagram or simplify sentence. I looked at the Latin, not that I know Latin very much at all. But I found an "est" after the part about Him not being one of the two. So to make sense of it I took the Him not being one of the two as a parenthetical and set it aside. The sentence then rolls along with the part before "it is manifest" and the part after. The first part of what is manifest then is the phrase that Ruth is focusing on.

At last, here is my suggestion: The phrase "through Whom the two are joined" merely encapsulates all the possible variations before the "it is manifest." That is, what is common among all the variations that he listed is that they are all ways in which the Spirit connects the Father and the Son. So the phrase is merely a restatement of the previous content and does not introduce anything new.


message 6: by Clark (last edited Aug 17, 2018 06:41AM) (new)

Clark Wilson | 586 comments Here's the Latin (from Wikisource). The translation's structure is rambling because the Latin is rambling.

Siue enim sit unitas amborum siue sanctitas siue caritas, siue ideo unitas quia caritas et ideo caritas, quia sanctitas, manifestum est quod non aliquis duorum est quo uterque coniungitur, quo genitus a gignente diligatur generatoremque suum diligat, sintque non participatione sed essentia sua neque dono superioris alicuius sed suo proprio seruantes unitatem spiritus in uinculo pacis. Quod imitari per gratiam et ad deum et ad nos ipsos iubemur, in quibus duobus praeceptis tota lex pendet et prophetae.


message 7: by Kerstin (last edited Aug 17, 2018 07:15AM) (new)

Kerstin | 317 comments Ruth wrote: ""About the first: that the Holy Spirit is the Love between Father and Son. My question is basically, how did he arrive at that conclusion?"

Now that I slept over it, the answer came to me :)

God is love. The Holy Spirit can't be anything else.

St. Augustine didn't make an assumption but followed logic. And from him I would never expect assumptions. He was too highly educated, and if you ever read his Confessions you may recall that he scrutinized too deeply to just leave anything to assumptions. He had to pin-point it.


message 8: by Kerstin (last edited Aug 17, 2018 07:51AM) (new)

Kerstin | 317 comments Ruth wrote: "I think I might have to quote the whole book then :-)
It seems to me that he is building up a series of statements that lead to some conclusion. Only I lost track of the line of argument.

I supp..."


I've been trying to find the translation on the New Advent website for comparison, but I can't find it. Could it be that the numbering is a bit different? Anyway, I'll have to get to it later.
http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1301...


Ruth @kerstin: it is book 6, not 4, see here: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1301...
(And thanks for pointing to that online source!)

I find those other translations indeed clearer.

Thanks, Clark for adding the Latin, and your notes! Unfortunately I have forgotten all my Latin lessons, so I cannot read this at all.. (haha, I tried google translate but it gave an error) But these other translations did give me some new ideas, perhaps you could see if that might fit with the Latin??

I realize that I may have completely misunderstood the whole sentence. When I try to understand this sentence, I am now unsure about the following details:
When he says 'the unity of both' what does 'both' mean?
When he says 'not one of the two', what does 'two' point to?

I thought in both cases: 'Father and Son', but now I am no longer so sure.

I think this 'not one of the two' can mean that he cannot be exclusively one way of joining, but must always be all possible ways of joining. (So it still seems to me that he takes it for granted that the spirit is that which joins Father and Son)

For he says: "For whether He is the unity of both, or the holiness, or the love, or therefore the unity because the love, and therefore the love because the holiness, it is manifest that He is not one of the two, through whom the two are joined,"

It seems to me that he is saying something like: it cannot be love only, because from love it follows unity, and from holiness follows love (perhaps he forgot to mention from unity follows holiness?). So one leads to the other and therefore the spirit consists of all these aspects of God (wrong wording..) hence is not less but equal. (Only I'd then think he would have written 'not one of the three --> holiness, unity, love, but perhaps that was a mistake?)

And yes, the translator of the book I am reading also mentions that this book 6 seems particularly hastily written, and has some rambling sentences.


message 10: by Nemo (last edited Aug 17, 2018 09:18AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1503 comments Ruth wrote: " it seems to me that this fact that the Spirit is the bond of Father and Son is not a conclusion but an assumption...."

How about this thought process:

1. God is Love, i.e., Love is the substance of Godhead.
2. God is Spirit, i.e., Spirit is the substance of Godhead
3. The Godhead is One. Therefore Spirit is Love.
4. Love is the bond through which Father and Son are joined.
5. Therefore, the Spirit is the bond through which Father and Son are joined.

The Spirit is neither the Father, nor the Son. He is the unity of Father and Son. (I think the Spirit being the unity of Father and Son implies that the He is also the equality of Father and Son). The Three are One and equal in substance.


message 11: by Ruth (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ruth Or this:

There is a begetter and a begotten (for reasons he explained earlier).
Now there exists a unity between the two, because he proved that they are one.

Thus, here comes then the final point: this unity is not the begetter or the begotten, but something different.

I think that answers my question. He doesn't start out with figuring out how to describe the spirit. He is in this paragraph describing that oneness between father and son, which we usually call the spirit.


message 12: by Ruth (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ruth Later on he writes :
" Therefore the Holy Spirit, whatever it is, is something common both to the Father and Son. But that communion itself is consubstantial and co-eternal; and if it may fitly be called friendship, let it be so called; but it is more aptly called love. And this is also a substance, since God is a substance, and "God is love," as it is written."


message 13: by Ruth (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ruth And I think I can now also understand how it follows from this that there are not more than three. By definition there are two related, and the third is the relation itself.
For a fourth you'd have another relation, but that would than be the same concept as the first relation, so that adds nothing.


message 14: by Ruth (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ruth It may also be interesting to note that today in my listening to the course on western philosophy, I learned that Aristotle said that God is contemplating himself. This seems very related to this.
When God says as it were: "I love myself", then we have two somewhat different things in 'I' and 'myself'. And now Augustine argues that 'love' is also a substance.


message 15: by Ruth (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ruth I wonder what would happen if we pulled this through to :
"I love the fact that I love myself"


message 16: by Ruth (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ruth ahum, I believe I turned to spamming-mode.. I am just enthusiastic because I think I grasped the point and line of reasoning.

And I have just been thinking about my objection above, how about the sentence "I love the fact that I love myself". I think that is basically the same as saying: "I love my selflove" and then we are back at the original type of simple relation with which we already dealt. It is not a problem that 'myself' and 'selflove' are different, because in the trinity all are one. What you can say about one, can also be said about the other. Of course the Father loves the Son, but he also loves the Spirit. And all other possible combinations.
What remains is that there is always such a bond, a bond between two related 'things'.


message 17: by Ruth (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ruth I have to say, all this thinking about how the related parties and the relationship are all equal, does put things like 1cor 11:3 in a different light.


message 18: by Nemo (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1503 comments Ruth wrote: "I have to say, all this thinking about how the related parties and the relationship are all equal, does put things like 1cor 11:3 in a different light."

Yes, I think Paul based the marital relation on the relation of the Trinity, and in the same vein, Ignatius of Antioch also based the unity of the Church, the relation between overseer and other members, on the unity of the Trinity, the relation between Father and Son.

(I remember discussing it briefly last year:
https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...)


message 19: by Ruth (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ruth There is such a beauty in the thought that the relationship between two persons is (like a) person too!
I've been thinking about the relationship between my husband and me, how that is like a life of it's own. However untangible, it is a real thing.

A similar thing is the 'group spirit' of a bunch of people. If there is a good group spirit, the group will do great things that cannot be attributed to this or that group member alone.
Maybe the inklings is an example of such a group.


message 20: by Ruth (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ruth Thanks to you all, for helping me get unstuck on this question that I had. I have thoroughly enjoyed thinking about this topic, and now written a blog-post on it. It's here: http://www.consideringlilies.nl/love-...


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