Wednesday, September 4, 2019

September 3rd, Adult Ed Series on the City of God, Session 6 of 16, The Fall, Sin and Death

In this series, which will continue for about six months, we are discussing the City of God by St Augustine - one of the most influential books in human history, a book that formed Western Civilization.

In Session 6, we conclude our discussion of the creation and fall of the angels and more forward with the state of man before the Fall, the Fall itself and the reality of Sin, and the effects of the Fall.

Listen online [here]!


The City of God
By St Augustine of Hippo
Session 6, The Fall of Man, Sin and Death

The gods of the nations are demons. (Ps 95)
Glorious things are said of thee, o City of God! (Ps 86)

Note on schedule: Classes August 27th, September 3rd and 10th, and then continuing again in October through till Advent. In our next three class we will study Books XI-XIV: the six days of Creation in Genesis 1, the fall of the evil angels, the fall of man, original sin and death.

I. Review of Creation and the Angels
A. The “six days” as being six ways of knowing creation.
B. The creation of the angels.
C. The fall of Satan and his angels.
D. Finish discussion from last week.

II. The creation of man in the state of grace, and his fall
A. Gifts of man before the fall – Preternatural gifts: Favors granted by God above and beyond the powers or capacities of the nature that receives them but not beyond those of all created nature. Such gifts perfect nature but do not carry it beyond the limits of created nature. They include three great privileges to which human beings have no title--infused knowledge (about God, about the moral law, about the natural universe), absence of concupiscence (integrity), and bodily immortality (freedom from death). Adam and Eve possessed these gifts before the Fall.

B. How all were present in Adam. Consider the way Eve was present in Adam (being made from his flesh), and how all men were present in Adam (according to propagation).

C. Supplemental question: What if man had never sinned? Would Christ have come? Would there be sacraments? Etc

D. Supplemental question: Is the possibility of sin necessary for freedom? Did God have to create man with the capacity to sin in order for man to be free?  “Able not to sin (Eden) – Not able not to sin (now) – Not able to sin (heaven)”

D. Supplemental: Marriage is a healing remedy for the Fall. Woman would take the place of God as man’s companion.

E. Note regarding the errors of Origen – Man’s pre-existence and fall.

III. Sin and death
A. The nature of the first sin
1. Consider St Augustine’s discussion of the theft of the pear in Confessions
2. Man does not choose evil in itself, but only some lesser good in a disordered way

B. The perplexity of death
1. The death of the soul through loss of grace, then of the body through loss of life.
2. There is the “first death” which is bodily death, and there is the “second death” which is hell. But for the redeemed, the first death leads to eternal life.
3. As man rebelled against God, so too the body/passions rebel against the soul – concupiscence

IV. Recommended reading for Books XV-XVIII  (about 101 pages)
A. Book XV – From Cain and Abel to the great Flood  (26 pages)
Chapters 1-10, Of the two Cities, Cain and Abel and the Giants before the Flood
Chapters 12, 14-16, Of the great ages of the early men and the question of marriage of relatives
Chapter 22, The “sons of God” and “daughters of men”
Chapters 26-27, The Ark

B. Book XVI – From Noah to Abraham and down through the Judges (22 pages)
Chapters 1-4, From the Flood to the Tower of Babel
Chapters 7-9, Various questions about the natural world in relation to the Creation and the Flood
Chapters 16-21, The three promises God made to Abraham
Chapters 22-26, 31-32, Various moments in Abraham’s life
Chapters 35-37, 39, Jacob and Esau
Chapter 43, Moses

C. Book XVII – From David through the Kings and Prophets  (23 pages)
Chapters 1-3, Of the prophecies of the Old Testament
Chapter 4, Samuel the Prophet
Chapter 6, King Saul
Chapter 8, King David
Chapter 14-17, Of the Psalms
Chapter 20, King Solomon

D. Book XVIII – Comparison of Sacred History with World History, the Gospel and Age of the Apostles  (20 pages)
Chapter 1, Summary of the preceding books
Chapters 28-30, 34-35, Prophecies about Christ and the Church
Chapters 42-43, Of the Hebrew and Greek versions of the Old Testament
Chapters 46-53, Of the Birth of Jesus, his Gospel, the preaching of the Apostles and the spread of the Church until the final great persecution at the end of time

V. Recommended listening on LibriVox for Books XV-XVIII  (about 6 hours)
Book XV, Chapters 1-7, 8-14, 22-27 
Book XVI, Chapters 1-8, 21-31, 32-43
Book XVII, Chapters 1-4, 5-8, 9-16
Book XVIII, Chapters 32-39, 40-47, 48-54


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