Wednesday, October 16, 2019

October 15th - Adult Ed Series on the City of God, Session 10 of 16, Abraham to Moses (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

In this series, which has extended several months, we are working through the classic City of God by St Augustine. This is one of the most influential books of all time, and sets forth an Historical Theology of the progress of the City of God from Creation to the end of time.

Session 10: We focus on the story of Abraham, and conclude with a brief discussion of the remaining chapters of Genesis.

Listen online [here]!


The City of God
By St Augustine of Hippo
Session 10, Book XVI: From Abraham to Moses

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

Note on schedule: We are now in the final portion of the book, in which St Augustine will make a commentary on the whole of Scripture moving through the Bible much more quickly than he has until now. We will meet every Tuesday in October and November, focusing for one month on the commentary on Scripture found in Books XV-XVIII and the second month on the discussion of the Last Things found in Books XIX-XXII.

I. Overview of the Biblical History from Abraham to Moses (Genesis 12-50, Exodus, Deuteronomy)
The Call of Abraham and his life up to the birth of Ishmael (Genesis 12-16). Circumcision, Sodom and Gomorrah, the birth of Isaac, Abraham’s last years (Genesis 17-25). Isaac, Jacob and Esau (Genesis 26-36). Joseph, Judah and the brothers (Genesis 37-50). The story of Moses and the exodus (Exodus and Deuteronomy).

II. The early portion of the story of Abraham
A. Notice that a new era dawns with Abraham – there is a chosen people from among the nations. Additionally, with Abraham the scriptural narrative comes closer to what we know as “history.” 

B. The great call from paganism to monotheism. St Augustine grants that Abraham may have even been a pagan, worshiping many gods – but insists that he rose up above this to knowledge of the true God (by human reason). But all changes when God reveals himself and calls Abraham apart.

C. The promise of God to Abraham: 1) The Land.  2) Many descendants.  3) That he will be the Father of all nations and all shall be blessed (this is the promise of the Messiah).
The people are said to number as the sands of the sea (meaning, many many descendants), and as the stars of the sky (meaning not only great number, but also exalted).

D. Abraham and Lot. They peacefully part ways, but Abraham chose better, for Lot chose the land that was rich but the people were wicked, whereas Abraham chose the poorer land that was yet not wicked. Thus, Lot suffers in wars induced by the King of Sodom, and is nearly destroyed along with Sodom and Gomorrah – but both times Abraham intervenes for his nephew.
Question: Who was Melchizedek?  Shem, son of Noah.

III. Abraham, Hagar and Sarah – Ishmael and Isaac
A. The promise made to Abraham, that he would have many descendants, but did not specify through Sarah. Further, children through Sarah’s bondwoman would be credited to her.  [Abraham is the first to have multiple wives]

B. Abraham did not act out of lust, but in obedience to the demands of his wife. Further, Abraham has no disordered attachment to Hagar or Ishmael. Quickly dismisses her when the Lord makes clear that the descendants will be from Sarah. Further, while Scripture makes it clear that this incident caused problems for Abraham, it does not lay any blame on the Patriarch.

C. The boy is named “Isaac” which means “laughter”. While Sarah laughed in unbelief, Abraham laughed for joy and in faith.

IV. Abraham and the sacrifice of Isaac
A. The Sacrifice of Isaac is a foreshadowing of the perfect Sacrifice of Christ: The beloved son, offered on a mount, carrying the wood on his back. The ram caught in the brush symbolizes Christ sacrificed and crowned with thorns.

B. Abraham believed in the resurrection and knew God would return Isaac even from the dead so as to fulfill the promise – “In Isaac shall thy seed be called.”

V. Of the blessing given by Isaac to Jacob rather than Esau
A. We must not think that Jacob was lying or cheating his father, for Scripture says he “was a simple man” or “a man without guile” – meaning he wasn’t two faced.

B. Isaac does not show so much anger or remove the blessing, but rather confirms what has been done. This indicates that he knew a great mystery was being foreshadowed – which is the passing of the covenant to the Gentiles.

C. Further commentary from St Louis Marie De Montfort: Seeing devotion to Mary in the devotion of Jacob to his mother Rebecca.

VI. Of Moses and the Exodus.  St Augustine gives almost no commentary.

VII. 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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