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43. Finally, O Lord - who art God and not flesh and blood - if any man sees anything less, can anything lie hid from “thy good Spirit” who shall “lead me into the land of uprightness,”503 which thou thyself, through those words, wast revealing to future readers, even though he through whom they were spoken fixed on only one among the many interpretations that might have been found? And if this is so, let it be agreed that the meaning he saw is more exalted than the others. But to us, O Lord, either point out the same meaning or any other true one, as it pleases thee. Thus, whether thou makest known to us what thou madest known to that man of thine, or some other meaning by the agency of the same words, still do thou feed us and let error not deceive us. Behold, O Lord, my God, how much we have written concerning these few words - how much, indeed! What strength of mind, what length of time, would suffice for all thy books to be interpreted in this fashion?504 Allow me, therefore, in these concluding words to confess more briefly to thee and select some one, true, certain, and good sense that thou shalt inspire, although many meanings offer themselves and many indeed are possible.505 This is the faith of my confession, that if I could say what thy servant meant, that is truest and best, and for that I must strive. Yet if I do not succeed, may it be that I shall say at least what thy Truth wished to say to me through its words, just as it said what it wished to Moses.
503 Cf. Ps. 143:10.
504 Something of an understatement! It is interesting to note that Augustine devotes more time and space to these opening verses of Genesis than to any other passage in the entire Bible - and he never commented on the full text of Genesis. Cf. Karl Barth's 274 pages devoted to Gen., chs. 1;2, in the Kirchliche Dogmatik, III, I, pp. 103-377.
505 Transition, in preparation for the concluding book (XIII), which undertakes a constructive resolution to the problem of the analysis of the mode of creation made here in Bk. XII.
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