The "Retractationes" by S.Augustine and petrine primacy


#1

It is often stated by non Catholic Christian brothers, that
S. Augustine’s great prestige and authority are to be considered
as opposing the idea of petrine primacy.
Strange as it can appear that the Catholic Church proclaimed Doctor of the Church
such a clear “anti-papist”, that impressive claim seems to rest mainly on a very often quoted passage of the Retractationes.

That is, the late systematic review of his works, dated around 427 AD.
A premise on the title of that singular treatise could be useful.
Translating it as “Retractations”, one could get the idea that here you’ll find just simply withdrawn opinions, recantations. Indeed, the latin re-tractare has primarily the neutral meaning of “dealing with again, reconsidering”, rather than “repudiating, recanting”, as it could maybe sound to a modern ear. So, a more adequate translation of the title could likely be “Reconsiderations”.

Here is a translation of the relevant passage, from Book I, chapter 21 (or 20, in other editions):

“I mentioned somewhere with reference to the apostle Peter that ‘the Church is founded upon him as upon a rock.’ This meaning is also sung by many lips in the lines of blessed Ambrose, where, speaking of the domestic cock, he says: ‘When it crows, he, the rock of the Church, absolves from sin.’ But I realize that I have since frequently explained the words of our Lord: ‘Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church’, to the effect that they should be understood as referring to him Peter confessed when he said: ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God’, and as meaning that Peter having been named after this rock, figured the person of the Church, which is built upon this rock and has received the keys of the kingdom of heaven. For what was said to him was not ‘Thou art rock’, but ‘Thou art Peter’. But the rock was Christ, having confessed whom(even as the whole Church confesses) Simon was named Peter. Which of these interpretations is more likely to be correct, let the reader choose.”

For the original text see eg www.sant-agostino.it/latino/ritrattazioni

Some considerations to begin with:

  1. We are told that both of these interpretations (petra=Peter, petra=Christ) were offered by Augustine during his theological/pastoral career. Both are offered again in this passage. The reader is absolutely free. He/she can prefer any of the two proposed interpretations (“eligat lector”).
  2. To make it clearer that the first interpretation is not repudiated at all, Augustine quotes his dear friend and teacher Ambrose in its support ( curious, since in our time passages by Ambrose are often quoted against petrine primacy).
  3. If anyone can freely hold to the latter as well to the former interpretation, it means the two of them are not seen by Augustine in contradiction with each other.
  4. Why are they not contradictory ? Probably, because if Christ is the ultimate “petra” ( as the Catholic Church proclaims, too), and He chooses to call Simon “Petrus” just after Himself, the Lord, in S. Augustine’s view, singles Simon out remarkably indeed, among the Apostles and all future generations of believers.

All observations by everyone are welcome. :slight_smile:


#2

Hi Pneuma,

As you have stated elsewhere, this is a clear case of et… et, as opposed to the protestant aut… aut. Perhaps because “truth” can often admit more than one meaning, and still be true. Of course, in a case like this where the stakes are so high, it is understandable that Protestants would want to see this as a definite refutation of the Peter as the rock view.

God bless,
Ut


#3

A Catholic today cannot, however. That is unfortunate and telling of how times have changed.

Notice that Augustine offers one explanation (which he no longer held) OR the other. He never offers the idea that the rock (singular) is both Peter and Jesus.

No.

Augustine corrected himself and changed his view: Jesus Christ is the Rock.

  1. If anyone can freely hold to the latter as well to the former interpretation, it means the two of them are not seen by Augustine in contradiction with each other.

He did not offer us that possibility in the text you quote.

Let us repeat:

Which of these interpretations is more likely to be correct, let the reader choose

One or the other is all Augustine affords in your supplied quote. He says you must choose, not that they are both right.

Augustine clearly held that Jesus was the rock, not Peter. He offers his readers the opportunity to agree with him.

It is interesting that a supposed Catholic (Saint and Doctor) would encourage other Catholics to believe that Peter was NOT the rock of Matt 16:18. This indeed is a glimpse of what exactly the church was teaching at the time regarding this verse.

Let us see Augustine’s learned teaching again:

"Let us call to mind the Gospel: “Upon this Rock I will build My Church.” Therefore She cries from the ends of the earth, whom He has willed to be built upon a Rock. But in order that the Church might be built upon the Rock, who was made the Rock? Hear Paul saying: “But the Rock was Christ.” On Him therefore built we have been. For this reason that Rock whereon we have been built, first has been smitten with winds, flood, rain, when Christ of the devil was being tempted. Behold on what firmness He has willed to establish you. With reason our voice is not in vain, but is hearkened unto: for on great hope we have been set: “On the Rock You have exalted me.”… (St. Augustine, Saint and Doctor of the Catholic Church, Exposition on Psalm 61)


#4

Hello Atemi,

A Catholic today cannot, however. That is unfortunate and telling of how times have changed.

Notice that Augustine offers one explanation (which he no longer held) OR the other. He never offers the idea that the rock (singular) is both Peter and Jesus.

No.

Augustine corrected himself and changed his view: Jesus Christ is the Rock.

He did not offer us that possibility in the text you quote.

Let us repeat:

Which of these interpretations is more likely to be correct, let the reader choose

One or the other is all Augustine affords in your supplied quote. He says you must choose, not that they are both right.

Augustine clearly held that Jesus was the rock, not Peter. He offers his readers the opportunity to agree with him.

It is interesting that a supposed Catholic (Saint and Doctor) would encourage other Catholics to believe that Peter was NOT the rock of Matt 16:18. This indeed is a glimpse of what exactly the church was teaching at the time regarding this verse.

Let us see Augustine’s learned teaching again:

"Let us call to mind the Gospel: “Upon this Rock I will build My Church.” Therefore She cries from the ends of the earth, whom He has willed to be built upon a Rock. But in order that the Church might be built upon the Rock, who was made the Rock? Hear Paul saying: “But the Rock was Christ.” On Him therefore built we have been. For this reason that Rock whereon we have been built, first has been smitten with winds, flood, rain, when Christ of the devil was being tempted. Behold on what firmness He has willed to establish you. With reason our voice is not in vain, but is hearkened unto: for on great hope we have been set: “On the Rock You have exalted me.”… (St. Augustine, Saint and Doctor of the Catholic Church, Exposition on Psalm 61)


#5

Hello Atemi,

 nice to meet you again. 

A Catholic today cannot, however. That is unfortunate and telling of how times have changed.

The Church does not tell us that the second interpretation is wrong. If you want me to declare that the first one is wrong, where can I enjoy more freedom, in the Church or with your view ?

Notice that Augustine offers one explanation (which he no longer held)

Where does Augustine state that he repudiated the first interpretation ?

OR the other. He never offers the idea that the rock (singular) is both Peter and Jesus.

Really ? Where does he compel to such an aut…aut ?

Augustine corrected himself and changed his view:

Again. That’s your statement. Show that it is Augustine’s statement, as well.

Jesus Christ is the Rock.

I agree. He does state that. So does the Church. Are you aware of that ?

He did not offer us that possibility in the text you quote. Let us repeat:

Which of these interpretations is more likely to be correct, let the reader choose

**One or the other **is all Augustine affords in your supplied quote. He says you must choose, not that they are both right.

Aut…aut ? Then, let’s go back to Augustine’s own words:
" Harum autem duarum sententiarum quae sit probabilior eligat lector…" . The key word is the comparative “probabilior”.
If we read Augustine’s words again, he is telling us: "here you have two “sententiae probabiles”, feel free to decide which is “probabilior” ". Or, in other words: it’s up to you which of those interpretations has the higher degree of certainty.

In no way the latin tells us: “one of the two has to be wrong”.

Augustine clearly held that Jesus was the rock, not Peter.

Again. Another statement of yours. Which I respect as such, but here we need to analyze Augustine’s statements.

It is interesting that a supposed Catholic (Saint and Doctor) would encourage other Catholics to believe that Peter was NOT the rock of Matt 16:18. This indeed is a glimpse of what exactly the church was teaching at the time regarding this verse.

Are you stating that the Popes of the fifth century would teach that Peter is not to be considered rock ?
Augustine was proclaimed Doctor in the XIII century. Are you stating that the Popes of the XIII century would teach that Peter is not to be considered rock ?

Let us see Augustine’s learned teaching again:

If possible, I’d remain on the Retractationes for now. Once
we have worked enough on that, feel free to quote Augustine’s learned teaching .

What about my point 4) ?

PS Of course post 4 can be ignored. It was submitted inadvertently :slight_smile:


#6

How embarassing for you…:blush:

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

424 Moved by the grace of the Holy Spirit and drawn by the Father, we believe in Jesus and confess: 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'8 On the rock of this faith confessed by St. Peter, Christ built his Church.9 [emphasis added]

So you see, Atemi, Catholics take a both/and view of this verse.

Augustine was perfectly free to decide for himself what he believed about it, and whether he came to believe that the rock was Peter’s confession of faith exclusively or not is immaterial to the legitimacy of the papacy.

Ironically, Protestant scholars admit that Peter was the rock referred to in the verse while Catholics admit that it was also Peter’s confession of faith.

It’s time to stop flogging this dead horse.

Hope this helps. :tiphat:


#7

Hello again,

**A Catholic today cannot, however. That is unfortunate and telling of how times have changed. **

The Church does not tell us that the second interpretation is wrong. If you want me to declare that the first one is wrong, where can I enjoy more freedom, in the Church or with your view?

The RCC surely does tell you that the first interpretation cannot be wrong…as held by a number of ECFs and Augustine.

You have more freedom in my view because you can hold or NOT HOLD any interpretation you please…just like the early church.

**Notice that Augustine offers one explanation (which he no longer held) **

Where does Augustine state that he repudiated the first interpretation?

By the mere fact that he changed his interpretation.

OR the other. He never offers the idea that the rock (singular) is both Peter and Jesus.

Really ? Where does he compel to such an aut…aut ?

Must we repeat it again?

Which of these interpretations is more likely to be correct, let the reader choose

Which?
Choose.

Notice not: “they are both correct.”

There is only one Rock in question: “this Rock”

Augustine corrected himself and changed his view:

Again. That’s your statement. Show that it is Augustine’s statement, as well.

Already done.

The rest of Augustine’s work bears this fact out as well.

Haven’t you read any of it?

Jesus Christ is the Rock.

I agree. He does state that. So does the Church. Are you aware of that ?

Saying “this Rock” is Peter, Peter’s confession, AND Jesus is silliness.

There is only ONE rock our Lord was addressing: “this rock”

This is why you hear Catholics always insist that Peter is the Rock. Playing the game that “this Rock” means everything solves nothing. The real position of the RCC regarding Matt 16:18 is readily apparant to anyone with basic common sense.

**He did not offer us that possibility in the text you quote. Let us repeat:

“Which of these interpretations is more likely to be correct, let the reader choose”

One or the other is all Augustine affords in your supplied quote. He says you must choose, not that they are both right.**

Aut…aut ? Then, let’s go back to Augustine’s own words:
" Harum autem duarum sententiarum quae sit probabilior eligat lector…" . The key word is the comparative “probabilior”.
If we read Augustine’s words again, he is telling us: "here you have two “sententiae probabiles”, feel free to decide which is “probabilior” ".

Like I said, modern Catholics are not free to so decide.

Interesting.

How is it that a Saint and Doctor of the Church would encourage people to use their personal judgment to privately interpret a verse which is arguably the most important verse in RC apologetics out there?

LOL.

You would not hear the same from anyone in the Church today.

Or, in other words: it’s up to you which of those interpretations has the higher degree of certainty.

The text you youself posted said it best:

Which of these interpretations is more likely to be correct

Which is more likely to be correct.

That is what you quote Augustine as saying.

aut…aut.

In no way the latin tells us: “one of the two has to be wrong”.

What part of “which” one is “correct” is difficult to grasp?


#8

continued…

Augustine clearly held that Jesus was the rock, not Peter.

Again. Another statement of yours. Which I respect as such, but here we need to analyze Augustine’s statements.

You can start analyzing this:

"Let us call to mind the Gospel: “Upon this Rock I will build My Church.” Therefore She cries from the ends of the earth, whom He has willed to be built upon a Rock. But in order that the Church might be built upon the Rock, who was made the Rock? Hear Paul saying: “But the Rock was Christ.” On Him therefore built we have been. For this reason that Rock whereon we have been built, first has been smitten with winds, flood, rain, when Christ of the devil was being tempted. Behold on what firmness He has willed to establish you. With reason our voice is not in vain, but is hearkened unto: for on great hope we have been set: “On the Rock You have exalted me.”… (St. Augustine, Saint and Doctor of the Catholic Church, Exposition on Psalm 61)

And then we can analyze this:

"For seeing that Christ is the rock (Petra), Peter is the Christian people. For the rock (Petra) is the original name. Therefore Peter is so called from the rock; not the rock from Peter; as Christ is not called Christ from the Christian, but the Christian from Christ. ‘Therefore,’ he saith, ‘Thou art Peter; and upon this Rockwhich Thou hast confessed, upon this rock which Thou hast acknowledged, saying, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God, will I build My Church;’ that is upon Myself, the Son of the living God, ‘will I build My Church.’ I will build thee upon Myself, not Myself upon Thee.
(Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume VI, St. Augustin, Sermon XXVI.1-4, pp. 340-341).

Jesus is the Rock according to Augustine as he grew wiser.

There are more to analyze (or ignore) if you so choose.

**It is interesting that a supposed Catholic (Saint and Doctor) would encourage other Catholics to believe that Peter was NOT the rock of Matt 16:18. This indeed is a glimpse of what exactly the church was teaching at the time regarding this verse. **

Are you stating that the Popes of the fifth century would teach that Peter is not to be considered rock ?

Are you stating that Augustine would teach anything OUTSIDE of the stated doctrine of the Church and those Popes?


#9

One, for some reason Catholics are not that “perfectly free” today.

Two, what Augustine believed and taught is totally material to what the church was teaching about the verse in question.


#10

The “Retractationes” anti-papal argument does not originate from a persons passionate study of patrology. It comes from an anti-Catholic polemicist Gary Wills on his book, “Why I am a Catholic”.

"His particular axe is directed primarily against the papacy as an historic institution of Christianity. Yet, at the same time, he has written a brief biography of St. Augustine, whom he obviously admires. So now Augustine must be made into an anti-papist like Wills…

"…Wills claims that Augustine “made it clearer over time that he did not admit any claim of [papal] jurisdiction based on Mt 16.18” (Wills, Why I Am a Catholic, p. 91 [Houghton Mifflin Co. 2002]). Note that Wills must say “over time” because Augustine is on record as saying that the rock was indeed Peter himself. Wills quotes Robert Markus to show that Augustine changed his mind on this interpretation and adopted the view that the rock was Christ. Here is part of the lengthy quotation from Markus:

He [Augustine] had changed his mind, he informs us, about the interpretation of this verse. Originally, he took it as referring to Peter, though to him as “representing the whole Church”; but, as if even this interpretation might seem to place man at the foundation of the Church, he came to prefer another.

Wills, p. 91, quoting Robert Markus, Saeculum: History and Society in the Theology of St. Augustine (Cambridge Univ. Press 1970), pp. 129-130.

I will not accuse Markus of inaccuracy based on this quotation alone, because it is possible that Wills has made a selective quotation that is not representative of Markus’ work. There are other instances, previously documented in Catholic Analysis, where Wills has in effect misrepresented the works of others, such as Cardinal Newman, by inappropriately incomplete quotation. It is enough to take aim at what Wills himself erroneously contends…"

"…What can a fair reader conclude from this excerpt by Augustine? I submit the following for the reader’s judgment:

  1. St. Ambrose, bishop of Milan, and early Church Father, interpreted the rock as Peter;
  2. Augustine himself adopted that interpretation;
  3. Now, near the end of his life (he would die in 430 A.D.), Augustine is addressing in his Retractions any apparent contradictions in his past writings out of a sense of enormous responsibility before God for the future impact of his words, as noted by Augustine’s biographer Peter Brown in Augustine of Hippo (Univ. of California Press 2000 [1967]), pp. 432-35. These self-critical comments do not necessarily mean that he is rejecting a prior teaching presented in his writings. His intent was primarily to clarify his prior writings stretching over a lifetime.
  4. As such, in his quoted comments above, Augustine ends with the crucial sentence reconciling his prior comments on Matthew 16:18, by leaving it up to the reader’s judgment to choose which interpretation of the term “rock” in this passage is “more likely to be correct.” As such, we must note that, as even Wills points out, albeit in an out-of-the-way footnote at the back of his book, Augustine was not aware that in Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke, the words for “Peter” and for “rock” were the same word. Augustine apparently relied on the slightly different Latin words for “Peter” and for “rock” when he interpreted “the rock” to refer to Christ.
    See Wills, p. 349, footnote 20 for Chapter 8. **
    catholicanalysis.blogspot.com/archives/2003_08_17_catholicanalysis_archive.html

#11

The RCC surely does tell you that the first interpretation cannot be wrong…as held by a number of ECFs and Augustine.
You have more freedom in my view because you can hold or NOT HOLD any interpretation you please…just like the early church.

Dear Atemi,

for the meaning of the first sentence I need your interpretation :slight_smile:
If you are stating that a number of ECFs and Augustine stated that the first interpretation is wrong feel free to quote. ( even if it would lead off topic).
As for the second point, and not only that, I imagine I can probably see the root of our present difference. That is, we read Augustine’s second interpretation in a different way.
It seems, correct me where I am mistaken, that you read, correctly, “Christ is the Rock”. And then ? Period. We do not see Peter any longer. He disappeared from Augustine’s words.

But, did he ?
"Petrus, having been named after this petra(= Christ) …
"The petra was Christ, having confessed whom ( even as the whole Church confesses), Simon was named Petrus. "

We see Christ, the ultimate petra, naming Simon Petrus, after Himself. . The Lord establishes a unique connection between Himself and this man. Petros, as you know ( and as debated ad abudantiam in megathreads) does mean stone, rock. So you have the ultimate Rock, the primary Petra, the foundation of foundations, Jesus Christ, establishing precisely a human rock.

Now, you can summarize the two explanations offered by Augustine, the first one, more immediate, already received from his mentor Ambrose, and the second one, developed later, more sophisticated, like this:

Peter is the rock, because, and only because, Jesus is the Rock.

By the mere fact that he changed his interpretation.

You’re restating the same thing changing words. Where does he tell us that the first one has been repudiated ?

Must we repeat it again?

Which?
Choose.

Notice not: “they are both correct.”

There is only one Rock in question: “this Rock”

We’re dealing with this through the latin, see later in the post.

Saying “this Rock” is Peter, Peter’s confession, AND Jesus is silliness.

There is only ONE rock our Lord was addressing: “this rock”

This is why you hear Catholics always insist that Peter is the Rock. Playing the game that “this Rock” means everything solves nothing. The real position of the RCC regarding Matt 16:18 is readily apparant to anyone with basic common sense.

See please my illustration above. BTW, what is at present your own interpretation , and what is, according to you the “apparent to anyone with basic common sense” position of the Church ?

Like I said, modern Catholics are not free to so decide.
Interesting.
How is it that a Saint and Doctor of the Church would encourage people to use their personal judgment to privately interpret a verse which is arguably the most important verse in RC apologetics out there?
LOL.
You would not hear the same from anyone in the Church today.

What you say here can be answered, IMHO, by tackling the meaning of Augustine’s second explanation of Matthew 16:18

The text you youself posted said it best:

Which of these interpretations is more likely to be correct

Which is more likely to be correct.

That is what you quote Augustine as saying.

aut…aut.

What part of “which” one is “correct” is difficult to grasp?

I posted Augustine’s own original latin words now. I don’t fall in love with any particular translation. We have the latin.

“… quae sit probabilior, eligat lector.” You are not told: one is right, one is wrong. You can choose yourself which of the two is “probabilior”, ie with a higher degree of certainty.


#12

You can start analyzing this:

Thank you for quoting these passages, but I ask you again, if possible, to go on working on the Retractationes.

Jesus is the Rock according to Augustine as he grew wiser.

In the sense explained in my most recent post, I can agree.

There are more to analyze (or ignore) if you so choose.

I don’t want to ignore anything. :slight_smile:

Are you stating that Augustine would teach anything OUTSIDE of the stated doctrine of the Church and those Popes?

My answer is:
" Augustine was a theologian, and a genius ( besides being a bishop). As such he explored and offered theological opinions,
which is precisely the thelogian’s task. By proclaiming him Doctor of the Church, the Magisterium tells us that the thrust of his huge work has to be considered within catholic orthodoxy, and that his contribution to catholic theology was outstanding. "

What are your answers about the teachings of the Popes in V century, and those in XIII century ?
Was, according to you, the Magisterium able to understand augustinian theology ?


#13

It is so interesting that you call into question the English translation you yourself provided as an authority in your own OP.

I have other English translations that say basically the very same, but I am sure you would call those into question as well.

Why anyone would discount and call into question their own evidence is beyond me. The translation you provided is entirely accurate. Do you propose you are superior at Latin translation than those who have done so even from your own church?

“… quae sit probabilior, eligat lector.” You are not told: one is right, one is wrong. You can choose yourself which of the two is “probabilior”, ie with a higher degree of certainty.

As you now say:

Choose yourself which of the two.”

There is no avoiding this.

Augustine calls on his reader to CHOOSE WHICH interpretation is correct. There is nothing from which interpretation to choose if they are both magically correct.

The use of any dictionary clarifies what “choose” and “which” mean.


#14

The question was not what the church says. The question is what Augustine says.

Augustine clearly wrote that he originally taught (perhaps in one single work, depending how you read the text) that Peter was the rock, and then later, on many occasions, taught that Christ was the rock. He offered much less in explanation of the first view (the one being seemingly repudiated) than he did of his later interpretation, which he explained in detail so that the reader would fully understand it and its implications.

He then says “let the reader choose which of these is more likely to be true”. That doesn’t allow for a “these are both true” approach.

Where does Augustine state that he repudiated the first interpretation ?

He doesn’t. He does state that the majority of his teaching on the subject was on the second interpretation, as opposed to the first, and he does not recant that later teaching. What he does do is explain that while he did explain it in one way a single time, he explained it in another way a great many times.

Aut…aut ? Then, let’s go back to Augustine’s own words:
" Harum autem duarum sententiarum quae sit probabilior eligat lector…" . The key word is the comparative “probabilior”.
If we read Augustine’s words again, he is telling us: "here you have two “sententiae probabiles”, feel free to decide which is “probabilior” ". Or, in other words: it’s up to you which of those interpretations has the higher degree of certainty.

Actually, as I understand it (from looking up definitions of words and looking at a few translations of texts), it would actually mean “Let the reader choose between these which is more probable.” That implies that there is one that is right, and one that is not, and that he leaves it to the reader to select for themselves what they believe. It does not imply that one is more important than the other. It says (fairly explicitly) that one is more probable of being right. And that the reader has to choose between them indicates that both are not right at the same time, for if they were, no choice would be necessary.

Thus, at the very least, we know that Augustine did not hold to both interpretations being correct.


#15

Important points, PC. Thank you.

And if we were somehow not sure what Augsutine meant, he had clarified elsewhere, many times…

"So this disciple is called Rocky from the rock, like Christian from Christ…Why have I wanted to make this little introduction? In order to suggest to you that in Peter the Church is to be recognized. Christ, you see, built his Church not on a man but on Peter’s confession. What is Peter’s confession? ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ There’s the rock for you, there’s the foundation, there’s where the Church has been built, which the gates of the underworld cannot conquer (John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, Sermons, Vol. 6, Sermon 229).


#16

“Number the priests even from that seat of Peter. And in that order of fathers see to whom succeeded: that is the rock which the proud gates of hades do not conquer.” Augustine, Psalmus contro Partem Donati (A.D. 393).


#17

Now if the truth is so clearly proved as to leave no possibility of doubt, it must be set before all the things that keep me in the Catholic Church…For my part, I should not believe the gospel except as moved by the authority of the Catholic Church…for it was through the Catholics that I got my faith in it; and so, whatever you bring from the gospel will no longer have any weight with me. Wherefore, if no clear proof of the apostleship of Manichaeus is found in the gospel, I will believe the Catholics rather than you." Augustine, Against the Epistle of Manichaeus, 4:5,5:6 (A.D 397).


#18

That is the whole point, Ryan.

Augustine changed his opinion later in life as he grew wiser.


#19

It is so interesting that you call into question the English translation you yourself provided as an authority in your own OP.

I have other English translations that say basically the very same, but I am sure you would call those into question as well.

Why anyone would discount and call into question their own evidence is beyond me. The translation you provided is entirely accurate. Do you propose you are superior at Latin translation than those who have done so even from your own church?

Dear Atemi,
I do not repudiate the translation I quoted at all.
Since I am afraid you can loose some perspicuity passing from
Augustine’s words to translations, I quoted our author’s very words, from the link I immediately offered you in my OP, as you can note. Generally speaking, you can only gain by considering an original text.
I am not a latinist. I only studied latin for several years.

When you add further insight, you do not necessarily repudiate anything. (Sounds quite appropriate to the presente debate :slight_smile: )

Choose yourself which of the two.”

There is no avoiding this.

Augustine calls on his reader to CHOOSE WHICH interpretation is correct. There is nothing from which interpretation to choose if they are both magically correct.

The use of any dictionary clarifies what “choose” and “which” mean.

Although English is not my first language ( as everyone can note :slight_smile: ), I understand the words “which” and “choose”.

If you propose as translation “choose which interpretation is correct”, I can tell you that as a translation of Augustine’s words this is wrong. The translation I quoted has “is more likely to be correct”.

What I am challenging, is that here Augustine means that one of his two explanations has to be wrong.
If you pay attention to my post submitted yesterday at 1:06 pm, you can see why, IMHO, there would be nothing "magical"
in considering both explanations sound.

What I propose there is central to our present dialogue, IMHO.

It would also be important to know your answers to each of the questions you have found in both of my recent posts.


#20

Hi PCM,

The question was not what the church says. The question is what Augustine says.

Augustine clearly wrote that he originally taught (perhaps in one single work, depending how you read the text) that Peter was the rock, and then later, on many occasions, taught that Christ was the rock. He offered much less in explanation of the first view (the one being seemingly repudiated) than he did of his later interpretation, which he explained in detail so that the reader would fully understand it and its implications.

He then says “let the reader choose which of these is more likely to be true”. That doesn’t allow for a “these are both true” approach.

He doesn’t. He does state that the majority of his teaching on the subject was on the second interpretation, as opposed to the first, and he does not recant that later teaching. What he does do is explain that while he did explain it in one way a single time, he explained it in another way a great many times.

Actually, as I understand it (from looking up definitions of words and looking at a few translations of texts), it would actually mean “Let the reader choose between these which is more probable.” That implies that there is one that is right, and one that is not, and that he leaves it to the reader to select for themselves what they believe. It does not imply that one is more important than the other. It says (fairly explicitly) that one is more probable of being right. And that the reader has to choose between them indicates that both are not right at the same time, for if they were, no choice would be necessary.

Thus, at the very least, we know that Augustine did not hold to both interpretations being correct.


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