On the Interpretation of Scripture
(Multiple Senses)


English Translation based in part on JG. Cunningham, tr. Letters of St. Augustin (Letter 211, to his Sister), NPNF, ser. 1, vol. 1.Subscript text in brackets indicates chapters in Letter 211.  For recent scholarship on Augustine’s Rule and bilingual versions of the RA and several related texts see George Lawless, O.S.A., Augustine of Hippo and His Monastic Rule, (Oxford U.Pr., 1987).  MS-Word document





On The Literal Interpretation of Genesis (the unfinished work), 2.5.

 - De Genesi ad litteram imperfectus liber
CPL 0268 CSEL 28,1 (J. Zycha, 1894), p. 459-503: 461, linea : 6





WE should now consider the things we may inquire concerning and discuss in this book according to this faith.  In the beginning God made heaven and earth. (Genesis 1:1) secundum hanc fidem quae possint in hoc libro quaeri et disputari considerandum est. in principio fecit deus caelum et terram.
There are four ways of explicating the law that some biblical commentators have laid down that can be named in words derived from the Greek language, although they require greater definition and explanation in straightforward Latin.  They are [:] quattuor modi a quibusdam scripturarum tractatoribus traduntur legis exponendae, quorum uocabula enuntiari graece possunt, latine autem definiri et explicari:

[1] the way of HISTORY;

[2] the way of ALLEGORY

[3] the way of ANALOGY

[4] the way of ETIOLOGY

secundum historiam,

secundum allegoriam,

secundum analogiam,

secundum aetiologiam

[1] HISTORY is when things done by God or human beings are recounted

historia est, cum siue diuinitus siue humanitus res gesta commemoratur;

[2] ALLEGORY when they are understood as being said figuratively

allegoria, cum figurate dicta intelleguntur;

[3] ANALOGY when they illustrate the harmony of the old and new covenants

analogia, cum ueteris et noui testamentorum congruentia demonstratur;

[4] ETIOLOGY when it presents the causes of things that have been said and done

aetiologia, cum causae dictorum factorum que redduntur.









On The Usefulness of Believing. 5

 De utilitate credendi
CPL 0316 CSEL 25 (J. Zycha, 1891), p. 3-48





All that Scripture therefore, which is called the Old Testament, is handed down fourfold to them who desire to know it, according to HISTORY , according to ETIOLOGY, according to ANALOGY, according to ALLEGORY.

omnis igitur scriptura, quae testamentum uetus uocatur, diligenter eam nosse cupientibus quadrifariam traditur: secundum historiam, secundum aetiologiam, secundum analogiam, secundum allegoriam.

Do not think me silly for using Greek words.

ne me ineptum putes graecis nominibus utentem.

In the first place, because I have so received,nor do I dare to make known to you otherwise than I have received.

primum quia sic accepi nec tibi hoc aliter audeo intimare quam accepi.

Next you yourself perceive, that we have not in use terms for such things: and had I translated and made such, I should have been indeed more silly: but, were I to use circumlocution, I should be less free in treating:

deinde tu quoque animaduertis non esse harum rerum apud nos usitata nomina: quae si fabricassem interpretando, essem profecto ineptior; si autem circumloquerer, minus essem in disserendo expeditus.

this only I pray you to believe, that in whatever way I err, I am not inflated or swollen in any thing that I do.

id tantum oro credas, quoquo modo errem, nihil a me inflato ac tumido fieri.

[1] Thus (for example) it is handed down according to HISTORY , when there is taught what has been written, or what has been done; what not done, but only written as though it had been done.

secundum historiam ergo traditur, cum docetur, quid scriptum aut quid gestum sit; quid non gestum, sed tantummodo scriptum quasi gestum sit.

[2] According to ETIOLOGY, when it is shown for what reason any thing has been done or said.

secundum aetiologiam, cum ostenditur, quid qua de causa uel factum uel dictum sit.

[3] According to ANALOGY, when it is shown that the two Testaments, the Old and the New, are not contrary to one another.

secundum analogiam, cum demonstratur non sibi aduersari duo testamenta, uetus et nouum.

[4] According to ALLEGORY, when it is taught that certain things which have been written are not to be taken literally, but are to be understood figuratively.

secundum allegoriam, cum docetur non ad litteram esse accipienda quaedam, quae scripta sunt, sed figurate intellegenda.





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