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1 The Pattern and Interaction of the Terms of Knowledge and Love in trin. 8-10

In trin. 8-10, Augustine uses a wide variety of terms to express “knowledge” and “love.” These terms are not synonyms in the strictest sense. They carry different accents in their portrayals, altogether forming a complex description of these two concepts. In order to acquire a more thorough picture of Augustine’s use of these two concepts, a lexicon analysis is given below. Through demonstrating Augustine’s shifts in the choice of the terms, this lexicon analysis not only demonstrates the nuances in his conception of knowledge and love in the texts, but also provides a fuller picture of how knowledge and love interact in Augustine’s Trinitarian investigation. The lexicon analysis is presented in three tables (of trin. 8, 9 and 10), each accompanied by observations concerning the pattern of occurrences of the terms knowledge and love, as well as some distinctive features as revealed in the statistics. Two aspects on the tables should be noted: 1) both nominal and verbal forms are counted in the analysis; 2) the “other forms” in the knowledge-category refers to other expressions relating to knowledge, such as, intueor, uidere, putare, etc.

  1. In trin. 8, the most frequently-used words for knowledge and love are notitia (34 times) and dilectio (126 times).
  2. The first three chapters (trin. 8,1-3) mention knowledge but not love. The last chapter (trin. 8,14) however does focus on the matter of love, and exclusively so. This pattern of knowledge and love indicates Augustine’s shift of his discussion from knowledge to love.
  3. From trin. 8,4 onward, both the expressions of knowledge and love are used considerably, showing that both elements play significant roles in the discussion. This frequency result confirms my premise argument in Chapter 1.3 that “love” is not the last step in Augustine’s account of the ascent, as this is evident only in trin. 8,10 in his treatment of the commandment of loving God and one’s neighbour (trin. 8,12). The motif of love is indeed prominent from trin. 8,4 onwards, supplementing the motif of ueritas (knowledge) throughout the whole book.
  4. Augustine’s development of his expressions of love is noteworthy. He mainly uses amor to represent love in trin. 8,4-5, then proceeds to a more intensive use of the biblical notions of love, such as dilectio and caritas, in trin. 8,6-13, finally returning to an (almost) exclusive use of amor in the trin. 8,14. As discussed in 1.3. in my analysis of trin. 8,14, I argued that this pattern of expressions of love, from amor to dilectio/caritas to amor, demonstrates Augustine’s attempt to fuse amor, a more commonly-used term for love in the pagan culture, with Christian bearings.
  1. In trin. 9, the dominant terms for knowledge and love are respectively, notitia (119 times) and amor (194 times). In contrast to book 8, where the terms for knowledge and love are relatively evenly employed, notitia and amor in book 9 far outweigh the other terms. This may be due to the fact that Augustine has introduced the triad “mens, notitia, amor” in trin. 9. Notitia and amor thus become an official representation in this triad (e.g., trin. 9,4, 297/1-5; 9,7, 299/80-81; 9,8, 300/2ff; 9,16, 307/30-31).
  2. As demonstrated in the statistics, knowledge and love occupy a fairly equal proportion in the discussions in trin. 9.
  3. It is noteworthy that Augustine proceeds from an intensive use of amor in trin. 9,2 (69 times) to the discussion of notitia in trin. 9,3 (8 times), indicating the order of “amor preceding notitia” in his argument, which differs considerably from the processional order of the Trinity, Father – Son (notitia) – the Holy Spirit (love).
  1. In trin. 10, the dominant term for love continues to be amor. As for knowledge, notitia is still the dominant term, but terms like scientia, intellegentia and cogitatio also have significant occurrences. In a manner diverging from trin. 8 and 9 in which knowledge and love appear with fairly equal frequencies (trin. 8: knowledge 183 times, love 185 times; trin. 9: knowledge 229 times, love 204 times), the occurrences of knowledge in trin. 10 outweigh that of love, namely with knowledge occurring 384 times, and love 83 times.
  2. Augustine’s variable use of terms of knowledge helps us to discern a clear division of book 10 into two parts, trin. 10,1-6 (focusing on scire and nosse) and trin. 10,7-19 (focusing on cogitare and intellegere).
  3. As for the concept of love, Augustine sticks most of the time to amor, with 82 out of 83 times in total, while using diligere only once and caritas not at all. The terms of love appear largely in trin. 10,1-5, and again, they are expressed far more often in the verbal form (amare, 18 out of 24 times) than in the nominal form (amor, 49 out of 58 times). Thus in trin. 10,1-5, we see Augustine formulating love from a new perspective: now as a willing power.
  4. Although love seems to almost disappear from the discussion (only 19 times in the latter half of this book) Augustine simultaneously interjects uoluntas and its related conjunctions into the discussion (uoluntas 42 times in total, of which 40 times are in trin. 10,7-19). In trin. 10,7-8, he begins to interpret love as cupiditas (trin. 10,7, 320/6; 10,7, 321/15). The mind errs (errare) because it loves material things; to the extent that it attaches itself to them (amore coniungit, trin. 10,8, 321/2). This kind of love is designated as glutinum amoris (trin. 11,9, 324/9), an adhering force which steers the mind’s will. Love is also closely also linked to intentio uoluntatis (trin. 10,11, 325/23).

2 The Use of Scripture in trin. 8-10 and De spiritu et littera

The analysis below is largely based on the citations indicated in the critical apparatus of CCL 50 (on trin. 8-10) and CSEL 60 (on De spiritu et littera). For a more detailed discussion of individual verses, see the analysis in Chapters 1 and 2.

2.1 The Use of Scripture in trin. 8-10: An Overview

The scriptural citations in De trinitate 8-10 amount to 56 verses in total: 32 in trin. 8, 28 in trin. 9, and 6 in trin. 10. This statistic shows that Augustine uses a fairly equal amount of verses in books 8 and 9, but a significantly lesser amount in book 10.

In trin. 8, the citations are found in trin. 8,5-6 and trin. 8,8-13. In trin. 8,5, Augustine employs Acts 17:27-28 to argue that the bonum in discussion is indeed God Himself (cf. trin. 8,5, 274/78-80): “Hoc ergo bonum non longe positum est ab unoquoque nostrum: In illo enim uiuimus et mouemur et sumus (Acts 17:27-28).” Just as described in Acts 17:27-28, the bonum is non longe positum from us and only through which that we can live (uiuimus) and move (mouemur). In trin. 8,6, Augustine uses five verses in his argument, most of which are concerned with the relationship between knowledge, love and faith – how man can see God through the faith that is grounded in love. In trin. 8,6, 274/3-5, he uses 2 Cor 5:7 “Cum enim per fidem adhuc ambulamus non per speciem” and 1 Cor 13:12 “nondum utique uidemus deum sicut idem ait facie ad faciem” to describe the condition of our possibility of knowing God in this life. We are living through faith (per fidem) but not through sight (non per speciem) in this life. In this condition, our knowledge of God is not complete and direct as a face-to-face encounter with God (facie ad faciem) would be. Nonetheless, Scripture praises and affirms such a kind of incomplete knowledge. By means of “Beati enim mundicordes quia ipsi deum uidebunt, nisi per fidem diligatur … trin. 8,6, 275/14,” Augustine asserts that one can know God when he loves God through faith (per fidem diligatur). In the latter part of trin. 8,6, Augustine brings in two more verses to reinforce the relationship between faith (fides) and love (caritas) – “quae in animo aedificanda omnium diuinorum librorum machinamenta consurgunt, fides, spes, caritas nisi in animo credente quod nondum uidet et sperante atque amante quod credit? (1 Cor 13:13, trin. 8,6, 275/18)” and “Quod sit fit, non erit caritas de corde puro et conscientia bona et fide non ficta, qui finis praecepti est sicut idem apostolus dicit (1 Tim 1:5, trin. 8,6, 275/23-25).” The fides, spes, caritas of 1 Cor 13:13 allows Augustine to further argue for the close linkage between caritas and fides. Through fides, he says, one can believe what he has not yet seen (credente quod nondum uidet) and also hope and love what he believes (sperante atque amante quod credit). Moreover, as demonstrated in 1 Tim 1:5 (trin. 8,6, 275/21-24), our vision of God can be true, i.e., not a ficted imagination, only when our love is pure (caritas de corde puro et conscientia bona) and faith unfeigned (fide non ficta).

In trin. 8,8-13, Augustine uses scriptural citations mainly to explain the nature of love. In short, he wants to argue, with evidence from Scripture, that love belongs both to man and to God, and therefore through love man is linked up with God. In trin. 8,8, he again reaffirms faith’s relation to love by making use of 1 Tim 1:5: “prius autem quam intellegamus credere debemus uigilandum nobis est ne ficta sit fides nostra. (1 Tim 1:5, trin. 8,8, 277/23-25)” and “si autem falsum de illa crediderimus, inanis erit spes et non casta caritas (1 Cor 15:14.17, 1 Tim 1:5, trin. 8,8, 277/39-40).” Then from trin. 8,9 onwards, he makes use of verses to explore the twofold nature of love. First, he stresses that love can be worked out concretely through loving the neighbour. The three citations in trin. 8,9 all concern the importance of loving the neighbour – “sed etiam ut ipsi iuste uiuant iusteque morati sint sua cuique distribuendo ut nemini quidquam debeant nisi ut inuicem diligant? (Rom 13:8, trin. 8,9, 283/120-121),” “sic enim diligit proximum tamquam si ipsum sine ullo periculo (Mk 12:33, trin. 8,9, 283/136-137),” “Qui enim diligit iniquitatem odit animam suam (Ps 11:5 [LXX Ps 10:6], trin. 8,9, 284/140).” When one loves his neighbours, Augustine argues, he is indeed loving justice. The reason is because when one loves the justice, he would owe no one anything except to love one another (ut nemini quidquam debeant nisi ut inuicem diligant, Rom 13:8). Loving others also means loving himself, Augustine further argues, because one should love others in the same way as he loves himself (diligit proximum tamquam si ipsum, Mk 12:33), and when anyone loves himself other than through loving the neighbour, he is actually loving himself unjustly and can be regarded as hating himself, since anyone who loves iniquity hates his own soul (qui enim diligit iniquitatem odit animam suam, Ps 11:5 [LXX Ps 10:6]). Secondly, Augustine tries to prove from the scriptural evidence that loving neighbour implies loving God and so knowing God. In trin. 8,10, we see his efforts in shifting the topic from loving the neighbour to loving God. In trin. 8,10, 284/11-12, “Cum enim duo praecepta sint in quibus tota lex pendet et prophetae, dilectio dei et dilectio proximi, non immerito plerumque scriptura pro utroque unum ponit (Mt 22:37-40),” he points out that loving the neighbour (dilectio proximi) and loving God (dilectio dei) are closely related to each other, because these two commandments are the essence of the whole law (in quibus tota lex). He repeats this theme – loving neighbour and loving God as the whole law – at the end of this chapter through citing Gal 5:14: “Omnis enim lex in uno sermone impletur, in eo quod scriptum est: Diliges proximum tuum tamquam te ipsum (Gal 5:14, trin. 8,10, 284/22-23).” Moreover, Augustine uses verses to demonstrate how these two commandments, loving neighbour and loving God, are in fact two sides of the same coin. He quotes Rom 8:28, 1 Cor 8:3 and Rom 5:5 to assert that loving neighbour is implied in the command of loving God in Scripture: “scimus quoniam diligentibus deum omnia cooperantur in bonum, (Rom 8:28, trin. 8,10, 284/14-15),” “quisquis autem diligit deum hic cognitus est ab illo (1 Cor 8:3, trin. 8,10, 284/15-16),” “quoniam caritas dei diffusa est in cordibus nostris per spiritum sanctum qui datus est nobis (Rom 5:5, trin. 8,10, 284/16-18).” On the other hand, Gal 6:2 and Gal 5:14 show that loving neighbour also implies the command of loving God – “siue tantum proximi dilectionem scriptura commemorat sicuti est illud: inuicem onera uestra portate et sic adimplebitis legem Christi, (Gal 6:2, trin. 8,10, 284/22-23),” “et illud: Omnis enim lex in uno sermone impletur, in eo quod scriptum est: Diliges proximum tuum tamquam te ipsum, (Gal 5:14, trin. 8,10, 284/23-285/25).”

In addition, the theme of deus caritas est/deus dilectio est (1 Jn 4:8.16) recurs in trin. 8,10-13 (8 times in total):

  • trin. 8,10, 285/32-33: “Deus autem dilectio est, et qui manet in dilectione in deo manet
  • trin. 8,11, 286/56-59: “Et ideo sequitur dicens: Et inuenietis requiem animabus uestris. Dilectio enim non inflatu, et deus dilectio est, et fideles in dilectione adquiescunt illi reuocati ab strepitu qui foris est ad gaudia silentia
  • trin. 8,11, 286/59: “Ecce, deus dilectio est
  • trin. 8,12, 287/13-14: “et credo scripturae dicenti: Quoniam deus caritas est, et qui manet in caritate in deo manet
  • trin. 8, 12, 288/35-38: “in eadem epistula paulo post ita dicit: Dilectissimi, diligamus inuicem quia dilectio ex deo est, et omnis qui diligit ex deo natus est et cognouit deum. Qui non diligit non cognouit deum quia deus dilectio est
  • trin. 8,12, 287/13-14: “Quoniam quippe deus dilcetio est, deum certe diligit qui diligit dilectionem
  • trin. 8,12, 288/51: “et qui non est in dilectione non est in deo quia deus dilectio est
  • trin. 8,12, 288/58-59: “Itaque qui fratrem quem uidet non diligit, deum, quem proptera non uidet quia deus dilectio est qua caret qui fratrem non diligt, quomodo potest diligere?

Scriptural citations of trin. 9 are mainly found in the beginning and at the end of the book, namely: trin. 9,1 (8 verses: Ps 69:32 [LXX Ps 68:33], Ps 105:4 [LXX Ps 104:4], 1 Cor 8:2-3, 1 Cor 8:3, Gal 4:9, Phil 3:13-15, Phil 3:13, 1 Cor 13:12), trin. 9,2 (1 verse: 1 Jn 4:8.16), trin. 9,14 (6 verses: 1 Jn 4:13, LXX Ps 7:15, Jas 1:15, Mt 11:28, Mt 24:19, 1 Cor 12:3), trin. 9,15 (2 verses: 1 Cor 12:3, Mt 7:21) and trin. 9,18 (1 verse: 1 Jn 5:7.8). Instead of focusing on love as in book 8, Augustine now makes use of Bible verses to explore man’s knowledge of God in book 9.

In trin. 9,1, the scriptural citations revolve around the issue of knowledge:

  • Quaerite, inquit, dominum, et uiuet anima uestra. (Ps 69:32 [LXX Ps 68:33], trin. 9,1, 292/7-8),” and “Et apostolus: Si quis es, inquit, putat aliquid scire, nondum scit quemadmodum scire oporteat. Quisquis autem diligit deum, hic cognitus est ab illo (Ps 69:32 [LXX Ps 68:33], trin. 9,1, 292/10-12)”
  • Et ne quisquam se tamquam apprehendisse temere gaudet: Quaerite, inquit, faciem eius semper (Ps 105:4 [LXX Ps 104:4], trin. 9,1, 292/9),” “Et ne quisquam se tamquam apprehendisse temere gaudet: Quaerite, inquit, faciem eius semper (Ps 105:4 [LXX Ps 104:4], trin. 9,1, 292/9)”
  • Et apostolus: Si quis es, inquit, putat aliquid scire, nondum scit quemadmodum scire oporteat. Quisquis autem diligit deum, hic cognitus est ab illo (1 Cor 8:2-3, trin. 9,1, 292/10-12)”
  • cognitus est ab illo (1 Cor 8:3, trin. 9,1, 292/13)”
  • Sic et alibi cum dixisset: Nunc autem cognoscentes deum, statim corrigens, immo cogniti, inquit, a deo (Gal 4:9, trin. 9,1, 292/14-15)”
  • Maximeque illo loco: Fratres, inquit, ego me ipsum non arbitror apprehendisse; unum autem, quae retro oblitus, in ea quae ante sunt extentus secundum intentionem sequor ad palmam supernae uocationis dei in Christo Iesu. Quotquot ergo perfecti hoc sapiamus (Phil 3:13-15, trin. 9,1, 292/15-19)”
  • Perfectionem in hac uita dicit non aliud quam ea quae retro sunt obliuisci et in ea quae ante sunt extendi secundum intentionem (Phil 3:13)”

We have to seek God because in doing this our soul will live (Ps 69:32 [LXX Ps 68:33]). But our knowledge of God will never be complete, since Scripture urges us to seek his face ever more (Quaerite, inquit, faciem eius semper, Ps 105:4 [LXX Ps 104:4]). Such knowledge of God should be regarded as if we are known by God – “cognitus est ab illo” (trin. 9,1, 292/10-12; 292/13) and “cogniti a deo” (trin. 9,1, 292/14-15). We should not consider ourselves as having fully apprehended God (non arbitror apprehendisse), because our knowledge of God will never be complete, and what we can do is to forget what is behind and strain forward to what lies ahead (ea quae retro sunt obliuisci et in ea quae ante sunt extendi secundum intentionem, trin. 9,1, 292/20-21). The knowledge would only become perfect after this life when we see God face to face (facie ad faciem, trin. 9,1, 293/2). In trin. 9,2, Augustine also quotes “Deus caritas est” (1 Jn 4:8.16) once, by means of which he leads the discussion into love in trin. 9,2-3.

The Scriptural citations reappear only in trin. 9,14.15.18, where Augustine brings forward the discussion of uerbum. The citations are mostly used in helping delineate the character of uerbum. For instance, he uses “Concepit, inquit, dolorem et peperit iniquitatem, trin. 9,14, 305/14-15)” to explain the process of the conception of word. He further uses verses to explain the meaning of partus uerbi. On the one hand, the scriptural citations demonstrate the negative perspective of partus uerbi, which is shown in “quia concupiscentia cum conceperit parit peccatum” (Jas 1:15, trin. 9,14, 305/19-20). On the other, the citations also help demonstrate the moral dimension of uerbum. We are justified and condemned by our what comes out of our mouth (i.e., our uerbum): Ex ore, inquit, tuo iustificaberis et ex ore tuo condemnaberis (Mt 12:37, trin. 9,14, 305/23-24). Our uerbum can also show whether we really belong to God: Secundum quod genus uerbi accipiendum est quod ait apostolus: Nemo dicit: Dominus Iesus, nisi in spiritu sancto (1 Cor 12:3, trin. 9,15, 305/12-13), illi de quibus ipse dominus ait: Non omnis qui mihi dicit: Domine, domine, intrabit in regnum caelorum (Mt 7:21, trin. 9,15, 305/14-15).

trin. 10 contains only six scriptural citations. The word phrase in trin. 10,6 (ex parte … nouit, trin. 10,6, 318/46-47; 10,6, 319/18-19) can be regarded as quoting from 1 Cor 13:9.12 (ex parte enim cognoscimus et ex parte prophetamus … uidemus nunc per speculum in enigmate tunc autem facie ad faciem nunc cognosco ex parte tunc autem cognoscam sicut et cognitus sum [Vulgata]), though, admittedly, the linkage is not explicit. In trin. 10,9, Augustine uses two citations to assert that the materialistic interpretation of cor (heart) – one of the possibilities of the identity of mens – is different from that described in Scripture: non sicut scriptura dicit: Confitebor tibi, domine, in toto corde meo (Ps 111:1 [LXX Ps 110:1], trin. 10,9, 322/5-6), Diliges dominum deum tuum ex toto corde tuo (Mt 22:37, trin. 10,9, 322/6-7). At the end of the book, trin. 10,18, Augustine mentions “tria haec sunt unum” twice, a word phrase which can be regarded as stemming from 1 Jn 5:7.8 (quia tres sunt qui testimonium dant Spiritus et aqua et sanguis et tres unum sunt [Vulgata]). All this shows that the scriptural citations in trin. 10 plays a rather insignificant role in the argument. The reduction in the use of Scripture is also evidence that Augustine explores the Trinity in trin. 10 in a more philosophical way.

2.2 The Use of Scripture in De spiritu et littera: An Overview

In De spiritu et littera, Augustine quotes a tremendous amount of verses in formulating his arguments, amounting to 239 in total.1 This means, among the 66 chapters of De spiritu et littera, each contains on average 3-4 scriptural citations. Moreover, there are only three chapters that contain no explicit citations, namely spir. et litt. 32; 53; 62 (only spir. et litt. 32 contains not even implicit scriptural reference, i.e., a scriptural paraphrase or an allusion to a verse, at all). Such statistics help us to see that Scripture plays a crucial role in De spiritu et littera: the scriptural citations do not merely assist the arguments; they are arguments and the contents of the issue themselves. As such, De spiritu et littera can be read, in a major way, as a book of biblical interpretation. In order to have a more focused investigation, the analysis will be concentrated on the explicit citations.

The explicit scriptural citations reveal that, in formulating the argument of De spiritu et littera, Augustine mainly makes use of two books – The Epistle to the Romans and The Second Epistle to the Corinthians, which are cited 109 times and 26 times respectively. More precisely, De spiritu et littera is in fact an exegetical work of Romans (for details see the analysis of spir. et litt. 8).

The most frequently-cited verses are Rom 7:7 (and Ex 20:17): “non concupisces,” 2 Cor 3:6: “littera occidit, spiritus autem uiuificat”, Rom 5:5: “caritas dei diffunditur in cordibus nostris per spiritum sanctum, qui datus est nobis,” Rom 5:12-21 (the text of Adam-Christ typology), and 1 Cor 4:7: “quid enim habes quod non accepisti? si autem et accepisti, quid gloriaris quasi non acceperis?” Occurrences and distributions of these verses are as follows:

2.3 The Occurrences of Rom 5:5 and 1 Cor 13:12 in the Two Works


In De spiritu et littera, it is not unusual to find Augustine combining two or three verses in one sentence. But since this is one sentence unit, I would regard it as one citation. If all individual verses should be regarded as single citations, then the occurrences should amount to at least 27 more entries, i.e., 262 entries in total.

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Trinity and Grace in Augustine

An Analysis of De trinitate 8-10 in Light of De spiritu et littera