Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Q102 A1: Whether paradise is a corporeal place?

Yes. As Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xiii, 21): "Nothing prevents us from holding, within proper limits, a spiritual paradise; so long as we believe in the truth of the events narrated as having there occurred." For whatever Scripture tells us about paradise is set down as matter of history; and wherever Scripture makes use of this method, we must hold to the historical truth of the narrative as a foundation of whatever spiritual explanation we may offer.

Sicut Augustinus dicit XIII de Civ. Dei, "quae commode dici possunt de intelligendo spiritualiter Paradiso, nemine prohibente dicantur; dum tamen et illius historiae fidelissima veritas rerum gestarum narratione commendata credatur." Ea enim quae de Paradiso in Scriptura dicuntur, per modum narrationis historicae proponuntur, in omnibus autem quae sic Scriptura tradit, est pro fundamento tenenda veritas historiae, et desuper spirituales expositiones fabricandae.

The situation of paradise is shut off from the habitable world by mountains, or seas, or some torrid region, which cannot be crossed; and so people who have written about topography make no mention of it.

Locus ille seclusus est a nostra habitatione aliquibus impedimentis vel montium, vel marium, vel alicuius aestuosae regionis, quae pertransiri non potest. Et ideo scriptores locorum de hoc loco mentionem non fecerunt.

The tree of life is a material tree, and so called because its fruit was endowed with a life-preserving power as above stated (Q97, A4). Yet it had a spiritual signification; as the rock in the desert was of a material nature, and yet signified Christ. In like manner the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was a material tree, so called in view of future events; because, after eating of it, man was to learn, by experience of the consequent punishment, the difference between the good of obedience and the evil of rebellion. It may also be said to signify spiritually the free-will as some say.

Lignum vitae est quaedam materialis arbor, sic dicta quia eius fructus habebat virtutem conservandi vitam, ut supra dictum est. Et tamen aliquid significabat spiritualiter, sicut et petra in deserto fuit aliquod materiale, et tamen significavit Christum. Similiter etiam lignum scientiae boni et mali materialis arbor fuit, sic nominata propter eventum futurum, quia post eius esum homo, per experimentum poenae, didicit quid interesset inter obedientiae bonum et inobedientiae malum. Et tamen spiritualiter potuit significare liberum arbitrium, ut quidam dicunt.

According to Augustine (Gen. ad lit. v, 5, viii, 3), the plants were not actually produced on the third day, but in their seminal virtues; whereas, after the work of the six days, the plants, both of paradise and others, were actually produced.

Secundum Augustinum, tertio die productae sunt plantae non in actu, sed secundum quasdam rationes seminales; sed post opera sex dierum productae sunt plantae tam Paradisi quam aliae in actu.

Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. viii, 1): "Three general opinions prevail about paradise. Some understand a place merely corporeal; others a place entirely spiritual; while others, whose opinion, I confess, hold that paradise was both corporeal and spiritual."

Augustinus dicit, VIII super Gen. ad Litt., "tres sunt de Paradiso generales sententiae, una eorum qui tantummodo corporaliter Paradisum intelligi volunt; alia eorum qui spiritualiter tantum; tertia eorum qui utroque modo Paradisum accipiunt, quam mihi fateor placere sententiam."