Friday, January 09, 2009

Q68 A1: Whether the firmament was made on the second day?

Yes. The words which speak of the firmament as made on the second day can be understood in two senses because to produce the substance of the firmament belongs to the work of creation; but its formation, in some degree, belongs to the second day, according to both opinions.

Sciendum est ergo quod hoc quod legitur firmamentum secunda die factum, dupliciter intelligi potest quod productio substantiae firmamenti ad opus creationis pertinet. Sed aliqua formatio eius, secundum has duas opiniones, pertinet ad opus secundae diei.

According to the first opinion, it may, strictly speaking, be granted that the firmament was made, even as to substance, on the second day. For it is part of the work of creation to produce the substance of the elements, while it belongs to the work of distinction and adornment to give forms to the elements that pre-exist.

Secundum igitur primam opinionem, absolute posset concedi quod firmamentum factum fuerit secunda die, etiam secundum suam substantiam. Nam ad opus creationis pertinet producere ipsam elementorum substantiam, ad opus autem distinctionis et ornatus pertinet formare aliqua ex praeexistentibus elementis.

If we take these days to denote merely sequence in the natural order, as Augustine holds (Gen. ad lit. iv, 22,24), and not succession in time, there is then nothing to prevent our saying, whilst holding any one of the opinions of the philosophers, that the substantial formation of the firmament belongs to the second day.

Si autem per istos dies non designetur temporis successio, sed solum ordo naturae, ut Augustinus vult; nihil prohibebit dicere, secundum quamcumque harum opinionum formationem secundum substantiam firmamenti ad secundam diem pertinere.

1. Some of these believed it to be composed of the elements; and this was the opinion of Empedocles, who, however, held further that the body of the firmament was not susceptible of dissolution, because its parts are, so to say, not in disunion, but in harmony.

Quidam enim dixerunt firmamentum illud esse ex elementis compositum. Et haec fuit opinio Empedoclis; qui tamen dixit ideo illud corpus indissolubile esse, quia in eius compositione lis non erat sed amicitia tantum.

2. Others held the firmament to be of the nature of the four elements, not, indeed, compounded of them, but being as it were a simple element. Such was the opinion of Plato, who held that element to be fire. Others, again, have held that the heaven is not of the nature of the four elements, but is itself a fifth body, existing over and above these. This is the opinion of Aristotle (De Coel. i, text. 6,32).

Alii vero dixerunt firmamentum esse de natura quatuor elementorum non quasi ex elementis compositum, sed quasi elementum simplex. Et haec opinio fuit Platonis, qui posuit corpus caeleste esse elementum ignis. Alii vero dixerunt caelum non esse de natura quatuor elementorum, sed esse quintum corpus, praeter quatuor elementa. Et haec est opinio Aristotelis.

3. Another possible explanation is to understand by the firmament that was made on the second day, not that in which the stars are set, but the part of the atmosphere where the clouds are collected, and which has received the name firmament from the firmness and density of the air. "For a body is called firm," that is dense and solid, "thereby differing from a mathematical body" as is remarked by Basil (Hom. iii in Hexaem.).

Potest autem et alio modo intelligi, ut per firmamentum quod legitur secunda die factum, non intelligatur firmamentum illud in quo fixae sunt stellae, sed illa pars aeris in qua condensantur nubes. Et dicitur firmamentum propter spissitudinem aeris in parte illa, nam quod est spissum et solidum, "dicitur esse corpus firmum, ad differentiam corporis mathematici," ut dicit Basilius.

If, then, this explanation is adopted none of these opinions will be found repugnant to reason. Augustine, in fact (Gen. ad lit. ii, 4), recommends it thus: "I consider this view of the question worthy of all commendation, as neither contrary to faith nor difficult to be proved and believed."

Et secundum hanc expositionem, nihil repugnans sequitur cuicumque opinioni. Unde Augustinus, II super Gen. ad Litt., hanc expositionem commendans, dicit, "
hanc considerationem laude dignissimam iudico; quod enim dixit, neque est contra fidem, et in promptu, posito documento, credi potest."