Sunday, January 11, 2009

Q68 A3: Whether the firmament divides waters from waters?

Yes. The firmament does divide the waters from the waters because Moses was speaking to ignorant people, and that out of condescension to their weakness he put before them only such things as are apparent to sense.

Dividit firmamentum aquas ab aquis quod Moyses rudi populo loquebatur, quorum imbecillitati condescendens, illa solum eis proposuit, quae manifeste sensui apparent.

Now even the most uneducated can perceive by their senses that earth and water are corporeal, whereas it is not evident to all that air also is corporeal, for there have even been philosophers who said that air is nothing, and called a space filled with air a vacuum.

Omnes autem, quantumcumque rudes, terram et aquam esse corpora sensu deprehendunt. Aer autem non percipitur ab omnibus esse corpus, intantum quod etiam quidam philosophi aerem dixerunt nihil esse, plenum aere vacuum nominantes.

Moses, then, while he expressly mentions water and earth, makes no express mention of air by name, to avoid setting before ignorant persons something beyond their knowledge. In order, however, to express the truth to those capable of understanding it, he implies in the words: "Darkness was upon the face of the deep," the existence of air as attendant, so to say, upon the water. For it may be understood from these words that over the face of the water a transparent body was extended, the subject of light and darkness, which, in fact, is the air.

Et ideo Moyses de aqua et terra mentionem facit expressam, aerem autem non expresse nominat, ne rudibus quoddam ignotum proponeret. Ut tamen capacibus veritatem exprimeret, dat locum intelligendi aerem, significans ipsum quasi aquae annexum, cum dicit quod tenebrae erant super faciem abyssi; per quod datur intelligi super faciem aquae esse aliquod corpus diaphanum quod est subiectum lucis et tenebrarum.

Whether, then, we understand by the firmament the starry heaven, or the cloudy region of the air, it is true to say that it divides the waters from the waters, according as we take water to denote formless matter, or any kind of transparent body, as fittingly designated under the name of waters. For the starry heaven divides the lower transparent bodies from the higher, and the cloudy region divides that higher part of the air, where the rain and similar things are generated, from the lower part, which is connected with the water and included under that name.

Sic igitur sive per firmamentum intelligamus caelum in quo sunt sidera, sive spatium aeris nubilosum, convenienter dicitur quod firmamentum dividit aquas ab aquis, secundum quod per aquam materia informis significatur; vel secundum quod omnia corpora diaphana sub nomine aquarum intelliguntur. Nam caelum sidereum distinguit corpora inferiora diaphana a superioribus. Aer vero nubilosus distinguit superiorem aeris partem, in qua generantur pluviae et huiusmodi impressiones, ab inferiori parte aeris, quae aquae connectitur, et sub nomine aquarum intelligitur.