Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume I/Confessions/Book XI/Chapter 8
Chapter VIII.—That Word Itself is the Beginning of All Things, in the Which We are Instructed as to Evangelical Truth.
10. Why is this, I beseech Thee, O Lord my God? I see it, however; but how I shall express it, I know not, unless that everything which begins to be and ceases to be, then begins and ceases when in Thy eternal Reason it is known that it ought to begin or cease where nothing beginneth or ceaseth. The same is Thy Word, which is also “the Beginning,” because also It speaketh unto us. Thus, in the gospel He speaketh through the flesh; and this sounded outwardly in the ears of men, that it might be believed and sought inwardly, and that it might be found in the eternal Truth, where the good and only Master teacheth all His disciples. There, O Lord, I hear Thy voice, the voice of one speaking unto me, since He speaketh unto us who teacheth us. But He that teacheth us not, although He speaketh, speaketh not to us. Moreover, who teacheth us, unless it be the immutable Truth? For even when we are admonished through a changeable creature, we are led to the Truth immutable. There we learn truly while we stand and hear Him, and rejoice greatly “because of the Bridegroom’s voice,” restoring us to that whence we are. And, therefore, the Beginning, because unless It remained, there would not, where we strayed, be whither to return. But when we return from error, it is by knowing that we return. But that we may know, He teacheth us, because He is the Beginning and speaketh unto us.
- John viii. 25, Old Ver. Though some would read, Qui et loquitur, making it correspond to the Vulgate, instead of Quia et loquitur, as above, the latter is doubtless the correct reading, since we find the text similarly quoted in Ev. Joh. Tract. xxxviii. 11, where he enlarges on “The Beginning,” comparing principium with ἄρχη. It will assist to the understanding of this section to refer to the early part of the note on p. 107, above, where the Platonic view of the Logos, as ἐνδιάθετος and προφορικός, or in the “bosom of the Father” and “made flesh,” is given; which terminology, as Dr. Newman tells us (Arians, pt. i. c. 2, sec. 4), was accepted by the Church. Augustin, consistently with this idea, says (on John viii. 25, as above): “For if the Beginning, as it is in itself, had remained so with the Father as not to receive the form of a servant and speak as man with men, how could they have believed in Him, since their weak hearts could not have heard the word intelligently without some voice that would appeal to their senses? Therefore, said He, believe me to be the Beginning; for that you may believe, I not only am, but also speak to you.” Newman, as quoted above, may be referred to for the significance of ἄρχη as applied to the Son, and ibid. sec. 3, also, on the “Word.” For the difference between a mere “voice” and the “Word,” compare Aug. Serm. ccxciii. sec. 3, and Origen, In Joann. ii. 36.
- John iii. 29.