On Christian Doctrine/Book III
|On Christian Doctrine
|Argument—The author, having discussed in the preceding book the method of dealing with unknown signs, goes on in this third book to treat of ambiguous signs. Such signs may be either direct or figurative. In the case of direct signs ambiguity may arise from the punctuation, the pronunciation, or the doubtful signification of the words, and is to be resolved by attention to the context, a comparison of translations, or a reference to the original tongue. In the case of figurative signs we need to guard against two mistakes:—1. the interpreting literal expressions figuratively; 2. the interpreting figurative expressions literally. The author lays down rules by which we may decide whether an expression is literal or figurative; the general rule being, that whatever can be shown to be in its literal sense inconsistent either with purity of life or correctness of doctrine must be taken figuratively. He then goes on to lay down rules for the interpretation of expressions which have been proved to be figurative; the general principle being, that no interpretation can be true which does not promote the love of God and the love of man. The author then proceeds to expound and illustrate the seven rules of Tichonius the Donatist, which he commends to the attention of the student of Holy Scripture.|
- Summary of the Foregoing Books, and Scope of that Which Follows.
- Rule for Removing Ambiguity by Attending to Punctuation.
- How Pronunciation Serves to Remove Ambiguity. Different Kinds of Interrogation.
- How Ambiguities May Be Solved.
- It is a Wretched Slavery Which Takes the Figurative Expressions of Scripture in a Literal Sense.
- Utility of the Bondage of the Jews.
- The Useless Bondage of the Gentiles.
- The Jews Liberated from Their Bondage in One Way, the Gentiles in Another.
- Who is in Bondage to Signs, and Who Not.
- How We are to Discern Whether a Phrase is Figurative.
- Rule for Interpreting Phrases Which Seem to Ascribe Severity to God and the Saints.
- Rule for Interpreting Those Sayings and Actions Which are Ascribed to God and the Saints, and Which Yet Seem to the Unskillful to Be Wicked.
- Same Subject, Continued.
- Error of Those Who Think that There is No Absolute Right and Wrong.
- Rule for Interpreting Figurative Expressions.
- Rule for Interpreting Commands and Prohibitions.
- Some Commands are Given to All in Common, Others to Particular Classes.
- We Must Take into Consideration the Time at Which Anything Was Enjoyed or Allowed.
- Wicked Men Judge Others by Themselves.
- Consistency of Good Men in All Outward Circumstances.
- David Not Lustful, Though He Fell into Adultery.
- Rule Regarding Passages of Scripture in Which Approval is Expressed of Actions Which are Now Condemned by Good Men.
- Rule Regarding the Narrative of Sins of Great Men.
- The Character of the Expressions Used is Above All to Have Weight.
- The Same Word Does Not Always Signify the Same Thing.
- Obscure Passages are to Be Interpreted by Those Which are Clearer.
- One Passage Susceptible of Various Interpretations.
- It is Safer to Explain a Doubtful Passage by Other Passages of Scripture Than by Reason.
- The Knowledge of Tropes is Necessary.
- The Rules of Tichonius the Donatist Examined.
- The First Rule of Tichonius.
- The Second Rule of Tichonius.
- The Third Rule of Tichonius.
- The Fourth Rule of Tichonius.
- The Fifth Rule of Tichonius.
- The Sixth Rule of Tichonius.
- The Seventh Rule of Tichonius.