Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume III/Doctrinal Treatises of St. Augustin/A Treatise on Faith and the Creed/Chapter 6
Chapter 6.—Of Christ’s Ascension into Heaven.
13. We believe that He Ascended into Heaven, which place of blessedness He has likewise promised unto us, saying, “They shall be as the angels in the heavens,” in that city which is the mother of us all, the Jerusalem eternal in the heavens. But it is wont to give offense to certain parties, either impious Gentiles or heretics, that we should believe in the assumption of an earthly body into heaven. The Gentiles, however, for the most part, set themselves diligently to ply us with the arguments of the philosophers, to the effect of affirming that there cannot possibly be anything earthly in heaven. For they know not our Scriptures, neither do they understand how it has been said, “It is sown an animal body, it is raised a spiritual body.” For thus it has not been expressed, as if body were turned into spirit and became spirit; inasmuch as at present, too, our body, which is called animal (animale), has not been turned into soul and become soul (anima). But by a spiritual body is meant one which has been made subject to spirit in such wise that it is adapted to a heavenly habitation, all frailty and every earthly blemish having been changed and converted into heavenly purity and stability. This is the change concerning which the apostle likewise speaks thus: “We shall all rise, but we shall not all be changed.” And that this change is made not unto the worse, but unto the better, the same [apostle] teaches, when he says, “And we shall be changed.” But the question as to where and in what manner the Lord’s body is in heaven, is one which it would be altogether over-curious and superfluous to prosecute. Only we must believe that it is in heaven. For it pertains not to our frailty to investigate the secret things of heaven, but it does pertain to our faith to hold elevated and honorable sentiments on the subject of the dignity of the Lord’s body.
- Matt. xxii. 30
- Gal. iv. 26
- 1 Cor. xv. 44
- Adopting the Benedictine reading, quod ita spiritui subditum est. But several mss. give quia ita coaptandum est = it is understood to be a spiritual body, in that it is to be so adapted as to suit a heavenly habitation.
- 1 Cor. xv. 51, according to the Vulgate’s transposition of the negative.
- 1 Cor. xv. 52