28 May 2022

The Angelic Doctor Against the Errors of the Greeks - Chapter 27

How the assertion that the breath of life which God breathed into the face of man is not the rational soul, but the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is to be understood.

Another doubt arises from Cyril’s statement that “when in Genesis 1 Footnote God is said to have breathed the breath of life into the face of man in order that man might become a living being, we do not call this breath of life the soul. For were it the soul, the soul would be uncangeable and would not sin because it would be of the divine essence; rather Moses said the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was superimposed on the human soul. Footnote

This is contrary to the explanation of Augustine Footnote who claims that by that breath is meant the human soul, and who shows how from this it does not follow that it is of the divine substance: for it is a figurative way of speaking, Footnote meaning not that the Holy Spirit breathed as a body, but only that he made the spirit, that is the soul, out of nothing. And what is more, it appears to contradict statements of the Apostle who says in 1 Cor. 15 (45): The first Adam became a living being; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual which is first but the physical, and then the spiritual”. Here the life of the soul is expressly declared to be different from the life which is through the Holy Spirit. Hence that inbreathing by which man became a living being cannot be understood as the grace of the Holy Spirit.

Hence, Cyril’s explanation cannot be described as literal, but only allegorical.

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