One Human Race

“For the human race is, more than any other species, at once social by nature and quarrelsome by perversion.  And the most salutary warning against this perversion or disharmony is given by the facts of human nature.  We are warned to guard against the emergence of this fault, or to remedy it when once it has appeared, by remembering that first parent of ours, who was created by God as one individual with this intention: that from that one individual a multitude might be propagated, and that this fact should teach mankind to preserve a harmonious unity in plurality.  Furthermore, the fact that a woman was made for the first man from his own side shows us clearly how affectionate should be the union of man and wife.” Augustine of Hippo, The City of God XII. 28. trans. Henry Bettenson (London 1972), 508. [Emphasis added] 

In this section of his magisterial work, The City of God, Augustine of Hippo examined the various philosophies concerning the creation of humanity.  He specifically wrote this work to refute pagan philosophical challenges to Christianity in the early fifth-century Roman Empire.  At this time, the political and social structure of the Western Roman Empire was collapsing in Europe and North Africa.  Augustine was a native of Roman North Africa and died as Bishop of Hippo (modern Annaba, Algeria) in 430 as the German tribe, the Vandals, besieged the city.    

In this quote above, Augustine explains that God created humanity to live together in social harmony.  Humans held a unique position in the God’s creation as the only early creatures who bore the divine image and likeness. However, the fall into sin brought the perversion of disharmony and conflict.  Notice his explanation that God never intended social divisions based on ethnicity or sex.  In fact, according to Augustine, God’s purposeful act of creation demonstrates the opposite.  God intended human beings to live in harmony.   

This entry was posted in Augustine of Hippo, history. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *