is a continuation of this series after a fairly significant break of c. four months (the last
recorded episode was September 20, 2021). In his introduction to this work, S. F. D. Salmond described the Harmony
as one of Augustine’s “most toilsome” works. After some preliminary information
on the Gospels, much of Book 1 has to do with rather tedious Christian apologetics
against pagan polytheistic religion. Nevertheless, we will continue to persevere
in the series alongside the listener and trust we will be edified in the
process. From this point I am going to do the episodes in an audio-only format
1.22: Of the opinion entertained by the Gentiles regarding
Augustine surveys pagan misunderstandings of the Christian
God. Some associate him with Saturn, and point to the worship of the Jews on
the sabbath (Saturn’s day-Saturday).
The famed Roman scholar Varro, however, associated the God of
the Jews with Jupiter (Greek: Zeus). In Roman mythology, Saturn was the father
of Jupiter. Saturn had eaten all his children at their birth, lest they usurp
him. Jupiter, however, was hidden by his mother and eventually attacked his
father, conquered and expelled him, and freed his divine siblings from Saturn’s
body. Jupiter then became the king of all gods.
Augustine argues that whether pagans think the God of the
Bible is Saturn or Jupiter they have a problem. If they think he is Saturn, how
can the reconcile the fact that Saturn never forbade the worship of other gods?
If they think he is Jupiter, they should remember that, according to Roman
mythology, even after Jupiter dethroned Saturn, he did not forbid worship of
1.23: Of the follies which the pagans have indulged in regarding
Jupiter and Saturn:
In this chapter Augustine pokes holes in the mythology and theology
of paganism. He notes that though popular pagan religion relies on the stories
of the gods as fables, the more sophisticated see deeper meaning. Their
interpretations, however, are not consistent. Some follow a platonic view and
see the Ether (God) as a spirit and not body. Others follow the Stoics and see its
as body (pantheism?).
He cites writers of the past like the Greek Euhemerus and the
Latin Cicero who suggested that the gods were originally men who moved from
heaven to earth, as they did with Romulus and the Caesars.
Nevertheless, Augustine notes that the pagans assert they
worship Jupiter (a vivifying spirit that fills the world) and not a dead man.
Saturn, they say, was also not a man but the equivalent of
the Greek God Chronos (representing time). Augustine offers the jibe
that by making this defense the pagans admit that one of their chief gods is literally
He notes that the Platonic philosophers have countered the
Christians by arguing that Saturn comes from the names for fulness (satis)
and mind or intellect (nous), so Saturn is “fullness of intellect.” Jupiter
then comes from the “the supreme mind” and is the spirit that serves as “the
soul of the world.”
If this is the case, Augustine retorts, they should tear down
the images and capitol dedicated to Jupiter and erect them to Saturn. Instead,
Saturn is a deity typically maligned as evil by the pagans.
Augustine continues to deconstruct the mythology and theology
of paganism, pointing to the rational inconsistencies of pagan intellectual
interpretations of the myths of Saturn and Jupiter. His ultimate point will be
to suggest that the God of Christianity is superior to the myths of paganism,
however one might try to interpret them.