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CHAPTER II: THAT IN GOD THERE ARE GENERATION, PATERNITY, AND FILIATION
LET US then commence our treatise with the mystery of divine generation, and lay down first of all what we must hold according to the teaching of Holy Writ: after which we shall put forward the arguments set up by unbelievers in opposition to the truth of faith; by answering which we shall ensure the purpose of this treatise.
Accordingly Holy Writ delivers to us the names of paternity and filiation in God, when it declares Jesus Christ to be the Son of God, and this occurs very often in the New Testament. For it is said (Matth. xi. 17): No one knoweth the Son, but the Father: neither doth anyone know the Father but the Son. Again Mark begins his gospel with the words: The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Son of God: and John the Evangelist says this frequently: for it is said (iii. 35): The Father loveth the Son, and he hath given all things into his hand, and (v. 21): As the Father raiseth up the dead and giveth life; so also the Son giveth life to whom he will. Again the Apostle Paul frequently makes use of similar expressions: thus he says (Rom. i. 1-3): Separated unto the gospel of God, which he had promised before by his prophets in the holy scripture, concerning his Son, and (Heb. i. 1-2): God who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in times past to the fathers, last of all in these days hath spoken to us by his Son. This is also expressed, albeit less frequently, in the writings of the Old Testament, for it is written (Prov. xxx. 4): What is his name, and what is the name of his Son if thou knowest? and we read (Ps. ii. 7): The Lord hath said to me: Thou art my son, and again (Ps. lxxxviii. 27): He shall cry out to me: Thou art my father. And though some would twist the last two passages into a different meaning, so that the words The Lord hath said to me: Thou art my son be referred to David himself; and the words He shall cry out to me: Thou art my father be ascribed to Solomon, the context in each passage shows the case to be wholly otherwise. For neither are the succeeding words applicable to David, This day have I begotten thee, nor again the words that follow, I will give thee the Gentiles for thy inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for thy possession, since his kingdom did not extend to the utmost parts of the earth, as attested by the story of the Books of Kings. Nor again can the words He shall cry out to me: Thou art my father be applied to Solomon, since the text goes on (verse 30): I will make his seed to endure for evermore, and his throne as the days of heaven. Hence we are given to understand that since in the passages quoted certain things may apply to David and Solomon, and some things not at all, these words are said of David and Solomon, according to the custom of Scripture, as figures of someone else in whom the whole passage is fulfilled.
And seeing that the names Father and Son are consequent to some sort of generation, Scripture has not failed to mention the name of the divine generation. For in the psalm, as we have remarked, we read: This day have I begotten thee, and it is also written (Prov. viii. 24, 35): The depths were not as yet, and I was already conceived . . . before the hills I was brought forth, or, according to another reading, Before the hills, the Lord begot me. It is also said (Isa. lxvi. 9): Shall not I that make others to bring forth children, myself bring forth? saith the Lord. Shall I that give generation to others, be barren? saith the Lord thy God. And though one might say that this should be referred to the multiplication of the children of Israel after their return from captivity into their own land, seeing that it was said before (verse 8): Sion hath been in labour and hath brought forth her children, yet this does not conflict with our purpose. For in whatever sense the text be taken, the argument that is quoted as urged by God remains firm and stable, namely, that if He gives generation to others, He himself should not be barren. Nor would it be becoming that He who makes others to beget in reality, Himself should beget, not really, but figuratively; since a thing should be more excellent in the cause than in the effect, as we have proved above. Moreover it is said (Jo. i. 14): We have seen his glory, the glory as it were of the only-begotten of the Father, and again (verse 18): The only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. Again Paul says (Heb. i. 6): When he bringeth in the first-begotten into the world, he saith: Let all the angels of God adore him.
|Source: St. Thomas Aquinas, The Summa Contra Gentiles, trans. by The English Dominican Fathers from the latest Leonine Edition, Benzinger Brothers: New York, 1924.|