A quotation from Augustine: “God doesn’t love you as you are; he hates you as you are.”

A tweet this evening:

God doesn’t love you as you are; he hates you as you are.


“You must be born again.”

But is it from Augustine?

In fact it is taken from M. C. Hollingworth, “Grace, confession, and the Pilgrim City: the political significance of St.Augustine of Hippo’s creation narratives”, Durham University thesis (2008), vol. 2, p.225, n.22, which is online here, but I will quote because such things vanish:

22 … Cf. Serm., IX, 9: ‘[God] doesn’t love you as you are, He hates you as you are. That’s why He is sorry for you, because He hates you as you are, and wants to make you as you are not yet., This thinking is presumably the background to Augustine’s exegesis of Matthew 7: 3-5, which features in a number of places in his writings.

Dr H. tells us that this is his own translation.

But of course we all want to check!  Augustine is a voluminous writer, so something just called “Sermons” tends to make the heart sink.  The bibliographical information refers to the Città Nuova collected edition of his works (contents here), to which nobody has access.  (I wonder whether Italians have collections of PDFs of these things?  I bet they do!)

Fortunately “Sermones” is listed in the Clavis Patrum Latinorum, as item 284, referencing the Patrologia Latina vols. 38 and 39.  And so when we look at the PL38, column 82, we find sermon 9, chapter 8, and the words:

Placeat tibi Deus qualis est, ama qualis est: non te ipse amat qualis es, sed odit te qualis es.

Which is our source.  The Latin for the whole sermon is online at The Latin LIbrary here.

Rather to my surprise, I find that I have on disk a copy of the English translation of this sermon, made by the “New City Press”, as part of their series, The Works of Saint Augustine: A translation for the 21st Century.  This volume has the title: Sermons, (1-19) on the Old Testament. Volume III/1. It was translated from the Italian edition above by Edmund Hill, OP, and appeared in 1990.  The sermon is entitled “Discourse on the ten strings of the harp”, preached in 420.  The division of the chapters presumably also from the Citta Nuova edition, and disagrees with the PL text.  Here is a chunk of it, talking about “Put off the old man and put on the new man”.  Page 267:

Such people are often tripped by thoughts like this, and they say to themselves, “If it were possible to do this, God would not be threatening us, he would not say all those things through the prophets to discourage people, but he would have come to be indulgent to everybody and pardon everybody, and after he came he wouldn’t send anyone to hell.” Now because he is unjust he wants to make God unjust too. God wants to make you like him, and you are trying to make God like you. Be satisfied with God as he is, not as you would like him to be. You are all twisted, and you want God to be like what you are, not like what he is. But if you are satisfied with him as he is, then you will correct yourself and align your heart along that straight rule from which you are now all warped and twisted. Be satisfied with God as he is, love him as he is.

He doesn’t love you as you are, he hates you as you are. That’s why he is sorry for you, because he hates you as you are, and wants to make you as you are not yet. Let him make you, I said, the sort of person you are not yet. What he did not promise you, you know, is to make you what he is. Oh yes, you shall be what he is, after a fashion, that is to say, an imitator of God like an image, but not the kind of image that the son is. After all there are different kinds of images even among men. A man’s son bears the image of his father, and is what his father is, because he is a man like his father. But your image in a mirror is not what you are. Your image is in your son in one way, in quite a different way in the mirror. Your image is in your son by way of equality of nature, but in the mirror how far it is from your nature! And yet it is a kind of image of you, though not like the one in your son which is identical in nature.



An online quote attributed to St. Jerome, on prayer

It’s often wise to be wary of online quotes which carry a famous name, but no reference.  One of these caught my eye a couple of days ago, and I wondered if it was genuine.  A google search revealed nothing as to its source, unfortunately.  It does appear without reference in a Catholic collection of quotes from the saints.

Here it is:

“Let prayer arm us when we leave our homes. When we return from the streets let us pray before we sit down, nor give our miserable body rest until our soul is fed.” – St. Jerome

The quotation in this case is indeed authentic.  The reference is St Jerome, Letter 22 to Eustochium (de virginitate servanda / on the duties of a virgin), chapter 37; taken from F.A.Wright (translator), St Jerome: Select Letters, Loeb Classical Library 262 (1933), p.144-5.

Letter 22 is a treatise, really, rather than a letter.  It was composed around 384 AD.  It was translated by W. H. Fremantle for the 19th century Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers series II, volume 6.  This translation may be found online in many places, such as here.  Fremantle renders the Latin as follows:

When we leave the roof which shelters us, prayer should be our armor; and when we return from the street we should pray before we sit down, and not give the frail body rest until the soul is fed.

Yet another translation of letter 22 appears in P. Carroll, The satirical letters of St. Jerome, Chicago, 1956, on p.17-68.[1]  There are probably others.  The most recent translation known to me is by Charles Christopher Mierow, The Letters of St Jerome, vol. 1 (1-22), (1963), in the Ancient Christian Writers series, on p.134-80.  But I have not seen any of these.

The Latin text was printed by Hilberg in CSEL 54, on pages 143-211, from which the Loeb text was supposedly drawn.  The text of our quote is the same in both, and reads:

Egredientes hospitium armet oratio, regredientibus de platea oratio occurrat ante, quam sessio, nec prius corpusculum requiescat, quam anima pascatur.

Manuscripts are listed in Hilberg on p.143.  The oldest is 6th century.

There is apparently a commentary on the letter: Neil Adkin, Jerome on Virginity: A Commentary on the Libellus de virginitate servanda (Letter 22), ARCA Classical and Medieval Texts, Papers and Monographs 42 (Cambridge: Francis Cairns, 2003).[2]

The Loeb is out of copyright, and so may be found on Archive.org, or via this site.  Searching for it by Google is a depressing business, with a mass of bookseller results entirely concealing the download.  I had to specify “PDF” in the search to locate the free copy.  This made me notice how unfit a search engine Google now is.  It’s not really oriented towards useful information, so much as commerce.  Once it would easily have brought me material useful to me.  Now it brings me material useful to the shareholders of Amazon and half-a-hundred other merchants.  I had not originally known that it was online.  I did consider buying a volume; a sheer waste of money.  I did feel rather annoyed once I realised.

The Google search did produce two search results, which are on JSTOR.  The first is a negative review of the Loeb volume by the great Alexander Souter, here, which lists the defects and concludes with the words “It is abundantly clear that this book suffers from want of competence and of care”.  The second is a truly vicious review by one Martin R. P. McGuire here, ending with the words, “Professor Wright has shown himself incompetent to deal in a scholarly and accurate manner with a patristic writer. The editors of the Loeb must assume a certain amount of responsibility for not having investigated his qualifications thoroughly before assigning to him the letters of St. Jerome.”

The tone of the McGuire review is so intemperate that we must suppose some form of personal animosity.  There is a Wikipedia article on McGuire that informs us that he was a Catholic University of America scholar.

But who was F. A. Wright?  This is hard to say.  He does not appear in the Dictionary of National Biography.  His publications are mainly translations or deal with Greek poetry.  I did find a short statement in a book on Rationalist Criticism of Greek Tragedy, by James E. Ford, p.56:

Frederick Adam Wright was professor of Greek at London University, but his real vocation was his commitment to liberal causes, one of which was women’s rights (“The fact is—and it is well to state it plainly—that the Greek world perished from one main cause, a low ideal of womanhood” [1]). He takes from Verrall the basic idea of the ironic dual message in Euripides’ plays and states his acceptance of Verrall’s interpretations of Iphigenia in Taurus, Heracles, Orestes, and the Bacchae (see 109, 111). [3]

Other sources are vague.  One website says: “Frederick Adam Wright (1869-1946) was Professor of Classics in the University of London.”  The index of contributors in the “The Wellesley Index to Victorian Periodicals, 1824-1900, Volume 5”, p.857, confirms his dates but says vaguely “headmaster, class. scholar”.  One final source, that I was only able to access as a snippet, stated: “FREDERICK ADAM WRIGHT (1869-1946) Wright was Professor of Classics at Birkbeck College, London, and the author of numerous books on classical literature as well as of translations from Greek and Latin authors.”[4]

Possibly Professor Wright and his critics may have been divided by political considerations here.  But I would guess that the cause of all the problems identified by Souter is that the old man simply produced a translation by the slacker standards of the early Loeb volumes, and left the rest to the Loeb editors; who let him down.

All the same, F. A. Wright gave expression to a thought of St Jerome that has achieved an independent existence.  I expect St Jerome is pleased!

  1. [1]ACW preface, p.20, currently visible online as preview here.
  2. [2]I owe many of these details to the excellent Fourth Century website, and their page on Letter 22 here.
  3. [3]Google Books preview here.
  4. [4]Richard Stoneman, Daphne into laurel: translations of classical poetry from Chaucer to the present, 1982.  The page number is unknown to me, but possible p.305.

A genuine quote by Plato

Another quotation that I have come across is the following, attributed to Plato:

Who are the true philosophers? Those whose passion is to see the truth.


Who are the true philosophers? Those whose passion is to love the truth.

It sounds a bit cute, doesn’t it?  We have so many bogus quotes online.  But it turns out that this one really does represent Plato’s views, even if the words are a summary.  This commentary (online here) gives these exact words, as a summary of Republic, book 5, 475e.[1]  Looking at the old online Loeb, vol. 1 of the Republic, translated by Shorey, I see the sentiment is at the start of book 5, chapter 20, p.517.

XX, ” Whom do you mean, then, by the true philosophers? ” “Those for whom the truth is the spectacle of which they are enamoured,” said I.

Somewhat annoyingly I find that I have disposed of my copy of Sir Desmond Lee’s translation of the Republic in the Penguin series.  (I remember writing him a fan letter, to which he very courteously responded).  So here instead are the same lines in another modern translation:

“Who do you say are the true ones?” [philosophers] he said.
“The lovers of the sight of the truth,” I said.

More or less the same.  We may allow the “quote”.

  1. [1]R C Cross, A D Woozley, Plato’s Republic: A Philosophical Commentary, Springer (1979), p.139.

Investigating “quotations” online – another blog

Regular readers will know that I sometimes investigate supposed quotations from the ancients which I have found online.  Often they prove to be bogus.

I came across a blog which does nothing but check quotations.  I’d never heard of it, and it deserves wider notice: