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By Noah D. Guynn (auth.)

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If he is able to and does not wish to, he is envious, which is equally foreign to god. If he neither wishes to nor is able, he is both envious and feeble and therefore not god. ”79 Neither monism (one divine principle responsible for both good and evil) nor dualism (two rival principles, one good and one evil), Augustine’s theology defines God as the incorruptible, immutable, utterly singular, and utterly good source of all being. If God’s Being is Goodness, then God’s creation must be good insofar as it exists.

Hugh employs a carefully qualified simile to describe the world as “a sort of book” (and therefore a rhetorical disposition) authored by a synecdoche: the finger of God. Thus even as he describes the imprint of the divine Author on the entirety of creation, he reduces God, the ineffable, indivisible origin of all being, to the status of a partitive figure of speech. Of course Hugh clearly intends that his tropes will not be taken literally and is careful (as are the others) to qualify his statements: it is not a book but “a sort of book,” a figuration of the unfigurable.

Otherwise, God would not have created it or would have used his power to prevent its deviating from the good. If any aspect of the creation can be called “evil,” it is so only insofar as its goodness and being have been diminished and insofar as it has moved closer to annihilation (the reduction of being to nothingness). Now, I am actually less concerned with these basic principles of Augustinian theodicy, which are familiar terrain for most medievalists, than with their ideological implications.

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