Inquiry is more loquacious than discovery. Demanding takes longer than obtaining and the hand that knocks is more active than the hand that receives.

It is one thing to inquire as to what is true about the formation of creation. It is another thing, however, to ask what that excellent servant of your faith, Moses, would have wished for the reader and hearer to understand from these words.

In this discord of true opinions let truth itself bring concord, and may our god have mercy on us all, that we may use the law rightly to the end of the commandment which is pure love.

Context for Book 12 Quotes

In Book 12, Augustine brings his ideas of memory and time (from Books 10 and 11) to bear on issues surrounding the story of the creation. His main concern here is to address the diversity of opinion regarding the precise meaning of Genesis by focusing on the use of language. While accepting that scripture has more than one 'true' interpretation, Augustine devotes significant time to delineating the limits of possible exegeses. This Book contains a great deal of hair-splitting with regard to phrases like 'heaven and earth,' and repeats much of Augustine's own reading of Genesis found in Book 11—take the more involute and confusing parts with a grain of salt. This Book retains import chiefly for its basic layout of the concepts of formless matter and the 'heaven of heaven.'