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Distinguishing, with Philo and Clement of Alexandria, two creations first the creation of rational beings, then the postlapsarian creation of material things, destined to be the place in which fallen beings would be led back to the divine unity, and not even ruling out of this historical process a succession of different worlds he refused to compromise the economic perspective that Irenaeus had introduced into Christian theology from the Bible see De princ. Best countries to visit in december II,1, 4; I,8, 1; II,5, 3; III,6, 4. The Cappadocian Fathers, though greatly indebted to Origen, revised his cosmology according to the needs of orthodox faith and hence strengthened the historical elements of Irenaeus's cosmological vision. We should also point out the pains Basil of Caesarea took to illustrate the biblical doctrine of creation with the data of the natural sciences of his time see Hexaemeron.
Augustine, leaning on Eastern and Western traditions and developing especially the voluntarism of Tertullian, Marius Victorinus and Ambrose, gave the relatively most complete doctrine of creation see Scheffczyk 61-62; Mayer.
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Faced with contemporary Latin Neoplatonism and with the Manichean heresy as it had developed in N Africa, he tried not just to keep the right balance between Platonist-inspired dualism and Stoic monism but also to respect the links between creation and redemption. In his many studies of the first chapters of Genesis Gen. Imp. ; Gen. Man. ; Gen. Litt. ; Conf. 11-13, his most important contribution to the theology of creation was his very elaborate distinction between eternity and time.
Intimately uniting the beginning of time with creation itself, he managed not just to explore the distinction between the eternal Creator and creation in time but also to make possible, in principle, a unitary perspective of creation and preservation, and thus to avoid a purely protological consideration see Smulders 677; Studer, Gratia Christi, 198-201, with the classical distinction between conditio and administratio; Mayer 86-97: rationes causales. It is quite true that Augustine did not overcome all the risks of a direct confrontation with the non-Christian tendencies of his time.
He conceded too much to the Neoplatonist ideas of the ladder of existence see Mayer 100-103, nor did he eliminate all the dualistic traces of Manicheism. The philosophical orientation imposed on him also led him to unite, in too risky a way, providence gubernatio mundi with predestination in his explanations of the encounter between the freedom of the transcendent God and human free will, and above all to disregard to a considerable degree the economic perspectives of the Bible. Regarding this last aspect, it is difficult to see the nexus that, according to Augustine, exists between creation and sacred history, i.e. between the origin of all things and the historical realization of the civitas Dei.