Nature as a deficient procession

In his most densely argumentative work, St. Augustine distinguishes the act of creation:

All corruptible natures therefore are natures at all only so far as they are from God, nor would they be corruptible if they were of Him; because they would be what He himself is. Therefore of whatever measure, of whatever form, of whatever order, they are, they are so because it is God by whom they were made; but they are not immutable, because it is nothing of which they were made. For it is sacrilegious audacity to make nothing and God equal, as when we wish to make what has been born of God such as what has been made by Him out of nothing.

There is a double procession from God; one that produces what is of him, another which produces what is not of him (Augustine is using the primordial sense of the genitive where it bespeaks generation, which requires a unity of nature. So some natures are one nature with God, others are not.) Creation is therefore understood as a falling away from or privation of the procession that generates the Word. So far as this deficient procession falls away, it is from nothing; for in the act of creation there is nothing outside of God. So far as it is is a procession, it constitutes a nature, for all procession is a communication of a nature in one way or another. In understanding creation in this way, the “nothing” becomes, as it were, far more like nothing- since it is simply the failure to be the divine nature. Creation also becomes far more illumined, for we can understand it as a particular way falling short and yet participating in the ideal procession.

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