Through, not by

In a recent post I quoted the passage from The Book of Lost Tales version of the Ainulindalë in which Ilúvatar states that it is “through” Melkor and “not by him” that much good will be brought about as a consequence of his evil. This logic of “through, not by” is something of a motif in the opening books of Augustine’s Confessions as the Bishop of Hippo tries to understand God’s mysterious agency and working of grace in his pre-converted life. Thus, in book one, speaking of the nourishing milk he received from his nurses, observes that “the good which came to me from them was a good for them; yet it was not from them but through them” (bonum erat eis bonum meum ex eis, quod ex eis non sed per eas erat–1.6.7).

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