The Sufficiency of the Divine Locution

Anselm’s Theology of the Possible, part 11

Much more so than with Augustine’s divine ideas, then, Anselm’s divine utterance is an artistic utterance. Indeed, his utterance simply is his art: just as that which God speaks in and by his utterance is said to pre-exist in his utterance, so he argues later on that, insofar as that which God makes according to his craft also pre-exists in his craft, it is to that extent “nothing other than the craft itself.”[1] The divine utterance, in short, is the divine craft, which may remind us of Augustine’s statement (in one of his later, more theological and Trinitarian moments) that the divine Word—whom Anselm, as we shall see momentarily, further identifies as the divine utterance—is the ars dei, the “art of God.” We might also note Anselm’s emphasis in this context on the “sufficiency” of the divine utterance as the paradigm or pattern by which all things were created: “the Creator’s utterance was not collected from or assisted by some other source; rather, as the first and sole cause it was sufficient for its Artisan to bring his work to completion.”[2] While Anselm’s remarks are, as before, directed against Augustine’s own target of there being anything outside of God that he took as his pattern for creation, his assertion of the adequacy of his understanding of the divine utterance to serve as the exemplar cause of creation would seem to no less indict (what Anselm would deem to be) the superfluity of Augustine’s divine ideas, insofar as they presume to provide archetypes for not only what God does, but also allegedly anything he can make. As we shall find Aquinas implying in a later chapter, rather, in the divine Word we have nothing less than a similitudo sufficiens omnium, the one “all-sufficing likeness” of creatures in God.[3]


[1] Monologion 34.

[2] Monologion 11.

[3] Aquinas, Summa Theologiae 1.14.12.

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