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Augustinian Studies

Volume 49, Issue 2, 2018

Gerald P. Boersma
Pages 247-276

Jerusalem as Caelum Caeli in Augustine

The city of Jerusalem is the focal point of Augustine’s exegesis of the Psalms of Ascent. In Enarratio in Psalmum 121, Augustine presents Jerusalem as a collective unity contemplating God’s being. The city is thoroughly established in peace and love and participates intimately in the divine life. The essential features of the Jerusalem described in Enarratio in Psalmum 121 align neatly with the created intellectual realm of contemplation (the caelum caeli) outlined in Confessiones Book 12. Both texts envisage a city that participates in the divine idipsum. This city is a creature so intimate with God’s being that its creaturely mutability is checked. Both texts articulate this created intellectual realm as participating in God’s eternity. In both cases, this participation is realized in contemplation: through the constancy of its vision, it is conformed to that which it sees. Finally, both the aeterna Ierusalem and the caelum caeli are a communion—in fact, a city—united in love. In Enarratio in Psalmum 121, Augustine urges his congregants to join themselves to this edifice that is still under construction; in the Confessiones, he presents himself as a pilgrim groaning and longing with desire to be part of the Jerusalem that is above, his mother and patria.

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