Anti-pelagian Writings by St. Augustine
Chapter 35.--Do Angels Appear to Men in Real Bodies?
It would, however, require too lengthy a discourse to enter very carefully on a discussion concerning this kind of corporeal semblances; whether angels even, either good ones or evil ones, appear in this manner, whenever they appear in the likeness of human beings or of any bodies whatever; or whether they possess real bodies, and show themselves in this veritable state of corporeity; or, again, whether by persons when dreaming, indeed, or in a trance they are perceived in these forms -- not in bodies, but in the likeness of bodies -- while to persons when awake they present real bodies which can be seen, and, if necessary, actually touched. Such questions as these, however, I do not deem it at all requisite to investigate and fully treat in this book. By this time enough has been advanced respecting the soul's incorporeity. If you would rather persist in your opinion that it is corporeal, you must first of all define what |body| means; lest, peradventure, it may turn out that we are agreed about the thing itself, but labouring to no purpose about its name. The absurd conclusions, however, to which you would be reduced if you thought of such a body in the soul, as are those substances which are called |bodies| by all learned men, -- I mean such as occupy portions of space, smaller ones for their smaller parts, and larger ones for their larger, -- by means of the different relations of length and breadth and thickness, I venture to think you are by this time able intelligently to observe.