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On Christian Doctrine In Four Books by St. Augustine

Chapter 50. The fifth rule Tichonius lays down is one he designates of timesà

50. The fifth rule Tichonius lays down is one he designates of times, -- a rule by which we can frequently discover or conjecture quantities of time which are not expressly mentioned in Scripture. And he says that this rule applies in two ways: either to the figure of speech called synecdoche, or to legitimate numbers. The figure synecdoche either puts the part for the whole, or the whole for the part. As, for example, in reference to the time when, in the presence of only three of His disciples, our Lord was transfigured on the mount, so that His face shone as the sun, and His raiment was white as snow, one evangelist says that this event occurred |after eight days,| while another says that it occurred |after six days.| Now both of these statements about the number of days cannot be true, unless we suppose that the writer who says |after eight days,| counted the latter part of the day on which Christ uttered the prediction and the first part of the day on which he showed its fulfilment as two whole days; while the writer who says |after six days,| counted only the whole unbroken days between these two. This figure of speech, which puts the part for the whole, explains also the great question about the resurrection of Christ. For unless to the latter part of the day on which He suffered we join the previous night, and count it as a whole day, and to the latter part of the night in which He arose we join the Lord's day which was just dawning, and count it also a whole day, we cannot make out the three days and three nights during which He foretold that He would be in the heart of the earth.

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