Did Arnobius Deny that Celestial Bodies are Alive? · Missing Part of It, Akin!
I have seen Arnobius quoted like this:
Arnobius: The moon, the sun, the earth, the ether, the stars, are members and parts of the world; but if they are parts and members, they are certainly not themselves living creatures (Arnobius Against the Heathen, Book 3, 350)
Here : Philip Stallings : The Biblical Flat Earth: Quotes Of The Early Church Fathers And Protestant Reformers
Most, perhaps even all of his quotes on Church Fathers are compatible with Earth being round. Their point is rather Geocentrism. But the point of this one seems more to be to deny that celestial bodies are alive.
Now, I looked up
Arnobius Against the Heathen Book III
And this is what I found:
35. Men worthy to be remembered in the study of philosophy, who have been raised by your praises to its highest place, declare, with commendable earnestness, as their conclusion, that the whole mass of the world, by whose folds we all are encompassed, covered, and upheld, is one animal possessed of wisdom and reason; yet if this is a true, sure, and certain opinion, they also will immediately cease to be gods whom you set up a little ago in its parts without change of name. For as one man cannot, while his body remains entire, be divided into many men; nor can many men, while they continue to be distinct and separate from each other, be fused into one sentient individual: so, if the world is a single animal, and moves from the impulse of one mind, neither can it be dispersed in several deities; nor, if the gods are parts of it, can they be brought together and changed into one living creature, with unity of feeling throughout all its parts. The moon, the sun, the earth, the ether, the stars, are members and parts of the world; but if they are parts and members, they are certainly not themselves living creatures; for in no thing can parts be the very thing which the whole is, or think and feel for themselves, for this cannot be effected by their own actions, without the whole creature's joining in; and this being established and settled, the whole matter comes back to this, that neither Sol, nor Luna, nor Aether, Tellus, and the rest, are gods. For they are parts of the world, not the proper names of deities; and thus it is brought about that, by your disturbing and confusing all divine things, the world is set up as the sole god in the universe, while all the rest are cast aside, and that as having been set up vainly, uselessly, and without any reality.
So, the real context is Arnobius confronting diverse Pagan ideas, and here his point was, Pantheism (clearly one of them) or Panpsychism (another of them, the one here adressed) excludes Moon and Sun being different gods from each other, since they would rather in that case be parts of the same god.
In the previous, he has argued from identification of diverse goddesses with the Moon, that they cannot be different goddesses though usually considered so. Luna or Selene cannot be Diana or Artemis in mythology, but if both are same celestial body, one of the goddesses is out. (Not sure how he or Aristotle argued for Minerva or Pallas Athenâ being yet another moon goddess.)
Now, if the passage quoted by Philip Stallings actually has previously been cited in such isolation, this could be the reason why Bishop Tempier condemned and St Thomas Aquinas rejected celestial bodies being alive. St Thomas also has another reason, no change being observed in any celestian body, and change being necessary for bodily life. We have seem some of them have changing processes since, like the protuberances of the Sun, the whirl on Jupiter, the clouds on Venus. And a flickering of certain fix stars, often now attributed to exoplanets even when these have not been sighted as actual globes.
Either way, as long as the condemnation stands (in Paris and England, presumably therefore also in certain colonies), angelic movers clearly are an option, though, equally as per bishop Tempier, we cannot say each angel is angelic mover of a celestial body, only presume each celestial body may have an angelic mover. Some angels do have other business, like adoring God well above stars (as Seraphim and Cherubim do) or helping men down here on earth.
To return to Philip Stalling, I was just revising the symbolic meaning of alimentary cashroot about mammalian meats. A mammal with several digits (dogs, hares, bears ...) refers to diversity of Pagan doctrine, none of it from authority of both Testaments. A mammal with one uncloven hoof (horse and donkeys) refers to infidelity of accepting only one of the Testaments. A mammal with cloven hoof, but not completely cloven (camel) refers to infidelity or heresy of those confusing the testaments (7 Day Adventists come to mind since applying OT Sabbath in NT times, Calvinists seem to think the comment against images still applies after God took a body which was visible and depictable since Bethlehem). Pure mammals have perfectly cloven hooves (oxen, sheep, goats, elk, deer). They also ruminate. Perfectly cloven hoof refers to accepting both Testaments and them being distinct and ruminating to meditating the truth in prayer. Pigs also have perfectly cloven hooves, but do NOT ruminate, and that refers to Catholics who while accepting the truth do not meditate it by prayer.
Well, there is an OT ritual rule about four corners. Imagine you have a poncho with a tassel in each corner. You would be literally fulfilling that law to the letter (literally and to the letter mean the same thing). Now, you may spread your poncho on the ground (like drying it after rain or washing). When it lies on the ground, the poncho forms sth very close to a real square or rectangle, the Euclidean flat figure properly so called. But that is not how you used the poncho. When you wear it, it still has four corners, but they are around your (sometimes very round, as Chesterton would observe) body. A real or Euclidean square suddenly has become a Riemann figure, often called Riemann "square" because Riemann had no time to find more specific names for the figures than borrowing and misusing the names already taken by Euclid.
Well, the one other thing in the Bible which again and again has "four corners" is Earth or Land. I think sth like Cape of Good Hope or Cape Horn qualifies as a "corner" of the Land, since North of it the Sea is to the West (West and East for Horn), East of it, the Sea is to the South. This remains so even if it is on a globe. So, either of the named Capes in my view would be the South West Corner of the world in the Biblical sense of Four Corners. And Earth as a whole (not Land) actually being round is supported by your body, if ever you wear a poncho.
Hans Georg Lundahl
Pope St Silverius