Augustine is going after the Platonists – he even addresses a few of these chapters directly to the Platonists, not just in the third person – and their ideas about the body and the soul. Jesus should not be shamed because He took on a human body, instead the Incarnation shows that humanity can be elevated, not that God is somehow tainted. Also, he talks about the Platonist view of the soul and argues that the human soul was created, versus the Platonist view of the soul as co-eternal with God.
Two quotes on all this, one from my friend Steve, one from Augustine. First, Steve’s thoughts on a Christian view of the body, inspired by Augustine’s reflections:
“A Gnostic-like denial of the body and of the reality of the resurrection body that Scripture promises is a rejection of God’s singular creation design intent in which humanity was made in the image of the Creator. In that we are so made yet our true image is corrupted by our own rebellion we humans desperately need the restorative touch of that same Creator which is provided in and through the blood of Christ and God’s resurrection of that same body into His rightful place in the heavens. Thus there is no need, in fact no desire, to escape from our earthly bodies. Instead, these temporary vessels do perish only to be replaced by an “absolutely incorruptible and immortal” one that does truly and fully reflect that divine image that was God’s intent.”
Yes. We need our bodies to be fully what God created us to be. Bodies are good, and Augustine is firm in his defense of bodies, against the Platonists.
Augustine on the purpose of the Incarnation:
“The grace of God could not have been more graciously commended to us than it was. For the only Son of God, remaining immutable in Himself, put on humanity and bestowed upon mankind the spirit of His love through the mediation of a Man. Through this, it was made possible for us to come to Him, Who was so far from us: to the immortal from the mortal; to the immutable from the mutable; t the righteous from the ungodly; to the blessed from the wretched. And because He had imbued our nature with the desire for blessedness and immortality, He, remaining blessed even while assuming mortality, taught us to despise what we fear by undergoing it Himself, so that He might bestow upon us what we long for.”
Praise be to God, for sending us His Son, and praise be to the Son who underwent what we fear, in order to give us what we long for!