This is in’ agreement with Augustine’s famous doctrine of time. Philosophically speaking, this is his greatest work, perhaps because here he really starts a new era of human thinking about the concept of time. Cf. his prayer (Book 11 of the “Confessions”) Time has no objective reality, in the sense in which a thing is.
Therefore it is not valid for God. Therefore the question how time was before the creation, is meaningless. Time is created with the world, it is the form of the world.
Time is the form of the finitude of things, as is space also. Both world and time and space have eternity only insofar as they are subjects of the eternal will to creation, i.e., they are potentially resent in the Divine Life, but they are not eternal as real; as real they are finite, they have a beginning and an end. There is only one world process, according to him – and this is the decisive statement in which he denies Aristotle and the Stoics – namely, that there is no cyclical world, cycles of a birth and rebirth of the world after everything repeats itself in the same way, infinitely. This is Greek thinking. But for Augustine, there is a definite beginning and a definite end, and only eternity is before and after this beginning and end. For the Greeks, space was finite, time was infinite–or, better, endless. For Augustine neither time nor space is infinite. In the finitude of space, he agrees with the Greeks; they couldn’t understand the infinity of space because they were all potential sculptors, their world-view was plastic–(they wanted to see bodies) in space – the infinity of space would have disrupted the plastic form of reality, expressed in mathematical forms by the Pythagoreans. Augustine, however, said time was finite. This finitude of time is necessary if time shall have an ultimate meaning. It has not, in Greece, In Greece it is the form of decay and repetition, but it has no meaning of itself, in creative terms. The endless times in nature are meaningless. Meaningful time is historical time. And historical time is not a matter of quantity. The 6000 years of world history of which Augustine speaks are the meaning of time. And if instead of that there were 100, 000 years or, as we say, a few billion years, it cannot take away anything from the meaning of time. Meaning is a qualitative, not a quantitative, concept. The measure of time is not clock time. Clock time is physical time; it tends to repeat itself. But the meaning of time is the kairos, the historical moment, which is its qualitative character.
There is one world whose center is the earth, and one history, whose center is the Christ. This one process is eternally meant by God, but eternity is not time before time nor is it timelessness, something beyond all these categories. But the world itself, although it is intended eternally, is neither eternal nor infinite; but it is finite and meaningful. In the finite moment, infinite meaning is actualized. This feeling of finitude is again something which makes the Middle Ages understandable to us.