(15) Why, when God commanded the man to eat of every tree within the Paradise, he speaks in the singular number, and says, “Thou shalt eat;” but when he commands that he shall abstain from the tree which would give him the knowledge of good and evil, he speaks in the plural number, and says, “Ye shall not eat of it, for in the day in which ye eat of it ye shall surely die?” (#Ge 2:16). In the first place he uses this language because one good was derived from many; and that also is not unimportant in these principles, since he who has done anything which is of utility is one, and he who attains to anything useful is also one; but when I say one, I am speaking not of that which in point of number comes before duality, but of that one creative virtue by which many beings rightly coalesce, and by their concord imitate singularity, as a flock, a herd, a troop, a chorus, an army, a nation, a tribe, a family, a state; for all these things being many members form one community, being united by affection as by a kiss; when things which are not combined, and which have no principle of union by reason of their duality and multitude, fall into different divisions, for duality is the beginning of discord. But two men living as if they were one, by the same philosophy, practise an unalloyed and brilliant virtue, which is free from all taint of wickedness; but where good and evil are mingled together the combination contains the principle of death.
(16) What is the meaning of the expression, “Ye shall surely die?” (#Ge 2:17). The death of the good is the beginning of another life; for life is a twofold thing, one life being in the body, corruptible; the other without the body, incorruptible. Therefore one wicked man surely dies the death, who while still breathing and among the living is in reality long since buried, so as to retain in himself no single spark of real life, which is perfect virtue. But a good man, who deserves so high a title, does not surely die, but has his life prolonged, and so attains to an eternal end.