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Augustine of Hippo Timeline

Augustine of Hippo Timeline

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St. Augustine of Hippo

Augustine of Hippo, also known as Saint Augustine, is one of the most important and well-known theologians in the history of the Christian religion. Augustine has one of the most dramatic conversions ever in the Church, a change of belief and behavior, which led to his most influential written works, Confessions and the City of God.

Augustine was born in 354 in Thagaste (modern-day Algeria, North Africa) and died on August 28, 430 in Hippo. He was born Aurelius Augustine to a pagan father and devout Christian mother. Augustine was born with a brilliant mind and enjoyed academic success and worldly pleasures at Carthage, that is until he became restless for truth and virtue. Successively disappointed by Platonic philosophy and Manichaen theology, he found his rest in the God of Christianity at the age of 32. Ten years later, Augustine reluctantly became Bishop of Hippo.

A prolific writer and original thinker, Augustine's treatises, sermons and letters number into the hundreds. He put his gifted mind to work on subjects such as grace, the Trinity, the soul, predestination, the sacraments, sexuality and free will. Augustine's thought has had a profound impact on both Roman Catholicism (primarily in his doctrine of the church) and Protestantism (especially in his concept of salvation).

Augustine of Hippo Raised to New Life

And we were baptized and all anxiety for our past life vanished away." With these joyous words Augustine recorded his entrance into the church on this day, April 25, 387 , Easter day.

He had been 33 years in coming to this public confession of Christ. Born in North Africa in 354 of a Christian mother and pagan father, Augustine became at twelve years of age a student at Carthage and at sixteen, a teacher of grammar. At this young age, he was already promiscuous. And he tells in his famous autobiography that he boasted of sins he had not had opportunity to commit, rather than seem to have fallen behind his peers in wickedness.

His mother was determined to see him converted and baptized. He was equally determined to have his pleasures. He took a mistress and she bore him a son, Adeodatus, "Gift of God." For a while he resented the lad but soon became inseparable from him. At 29 his restless spirit drove him to Italy. His mother determined to accompany him so that her prayers might be reinforced by her presence. Augustine gave her the slip, sailing while she knelt praying in a chapel.

In Rome he taught rhetoric for a year, but was cheated of his fees. And so he looked for a more fertile field of labor and settled on Milan. His mother caught up with him and prevailed upon him to attend the church of St. Ambrose. Christian singing moved him deeply. In spite of himself he began to drift toward faith. He found the writings of the Apostle Paul deeply stirring and more satisfying than the cool abstractions of philosophy. He wrestled with deep conviction but was unable to yield himself to God, owing to his attachment to the flesh.

Finally he reached a day when his inner vacillations were too great to ignore. He tried reading scripture but abandoned the effort. Unable to act on the truth he knew, he began to weep, and threw himself behind a fig tree. "How long, O Lord," he cried. And his heart answered "Why not now?" A child's sing-song voice came clearly to him, repeating over and over, "Take it and read it." It seemed a message from God. He snatched up the Bible and read Paul's words, ". . .not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature." Faith flooded in upon him. He immediately thrust aside those sins of the flesh which had held him in thrall for so long.

"But this faith would not let me be at ease about my past sins, since these had not yet been forgiven me by means of your baptism." He entered the water and was relieved. At his mother's death, he returned to Africa where he founded a monastery, became bishop of Hippo and a brilliant and prolific theologian who more than any other stamped his imprint upon the Medieval church.

Life of Augustine

Fell in love with a girl of a lower social class, so Augustine took her as his concubine. The relationship will last for 13 years.

Son was Born

Augustine has a son through his concubine, names him Adeodatus

Read Cicero's Hotensius

Converted to a high life philosophy

Returned Home

Returned to Thagaste to teach grammar and rhetoric

Returns to Carthage

After death of friend in Thagaste, Augustine returned to Carthage and opened a school of rhetoric.

Theodosius I Becomes Emperor

Becomes emperor of Roman Empire and ruled until 395. Orthodox Christianity is established at this time as official state religion

Moves to Milan

Took up to study the Neoplatonists

Plot for Marriage

Was asked by his mother to marry a Catholic girl, but on terms that he be separated from his concubine for two years. Instead of abstaining from sex, Augustine finds someone else to fulfill his "needs" while waiting for his proposed wife to come of age.


Background Edit

Augustine of Hippo ( / ɔː ˈ ɡ ʌ s t ɪ n / , [22] / ə ˈ ɡ ʌ s t ɪ n / , [37] or / ˈ ɔː ɡ ʌ s t ɪ n / [38] Latin: Aurelius Augustinus Hipponensis [b] 13 November 354 – 28 August 430), also known as Saint Augustine or Saint Austin, [40] is known by various cognomens throughout the many denominations of the Christian world, including Blessed Augustine and the Doctor of Grace [20] (Latin: Doctor gratiae).

Childhood and education Edit

Augustine was born in 354 in the municipium of Thagaste (now Souk Ahras, Algeria) in the Roman province of Numidia. [43] [44] [45] [46] [47] His mother, Monica or Monnica, [c] was a devout Christian his father Patricius was a pagan who converted to Christianity on his deathbed. [48] He had a brother named Navigius and a sister whose name is lost but is conventionally remembered as Perpetua. [49]

Scholars generally agree Augustine and his family were Berbers, an ethnic group indigenous to North Africa, [50] [51] [52] but were heavily Romanized, speaking only Latin at home as a matter of pride and dignity. [50] In his writings, Augustine leaves some information as to the consciousness of his African heritage. For example, he refers to Apuleius as "the most notorious of us Africans," [50] [53] to Ponticianus as "a country man of ours, insofar as being African," [50] [54] and to Faustus of Mileve as "an African Gentleman". [50] [55]

Augustine's family name, Aurelius, suggests his father's ancestors were freedmen of the gens Aurelia given full Roman citizenship by the Edict of Caracalla in 212. Augustine's family had been Roman, from a legal standpoint, for at least a century when he was born. [56] It is assumed his mother, Monica, was of Berber origin, on the basis of her name, [57] [58] but as his family were honestiores, an upper class of citizens known as honorable men, Augustine's first language was likely Latin. [57]

At the age of 11, Augustine was sent to school at Madaurus (now M'Daourouch), a small Numidian city about 19 miles (31 km) south of Thagaste. There he became familiar with Latin literature, as well as pagan beliefs and practices. [59] His first insight into the nature of sin occurred when he and a number of friends stole fruit they did not want from a neighborhood garden. He tells this story in his autobiography, The Confessions. He remembers he stole the fruit, not because he was hungry, but because "it was not permitted." [60] His very nature, he says, was flawed. 'It was foul, and I loved it. I loved my own error—not that for which I erred, but the error itself." [60] From this incident he concluded the human person is naturally inclined to sin, and in need of the grace of Christ.

At the age of 17, through the generosity of his fellow citizen Romanianus, [61] Augustine went to Carthage to continue his education in rhetoric, though it was above the financial means of his family. [62] In spite of the good warnings of his mother, as a youth Augustine lived a hedonistic lifestyle for a time, associating with young men who boasted of their sexual exploits. The need to gain their acceptance forced inexperienced boys like Augustine to seek or make up stories about sexual experiences. [63]

It was while he was a student in Carthage that he read Cicero's dialogue Hortensius (now lost), which he described as leaving a lasting impression, enkindling in his heart the love of wisdom and a great thirst for truth. It started his interest in philosophy. [64] Although raised Christian, Augustine became a Manichaean, much to his mother's chagrin. [65]

At about the age of 17, Augustine began a relationship with a young woman in Carthage. Though his mother wanted him to marry a person of his class, the woman remained his lover [66] for over fifteen years [67] and gave birth to his son Adeodatus (372–388), which means "Gift from God", [68] who was viewed as extremely intelligent by his contemporaries. In 385, Augustine ended his relationship with his lover in order to prepare to marry a ten-year-old heiress. (He had to wait for two years because the legal age of marriage for girls was twelve.) By the time he was able to marry her, however, he had decided to become a Catholic priest and the marriage did not happen. [67] [69]

Augustine was from the beginning a brilliant student, with an eager intellectual curiosity, but he never mastered Greek [70] – he tells us his first Greek teacher was a brutal man who constantly beat his students, and Augustine rebelled and refused to study. By the time he realized he needed to know Greek, it was too late and although he acquired a smattering of the language, he was never eloquent with it. However, his mastery of Latin was another matter. He became an expert both in the eloquent use of the language and in the use of clever arguments to make his points.

Move to Carthage, Rome, and Milan Edit

Augustine taught grammar at Thagaste during 373 and 374. The following year he moved to Carthage to conduct a school of rhetoric and remained there for the next nine years. [61] Disturbed by unruly students in Carthage, he moved to establish a school in Rome, where he believed the best and brightest rhetoricians practiced, in 383. However, Augustine was disappointed with the apathetic reception. It was the custom for students to pay their fees to the professor on the last day of the term, and many students attended faithfully all term, and then did not pay.

Manichaean friends introduced him to the prefect of the City of Rome, Symmachus, who had been asked by the imperial court at Milan [20] to provide a rhetoric professor. Augustine won the job and headed north to take his position in Milan in late 384. Thirty years old, he had won the most visible academic position in the Latin world at a time when such posts gave ready access to political careers.

Although Augustine spent ten years as a Manichaean, he was never an initiate or "elect", but an "auditor", the lowest level in this religion's hierarchy. [20] [71] While still at Carthage a disappointing meeting with the Manichaean Bishop, Faustus of Mileve, a key exponent of Manichaean theology, started Augustine's scepticism of Manichaeanism. [20] In Rome, he reportedly turned away from Manichaeanism, embracing the scepticism of the New Academy movement. Because of his education, Augustine had great rhetorical prowess and was very knowledgeable of the philosophies behind many faiths. [72] At Milan, his mother's religiosity, Augustine's own studies in Neoplatonism, and his friend Simplicianus all urged him towards Christianity. [61] Not coincidentally, this was shortly after the Roman emperor Theodosius I had issued a decree of death for all Manichaean monks in 382 and shortly before he declared Christianity to be the only legitimate religion for the Roman Empire in 391. [73] Initially Augustine was not strongly influenced by Christianity and its ideologies, but after coming in contact with Ambrose of Milan, Augustine reevaluated himself and was forever changed.

Augustine arrived in Milan and visited Ambrose, having heard of his reputation as an orator. Like Augustine, Ambrose was a master of rhetoric, but older and more experienced. [74] Soon, their relationship grew, as Augustine wrote, "And I began to love him, of course, not at the first as a teacher of the truth, for I had entirely despaired of finding that in thy Church—but as a friendly man." [75] Augustine was very much influenced by Ambrose, even more than by his own mother and others he admired. In his Confessions, Augustine states, "That man of God received me as a father would, and welcomed my coming as a good bishop should." [75] Ambrose adopted Augustine as a spiritual son after the death of Augustine's father. [76]

Augustine's mother had followed him to Milan and arranged a respectable marriage for him. Although Augustine acquiesced, he had to dismiss his concubine and grieved for having forsaken his lover. He wrote, "My mistress being torn from my side as an impediment to my marriage, my heart, which clave to her, was racked, and wounded, and bleeding." Augustine confessed he had not been a lover of wedlock so much as a slave of lust, so he procured another concubine since he had to wait two years until his fiancée came of age. However, his emotional wound was not healed. [77] It was during this period that he uttered his famously insincere prayer, "Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet." [78]

There is evidence Augustine may have considered this former relationship to be equivalent to marriage. [79] In his Confessions, he admitted the experience eventually produced a decreased sensitivity to pain. Augustine eventually broke off his engagement to his eleven-year-old fiancée, but never renewed his relationship with either of his concubines. Alypius of Thagaste steered Augustine away from marriage, saying they could not live a life together in the love of wisdom if he married. Augustine looked back years later on the life at Cassiciacum, a villa outside of Milan where he gathered with his followers, and described it as Christianae vitae otium – the leisure of Christian life. [80]

Conversion to Christianity and priesthood Edit

In late August of 386, [d] at the age of 31, having heard of Ponticianus's and his friends' first reading of the life of Anthony of the Desert, Augustine converted to Christianity. As Augustine later told it, his conversion was prompted by hearing a child's voice say "take up and read" (Latin: tolle, lege). Resorting to the Sortes Sanctorum, he opened a book of St. Paul's writings (codex apostoli, 8.12.29) at random and read Romans 13: 13–14: Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof. [81]

He later wrote an account of his conversion in his Confessions (Latin: Confessiones), which has since become a classic of Christian theology and a key text in the history of autobiography. This work is an outpouring of thanksgiving and penitence. Although it is written as an account of his life, the Confessions also talks about the nature of time, causality, free will, and other important philosophical topics. [82] The following is taken from that work:

Belatedly I loved thee, O Beauty so ancient and so new, belatedly I loved thee. For see, thou wast within and I was without, and I sought thee out there. Unlovely, I rushed heedlessly among the lovely things thou hast made. Thou wast with me, but I was not with thee. These things kept me far from thee even though they were not at all unless they were in thee. Thou didst call and cry aloud, and didst force open my deafness. Thou didst gleam and shine, and didst chase away my blindness. Thou didst breathe fragrant odors and I drew in my breath and now I pant for thee. I tasted, and now I hunger and thirst. Thou didst touch me, and I burned for thy peace. [83]

Ambrose baptized Augustine and his son Adeodatus, in Milan on Easter Vigil, 24–25 April 387. [84] A year later, in 388, Augustine completed his apology On the Holiness of the Catholic Church. [20] That year, also, Adeodatus and Augustine returned home to Africa. [61] Augustine's mother Monica died at Ostia, Italy, as they prepared to embark for Africa. [65] Upon their arrival, they began a life of aristocratic leisure at Augustine's family's property. [85] Soon after, Adeodatus, too, died. [86] Augustine then sold his patrimony and gave the money to the poor. He only kept the family house, which he converted into a monastic foundation for himself and a group of friends. [61] Furthermore, while he was known for his major contributions regarding Christian rhetoric, another major contribution was his preaching style. [87]

After converting to Christianity, Augustine turned against his profession as a rhetoric professor in order to devote more time to preaching. [88] In 391 Augustine was ordained a priest in Hippo Regius (now Annaba), in Algeria. He was especially interested in discovering how his previous rhetorical training in Italian schools would help the Christian Church achieve its objective of discovering and teaching the different scriptures in the Bible. [89] He became a famous preacher (more than 350 preserved sermons are believed to be authentic), and was noted for combating the Manichaean religion, to which he had formerly adhered. [20] He preached around 6,000 to 10,000 sermons when he was alive however, there are only around 500 sermons that are accessible today. [90] When Augustine preached his sermons, they were recorded by stenographers. [87] Some of his sermons would last over one hour and he would preach multiple times throughout a given week. [90] When talking to his audience, he would stand on an elevated platform however, he would walk towards the audience during his sermons. [90] When he was preaching, he used a variety of rhetorical devices that included analogies, word pictures, similes, metaphors, repetition, and antithesis when trying to explain more about the Bible. [90] In addition, he used questions and rhymes when talking about the differences between people's life on Earth and heaven as seen in one of his sermons that was preached in 412 AD. [91] Augustine believed that the preachers' ultimate goal is to ensure the salvation of their audience. [92]

In 395, he was made coadjutor Bishop of Hippo and became full Bishop shortly thereafter, [93] hence the name "Augustine of Hippo" and he gave his property to the church of Thagaste. [94] He remained in that position until his death in 430. Bishops were the only individuals allowed to preach when he was alive and he scheduled time to preach after being ordained despite a busy schedule made up of preparing sermons and preaching at other churches besides his own. [95] When serving as the Bishop of Hippo, his goal was to minister to individuals in his congregation and he would choose the passages that the church planned to read every week. [87] As bishop, he believed that it was his job to interpret the work of the Bible. [87] He wrote his autobiographical Confessions in 397–398. His work The City of God was written to console his fellow Christians shortly after the Visigoths had sacked Rome in 410. Augustine worked tirelessly to convince the people of Hippo to convert to Christianity. Though he had left his monastery, he continued to lead a monastic life in the episcopal residence.

Much of Augustine's later life was recorded by his friend Possidius, bishop of Calama (present-day Guelma, Algeria), in his Sancti Augustini Vita. During this latter part of Augustine's life, he helped lead a large community of Christians against different political and religious factors which had major influence on his writings. [96] Possidius admired Augustine as a man of powerful intellect and a stirring orator who took every opportunity to defend Christianity against its detractors. Possidius also described Augustine's personal traits in detail, drawing a portrait of a man who ate sparingly, worked tirelessly, despised gossip, shunned the temptations of the flesh, and exercised prudence in the financial stewardship of his see. [97]

Shortly before Augustine's death, the Vandals, a Germanic tribe that had converted to Arianism, invaded Roman Africa. The Vandals besieged Hippo in the spring of 430, when Augustine entered his final illness. According to Possidius, one of the few miracles attributed to Augustine, the healing of an ill man, took place during the siege. [98] According to Possidius, Augustine spent his final days in prayer and repentance, requesting the penitential Psalms of David be hung on his walls so he could read them. He directed the library of the church in Hippo and all the books therein should be carefully preserved. He died on 28 August 430. [99] Shortly after his death, the Vandals lifted the siege of Hippo, but they returned soon after and burned the city. They destroyed all but Augustine's cathedral and library, which they left untouched. [100]

Augustine was canonized by popular acclaim, and later recognized as a Doctor of the Church in 1298 by Pope Boniface VIII. [101] His feast day is 28 August, the day on which he died. He is considered the patron saint of brewers, printers, theologians, and a number of cities and dioceses. He is invoked against sore eyes. [26]

Relics Edit

According to Bede's True Martyrology, Augustine's body was later translated or moved to Cagliari, Sardinia, by the Catholic bishops expelled from North Africa by Huneric. Around 720, his remains were transported again by Peter, bishop of Pavia and uncle of the Lombard king Liutprand, to the church of San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro in Pavia, in order to save them from frequent coastal raids by Saracens. In January 1327, Pope John XXII issued the papal bull Veneranda Santorum Patrum, in which he appointed the Augustinians guardians of the tomb of Augustine (called Arca), which was remade in 1362 and elaborately carved with bas-reliefs of scenes from Augustine's life.

In October 1695, some workmen in the Church of San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro in Pavia discovered a marble box containing human bones (including part of a skull). A dispute arose between the Augustinian hermits (Order of Saint Augustine) and the regular canons (Canons Regular of Saint Augustine) as to whether these were the bones of Augustine. The hermits did not believe so the canons affirmed they were. Eventually Pope Benedict XIII (1724–1730) directed the Bishop of Pavia, Monsignor Pertusati, to make a determination. The bishop declared that, in his opinion, the bones were those of Saint Augustine. [103]

The Augustinians were expelled from Pavia in 1700, taking refuge in Milan with the relics of Augustine, and the disassembled Arca, which were removed to the cathedral there. San Pietro fell into disrepair, but was finally rebuilt in the 1870s, under the urging of Agostino Gaetano Riboldi, and reconsecrated in 1896 when the relics of Augustine and the shrine were once again reinstalled. [104] [105]

In 1842, a portion of Augustine's right arm (cubitus) was secured from Pavia and returned to Annaba. [106] It now rests in the Saint Augustin Basilica within a glass tube inserted into the arm of a life-size marble statue of the saint.

Augustine's large contribution of writings covered diverse fields including theology, philosophy and sociology. Along with John Chrysostom, Augustine was among the most prolific scholars of the early church by quantity.

Theology Edit

Christian anthropology Edit

Augustine was one of the first Christian ancient Latin authors with a very clear vision of theological anthropology. [107] He saw the human being as a perfect unity of soul and body. In his late treatise On Care to Be Had for the Dead, section 5 (420) he exhorted respect for the body on the grounds it belonged to the very nature of the human person. [108] Augustine's favourite figure to describe body-soul unity is marriage: caro tua, coniunx tua – your body is your wife. [109] [110] [111]

Initially, the two elements were in perfect harmony. After the fall of humanity they are now experiencing dramatic combat between one another. They are two categorically different things. The body is a three-dimensional object composed of the four elements, whereas the soul has no spatial dimensions. [112] Soul is a kind of substance, participating in reason, fit for ruling the body. [113]

Augustine was not preoccupied, as Plato and Descartes were, in detailed efforts to explain the metaphysics of the soul-body union. It sufficed for him to admit they are metaphysically distinct: to be a human is to be a composite of soul and body, with the soul superior to the body. The latter statement is grounded in his hierarchical classification of things into those that merely exist, those that exist and live, and those that exist, live, and have intelligence or reason. [114] [115]

Like other Church Fathers such as Athenagoras, [116] Tertullian, [117] Clement of Alexandria and Basil of Caesarea, [118] Augustine "vigorously condemned the practice of induced abortion", and although he disapproved of an abortion during any stage of pregnancy, he made a distinction between early and later abortions. [119] He acknowledged the distinction between "formed" and "unformed" fetuses mentioned in the Septuagint translation of Exodus 21:22–23, which incorrectly translates the word "harm" (from the original Hebrew text) as "form" in the Koine Greek of the Septuagint. His view was based on the Aristotelian distinction "between the fetus before and after its supposed 'vivification'". Therefore, he did not classify as murder the abortion of an "unformed" fetus since he thought it could not be known with certainty the fetus had received a soul. [119] [120]

Augustine held that "the timing of the infusion of the soul was a mystery known to God alone". [121] However, he considered procreation as one of the goods of marriage abortion figured as a means, along with drugs that cause sterility, of frustrating this good. It lay along a continuum that included infanticide as an instance of 'lustful cruelty' or 'cruel lust.' Augustine called the use of means to avoid the birth of a child an 'evil work:’ a reference to either abortion or contraception or both." [122]

Creation Edit

In City of God, Augustine rejected both the contemporary ideas of ages (such as those of certain Greeks and Egyptians) that differed from the Church's sacred writings. [123] In The Literal Interpretation of Genesis Augustine argued God had created everything in the universe simultaneously and not over a period of six days. He argued the six-day structure of creation presented in the Book of Genesis represents a logical framework, rather than the passage of time in a physical way – it would bear a spiritual, rather than physical, meaning, which is no less literal. One reason for this interpretation is the passage in Sirach 18:1, creavit omnia simul ("He created all things at once"), which Augustine took as proof the days of Genesis 1 had to be taken non-literalistically. [124] As an additional support for describing the six days of creation as a heuristic device, Augustine thought the actual event of creation would be incomprehensible by humans and therefore needed to be translated. [125]

Augustine also does not envision original sin as causing structural changes in the universe, and even suggests the bodies of Adam and Eve were already created mortal before the Fall. [126] [127] [128]

Ecclesiology Edit

Augustine developed his doctrine of the Church principally in reaction to the Donatist sect. He taught there is one Church, but within this Church there are two realities, namely, the visible aspect (the institutional hierarchy, the Catholic sacraments, and the laity) and the invisible (the souls of those in the Church, who are either dead, sinful members or elect predestined for Heaven). The former is the institutional body established by Christ on earth which proclaims salvation and administers the sacraments, while the latter is the invisible body of the elect, made up of genuine believers from all ages, and who are known only to God. The Church, which is visible and societal, will be made up of "wheat" and "tares", that is, good and wicked people (as per Mat. 13:30), until the end of time. This concept countered the Donatist claim that only those in a state of grace were the "true" or "pure" church on earth, and that priests and bishops who were not in a state of grace had no authority or ability to confect the sacraments. [129]

Augustine's ecclesiology was more fully developed in City of God. There he conceives of the church as a heavenly city or kingdom, ruled by love, which will ultimately triumph over all earthly empires which are self-indulgent and ruled by pride. Augustine followed Cyprian in teaching that bishops and priests of the Church are the successors of the Apostles, [28] and their authority in the Church is God-given.

Eschatology Edit

Augustine originally believed in premillennialism, namely that Christ would establish a literal 1,000-year kingdom prior to the general resurrection, but later rejected the belief, viewing it as carnal. He was the first theologian to expound a systematic doctrine of amillennialism, although some theologians and Christian historians believe his position was closer to that of modern postmillennialists. The Catholic Church during the Medieval period built its system of eschatology on Augustinian amillennialism, where Christ rules the earth spiritually through his triumphant church. [130]

During the Reformation theologians such as John Calvin accepted amillennialism. Augustine taught that the eternal fate of the soul is determined at death, [131] [132] and that purgatorial fires of the intermediate state purify only those who died in communion with the Church. His teaching provided fuel for later theology. [131]

Mariology Edit

Although Augustine did not develop an independent Mariology, his statements on Mary surpass in number and depth those of other early writers. Even before the Council of Ephesus, he defended the Ever-Virgin Mary as the Mother of God, believing her to be "full of grace" (following earlier Latin writers such as Jerome) on account of her sexual integrity and innocence. [133] Likewise, he affirmed that the Virgin Mary "conceived as virgin, gave birth as virgin and stayed virgin forever". [134]

Natural knowledge and biblical interpretation Edit

Augustine took the view that, if a literal interpretation contradicts science and humans' God-given reason, the Biblical text should be interpreted metaphorically. While each passage of Scripture has a literal sense, this "literal sense" does not always mean the Scriptures are mere history at times they are rather an extended metaphor. [135]

Original sin Edit

Augustine taught that the sin of Adam and Eve was either an act of foolishness (insipientia) followed by pride and disobedience to God or that pride came first. [e] The first couple disobeyed God, who had told them not to eat of the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen 2:17). [136] The tree was a symbol of the order of creation. [137] Self-centeredness made Adam and Eve eat of it, thus failing to acknowledge and respect the world as it was created by God, with its hierarchy of beings and values. [f]

They would not have fallen into pride and lack of wisdom if Satan hadn't sown into their senses "the root of evil" (radix Mali). [138] Their nature was wounded by concupiscence or libido, which affected human intelligence and will, as well as affections and desires, including sexual desire. [g] In terms of metaphysics, concupiscence is not a being but bad quality, the privation of good or a wound. [139]

Augustine's understanding of the consequences of original sin and the necessity of redeeming grace was developed in the struggle against Pelagius and his Pelagian disciples, Caelestius and Julian of Eclanum, [28] who had been inspired by Rufinus of Syria, a disciple of Theodore of Mopsuestia. [140] [141] They refused to agree original sin wounded human will and mind, insisting human nature was given the power to act, to speak, and to think when God created it. Human nature cannot lose its moral capacity for doing good, but a person is free to act or not act in a righteous way. Pelagius gave an example of eyes: they have capacity for seeing, but a person can make either good or bad use of it. [142] [143]

Like Jovinian, Pelagians insisted human affections and desires were not touched by the fall either. Immorality, e.g. fornication, is exclusively a matter of will, i.e. a person does not use natural desires in a proper way. In opposition, Augustine pointed out the apparent disobedience of the flesh to the spirit, and explained it as one of the results of original sin, punishment of Adam and Eve's disobedience to God. [144]

Augustine had served as a "Hearer" for the Manichaeans for about nine years, [145] who taught that the original sin was carnal knowledge. [146] But his struggle to understand the cause of evil in the world started before that, at the age of nineteen. [147] By malum (evil) he understood most of all concupiscence, which he interpreted as a vice dominating people and causing in men and women moral disorder. Agostino Trapè insists Augustine's personal experience cannot be credited for his doctrine about concupiscence. He considers Augustine's marital experience to be quite normal, and even exemplary, aside from the absence of Christian wedding rites. [148] As J. Brachtendorf showed, Augustine used Ciceronian Stoic concept of passions, to interpret Paul's doctrine of universal sin and redemption. [149]

The view that not only human soul but also senses were influenced by the fall of Adam and Eve was prevalent in Augustine's time among the Fathers of the Church. [150] [151] [152] It is clear the reason for Augustine's distancing from the affairs of the flesh was different from that of Plotinus, a Neoplatonist [h] who taught that only through disdain for fleshly desire could one reach the ultimate state of mankind. [153] Augustine taught the redemption, i.e. transformation and purification, of the body in the resurrection. [154]

Some authors perceive Augustine's doctrine as directed against human sexuality and attribute his insistence on continence and devotion to God as coming from Augustine's need to reject his own highly sensual nature as described in the Confessions. [i] Augustine taught that human sexuality has been wounded, together with the whole of human nature, and requires redemption of Christ. That healing is a process realized in conjugal acts. The virtue of continence is achieved thanks to the grace of the sacrament of Christian marriage, which becomes therefore a remedium concupiscentiae – remedy of concupiscence. [156] [157] The redemption of human sexuality will be, however, fully accomplished only in the resurrection of the body. [158]

The sin of Adam is inherited by all human beings. Already in his pre-Pelagian writings, Augustine taught that Original Sin is transmitted to his descendants by concupiscence, [159] which he regarded as the passion of both soul and body, [j] making humanity a massa damnata (mass of perdition, condemned crowd) and much enfeebling, though not destroying, the freedom of the will. [160] Although earlier Christian authors taught the elements of physical death, moral weakness, and a sin propensity within original sin, Augustine was the first to add the concept of inherited guilt (reatus) from Adam whereby an infant was eternally damned at birth. [161]

Although Augustine's anti-Pelagian defense of original sin was confirmed at numerous councils, i.e. Carthage (418), Ephesus (431), Orange (529), Trent (1546) and by popes, i.e. Pope Innocent I (401–417) and Pope Zosimus (417–418), his inherited guilt eternally damning infants was omitted by these councils and popes. [162] Anselm of Canterbury established in his Cur Deus Homo the definition that was followed by the great 13th-century Schoolmen, namely that Original Sin is the "privation of the righteousness which every man ought to possess", thus separating it from concupiscence, with which some of Augustine's disciples had defined it [163] [164] as later did Luther and Calvin. [160] In 1567, Pope Pius V condemned the identification of Original Sin with concupiscence. [160]

Predestination Edit

Augustine taught that God orders all things while preserving human freedom. [165] Prior to 396, he believed predestination was based on God's foreknowledge of whether individuals would believe in Christ, that God's grace was "a reward for human assent". [166] Later, in response to Pelagius, Augustine said that the sin of pride consists in assuming "we are the ones who choose God or that God chooses us (in his foreknowledge) because of something worthy in us", and argued that God's grace causes individual act of faith. [167]

Scholars are divided over whether Augustine's teaching implies double predestination, or the belief God chooses some people for damnation as well as some for salvation. Catholic scholars tend to deny he held such a view while some Protestants and secular scholars have held that Augustine did believe in double predestination. [168] About 412, Augustine became the first Christian to understand predestination as a divine unilateral pre-determination of individuals' eternal destinies independently of human choice, although his prior Manichaean sect did teach this concept. [169] [170] [171] [172] Some Protestant theologians, such as Justo L. González [173] and Bengt Hägglund, [27] interpret Augustine's teaching that grace is irresistible, results in conversion, and leads to perseverance.

In On Rebuke and Grace (De correptione et gratia), Augustine wrote: "And what is written, that He wills all men to be saved, while yet all men are not saved, may be understood in many ways, some of which I have mentioned in other writings of mine but here I will say one thing: He wills all men to be saved, is so said that all the predestinated may be understood by it, because every kind of men is among them." [29]

Speaking of the twins Jacob and Esau, Augustine wrote in his book On the Gift of Perseverance, "[I]t ought to be a most certain fact that the former is of the predestinated, the latter is not." [174]

Sacramental theology Edit

Also in reaction against the Donatists, Augustine developed a distinction between the "regularity" and "validity" of the sacraments. Regular sacraments are performed by clergy of the Catholic Church, while sacraments performed by schismatics are considered irregular. Nevertheless, the validity of the sacraments do not depend upon the holiness of the priests who perform them (ex opere operato) therefore, irregular sacraments are still accepted as valid provided they are done in the name of Christ and in the manner prescribed by the Church. On this point Augustine departs from the earlier teaching of Cyprian, who taught that converts from schismatic movements must be re-baptised. [28] Augustine taught that sacraments administered outside the Catholic Church, though true sacraments, avail nothing. However, he also stated that baptism, while it does not confer any grace when done outside the Church, does confer grace as soon as one is received into the Catholic Church. [175]

Augustine upheld the early Christian understanding of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, saying that Christ's statement, "This is my body" referred to the bread he carried in his hands, [176] [177] and that Christians must have faith the bread and wine are in fact the body and blood of Christ, despite what they see with their eyes. [178] For instance he stated that "He [Jesus] walked here in the same flesh, and gave us the same flesh to be eaten unto salvation. But no one eats that flesh unless first he adores it and thus it is discovered how such a footstool of the Lord's feet is adored and not only do we not sin by adoring, we do sin by not adoring." [179]

In some of his writings, Augustine expressed a symbolic view of the Eucharist. [180] For example, in his work On Christian Doctrine, Augustine referred to the Eucharist as a "figure" and a "sign". [181]

Against the Pelagians, Augustine strongly stressed the importance of infant baptism. About the question whether baptism is an absolute necessity for salvation, however, Augustine appears to have refined his beliefs during his lifetime, causing some confusion among later theologians about his position. He said in one of his sermons that only the baptized are saved. [182] This belief was shared by many early Christians. However, a passage from his City of God, concerning the Apocalypse, may indicate Augustine did believe in an exception for children born to Christian parents. [183]

Philosophy Edit

Astrology Edit

Augustine's contemporaries often believed astrology to be an exact and genuine science. Its practitioners were regarded as true men of learning and called mathemathici. Astrology played a prominent part in Manichaean doctrine, and Augustine himself was attracted by their books in his youth, being particularly fascinated by those who claimed to foretell the future. Later, as a bishop, he warned that one should avoid astrologers who combine science and horoscopes. (Augustine's term "mathematici", meaning "astrologers", is sometimes mistranslated as "mathematicians".) According to Augustine, they were not genuine students of Hipparchus or Eratosthenes but "common swindlers". [184] [185] [186] [187]

Epistemology Edit

Epistemological concerns shaped Augustine's intellectual development. His early dialogues [Contra academicos (386) and De Magistro (389)], both written shortly after his conversion to Christianity, reflect his engagement with sceptical arguments and show the development of his doctrine of divine illumination. The doctrine of illumination claims God plays an active and regular part in human perception (as opposed to God designing the human mind to be reliable consistently, as in, for example, Descartes' idea of clear and distinct perceptions) and understanding by illuminating the mind so human beings can recognize intelligible realities God presents. According to Augustine, illumination is obtainable to all rational minds and is different from other forms of sense perception. It is meant to be an explanation of the conditions required for the mind to have a connection with intelligible entities. [188]

Augustine also posed the problem of other minds throughout different works, most famously perhaps in On the Trinity (VIII.6.9), and developed what has come to be a standard solution: the argument from analogy to other minds. [189] In contrast to Plato and other earlier philosophers, Augustine recognized the centrality of testimony to human knowledge and argued that what others tell us can provide knowledge even if we don't have independent reasons to believe their testimonial reports. [190]

Just war Edit

Augustine asserted Christians should be pacifists as a personal, philosophical stance. [191] However, peacefulness in the face of a grave wrong that could only be stopped by violence would be a sin. Defence of one's self or others could be a necessity, especially when authorized by a legitimate authority. While not breaking down the conditions necessary for war to be just, Augustine coined the phrase in his work The City of God. [192] In essence, the pursuit of peace must include the option of fighting for its long-term preservation. [193] Such a war could not be pre-emptive, but defensive, to restore peace. [194] Thomas Aquinas, centuries later, used the authority of Augustine's arguments in an attempt to define the conditions under which a war could be just. [195] [196]

Free will Edit

Included in Augustine's earlier theodicy is the claim God created humans and angels as rational beings possessing free will. Free will was not intended for sin, meaning it is not equally predisposed to both good and evil. A will defiled by sin is not considered as "free" as it once was because it is bound by material things, which could be lost or be difficult to part with, resulting in unhappiness. Sin impairs free will, while grace restores it. Only a will that was once free can be subjected to sin's corruption. [197] After 412, Augustine changed his theology, teaching that humanity had no free will to believe in Christ but only a free will to sin: "I in fact strove on behalf of the free choice of the human 'will,’ but God's grace conquered" (Retract. 2.1). [198]

The early Christians opposed the deterministic views (e.g., fate) of Stoics, Gnostics, and Manichaeans prevalent in the first four centuries. [199] Christians championed the concept of a relational God who interacts with humans rather than a Stoic or Gnostic God who unilaterally foreordained every event (yet Stoics still claimed to teach free will). [200] Patristics scholar Ken Wilson argues that every early Christian author with extant writings who wrote on the topic prior to Augustine of Hippo (412) advanced human free choice rather than a deterministic God. [201] According to Wilson, Augustine taught traditional free choice until 412, when he reverted to his earlier Manichaean and Stoic deterministic training when battling the Pelagians. [202] Only a few Christians accepted Augustine's view of free will until the Protestant Reformation when both Luther and Calvin embraced Augustine's deterministic teachings wholeheartedly. [203] [204]

The Catholic Church considers Augustine's teaching to be consistent with free will. [205] He often said that anyone can be saved if they wish. [205] While God knows who will and won't be saved, with no possibility for the latter to be saved in their lives, this knowledge represents God's perfect knowledge of how humans will freely choose their destinies. [205]

Sociology, morals and ethics Edit

Slavery Edit

Augustine led many clergy under his authority at Hippo to free their slaves as "pious and holy" act. [206] He boldly wrote a letter urging the emperor to set up a new law against slave traders and was very much concerned about the sale of children. Christian emperors of his time for 25 years had permitted sale of children, not because they approved of the practice, but as a way of preventing infanticide when parents were unable to care for a child. Augustine noted that the tenant farmers in particular were driven to hire out or to sell their children as a means of survival. [207]

In his book, The City of God, he presents the development of slavery as a product of sin and as contrary to God's divine plan. He wrote that God "did not intend that this rational creature, who was made in his image, should have dominion over anything but the irrational creation – not man over man, but man over the beasts". Thus he wrote that righteous men in primitive times were made shepherds of cattle, not kings over men. "The condition of slavery is the result of sin", he declared. [208] In The City of God, Augustine wrote he felt the existence of slavery was a punishment for the existence of sin, even if an individual enslaved person committed no sin meriting punishment. He wrote: "Slavery is, however, penal, and is appointed by that law which enjoins the preservation of the natural order and forbids its disturbance." [209] Augustine believed slavery did more harm to the slave owner than the enslaved person himself: "the lowly position does as much good to the servant as the proud position does harm to the master." [210] Augustine proposes as a solution to sin a type of cognitive reimagining of one's situation, where slaves "may themselves make their slavery in some sort free, by serving not in crafty fear, but in faithful love," until the end of the world eradicated slavery for good: "until all unrighteousness pass away, and all principality and every human power be brought to nothing, and God be all in all." [209]

Jews Edit

Against certain Christian movements, some of which rejected the use of Hebrew Scripture, Augustine countered that God had chosen the Jews as a special people, [211] and he considered the scattering of Jewish people by the Roman Empire to be a fulfillment of prophecy. [212] He rejected homicidal attitudes, quoting part of the same prophecy, namely "Slay them not, lest they should at last forget Thy law" (Psalm 59:11). Augustine, who believed Jewish people would be converted to Christianity at "the end of time", argued God had allowed them to survive their dispersion as a warning to Christians as such, he argued, they should be permitted to dwell in Christian lands. [213] The sentiment sometimes attributed to Augustine that Christians should let the Jews "survive but not thrive" (it is repeated by author James Carroll in his book Constantine's Sword, for example) [214] is apocryphal and is not found in any of his writings. [215]

Sexuality Edit

For Augustine, the evil of sexual immorality was not in the sexual act itself, but in the emotions that typically accompany it. In On Christian Doctrine Augustine contrasts love, which is enjoyment on account of God, and lust, which is not on account of God. [216] Augustine claims that, following the Fall, sexual lust (concupiscentia) has become necessary for copulation (as required to stimulate male erection), sexual lust is an evil result of the Fall, and therefore, evil must inevitably accompany sexual intercourse (On marriage and concupiscence 1.19, see footnote [217] ). Therefore, following the Fall, even marital sex carried out merely to procreate inevitably perpetuates evil (On marriage and concupiscence 1.27 A Treatise against Two Letters of the Pelagians 2.27). For Augustine, proper love exercises a denial of selfish pleasure and the subjugation of corporeal desire to God. The only way to avoid evil caused by sexual intercourse is to take the "better" way (Confessions 8.2) and abstain from marriage (On marriage and concupiscence 1.31). Sex within marriage is not, however, for Augustine a sin, although necessarily producing the evil of sexual lust. Based on the same logic, Augustine also declared the pious virgins raped during the sack of Rome to be innocent because they did not intend to sin nor enjoy the act. [218] [219]

Before the Fall, Augustine believed sex was a passionless affair, "just like many a laborious work accomplished by the compliant operation of our other limbs, without any lascivious heat", [220] that the seed "might be sown without any shameful lust, the genital members simply obeying the inclination of the will". [221] After the Fall, by contrast, the penis cannot be controlled by mere will, subject instead to both unwanted impotence and involuntary erections: "Sometimes the urge arises unwanted sometimes, on the other hand, it forsakes the eager lover, and desire grows cold in the body while burning in the mind. It arouses the mind, but it does not follow through what it has begun and arouse the body also" (City of God 14.16).

Augustine censured those who try to prevent the creation of offspring when engaging in sexual relations, saying that though they may be nominally married they are not really, but are using that designation as a cloak for turpitude. When they allow their unwanted children to die of exposure, they unmask their sin. Sometimes they use drugs to produce sterility, or other means to try to destroy the fetus before they are born. Their marriage is not wedlock but debauchery. [222]

Augustine believed Adam and Eve had both already chosen in their hearts to disobey God's command not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge before Eve took the fruit, ate it, and gave it to Adam. [223] [224] Accordingly, Augustine did not believe Adam was any less guilty of sin. [223] [225] Augustine praises women and their role in society and in the Church. In his Tractates on the Gospel of John, Augustine, commenting on the Samaritan woman from John 4:1–42, uses the woman as a figure of the Church in agreement with the New Testament teaching that the Church is the bride of Christ. [226] "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." [227]

Pedagogy Edit

Augustine is considered an influential figure in the history of education. A work early in Augustine's writings is De Magistro (On the Teacher), which contains insights about education. His ideas changed as he found better directions or better ways of expressing his ideas. In the last years of his life Augustine wrote his Retractationes (Retractations), reviewing his writings and improving specific texts. Henry Chadwick believes an accurate translation of "retractationes" may be "reconsiderations". Reconsiderations can be seen as an overarching theme of the way Augustine learned. Augustine's understanding of the search for understanding, meaning, and truth as a restless journey leaves room for doubt, development, and change. [228]

Augustine was a strong advocate of critical thinking skills. Because written works were limited during this time, spoken communication of knowledge was very important. His emphasis on the importance of community as a means of learning distinguishes his pedagogy from some others. Augustine believed dialectic is the best means for learning and that this method should serve as a model for learning encounters between teachers and students. Augustine's dialogue writings model the need for lively interactive dialogue among learners. [228] He recommended adapting educational practices to fit the students' educational backgrounds:

  • the student who has been well-educated by knowledgeable teachers
  • the student who has had no education and
  • the student who has had a poor education, but believes himself to be well-educated.

If a student has been well educated in a wide variety of subjects, the teacher must be careful not to repeat what they have already learned, but to challenge the student with material they do not yet know thoroughly. With the student who has had no education, the teacher must be patient, willing to repeat things until the student understands, and sympathetic. Perhaps the most difficult student, however, is the one with an inferior education who believes he understands something when he does not. Augustine stressed the importance of showing this type of student the difference between "having words and having understanding" and of helping the student to remain humble with his acquisition of knowledge.

Under the influence of Bede, Alcuin, and Rabanus Maurus, De catechizandis rudibus came to exercise an important role in the education of clergy at the monastic schools, especially from the eighth century onwards. [229]

Augustine believed students should be given an opportunity to apply learned theories to practical experience. Yet another of Augustine's major contributions to education is his study on the styles of teaching. He claimed there are two basic styles a teacher uses when speaking to the students. The mixed style includes complex and sometimes showy language to help students see the beautiful artistry of the subject they are studying. The grand style is not quite as elegant as the mixed style, but is exciting and heartfelt, with the purpose of igniting the same passion in the students' hearts. Augustine balanced his teaching philosophy with the traditional Bible-based practice of strict discipline.

Augustine knew Latin and Ancient Greek. He had a long correspondence with St Jerome the textual differences existing between the Hebrew Bible and the Greek Septuagint, concluding that the original Greek manuscripts resulted closely similar to the other Hebrew ones, and also that even the differences in the two original versions of the Holy Scripture could enlight its spiritual meaning so as to have been unitarily inspired by God. [230]

Coercion Edit

Augustine of Hippo had to deal with issues of violence and coercion throughout his entire career due largely to the Donatist-Catholic conflict. He is one of very few authors in Antiquity who ever truly theoretically examined the ideas of religious freedom and coercion. [231] : 107 However, it is his teaching on coercion that has most "embarrassed his modern defenders and vexed his modern detractors," [232] : 116 making him appear "to generations of religious liberals as le prince et patriarche de persecuteurs." [231] : 107 Russell says Augustine's theory of coercion "was not crafted from dogma, but in response to a unique historical situation" and is therefore context dependent, while others see it as inconsistent with his other teachings. [233] : 125

The context Edit

During the Great Persecution, "When Roman soldiers came calling, some of the [Catholic] officials handed over the sacred books, vessels, and other church goods rather than risk legal penalties" over a few objects. [234] : ix Maureen Tilley [235] says this was a problem by 305, that became a schism by 311, because many of the North African Christians had a long established tradition of a "physicalist approach to religion." [234] : xv The sacred scriptures were not simply books to them, but were the Word of God in physical form, therefore they saw handing over the Bible, and handing over a person to be martyred, as "two sides of the same coin." [234] : ix Those who cooperated with the authorities became known as traditores. The term originally meant one who hands over a physical object, but it came to mean "traitor". [234] : ix

According to Tilley, after the persecution ended, those who had apostatized wanted to return to their positions in the church. [234] : xiv The North African Christians, (the rigorists who became known as Donatists), refused to accept them. [234] : ix, x Catholics were more tolerant and wanted to wipe the slate clean. [236] : xiv, 69 For the next 75 years, both parties existed, often directly alongside each other, with a double line of bishops for the same cities. [234] : xv Competition for the loyalty of the people included multiple new churches and violence. [k] : 334 No one is exactly sure when the Circumcellions and the Donatists allied, but for decades, they fomented protests and street violence, accosted travelers and attacked random Catholics without warning, often doing serious and unprovoked bodily harm such as beating people with clubs, cutting off their hands and feet, and gouging out eyes. [237] : 172, 173, 222, 242, 254

Augustine became coadjutor Bishop of Hippo in 395, and since he believed that conversion must be voluntary, his appeals to the Donatists were verbal. For several years, he used popular propaganda, debate, personal appeal, General Councils, appeals to the emperor and political pressure to bring the Donatists back into union with the Catholics, but all attempts failed. [237] : 242, 254 The harsh realities Augustine faced can be found in his Letter 28 written to bishop Novatus around 416. Donatists had attacked, cut out the tongue and cut off the hands of a Bishop Rogatus who had recently converted to Catholicism. An unnamed count of Africa had sent his agent with Rogatus, and he too had been attacked the count was "inclined to pursue the matter." [232] : 120 Russell says Augustine demonstrates a "hands on" involvement with the details of his bishopric, but at one point in the letter, he confesses he does not know what to do. "All the issues that plague him are there: stubborn Donatists, Circumcellion violence, the vacillating role of secular officials, the imperative to persuade, and his own trepidations." [232] : 120,121 The empire responded to the civil unrest with law and its enforcement, and thereafter, Augustine changed his mind on using verbal arguments alone. Instead, he came to support the state's use of coercion. [231] : 107–116 Augustine did not believe the empire's enforcement would "make the Donatists more virtuous" but he did believe it would make them "less vicious." [233] : 128

The theology Edit

The primary 'proof text' of what Augustine thought concerning coercion is from Letter 93, written in 408, as a reply to the bishop Vincentius, of Cartenna (Mauretania, North Africa). This letter shows that both practical and biblical reasons led Augustine to defend the legitimacy of coercion. He confesses that he changed his mind because of "the ineffectiveness of dialogue and the proven efficacy of laws." [238] : 3 He had been worried about false conversions if force was used, but "now," he says, "it seems imperial persecution is working." Many Donatists had converted. [233] : 116 "Fear had made them reflect, and made them docile." [238] : 3 Augustine continued to assert that coercion could not directly convert someone, but concluded it could make a person ready to be reasoned with. [239] : 103–121

According to Mar Marcos, Augustine made use of several biblical examples to legitimize coercion, but the primary analogy in Letter 93 and in Letter 185, is the parable of the Great Feast in Luke 14.15-24 and its statement compel them to come in. [238] : 1 Russell says, Augustine uses the Latin term cogo, instead of the compello of the Vulgate, since to Augustine, cogo meant to "gather together" or "collect" and was not simply "compel by physical force." [233] : 121

In 1970, Robert Markus [240] argued that, for Augustine, a degree of external pressure being brought for the purpose of reform was compatible with the exercise of free will. [232] Russell asserts that Confessions 13 is crucial to understanding Augustine's thought on coercion using Peter Brown's explanation of Augustine's view of salvation, he explains that Augustine's past, his own sufferings and "conversion through God's pressures," along with his biblical hermeneutics, is what led him to see the value in suffering for discerning truth. [233] : 116–117 According to Russell, Augustine saw coercion as one among many conversion strategies for forming "a pathway to the inner person." [233] : 119

In Augustine's view, there is such a thing as just and unjust persecution. Augustine explains that when the purpose of persecution is to lovingly correct and instruct, then it becomes discipline and is just. [238] : 2 He said the church would discipline its people out of a loving desire to heal them, and that, "once compelled to come in, heretics would gradually give their voluntary assent to the truth of Christian orthodoxy." [233] : 115 Frederick H. Russell [241] describes this as "a pastoral strategy in which the church did the persecuting with the dutiful assistance of Roman authorities," [233] : 115 adding that it is "a precariously balanced blend of external discipline and inward nurturance." [233] : 125

Augustine placed limits on the use of coercion, recommending fines, imprisonment, banishment, and moderate floggings, preferring beatings with rods which was a common practice in the ecclesial courts. [242] : 164 He opposed severity, maiming, and the execution of heretics. [243] : 768 While these limits were mostly ignored by Roman authorities, Michael Lamb says that in doing this, "Augustine appropriates republican principles from his Roman predecessors. " and maintains his commitment to liberty, legitimate authority, and the rule of law as a constraint on arbitrary power. He continues to advocate holding authority accountable to prevent domination, but affirms the state's right to act. [244]

H. A. Deane, [245] on the other hand, says there is a fundamental inconsistency between Augustine's political thought and "his final position of approval of the use of political and legal weapons to punish religious dissidence" and others have seconded this view. [l] Brown asserts that Augustine's thinking on coercion is more of an attitude than a doctrine, since it is "not in a state of rest," but is instead marked by "a painful and protracted attempt to embrace and resolve tensions." [231] : 107

According to Russell it is possible to see how Augustine himself had evolved from his earlier Confessions to this teaching on coercion and the latter's strong patriarchal nature: "Intellectually, the burden has shifted imperceptibly from discovering the truth to disseminating the truth." [233] : 129 The bishops had become the church's elite with their own rationale for acting as "stewards of the truth." Russell points out that Augustine's views are limited to time and place and his own community, but later, others took what he said and applied it outside those parameters in ways Augustine never imagined or intended. [233] : 129

Augustine was one of the most prolific Latin authors in terms of surviving works, and the list of his works consists of more than one hundred separate titles. [246] They include apologetic works against the heresies of the Arians, Donatists, Manichaeans and Pelagians texts on Christian doctrine, notably De Doctrina Christiana (On Christian Doctrine) exegetical works such as commentaries on Genesis, the Psalms and Paul's Letter to the Romans many sermons and letters and the Retractationes, a review of his earlier works which he wrote near the end of his life.

Apart from those, Augustine is probably best known for his Confessions, which is a personal account of his earlier life, and for De civitate Dei (The City of God, consisting of 22 books), which he wrote to restore the confidence of his fellow Christians, which was badly shaken by the sack of Rome by the Visigoths in 410. His On the Trinity, in which he developed what has become known as the 'psychological analogy' of the Trinity, is also considered to be among his masterpieces, and arguably of more doctrinal importance than the Confessions or the City of God. [247] He also wrote On Free Choice of the Will (De libero arbitrio), addressing why God gives humans free will that can be used for evil.

In both his philosophical and theological reasoning, Augustine was greatly influenced by Stoicism, Platonism and Neoplatonism, particularly by the work of Plotinus, author of the Enneads, probably through the mediation of Porphyry and Victorinus (as Pierre Hadot has argued). Some Neoplatonic concepts are still visible in Augustine's early writings. [248] His early and influential writing on the human will, a central topic in ethics, would become a focus for later philosophers such as Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche. He was also influenced by the works of Virgil (known for his teaching on language), and Cicero (known for his teaching on argument). [188]

In philosophy Edit

Philosopher Bertrand Russell was impressed by Augustine's meditation on the nature of time in the Confessions, comparing it favourably to Kant's version of the view that time is subjective. [249] Catholic theologians generally subscribe to Augustine's belief that God exists outside of time in the "eternal present" that time only exists within the created universe because only in space is time discernible through motion and change. His meditations on the nature of time are closely linked to his consideration of the human ability of memory. Frances Yates in her 1966 study The Art of Memory argues that a brief passage of the Confessions, 10.8.12, in which Augustine writes of walking up a flight of stairs and entering the vast fields of memory [250] clearly indicates that the ancient Romans were aware of how to use explicit spatial and architectural metaphors as a mnemonic technique for organizing large amounts of information.

Augustine's philosophical method, especially demonstrated in his Confessions, had continuing influence on Continental philosophy throughout the 20th century. His descriptive approach to intentionality, memory, and language as these phenomena are experienced within consciousness and time anticipated and inspired the insights of modern phenomenology and hermeneutics. [251] Edmund Husserl writes: "The analysis of time-consciousness is an age-old crux of descriptive psychology and theory of knowledge. The first thinker to be deeply sensitive to the immense difficulties to be found here was Augustine, who laboured almost to despair over this problem." [252]

Martin Heidegger refers to Augustine's descriptive philosophy at several junctures in his influential work Being and Time. [m] Hannah Arendt began her philosophical writing with a dissertation on Augustine's concept of love, Der Liebesbegriff bei Augustin (1929): "The young Arendt attempted to show that the philosophical basis for vita socialis in Augustine can be understood as residing in neighbourly love, grounded in his understanding of the common origin of humanity." [253]

Jean Bethke Elshtain in Augustine and the Limits of Politics tried to associate Augustine with Arendt in their concept of evil: "Augustine did not see evil as glamorously demonic but rather as absence of good, something which paradoxically is really nothing. Arendt . envisioned even the extreme evil which produced the Holocaust as merely banal [in Eichmann in Jerusalem]." [254] Augustine's philosophical legacy continues to influence contemporary critical theory through the contributions and inheritors of these 20th-century figures. Seen from a historical perspective, there are three main perspectives on the political thought of Augustine: first, political Augustinianism second, Augustinian political theology and third, Augustinian political theory. [255]

In theology Edit

Thomas Aquinas was influenced heavily by Augustine. On the topic of original sin, Aquinas proposed a more optimistic view of man than that of Augustine in that his conception leaves to the reason, will, and passions of fallen man their natural powers even after the Fall, without "supernatural gifts". [256] While in his pre-Pelagian writings Augustine taught that Adam's guilt as transmitted to his descendants much enfeebles, though does not destroy, the freedom of their will, Protestant reformers Martin Luther and John Calvin affirmed that Original Sin completely destroyed liberty (see total depravity). [160]

According to Leo Ruickbie, Augustine's arguments against magic, differentiating it from miracle, were crucial in the early Church's fight against paganism and became a central thesis in the later denunciation of witches and witchcraft. According to Professor Deepak Lal, Augustine's vision of the heavenly city has influenced the secular projects and traditions of the Enlightenment, Marxism, Freudianism and eco-fundamentalism. [257] Post-Marxist philosophers Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt rely heavily on Augustine's thought, particularly The City of God, in their book of political philosophy Empire.

Augustine has influenced many modern-day theologians and authors such as John Piper. Hannah Arendt, an influential 20th-century political theorist, wrote her doctoral dissertation in philosophy on Augustine, and continued to rely on his thought throughout her career. Ludwig Wittgenstein extensively quotes Augustine in Philosophical Investigations for his approach to language, both admiringly, and as a sparring partner to develop his own ideas, including an extensive opening passage from the Confessions. [ citation needed ] Contemporary linguists have argued that Augustine has significantly influenced the thought of Ferdinand de Saussure, who did not 'invent' the modern discipline of semiotics, but rather built upon Aristotelian and Neoplatonic knowledge from the Middle Ages, via an Augustinian connection: "as for the constitution of Saussurian semiotic theory, the importance of the Augustinian thought contribution (correlated to the Stoic one) has also been recognized. Saussure did not do anything but reform an ancient theory in Europe, according to the modern conceptual exigencies." [258]

In his autobiographical book Milestones, Pope Benedict XVI claims Augustine as one of the deepest influences in his thought.

Oratorio, music Edit

Marc-Antoine Charpeentier, Motet "Pour St Augustin mourant", H.419, for 2 voices and contino (1687), and "Pour St Augustin", H.307, for 2 voices and continuo (1670s).

Much of Augustine's conversion is dramatized in the oratorio La conversione di Sant'Agostino (1750) composed by Johann Adolph Hasse. The libretto for this oratorio, written by Duchess Maria Antonia of Bavaria, draws upon the influence of Metastasio (the finished libretto having been edited by him) and is based on an earlier five-act play Idea perfectae conversionis dive Augustinus written by the Jesuit priest Franz Neumayr. [259] In the libretto Augustine's mother Monica is presented as a prominent character that is worried that Augustine might not convert to Christianity. As Dr. Andrea Palent [260] says:

Maria Antonia Walpurgis revised the five-part Jesuit drama into a two-part oratorio liberty in which she limits the subject to the conversion of Augustine and his submission to the will of God. To this was added the figure of the mother, Monica, so as to let the transformation appear by experience rather than the dramatic artifice of deus ex machina.

Throughout the oratorio Augustine shows his willingness to turn to God, but the burden of the act of conversion weighs heavily on him. This is displayed by Hasse through extended recitative passages.

In popular art Edit

Augustine has been the subject of songs by Bob Dylan and The Chairman Dances. [261]

In his poem "Confessional", Frank Bidart compares the relationship between Augustine and his mother, Saint Monica, to the relationship between the poem's speaker and his mother. [262]


Born in 354 CE in the North African city of Tagaste to a Christian mother and pagan father, Augustine began his career as a pagan teacher of rhetoric in, among other places, Carthage. In search of better students, Augustine traveled to Rome in 383, assuming considerable personal risk in doing so, but was disappointed to discover his newfound students lacking the virtue he thought the necessary prerequisite for a proper education. Failing to acquire satisfactory students, Augustine moved once again, this time to Milan where he accepted a position as a professor of rhetoric.

It was in Milan that Augustine adopted the study of Neoplatonism in earnest, though he had shown a fondness for classical philosophy, particularly the works of Virgil and Cicero, from an early age. In Neoplatonism the still-young Augustine thought, with great confidence and enthusiasm, that he had found an academic school capable of uniting the teachings of Christianity with those of Greek and Roman philosophy. Shortly thereafter Augustine converted to Christianity and, returning to North Africa, accepted the position of bishop in Hippo in 396, one that he would retain for the remainder of his life. It was arguably his encounter with Neoplatonism that caused Augustine to recognize the teachings of the Church as a source of intellectual insight not unlike that of classical philosophy. An autobiographical account of his religious conversion is the subject of Augustine’s Confessions, which numbers among the most famous and influential of his works.

Upon rising to the position of bishop, Augustine increasingly immersed himself in the daily routine of monastic life and became entangled with internal Scholastic controversies facing the Church, particularly those involving the Donatists and Pelagians. Because of his considerable intellect and rhetorical skill, Augustine grew to be a particularly skillful and persuasive defender of Christianity against critics from multiple directions. At the same time, Augustine appears to have grown increasingly skeptical of his youthful opinion that Christianity and classical philosophy might be readily reconciled by way of Neoplatonism. Though Augustine’s work De Civitate Dei (The City of God) contains considerable praise for Platonic philosophy and its intellectual inheritors, more apparent within the work are the major differences between the Platonic tradition and many of the teachings of the Church, with Augustine, not surprisingly, lending his own support to the latter. In his personal life, Augustine is described as living a life of tireless work and rigorous denial of earthly pleasures.

Augustine devoted his final days to prayer and repentance as he battled illness and watched his home, Hippo, besieged by Germanic invaders. Shortly after his death in 430 the city was burnt to the ground by its attackers, who, nonetheless, left Augustine’s library unharmed. He was subsequently canonized and was named a Doctor of the Church in 1298. He continues to serve as the patron saint of printers, brewers, and theologians.


AUGUSTINE° (354&ndash430), bishop of Hippo (North Africa) and outstanding *Church Father of Western Christianity. Born in Tagaste in North Africa to mixed Christian/pagan parentage, Augustine was educated at the University of Carthage, abandoned his faith temporarily and fathered a son, was eventually ordained and became the bishop of Hippo in 395. As an influential ecclesiastic and prolific theological writer, Augustine attacked various Christian sects and heresies and also took issue with Judaism. His religious and philosophical views reveal the influence of a great variety of spiritual movements and trends (Neo-Platonism, Manichaeism, the Stoics, Cicero, Aristotle, etc.) but most of his major doctrines are completely foreign and indeed opposed to traditional Jewish teaching (e.g., his concepts of the innate sinfulness of man, and predestination). Nevertheless, Jewish influences are also discernible, though these are mainly derived from the common biblical background and from Hellenistic Jewish philosophy (Philo of Alexandria), the Neoplatonic character of which had an obvious affinity with Augustine's own thinking. Thus Augustine's emphasis upon the absolute transcendence and unity of God is such that the doctrine of the Trinity assumes a relatively secondary importance. His theology of history, as developed in his City of God, has Jewish overtones only in the sense that its historical perspective contains some traditional eschatological and apocalyptic elements and insists on Israel's universal religious mission in history. In spite of his unequivocal rejection of post-Christian Judaism (e.g., in his Tractatus adversus Judaeos) &ndash in keeping with the basic tenets of Christian thinking &ndash Augustine evinces in some of his writings (e.g., in his commentary on the Psalms), and quite unlike the violently anti-Jewish diatribes of his contemporary, John Chrysostom, a positive (i.e., missionary attitude) to the Jewish people as being destined ultimately to join in the fullness of the Divine promise as realized in the church. The definitely anti-Jewish tracts circulating in the Middle Ages under the name of Augustine are later compositions wrongly attributed to him.

More than any other Church Father of his time, Augustine studied the "Old Testament," quoted from it and commented upon it. Biblical history, as the history of Israel, the people of God, formed the basis of Augustine's philosophy of history, and his division of world history into periods was derived from it. His method of interpreting the Bible is partly rationalistic, partly allegorical and mystical. Augustine had little or no knowledge of Hebrew, although he was probably familiar with the rudiments of the related Punic language. In order to overcome this handicap he occasionally consulted African Jews. Two legends (that of Adam's second wife and of Abraham in the furnace) are explicitly quoted by him as of Jewish origin but he often mentions rabbinic opinions without quoting their source. In his work De doctrina christiana (ch. XXXIV, col. 15&ndash122), Augustine seeks to establish guidelines for biblical exegesis and states that a knowledge of Hebrew was essential for the understanding of Scripture. At the same time he regarded the Vulgate text as authentic from the point of view of the church and attacked Jerome for embarking upon a new Bible translation from the Hebrew. His opposition to Jerome's work, which was only temporary, may have resulted from his hostility to Judaism and to Jews in general, whom he accused of failing to understand the Bible, or deliberately misunderstanding it (Tractatus adversus Judaeos).

There has been no noticeable influence of Augustine's doctrines upon Jewish religious philosophy. The attacks of Saadiah Gaon on the concept of the Trinity and of God as a hypostasis of three attributes &ndash being, living, and knowing (Emunot ve-De'ot, ch. 2 cf. De libero arbitrio, ch. II, 3 no. 7) were surely directed at Christianity as such and not specifically at Augustine. Like Augustine, Saadiah taught that time was created by God, but this doctrine has its roots in the philosophy of Plato (Timaeus) and was also accepted by Philo. There are similarities in the doctrine of God's will and of Divine omniscience as propounded by Augustine, Saadiah, and Maimonides, respectively (Kaufmann). Jewish authors who mentioned Augustine in their writings are Judah Romano, in the notes to his translation of Averroes' De substantia orbis (E?em ha-Shamayim) Isaac Abrabanel, who according to Joseph Delmedigo took considerable interest in Augustine Hillel b. Samuel of Verona, in his work Tagmulei ha-Nefesh and several anonymous authors, such as Sefer ?okhmah Kelalit, the translation of a pseudo-Aristotelian work.

There is an incomplete translation into Hebrew of Augustine's Confessions by Paul Levertoff ("Vidduyei Augustinus," 1908).


D. Kaufmann, Geschichte der Attributenlehre (1877), 41, 72, 304, 307 B. Blumenkranz, Die Judenpredigt Augustins (1946) H.A. Wolfson, The Philosophy of the Church-Fathers I (1956), index. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: St. Augustine, Confessions, ed. and tr. H. Chadwick (1991) H. Chadwick, Augustine (1986) P. Brown, Augustine of Hippo (1967).

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.

Augustine of Hippo Timeline - History

Biographical information

Saint Augustine of Hippo was born at Tagaste on 13 November, 354. Tagaste, near ancient Hippo-Regius, was at that time a small free city of proconsular Numidia. Hippo-Regius and the surrounding area were Tyrian Phoenician colonies on the west coast of the bay. It was gaven the name Hipponensis Sinus the surname Regius was bestowed on it as one of the places where the Numidian kings resided. Later it became a Roman colonia and prospered until A.D. 430, when it was taken by the Vandals.

Hippo had recently been converted from Donatism. Although eminently respectable, his family was not rich, and his father, Patricius, one of the curiales of the city, was still a pagan. However, the admirable virtues that made Monica (Saint Monica) the ideal of Christian mothers at length brought her husband the grace of baptism and of a holy death, about the year 371. Although his mother was a devout Christian, he was not baptized in infancy.

Augustine received a Christian education. His mother had him signed with the cross and enrolled among the catechumens. Once, when very ill, he asked for baptism, but, all danger being soon passed, he deferred receiving the sacrament, thus yielding to a deplorable custom of the times. His association with "men of prayer" left three great ideas deeply engraven upon his soul: a Divine Providence, the future life with terrible sanctions, and, above all, Christ the Saviour. "From my tenderest infancy, I had in a manner sucked with my mother's milk that name of my Saviour, Thy Son I kept it in the recesses of my heart and all that presented itself to me without that Divine Name, though it might be elegant, well written, and even replete with truth, did not altogether carry me away" (Confessions, I, iv). In his 'Confessions' Augustine wrote seven chapters about an incident in his early life--stealing pears from a neighbor's tree.

But a great intellectual and moral crisis stifled for a time all these Christian sentiments. The heart was the first point of attack. Patricius, proud of his son's success in the schools of Tagaste and Madaura determined to send him to Carthage to prepare for a forensic career. But, unfortunately, it required several months to collect the necessary means, and Augustine had to spend his sixteenth year at Tagaste in an idleness which was fatal to his virtue he gave himself up to pleasure with all the vehemence of an ardent nature. This sin troubled him for the rest of his life. He also confessed to immoral behavior at the University of Carthage, where he was sent at the age of 16. Augustine remained in Carthage, teaching rhetoric, until he was 29. At first he prayed, but without the sincere desire of being heard, and when he reached Carthage, towards the end of the year 370, every circumstance tended to draw him from his true course: the many seductions of the great city that was sill half pagan, the licentiousness of other students, the theatres, the intoxication of his literary success, and a proud desire always to be first, even in evil. Before long he was obliged to confess to Monica that he had formed a sinful liaison with the person who bore him a son (372), "the son of his sin" — an entanglement from which he only delivered himself at Milan after fifteen years of its thralldom.

Then he went to Rome, taking with him his mistress and his son, Adeodatus. His religion at this time was Manichaeism, which combined Christianity with Zoroastrian elements. By 386 Augustine was teaching in Milan, where his mother joined him. He came under the influence of the city's great bishop, St. Ambrose, who baptized Augustine and Adeodatus on the following Easter.

Two extremes are to be avoided in the appreciation of this crisis. Some, like Mommsen, misled perhaps by the tone of grief in the "Confessions," have exaggerated it: in the "Realencyklopädie" (3d ed., II, 268) Loofs reproves Mommsen on this score, and yet he himself is to lenient towards Augustine, when he claims that in those days, the Church permitted concubinage. The "Confessions" alone prove that Loofs did not understand the 17th canon of Toledo. However, it may be said that, even in his fall, Augustine maintained a certain dignity and felt a compunction which does him honour, and that, from the age of nineteen, he had a genuine desire to break the chain. In fact, in 373, an entirely new inclination manifested itself in his life, brought about by the reading Cicero's "Hortensius" whence he imbibed a love of the wisdom which Cicero so eloquently praises. Thenceforward Augustine looked upon rhetoric merely as a profession his heart was in philosophy.

From this time Augustine lived as an ascetic. He returned to Africa and spent three years with friends on his family's estate. He was ordained a priest and five years later, in 396, was consecrated a bishop. He spent the remainder of his life in Hippo (now Annaba, Algeria) with his clergy, encouraging the formation of religious communities. Augustine, who was ill when the Vandals besieged Hippo, died on Aug. 28, 430, before the town was taken.

Augustine's most widely read book is Confessions, a vivid account of his early life and religious development. The City of God was written after 410, when Rome fell to the barbarians. The aim of this book was to restore confidence in the Christian church, which Augustine said would take the place of the earthly city of Rome. During the Middle Ages the book gave strong support to the theory that the church was above the state. Augustine's writings on communal life form the 'Rule of St. Augustine', the basis of many religious orders.

St. Augustine on Punic Language and Literature

In the Phoenician Punic colonies, espeically around Carthage, the Phoenician language survived till the 5th century and was spoken by people in the rural areas. Saint Augustine knew the language and was well acquanted with Punic literary. He wrote ". there was a great deal of virtue and wisdom in the Punic books". Further, a pagan grammarian named Maximus once wrote to him a hostile letter in which he mocked at the Punic names of some Christian martyrs, and in his reply Augustine rebukes him for having thrown ridicule at the Punic language which he describes as "our own tongue".

St. Augustine's theological works are well known and taught throughout Christendom however, his sinful early life is known in detail. Reading a selection of his torment and agony over his sinful life maybe a good source of exploring the kind of person he was and became. It may help many to appreciate him more fully, as a man, a bishop, a doctor of the church and as a saint, after his having indulged himself in the pleasures of the flesh with women and men.

Book 3: 1:

For this cause my soul was sickly and full of sores, it miserably cast itself forth, desiring to be scraped by the touch of objects of sense. Yet if these had not a soul, they would not be objects of love. To love then, and to be beloved, was sweet to me but more, when I obtained to enjoy the person I loved, I defiled, therefore, the spring of friendship with the filth of concupiscence, and I beclouded its brightness with the hell of lustfulness and thus foul and unseemly, I would fain, through exceeding vanity, be fine and courtly. I fell headlong then into the love wherein I longed to be ensnared. My God, my Mercy, with how much gall didst Thou out of Thy great goodness besprinkle for me that sweetness? For I was both beloved, and secretly arrived at the bond of enjoying and was with joy fettered with sorrow-bringing bonds, that I might be scourged with the iron burning rods of jealousy, and suspicions, and fears, and angers, and quarrels.

Book 4: 6-8

In those years when I first began to teach rhetoric in my native town, I had made one my friend, but too dear to me, from a community of pursuits, of mine own age, and, as myself, in the first opening flower of youth. He had grown up as a child with me, and we had been both school-fellows and play-fellows. But he was not yet my friend as afterwards, nor even then, as true friendship is for true it cannot be, unless in such as Thou cementest together, cleaving unto Thee, by that love which is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us. Yet was it but too sweet, ripened by the warmth of kindred studies: for, from the true faith (which he as a youth had not soundly and thoroughly imbibed), I had warped him also to those superstitious and pernicious fables, for which my mother bewailed me. With me he now erred in mind, nor could my soul be without him. But behold Thou wert close on the steps of Thy fugitives, at once God of vengeance, and Fountain of mercies, turning us to Thyself by wonderful means Thou tookest that man out of this life, when he had scarce filled up one whole year of my friendship, sweet to me above all sweetness of that my life.

Who can recount all Thy praises, which he hath felt in his one self? What diddest Thou then, my God, and how unsearchable is the abyss of Thy judgments? For long, sore sick of a fever, he lay senseless in a death-sweat and his recovery being despaired of, he was baptized, unknowing myself meanwhile little regarding, and presuming that his soul would retain rather what it had received of me, not what was wrought on his unconscious body. But it proved far otherwise: for he was refreshed, and restored. Forthwith, as soon as I could speak with him (and I could, so soon as he was able, for I never left him, and we hung but too much upon each other), I essayed to jest with him, as though he would jest with me at that baptism which he had received, when utterly absent in mind and feeling, but had now understood that he had received. But he so shrunk from me, as from an enemy and with a wonderful and sudden freedom bade me, as I would continue his friend, forbear such language to him. I, all astonished and amazed, suppressed all my emotions till he should grow well, and his health were strong enough for me to deal with him as I would. But he was taken away from my frenzy, that with Thee he might be preserved for my comfort a few days after in my absence, he was attacked again by the fever, and so departed.

At this grief my heart was utterly darkened and whatever I beheld was death. My native country was a torment to me, and my father's house a strange unhappiness and whatever I had shared with him, wanting him, became a distracting torture. Mine eyes sought him every where, but he was not granted them and I hated all places, for that they had not him nor could they now tell me, "he is coming," as when he was alive and absent. I became a great riddle to myself, and I asked my soul, why she was so sad, and why she disquieted me sorely: but she knew not what to answer me. And if I said, Trust in God, she very rightly obeyed me not because that most dear friend, whom she had lost, was, being man, both truer and better than that phantasm she was bid to trust in. Only tears were sweet to me, for they succeeded my friend, in the dearest of my affections.

Book 4: 10

. Wretched I was and wretched is every soul bound by the friendship of perishable things he is torn asunder when he loses them, and then he feels the wretchedness which he had ere yet he lost them. So was it then with me I wept most bitterly, and found my repose in bitterness. Thus was I wretched, and that wretched life I held dearer than my friend. For though I would willingly have changed it, yet was I more unwilling to part with it than with him yea, I know not whether I would have parted with it even for him, as is related (if not feigned) of Pylades and Orestes, that they would gladly have died for each other or together, not to live together being to them worse than death. But in me there had arisen some unexplained feeling, too contrary to this, for at once I loathed exceedingly to live and feared to die. I suppose, the more I loved him, the more did I hate, and fear (as a most cruel enemy) death, which had bereaved me of him: and I imagined it would speedily make an end of all men, since it had power over him. Thus was it with me, I remember. Behold my heart, O my God, behold and see into me for well I remember it, O my Hope, who cleansest me from the impurity of such affections, directing mine eyes towards Thee, and plucking my feet out of the snare. For I wondered that others, subject to death, did live, since he whom I loved, as if he should never die, was dead and I wondered yet more that myself, who was to him a second self, could live, he being dead. Well said one of his friend, "Thou half of my soul" for I felt that my soul and his soul were "one soul in two bodies": and therefore was my life a horror to me, because I would not live halved. And therefore perchance I feared to die, lest he whom I had much loved should die wholly.

Additional reading may be found at the source indicated below and elsewhere. This short article is presented herewith to indicate that Augustine came from Phoenician origin and does not aim to fully cover his contribution to the Christian faith.

Augustine Couldn't Outrun Mother's Prayers

About 331 AD in North Africa, a baby girl was born who would become the mother of one of the most influential Christians of all times. Monica was born into a moderately wealthy family. An old Christian maidservant, who had also cared for Monica's father as a baby, brought Monica up in the Christian faith.

Monica was given in marriage to Patricius, who was not a Christian. For many years Monica sought to win Patricius to the Lord. Following the advice of I Peter 3, Monica realized her conduct more than her words would be the means of Patricius' conversion. By her persevering in patience and meekness, Monica won her mother-in-law to Christ. Patricius too became a Christian, though only towards the very end of his life.

Monica was often a great peacemaker between people who were at odds. In healing discords or disputes, she never repeated the evil, bitterness or hatred which one side might express against the other. She also sought to help and minister to those who were teachers or pastors of the church.

Though the wife of a non-Christian, Monica prayed that her family might eventually all come to Christ. She attempted to bring her children up in the ways of the Lord, and it pained her to see them stray from the truth she had taught them. Her most promising son, Augustine, was given an excellent education, and Monica hoped this might be a means of his more fully reaching God. Augustine ignored his mother's warnings against youthful lusts and pursued a life of self-gratification and immorality while continuing his classical education. He lived with a woman not his wife and fathered a child. Monica didn't have the words to convince her son of the truth of Christianity, but she determined never to stop praying that he would turn to God.

When Augustine went to Italy to teach, Monica, by then a widow, followed him there. In Milan she attended the church pastored by Ambrose and rejoiced when Augustine was befriended by Ambrose and eventually became a Christian.

Monica died in 387 at the age of 56. In his Confessions Augustine spoke of his grief and weeping for the mother "now gone from my sight, who for years had wept over me, that I might live in your [God's] sight." She died a happy woman for she had seen her prayers answered, and both her husband and her son had become believers. Augustine was only 33 at the time of his mother's death, and many years of service to Christ and His church lay before him. In later years Augustine could look back on his life and recognize the importance of his mother's perseverance in prayer to his own salvation and ministry. However, neither Augustine nor Monica could have foreseen that Augustine's own ministry would continue over the centuries and even influence such as Luther and Calvin in reforming, purifying, and strengthening the church.

DISTANT DATELINE: Monumental Church Split As East and West Divide

CONSTANTINOPLE, JULY, 1054 AD Well, it finally happened!

Some said it had been building for centuries and seemed inevitable. But that doesn't soften the shock nor relieve the perplexing questions of what it signals for the future of Christianity.

Earlier this month Cardinal Humbert, official representative for the pope in Rome, entered our magnificent cathedral, St. Sofia, here in Constantinople and placed a letter from Pope Leo on the altar in the church. That letter excommunicated our leader and patriarch, Michael Cerularius. Michael in turn has indicated that he will excommunicate the pope with the support of fellow major church leaders--the patriarchs at Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem.

The problems between East and West have long festered. We in the East have been wary of the expanding power of the pope. We have respected him as a "first among equals" but not head of the entire church.

There are other problems, such as whether clergy should marry, but the major disagreement is over the so-called "filoque" issue. Does the Holy Spirit proceed from the Father alone--as we maintain in the East--or from both Father and Son, as Rome insists?

Informed sources say that the split could be long and bitter. Will any of us live long enough to see harmony restored? Ironically your reporter has heard that by the time his letter of excommunication arrived here, Pope Leo had died, which, I am told, would make its contents invalid. But things had already gone too far. Has the "seamless garment of Christ" now been irreparably rent?

Editor's Postscript: The nearly 1000-year split continues to this day.

Get Acquainted with Anselm (Editor's Notebook)

One of my favorite characters from the Middle Ages is Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1093-1109.

Anselm was a great church leader who hated church politics. He didn't seek his prominent position. He sought repeatedly and urgently to resign it, but wasn't allowed.

Anselm's passion was to seek the face of God. He couldn't understand how any Christian could want less. He said, "If they are Christians, why should they break faith for any temporary gain? The thing is impossible."

Anselm was also a great thinker. He articulated what has been called the "ontological proof for the existence of God." There isn't space here to explain, but look it up in a philosophy text and enjoy pondering. It continues to fascinate and challenge every generation.

Anselm's "proof" came to him in a flash at prayer. Centuries later the famous British anti-Christian skeptic Bertrand Russell wrote, "one day in 1894, as I was walking along Trinity Lane (emphasis ours) I saw in a flash that (Anselm's) ontological argument is valid. I had gone out to buy a tin of tobacco on my way back, I suddenly threw it up in the air, and exclaimed as I caught it, 'Great Scott, the ontological argument is sound.' "

Anselm's great work was Cur Deus Homo? (Why Did God Become Human?) . He wrote it to answer Jewish concerns that the Incarnation impugned the honor and dignity of God, and his work became one of the greatest in all church history in helping us understand the reasons for and meaning of the atonement of Christ.

He was known as one of the "Scholastics" but for him faith preceded knowledge and knowledge helped illumine faith. He said: He who does not believe cannot experience, and whoever does not experience, cannot understand.-- Ken Curtis

Augustine of Hippo Regius Writes The City of God

"Augustine wrote the treatise to explain Christianity's relationship with competing religions and philosophies, and to the Roman government with which it was increasingly intertwined. It was written soon after Rome was sacked by the Visigoths in 410. This event left Romans in a deep state of shock, and many saw it as punishment for abandoning their Roman religion. It was in this atmosphere that Augustine set out to provide a consolation of Christianity, writing that, even if the earthly rule of the empire was imperilled, it was the City of God that would ultimately triumph &mdash symbolically, Augustine's eyes were fixed on heaven, a theme repeated in many Christian works of Late Antiquity.

"Despite Christianity's designation as the official religion of the empire, Augustine declared its message to be spiritual rather than political. Christianity, he argued, should be concerned with the mystical, heavenly city the New Jerusalem &mdash rather than with Earthly politics" (Wikipedia article on City of God [book], accessed 05-10-2009).

Watch the video: PHILOSOPHY - Augustine (August 2022).