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Augustinian Studies

Volume 48, Issue 1/2, 2017
Reconsiderations Conference V

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Displaying: 1-14 of 14 documents

1. Augustinian Studies: Volume > 48 > Issue: 1/2
Jonathan P. Yates A Letter from the Editor
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saint augustine lecture 2016
2. Augustinian Studies: Volume > 48 > Issue: 1/2
Allan D. Fitzgerald, O.S.A. St. Augustine Lecture—2016: Engaging the Gospel of John
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This paper asks what led Augustine to begin his commentary on the Gospel of John, linking that decision to his ongoing efforts to heal the Donatist schism by appealing to the centrality of Jesus Christ, both in his own theological vision and in the message to those who were listening to his sermons on the Gospel of John and on the psalms of ascent. This question is particularly important in the aftermath of the Edict of Unity (405) insofar as he was preaching both to faithful Catholics and to their neighbors who had accepted the legal requirements of leaving the schism behind.
i. the augustinian person
3. Augustinian Studies: Volume > 48 > Issue: 1/2
Jesse Couenhoven Augustine’s Moral Psychology
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This essay addresses common misunderstandings about the part of Augustine’s theological anthropology one might call his “moral psychology.” It particularly seeks to distance Augustine’s mature account of human agency from influential faculty psychologies. I argue that it is misleading to talk about Augustine’s view of the “will,” given what we typically mean by that term, and that “choice” is not central to Augustine’s account of human freedom. These claims hold not least because of the way Augustine thought about what he called the uoluntas, in which affect and rationality are combined. The disunity of the Augustinian self is found, as a result, not in battles between “higher” and “lower” faculties but in the tensions that exist within whole persons. Such insights influence Augustine’s interest in the complexity of intentional and unintentional desires—sexual and otherwise—and the essential role played by relationships in making us who we are.
4. Augustinian Studies: Volume > 48 > Issue: 1/2
J. Patout Burns, Jr. Human Agency in Augustine’s Doctrine of Predestination and Perseverance
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Augustine’s two-stage explanation of the creation of the universe (based on the dual narratives in Genesis) provided a basis for understanding the divine operations that activated the potentialities of angels and humans by which they attained stable beatitude. God caused their activities of knowing and loving rather than endowing them with natural capacities for the divine. In this context, Augustine’s analysis of the success of the angels as well as the failure of the demons and the first humans clarified the limits of the agency of spiritual creatures and specified the occurrence of sin as its defective exercise. Against this background, he distinguished the divine operations that moved and sustained Christians in faith and charity from the divine governance that insured the fidelity of the elect at the end of their lives and thus brought them to salvation. At the same time, he distinguished the final beatitude that made the angels and saints incapable of failure from the gifts of both charity and perseverance. Preserving the elect did not require a strengthening or expansion of the internal gifts attributed to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Thus, the agency of the elect living under the gift of perseverance was distinguished from that of Christians who failed to reach salvation only by its success.
5. Augustinian Studies: Volume > 48 > Issue: 1/2
Matthew Drever Reimagining Human Personhood within the Body of Christ
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This paper addresses the question of human and divine agency in Augustine’s later writings through the Trinitarian lens that shapes his understanding of salvation and the human person (i.e., the divine image). It focuses on the way Augustine draws on Christological and pneumatological claims to structure the relation between human and divine agency within his totus christus model. Here I examine how the relation between human and divine agency can be grounded on and understood through the predestination of Christ. This leads into a consideration of how we participate in Christ’s body through the power of the Spirit. In this I think we can discern a nascent eschatological social ontology: the body of Christ is not only an ecclesiological but also an anthropological metaphor signaling a new form of corporate embodiment, not complete until the resurrection, from which to understand the reforming of human agency through divine grace.
ii. augustine’s thought in cultural context
6. Augustinian Studies: Volume > 48 > Issue: 1/2
Margaret R. Miles To Die For: Bodies, Pleasures, and the Young Augustine
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The perennial human need to ground the self in something greater than itself takes many forms. This article explores several values that are often considered worth dying for, from one’s country or religion, to—among the many that are often advocated in contemporary Western societies—one’s sexuality. Given the recent level of interest in Augustine’s early sexuality, I argue that, for Augustine, sex, when compulsively pursued, was a failed value. His experience revealed to him that the ultimate object with which the self can be identified is God: “You [God] have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you” (Confessiones 1.1.1). Augustine’s Confessiones narrate the long process by which his lust problem was transmogrified into the love project: “My weight is my love; by it I am carried wherever I am carried” (Confessiones 13.9.10).
7. Augustinian Studies: Volume > 48 > Issue: 1/2
Catherine Conybeare Vt tecum tamquam mecum audeam conloqui: The Politics of Return
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This paper reads the surviving letters written by Augustine during the period between his return to North Africa in 388 and his elevation to the bishopric of Hippo in 395. In doing so, it explores Augustine’s complicated relationship with his native land and his new Christian role there, and with the career and associates that he has left behind; and it reveals some of the pressures inherent in the notion of “coming home.”
8. Augustinian Studies: Volume > 48 > Issue: 1/2
Michael Lamb Augustine and Republican Liberty: Contextualizing Coercion
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One of the most controversial aspects of Augustine’s political thought is his use of imperial power to coerce religious dissenters. While scholars have sought to situate Augustine’s justifications of coercion within his historical, social, and political contexts, even the most helpful approaches do not alleviate concerns that Augustine’s defense of coercion violates individual liberty. This paper argues that one reason for this is that many defenders and detractors tend to view Augustine’s defense through a largely liberal lens, assuming a modern conception of liberty and legitimacy that is alien to his late antique context. In contrast, this paper highlights how Augustine appropriates republican principles from his Roman predecessors to justify coercion and place limits on its use. In particular, it focuses on Augustine’s commitments to: (1) liberty as non-domination; (2) legitimate authority and the rule of law as constraints on arbitrary power; and (3) contestability, publicity, and immanent critique as means of preventing domination and holding power accountable. By showing how the content and form of Augustine’s reasoning align with republican principles, this paper suggests that his defense of coercion appears less inimical to liberty in his Roman context than his modern interpreters typically assume. The paper concludes by considering how this republican approach might help to preserve liberty and prevent domination in our own time.
iii. augustine and marriage
9. Augustinian Studies: Volume > 48 > Issue: 1/2
David G. Hunter Augustine’s Doubts on Divorce: Reconsiderations on Remarriage
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Augustine’s teaching on the indissolubility of marriage profoundly influenced the Western Christian tradition on the matter of divorce and remarriage. Augustine famously insisted that while divorce was allowed in limited circumstances (e.g., on account of adultery by one of the spouses), remarriage was prohibited for both the guilty and the innocent parties. Less frequently acknowledged is the degree to which Augustine expressed doubt about the validity of his own teaching. In this essay I argue that even though Augustine offered a strict interpretation of the biblical evidence, he did so only tentatively and often expressed doubts about the adequacy of his own views. The reason for this hesitation, I suggest, was Augustine’s knowledge that the meaning of the scriptural texts was ambiguous at best and that a significant portion of the previous tradition differed from the interpretation he favored.
10. Augustinian Studies: Volume > 48 > Issue: 1/2
John C. Cavadini Reconsidering Augustine on Marriage and Concupiscence
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In the spirit of Augustine’s own “Reconsiderations,” and inspired by Peter Brown’s act of “reconsidering” in the Epilogue to Augustine of Hippo (new edition), this essay offers a reconsideration of Augustine’s work On Marriage and Concupiscence. Key to the reconsideration of this text is a reconsideration of the role of the “sacrament” of marriage in Augustine’s articulation and defense of the goods of marriage and of human sexuality. For Augustine, Julian’s advocacy of concupiscence as an innocent natural desire amounts to a dangerous sentimentalization of fallen human freedom. Such sentimentalization masks the investments of the fallen will in the will to power or, in Augustinian terms, the preference for power over justice. Because sexual concupiscence, as Augustine famously argued, has no natural object, but, rather, is invested only in its own gratification, it is therefore a function of the preference for power over justice without remainder. It is a mark of the Fall that the procreative increase in human community willed by God is now ineluctably linked to the will to power, as though the will to power were the true source of social solidarity. The sacramental good of marriage enables married couples to “use” concupiscence in such a way that all of the goods associated with human sexuality can be experienced as true goods instead of as realities constitutively defined by the will to power.
11. Augustinian Studies: Volume > 48 > Issue: 1/2
Danuta Shanzer Augustine’s Anonyma I and Cornelius’s Concubines: How Philology and Literary Criticism Can Help in Understanding Augustine on Marital Fidelity
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This paper explores the relationship between philology and literary criticism (on the one hand) and history (on the other) via two (para)-marital problems drawn from Augustine’s life. The first is historiographical and concerns Augustine’s relations with Anonyma I, his African concubine, who was featured so famously in the Confessiones. My argument, first published in 2002, that Augustine painted his separation from her in the language of Genesis and saw her as a virtual wife, has not found favor with historians. The episode is used as a test case for comparing the historiographical technique of three Augustine biographers (Bonner, Rosen, Lane Fox). I revisit my reasoning, showing how, sadly, philology and history have grown apart, a phenomenon which, in turn, highlights the need for an increased awareness of and engagement with philology by historians. Philological arguments must be faced and not simply ignored or cherry-picked ad lib. The second problem is historical and prosopographical. Who was the fornicating widower of Epistula 259? In part, I use philological and literary techniques to argue that this widower was indeed Romanianus, and that this letter needs to be dated much earlier than previously thought—even to as early as 396 and the period of Augustine’s co-episcopacy. The tone of the letter is key to understanding it properly. In it, we see an affectionate, urbane, and witty Augustine.
iv. augustine on john
12. Augustinian Studies: Volume > 48 > Issue: 1/2
Johannes Brachtendorf “Et lacrymatus est Jesus” (John 11:35): The Sorrow of Jesus in the Teaching of Augustine and Aquinas on the Affections
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Although the doctrine of the affections constitutes an essential part of both psychology and ethics for Classical Greek philosophy, the passion of sorrow was seldom discussed. The Bible, by contrast, frequently mentions the feeling of sorrow, and Christianity, unlike Stoic ethical ideals, assigns sorrow a positive significance—at least to a degree.While it is true that the Gospels generally prefer to paint a picture of Christ as a quiet teacher and master, a few pericopes—especially within the Gospel of John—narrate the sorrow of Jesus in some detail. Integrating the Johannine depictions of Jesus’s sorrow proved quite a challenge for patristic and medieval exegetes, including Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. Both thinkers wrote a Commentary on the Gospel of John and, in their systematic works, both treated the emotions in a principled and philosophical manner. Having engaged Classical Greek and Hellenistic theories on the emotions, Augustine and Aquinas went on to develop a uniquely Christian understanding of the passiones animae, which, in turn, became paradigmatic for the generations that followed. Focusing on their respective commentaries on the Gospel of John, this essay explains what the passiones animae are and why they were seen as an ethical problem in the patristic and medieval periods. It highlights the connection between Augustine and Aquinas as well as their respective contributions both to the doctrine of affections in general and to Christianity’s understanding of sorrow in particular.
13. Augustinian Studies: Volume > 48 > Issue: 1/2
Volker Henning Drecoll Christology and Anti-Heretical Strategies in the In Iohannis euangelium tractatus
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Scholars agree that Christology is at the center of the In Iohannis euangelium tractatus. In his exegesis of the Gospel of John, Augustine particularly highlights the human nature of the Incarnated, even as he integrates Trinitarian arguments (which he had developed earlier in his De trinitate) as a cornerstone of his homiletic teaching. This may have been important for the later reception of Augustine’s Trinitarian thought. Christology is clearly present throughout the various parts of the work. The differences between the parts can be traced to the various contexts in which they were composed and/or delivered: e.g., the Anti-Donatist controversy that is behind the first sermons, and the Anti-Pelagian and Anti-Homean controversies that often fueled the later ones. Sometimes anti-heretical strategies are used as a crucial step for advancing the teaching of the preacher (not least because they can directly promote knowledge of the fundamentals of the faith), even if the heresy being opposed is of no immediate relevance or importance to the North Africa of Augustine’s day (e.g., that of the “Sabellians” or the “Apollinarians”). Surprisingly, the second half of the work (consisting as it does of shorter homilies or, better, drafts of homilies) contains various passages in which anti-heretical strategies were clearly pursued. It is particularly Augustine’s Anti-Pelagian strategy that provides us with clues regarding the historical context of this part of the work.
14. Augustinian Studies: Volume > 48 > Issue: 1/2
Michael Cameron Augustine and John’s Gospel from Conversion to Confessiones
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How did John’s Gospel draw and compel Augustine before and during the composition of Confessiones? Analyzing references to John in Augustine’s works from his embrace of Nicene Christianity to the writing of Confessiones, this paper finds a growing (and Johannine-based) emphasis on the importance of Christ’s humanity. Augustine strategically invokes two texts in Confessiones’ crucial seventh book: John 1:14, “the Word was made flesh,” and John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” This paper considers three features: First, how the rhetorical device of anticipation (prolepsis) allows Augustine simultaneously to unify his developing Christological perspective and to build drama into his conversion narrative. Second, how the structure of Confessiones, which first works to understand divine transcendence and then seeks to relate that divine transcendence back to time, emphasizes the central role played by the Gospel of John in advancing Augustine’s conversion story. Third and finally, how invocations of John’s Gospel typify the way that, for the Augustine of Confessiones, reading scripture had become the means of achieving new spiritual self-comprehension. Texts from John were not mere receptors or reflectors of spiritual forces that moved Augustine toward conversion, but, rather, powerful agents of conversion in their own right.