Books by and about the saint. also see CONFESSIONS
Augustine and Postmodern Thought: A New Alliance against Modernity? by L Boeve, M Lamberigts, M. Wisse, and M Lamberigts (Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium: Peeters) The North-African Church Father, or at least the thinking patterns or intuitions borrowed from him, are often invoked in discussions on the relation between Christian faith and the contemporary postmodern context. On the one hand, one observes the retrieval of rather premodern approaches in order to remedy the so-called (post-)modern crisis, which is said to result in nihilism, relativism, etc. For what seems to attract some theologians in Augustinian thinking is the (apparent) marriage between Greek (neo-Platonic) philosophy and Christian faith. Such a combination of premodern metaphysics and Christian faith would serve as a necessary presupposition for every legitimate theological epistemology. On the other hand, there are theologians and philosophers who are increasingly trying to reread Augustine from a postmodern stance, stressing the role of particularity, narrativity, historicity, and the decentring of subjectivity, which they see present in Augustine's approach, or from which they deconstruct Augustine's thinking. Central questions discussed during the symposium were: Are the analyses, offered by authors who are re-introducing Augustine with respect to the contemporary context, correct? To what diagnosed problems, and on what basis, do they propose Augustine as a remedy? Are their presentations of other theological and philosophical responses to the present situation correct and which 'Augustine' do they claim to represent? More fundamentally: what would a genuine Augustinian epistemology look like, and what can we gain from it? In what way can it be normative for a theological epistemology in our day? In answering these questions, the symposium focused explicitly on contemporary philosophical and theological evaluations of both modernity and postmodernity, and theological responses to them.
Exercpt: On November 9-11, 2006, the Research Group 'Theology in a Postmodern Context' (K.U.Leuven) organised an expert symposium on the return of Augustine in current postmodern philosophical-theological debates. The North-African Church Father, or at least the thinking patterns or intuitions borrowed from him, are often invoked in discussions on the relation between Christian faith and the contemporary postmodern context. On the one hand, one observes the retrieval of rather premodern approaches in order to remedy the so-called (post-)modern crisis, which is said to result in nihilism, relativism, etc. For what seems to attract some theologians in Augustinian thinking is the (apparent) marriage between Greek (neo-Platonic) philosophy and Christian faith. Such a combination of pre-modern metaphysics and Christian faith would serve as a necessary presupposition for every legitimate theological epistemology. On the other hand, there are theologians and philosophers who are increasingly trying to reread Augustine from a postmodern stance, stressing the role of particularity, narrativity, historicity, and the decentring of subjectivity, which they see present in Augustine's approach, or from which they deconstruct Augustine's thinking.
Central questions discussed during the symposium were: Are the analyses, offered by authors who are re-introducing Augustine with respect to the contemporary context, correct? To what diagnosed problems, and on what basis, do they propose Augustine as a remedy? Are their presentations of other theological and philosophical responses to the present situation correct and which 'Augustine' do they claim to represent? More fundamentally: what would a genuine Augustinian epistemology look like, and what can we gain from it? In what way can it be normative for a theological epistemology in our day? In answering these questions, the symposium focused explicitly on contemporary philosophical and theological evaluations of both modernity and postmodernity, and theological responses to them. Is it desirable to overcome modernity by embracing a postmodern Augustinian stance? For example, in line with J. Komonchak's analysis, is Roman-Catholic theology after Vatican II to be understood by the tension between Augustinian and Thomist-like theologians? Would a Thomist-like reflection offer us a more adequate account of the relation between faith and reason? Or does such a theological position still too easily overlook the particularity of theological discourse?
In this volume that contains revised versions of the papers presented at this symposium, these questions are dealt with from a number of different perspectives, here divided into four parts and preceded by an introduction to the theme of the conference in the first contribution. In this first contribution, Lieven Boeve introduces the reader to the two main forms of neo-Augustinianism in postmodern theology and philosophy, describing them as ways of recontextualising Christian faith in the contemporary context. First, he sketches the reception of Augustine in which Augustine is placed in the service of criticizing the contemporary context as one that has fallen prey to nihilism and relativism. The main conversation partners in this strand of neo-Augustinianism are Radical Orthodoxy and Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI. Second, Boeve describes the retrieval of Augustine in postmodern thinkers such as Lyotard and Derrida who retrieve Augustine's search for self-understanding, an understanding which allows a subject to become such precisely by letting go of being a subject. Theology in search of recontextualisation cannot but be challenged by this double retrieval of Augustine. Whereas the first would seem to focus on securing identity in a world gone astray, the latter portrays Augustine's search for identity as never ending, ever at risk, and continuously being re-opened in the face of an other (the Other?). In so doing, both appeals to Augustine deal with the question of meaning and truth in a context where pre-established frameworks have fallen away and identity, to a large degree, is to be constructed. In his conclusion, Boeve makes an attempt to formulate the challenges of these neo-Augustinianisms for contemporary theology. To the degree that contemporary theological trends appeal to Augustine in order to engage theology's recontextualisation, the retrieval of Augustine in theology and philosophy is of major interest, for it offers an interesting cause for a renewed reflection on the relation between Christian faith and context.
The first part of the book deals mainly with issues in Augustine's theology itself, of course also in direct conversation with its postmodern retrievals. In a close reading of books V-VII of Augustine's De Trinitate, Emmanuel Falque addresses the question of the connection between theology and metaphysics in Augustine's understanding of God. Following Heidegger's famous idea of the Christian tradition as a form of onto-theology, Falque delves into Augustine's use of substance metaphysics to inquire whether, and if so to what extent, Augustine's God as Trinity can be said to fall prey to ontotheology. Though, given Augustine's use of concepts like 'being' and 'substance', this seems to be the case at first sight, through an analysis of the category of relation in Augustine's doctrine of the Trinity, however, Falque shows that the category of relation 'distorts' the category of substance in such a way as to render the objection of ontotheology impossible. In a further move, Falque uses the `distortion' of philosophical categories in their theological application, and the tension that results from this in the relationship between theology and philosophy, to argue toward a view of this relationship as one of both continuity and discontinuity.
One of the elements of Augustine's work that has attracted attention throughout the centuries, is the connection of his thought to Platonic mysticism, specifically embedded in the idea of a Platonic ascent. Douglas Hedley takes up this element from Augustine, along the way drawing on its reception among the Cambridge Platonists, in order to develop a critique of Denys Turner's account of religious experience. Turner develops a reading of the Christian tradition that implies a strong critique of an otherworldly mysticism. The Christian account of religious experience goes beyond the prima facie affirmative and apophatic language, introducing a second order of negativity, one in which the extraordinary experience is criticized and a turn towards the experience of God in the ordinary is emphasized. Hedley counters Turner's view of Christian mysticism as being beyond both negation and affirmation by showing that otherworldliness was a key strand in the Christian Neoplatonic tradition. The Christian medieval mystics had a distinct preference for the spiritual and the immaterial over against the material world. In fact, Hedley argues, Turner's reconstruction of Christian apophaticism presupposes a strand of Spinozistic pantheism rather than the Christian Neoplatonic tradition.
Twentieth-century theology is increasingly seen as a Christological theology. This Christological transformation of theology indeed strongly influences contemporary readings of Augustine's Christology. Therefore, Maarten Wisse starts his contribution in the present, outlining the modern Christological paradigm as being what he calls a `Christology of manifestation' with Radical Orthodoxy thus described as the primary example of such a paradigm. Within Radical Orthodoxy, the main function of the Christ event is to make visible the ontological structure of God and the world, showing that the world is the ontological 'expression' of God. Subsequently, Augustine's Christology is described as a Christology in which the ontological mediation of God in the world plays no role at all. In Augustine's Christology, the moral reparation of the sinner plays the key role as Christ brings the sinner back from exile by liberating the sinner from Satan's captivity and by showing the precedence of justice over power in God's freely giving of Godself toward the salvation of sinners. Thus, Wisse shows that rather than offering an account of the relationship between God and the world in the struggle against a secular worldview, the significance of Augustine's Christology lies in the uniqueness and incomprehensible character of the Incarnation.
In the second part of the volume, the connection between neo-Augustinianism and the Middle Ages, as well as Modern period, is at the centre of interest. Fergus Kerr's contribution deals with the question of other minds' scepticism, a problem that played a dominant role in Wittgensteinian analytic philosophy during the second half of the twentieth century. Kerr, following Matthews, locates the problem in Augustine before turning to see whether it can be found in the work of Aquinas as well. Whereas Augustine's claim that the soul has privileged access to the knowledge of itself, Aquinas denies this and holds that the soul knows itself like any other thing. In a further step, Kerr draws on Baillie and Davidson to add a third variety of knowledge: in the discussion surrounding other-mind scepticism, twentieth-century analytic philosophers added knowledge of other people as a third category. Kerr thus follows how Davidson developed a holistic view of knowledge in which people gain knowledge of themselves, other people and external objects in the world only in communication with each other. Such a clear-cut answer to the question of other-mind scepticism, however, is not found in the work of Wittgenstein. Wittgenstein himself firmly rejects the idea that we cannot know one another's thoughts as if there could be no immediacy between human beings. But, on the other hand, Wittgenstein is much more aware of the problems that affect our understanding of the world and of other minds than Aquinas or Aristotle. Kerr concludes the paper with a discussion of John Wisdom's more sceptical view on the knowledge of other minds, suggesting that Wisdom is closer to Augustine than to Aristotle and Aquinas.
Joseph Komonchak addresses the famous distinction between Augustinian and Thomist strands of thought in Roman-Catholic theology. Komonchak, who used the famous distinction himself in a reflection on the election of Joseph Ratzinger as pope Benedict XVI, here traces the different roots of the distinction along with their contemporary applications. Subsequently, Komonchak engages in a review of Tracey Rowland's book on Vatican II, a book he finds wanting in almost every respect, especially in its way of dealing with the sources of her argument. In the fourth section of the essay, Komonchak questions Rowland's post-modern Augustinian Thomism, asking what this might mean. For Rowland, Thomism seems to mean Aquinas and every sound Christian theologian before him. Neither Aquinas nor Augustine figure prominently in Row-land's book. In the fifth and sixth sections of his paper, Komonchak investigates Rowland's usage of the terms 'autonomy' and 'subjectivity', arguing that Rowland's way of interpreting these terms leads to a misunderstanding of the Council's documents.
One of the famous claims of the Neo-Augustinian movement — notably within Radical Orthodoxy — is the thesis which describes the Modern period as one of secularisation, the beginning of immanentism, nihilism, etcetera. In his contribution, Anthony Godzieba challenges this reading through an extensive discussion of the beginnings of modern art, showing that the Baroque artists resisted the increasingly secular view of the world in terms of an embodied sacral sphere. Much of the recent criticism of modernity suffers from two faults, namely working genealogically and thus reading later developments back into modernity as a whole, and indeed conceptualizing modernity as a whole, ignoring opposing strands that resisted the nihilist tendencies. Zooming in on certain developments in early modern Catholicism, Godzieba draws attention to the interest in the 'mysteries of Christ', the emphasis on the imago Dei, the new interest in Aquinas, and the deeply incantational character of early modern Catholicism. In the essay's subsequent section, Godzieba turns to Aquinas to argue for a form of natural theology in which creation is seen as fundamentally open to God's presence and the mediation of grace. In the last section, then, Godzieba draws on the discussion of various early modern works of art to show the entanglement of the divine and worldly spheres in early modern art, demonstrating the incantational and sacramental strands in early modernity.
The third part of the volume deals with the connection between NeoAugustinainism and postmodern philosophy, notably in the thought of Heidegger and Derrida. Holger Zabarowski's contribution to the NeoAugustinian use of Augustine in postmodern philosophy concentrates on the role of Augustine in Heidegger's thought. He starts with a sketch of the postmodern interest in Augustine and the influence of Heidegger on various postmodern readings of Augustine. Subsequently, Zabarowski discusses the role of Augustine in Heidegger's early theological work, noting the tendency among scholars to neglect the theological influences behind Heidegger's work. As Zabarowski says: "Augustine's theological understanding of the human being as utterly dependent on God could provide an alternative to self-centered modern individualism as well as to the rationalism of the neo-scholastic textbooks; Augustine's emphasis on divine grace could help to overcome modern 'despair and death' ; and the existential dimension of his theology, as it were, could help to reemphasize the personal dimension of one's faith over against the alienation from oneself that characterizes the modern world as well as the 'system of Catholicism'." In the essay's following section, Zabarowski discusses the place of Augustine in Heidegger's later philosophical writings, because the reading of Augustine figures prominently in the years before and during the writing of Being and Time. Heidegger's interest in Augustine only began to decline by the late 1920s and 1930s and Zabarowski points out that Heidegger can certainly be called an Augustinian, although his Augustinianism is of a specific kind. It paves the way for the analysis of facticity and functions as a background for the ontological analysis underlying Being and Time.
In Tom Jacobs' contribution to the discussion concerning Neo-Augustinianism and postmodern philosophy, Jacobs challenges Milbank's critique of (almost) the whole of postmodern philosophy as falling prey to an ontology of violence. As a first move, Jacobs challenges Milbank's reading of Heidegger as a dualist. Drawing on texts from Heidegger's Nazi-period, Jacobs argues that, in Heidegger, ontology is always construed in such a way as to give one particular group in the world a privileged access to Being, a privileged access to Being for one particular group that is remarkably similar to Radical Orthodoxy's own construal of the privileged access of the Christian community to the Trinitarian God. In a second move, Jacobs goes on to challenge Milbank's reading of Derrida as one who could be described along the lines of a Plotinian metaphysics. Derrida, Jacobs argues, resists a Plotinian logic because he constructs a radical dualism between the world and that which might lie behind it. In Derrida, following Kierkegaard, it seems that there is no mediation between the world of appearance and the things in themselves. In a final move, then, Jacobs defends Kierkegaard's radical dualism and the lack of mediation in it, advocating a form of Gnostic dualism that posits a radical incommensurability between God and earthly mediations in churchly traditions or holy communities.
The fourth part of this volume deals with the discussion concerning a Neo-Augustinian political theology. Jamie Smith's paper primarily targets Jeffrey Stout's critique of John Milbank. In Democracy and Tradition, Jeffrey Stout articulates a trenchant critique of what he describes as the `new traditionalism' of Maclntyre, Hauerwas, and Milbank. Characteristic of the new traditionalism is the sort of project that Milbank describes as 'postmodern critical Augustinianism', which tends to look for political insights in Augustine's ecclesiology. The picture of Augustine yielded by this project is one of a rather 'antithetical' Augustine. In contrast, Stout wants to find an account of the political in Augustine that would downplay any sense of antithesis vis-à-vis the democratic state. Smith argues that Stout misunderstands Milbank's 'Augustinian' critique of liberalism precisely because Stout misses the point of 'antithesis' in Augustine's City of God, and this stems from the fact that he fails to recognize the phenomenology operative in Augustine's political thought, and more specifically, the phenomenology of love which governs Augustine's cultural critique.
Robert Dodaro begins his paper with an outline of some of the fundamental theological principles of Augustine's thought, and the key part they play in determining Augustine's view on the role of Christians in the political sphere. Crucial considerations here include the fact that the question of Augustine's political theology is more a question that emerges from within our own context than a question that Augustine himself was concerned with, and the fact that an understanding of the role of Christ in salvation is crucial for understanding any subject area in Augustine's theology. Subsequently, it turns out that the practical Christian piety of the Christian statesman provides the key to the common good of the earthly society, as Dodaro shows on the basis of an analysis of Augustine's letters to Christian statesmen. In a following section, Dodaro uses the preceding analysis to review three recent, conflicting interpretations of Augustine's political thought in general terms: Kaufman, who does not see any positive role for Christianity in the public sphere, Markus, who uses Augustine's thought in search for a secular society, and Milbank, who, according to Dodaro, sees the "Church as a political reality that should embrace the whole of society". In between these three positions, Dodaro defends a role for Christian virtue within a secular society, without turning this role into a full political programme.
Augustinianism: Studies in the Process of Spiritual Tranvaluation by J.D. Green (Studies in Spirituality Supplements: Peeters Publishers) The book is about the evolution of Augustinianism' in a process of 'spiritual transvaluation' as Augustine of Hippo's thought was appropriated by spiritual masters in the mediaeval period. The chapters deal with a range of experiences in 'spiritual transvaluation' beginning with Augustine's own philosophic transvaluation of Christian `affectivity'. The first study is about St Gregory the Great's 'pastoral' transvaluation of Augustine's spirituality; the second about William of St Thierry's 'mystical' transvaluation in the twelfth century; and the final one is about Walter Hilton's `christo-centric' transvaluation, writing as an Augustinian Canon Regular in late fourteenth century England. The Epilogue draws together the themes of each chapter as a reflection about the spiritual nature of Augustinianism'.
After reading history at Oxford, John D. Green worked in industry for twenty eight years. He then obtained the degrees of MA. by thesis and PhD. at the University of Melbourne where the research which provides the basis for the book was undertaken. Dr. Green has more recently lectured in early Church history at the Catholic Theological College in Melbourne.
Excerpt: Tertullian, the Christian convert and theologian, writing at the turn of the third century, had thrown out the challenge to his Gnostic opponents: 'What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?' His answer had been: 'Our instruction comes from "the porch of Solomon"'. His North African compatriot, St Augustine of Hippo, himself a convert but living at the turn of the fifth century, would not have disagreed. Nevertheless Augustine travelled to 'the porch of Solomon' by way of Athens. In doing so he demonstrated how they were related and in the - process produced a body of teaching, which was of seminal importance to the understanding of what was meant by Christian faith. He consolidated the achievement by living the faith he preached.
Augustinianism' defies definition because it is a symbol which continues to accumulate meaning as time passes. It is the creation of numerous individuals who have demonstrated in their lives and teaching how Augustine's 'attitude of love' might be applied to develop some aspect of his thought which was germane to their own circumstances.
This is a study of 'Augustinianism' as a process of transvaluation. It is a description of 'Augustinianism' in this limited way and while by no means comprehensive, it may illustrate, hopefully, the way in which Augustine's influence has been transmitted as a developing tradition of spirituality which is recognisably 'Augustinian' in its seminal inspiration.
The first chapter deals with Augustine's own appropriation of the Christian faith as a transvaluation process. His conversion to Christianity was both a moral and intellectual process. Both aspects were marked by particular events but developed in parallel as his understanding of the reciprocal relevance of the Hellenic `religio-philosophic' and Judaeo-Christian inheritances became clear in the challenges he faced as a Christian pastor. For Augustine the 'moral' conversion came first and enabled him to develop the Hellenic traditions as the handmaid of the Christian. In doing so he was able to articulate a philosophic structure for the `faith' dependent on a creator whose love was both boundless and ever-present.
Augustine evolved a method through which faith might be developed and understood. It was not a 'system'. This characteristic gave his teaching the appearance of a resource, like a dictionary or encyclopaedia, which was a guide to the `language' of faith and a series of articles about it, both of which needed additions and updating as times changed.
Yet his teaching had to be preserved if the resource was to be made available to future generations. That it was preserved and widely disseminated was partly the result of his own foresight and brilliance and partly that of the development of monastic styles of Christian community.
Augustine's Retractions illustrates his foresight. In the last years of his life he edited the vast volume of his works which had been carefully stored in his library and where necessary revised them. The process of revision which he undertook in the light of the development of his thought illustrates how new circumstances change the teacher's perspective and suggests that 'transvaluation' is not a process of unimaginative imitation but is based on the counterpoint between faith and experience.
The monastic community he formed around him as bishop of Hippo, produced 'disciples' familiar with his library if not fully able to grasp its import. One of his 'disciples', Possidius, bishop of Calama, in the last days of Augustine's life when Hippo was under siege, catalogued the library. How, after the siege, it was transported to Rome is still a puzzle. Nevertheless, the service Possidius rendered in cataloguing the library assisted the process of preservation.
The development of monasticism as a combination of prayer, reflection and study, was a key factor both in the preservation and dissemination of Augustine's works.
It is no accident that when one looks for exemplars of Augustinianism they are found in monastic communities or in people with monastic connections. This study is structured around three case studies. The masters whose teaching is explored in all of them have monastic connections and indeed lived in times when the monastic life was at a critical period of its evolution.
The first of these is St Gregory the Great at the turn of the seventh century. In many respects his spiritual evolution paralleled that of Augustine. His great achievements were reflected in the honour bestowed on him by the Church as `the Great'. His contemplative experience as a founder of monasteries and as an abbot enabled him to appropriate Augustine's spirituality as his own. His great prestige in the following centuries gave authority to his teaching and, to the extent that he absorbed it, to Augustine's teaching also. Gregory thus became an important channel through whose works Augustine's influence was disseminated.
The subject of the second case study is William of St Thierry in the twelfth century. William was both the abbot of a Benedictine monastery of St Thierry near Reims in France and also, later in life, a Cistercian in the new foundation of Signy in the Ardennes. He was primarily a contemplative and a teacher who
sought to explain his own experience of contemplation to those in his community. His own understanding was based on Augustine's thought but developed in the light of his own experience. He was also the friend of St Bernard and came in contact with the Cistercian reform as it developed in the teaching of its most charismatic advocate. William's most influential work on contemplation, the Golden Epistle, was for many centuries attributed to St Bernard. Although its influence reflected its own merits, there is little doubt that its dissemination and influence owed much to its attribution to St Bernard. To the extent that Augustine's basic insights permeated William's teaching, it also influenced Cistercian thought in a transvalued form.
The third case study is about Walter Hilton in late fourteenth century England. In the last years of his life he was an Augustinian canon regular living in a community which practised a form of religious life, partly contemplative and partly active: The rule combined the monastic tradition of a stable community with the active evangelical work associated with the tradition of the mendicant orders. The fourteenth century was a time of transition in many respects. The Church authorities were attempting to revive religious practice in the face of social and political change, the dislocations caused by plague epidemics, and the heterodox teaching of Wycliffe and the Lollard movement. Hilton's teaching reflected his experience of spiritual direction for both religious and laity. He had absorbed Augustine's teaching and transvalued it to meet the pedagogical challenges he faced. The number of extant manuscripts of his major work, the Scale of Perfection, suggests a wide dissemination of his teaching and a demand that perhaps reflects the unsettled nature of the society in which he lived.These case studies illustrate the way in which Augustine's insights were appropriated and transvalued in the light of different challenges and an evolving Christian self-understanding. The Epilogue will attempt to draw together the main strands of the evolution of 'Augustinianism' as revealed in these studies as counterpoint to Augustine's own experience of the Christian faith and its appropriation.
Rhetoric and Exegesis in Augustine's Interpretation of Romans 7:24-25a by Thomas F. Martin (Studies in the Bible and Early Christianity, Vol. 47: Edwin Mellen Press) Excerpt from preface by J. Patout Bums
Both contemporary religious concern to break out of the narrow limits set by the historical-critical method and post-modern theories of the polyvalence of texts, have directed the attention and efforts of historians of Christian thought to the practice of scriptural interpretation in the early church. The Bible de Τοus les Temps series examines principle and practice; the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture illustrates the richness of the result. All are the offspring on Henri de Lubac's Exegese Miedvale, itself now available in English translation.' Others have undertaken to study Augustine's theory and practice of interpretation, as well as the use of particular books of the Bible in individual works, as the footnotes of the present volume amply attest. In this study, Thomas F. Martin, O.S.A. has followed the explication of α single text through the whole of Augustine's career and corpus of writings. In so doing, he has taken α major step forward in the study of patristic and particularly Augustinian exegesis.
The analysis focuses on only two verses, Romans 7:2425a, but these two form α crucial text. It serves not only as the culmination of Paul's prior reflections on the power of sin and role of the Law but as the transition, at least in the Latin version used in North Africa to the exploration of the efficacy of Christ's grace. Augustine's understanding of these two issues changed and set the course of western Christianity until the modem period when the historical critical method challenged his interpretation. Following this text allows Fr. Martin to track the dialectical relationship between the development of Augustine's theological anthropology and his practice of exegesis. By following this one text, he is able to show how Augustine's theology moved forward by fits and starts, as he experimented with α new reading in various contexts before settling on it, only to notice greater riches in the text and begin exploring again. Fr. Martin is able, moreover, to add α third stage in the explanation of the text to the two that have already been distinguished. This study's attempt to work Augustine's sermons and psalm commentaries into the sequence of his doctrinal treatises and letters is α bold move. While the Retractations maps α sequence for the treatises, on which many of the letters can be confidently located, the chronology of the sermons and commentaries is much less secure. Yet the risk is rewarded not only by α fuller documenting of the evolution of interpretations but by suggesting new hypotheses regarding the influence of his audiences and their settings on Augustine's development.
Unlike most of the studies that have proceeded, Fr. Martin's investigation underlines the contribution of his rhetoric to Augustine's exegetical practice. He provides α careful analysis of Augustine's appreciation of Paul's eloquence, which in turn legitimated the employment of the bishop's own developed skills in the exposition of the scriptures. The reflections on the relation between wisdom and eloquence which are put forward in the final book of De doctrίna christiana, finished at the end of Augustine's life, build upon α developed appreciation of the persuasive power with which Paul set forth the truth of the gospel. More importantly, this study demonstrates that Augustine's adaptation to different audiences forced him to explore and led him to discover new meanings in the Pauline text. Augustine began to move beyond his first understanding of the passage in explaining the text to his fellow ascetics and preaching to the congregation in Hippo. In addressing these baptized Christians he realized that Paul's cry might arise from the heart of someone already endowed with grace and engaged in α sustained struggle against inborn lust and ingrained habits. He then applied this interpretation to himself, already α bishop, in Confessions. Not only does the study distinguish the learned readers to whom Augustine addressed his early commentaries from the congregations to which he preached but shows that the sermons presented in Carthage tended to be more ambitious and daring in their approach to the difficult Pauline text than those preached in Hippo Regius. Julian of Eclanum's omission or intentional exclusion of a particular phrase in one of his statement's led Augustine to notice and develop more fully α theme what might initially have been no more than α casual contrast between the body of this death which oppresses the Christian and the body of that life which Adam enjoyed in Paradise.
The spare and disciplined exposition ο£ Augustine's successive interpretations of thought of Paul which Fr. Martin provides in the body of his text is complemented by the richness of his references and footnotes. The narrative chooses representative instances to trace the development rather than plodding through an exhaustive catalogue ο£ every appearance of the selected verses in Augustine's literary corpus. The footnotes, particularly in the first chapter, document the modem study of the interpretation of Romans during the fourth and fifth centuries in the western church. More than most American scholars, Fr. Martin draws heavily upon and introduces his colleagues to the contributions of scholars writing in Italian and Spanish. In the later chapters, the reader will often be surprised by the graciousness with which he not only signals points raised by the is- sues under analysis but then leads the reader α little way down these many side roads branching off his highway by suggesting the best secondary literature for further exploration. The book deserves α first reading for the argument itself and α second for the fuller documentation.
In a series of article and contributions to professional societies, Thomas F. Martin has been establishing himself as a commentator and expositor of Augustine's exegetical theory and practice. By this volume, he takes his rightful position in the labor shared by his religious brothers and academic colleagues.
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