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Augustine of Hippo

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St. Augustine of Hippo

Aurelius Augustine, Augustine of Hippo, of berber (Amazigh) origin, born A.D. 354, Tagaste; died August 28, 430, Hippo Regius (modern Bône, now Annaba, Algeria) is a Saint and Doctor of the Church according to Roman Catholicism; he was the eldest son of Saint Monica. In Eastern Orthodox Church, which doesn't accept all of his teachings, he is usually called "Blessed Augustine". Many Protestants also consider him to be a spiritual ancestor of Protestantism.

Table of contents
1 Life
2 Writings
3 Augustine and the Jews
4 Influence as a theologian and thinker
5 Books
6 Letters
7 See also
8 Bibliography
9 External links

Life

Saint Augustine was raised in Roman north Africa, educated in Carthage and employed as a professor of rhetoric in Milan by 383. He followed the Manichaean religion in his student days, and was converted to Christianity by the preaching and example of Ambrose of Milan. He was baptized at Easter in 387, and returned to north Africa and created a monastic foundation at Tagaste for himself and a group of friends. In 391 he was ordained a priest in Hippo. He became a famous preacher (more than 350 preserved sermons are believed to be authentic), and noted for combatting the Manichaean heresy.

In 396 he was made coadjutor bishop of Hippo (assistant with the right of succession on the death of the current bishop), and remained as bishop in Hippo until his death in 430. He left his monastery, but continued to lead a monastic life in the episcopal residence. He left a Rule (Latin, Regula) for his monastery that has led him to be designated the "patron saint of Regular Clergy," that is, parish clergy who live by a monastic rule.

Augustine died in 430 during the siege of Hippo by the Vandals. He is said to have encouraged its citizens to resist the attacks, primarily on the grounds that the Vandals adhered to Arian Christianity, which Augustine regarded as heretical.

Writings

Augustine was a prolific author in several genres—theological treatises, sermons, scripture commentaries, philosophical dialogues, and autobiography. (A list of his books and letters can be found near the end of this article.) His Confessions is usually accorded the position of the first autobiography in history; Augustine moves from his conception to his current (at about the age of fifty) relationship with God, and ends with a long excursus on the book of Genesis in which he demonstrates how to interpret scripture. The psychological awareness and self-revelation of the work still impresses readers.

At the end of his life (426-428?) Augustine revisited his previous works in chronological order and suggested what he would have said differently in a work titled the Retractions, which gives us a remarkable picture of the development of a writer and his final thoughts.

Augustine and the Jews

Augustine wrote in Book 18, Chapter 46, of The City of God, "The Jews who slew Him, and would not believe in Him, because it behoved Him to die and rise again, were yet more miserably wasted by the Romans, and utterly rooted out from their kingdom, where aliens had already ruled over them, and were dispersed through the lands (so that indeed there is no place where they are not), and are thus by their own Scriptures a testimony to us that we have not forged the prophecies about Christ." [1]

Augustine deemed this scattering important because he believed that it was a fulfillment of certain prophecies, thus proving that Jesus was the Messiah. This is because Augustine believed that the Jews who were dispersed were the enemies of the Christian Church. He also quotes part of the same prophecy that says "Slay them not, lest they should at last forget Thy law". Some people have used Augustine's words to attack Jews as anti-Christian, while others have used them to attack Christians as anti-Jewish. See Christianity and anti-Semitism

Influence as a theologian and thinker

Augustine remains a central figure, both within Christianity and in the history of Western thought. Himself much influenced by Platonism and neo-Platonism, particularly by Plotinus, Augustine was important to the "baptism" of Greek thought and its entrance into the Christian, and subsequently the European intellectual tradition. Also important was his early and influential writing on the human will, a central topic in ethics, and one which became a focus for later philosophers such as Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. It is largely due to Augustine's influence that Western Christianity subscribes to the doctrine of original sin, and the Roman Catholic Church holds that baptisms and ordinations done outside of the Roman Catholic Church can be valid (the Roman Catholic Church recognizes ordinations done in Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches, but not in Protestant churches, and recognizes baptisms done in nearly all Christian churches). Catholic theologians generally subscribe to Augustine's belief that God exists outside of time in the "eternal present"; time existing only within the created universe.

Augustine's writings helped formulate the theory of just war. He also advocated the use of force against the Donatists, asking "Why . . . should not the Church use force in compelling her lost sons to return, if the lost sons compelled others to their destruction?" (The Correction of the Donatists, 22–24)

St. Thomas Aquinas took much from Augustine while creating his own unique synthesis of Greek and Christian thought. Two later theologians who claimed special influence from Augustine were John Calvin and Cornelius Jansen. Calvinism developed as a part of Reformation theology, while Jansenism was a movement inside the Catholic Church; some Jansenists went into schism and formed their own church.

Augustine was canonized by popular recognition and recognized as a Doctor of the Church [Editorial remark: when and by which pope?]. His feast day is August 28, the day on which he is thought to have died. He is considered the patron saint of brewers, printers, theologians, sore eyes, and a number of cities and dioceses.

Eastern Orthodox theologians consider that Augustine's theology of original sin is a key source of division between East and West. Some key Western theological sources do not assert Augustine's doctrine of "intrinsic impairment" to be necessary. For example, Tanquerey states that "[t]here is nothing to prove it". Therefore it is not plain that western theology depends upon a specific Augustinian doctrine.

Books

Letters

See also

Bibliography

External links


This article is part of the Influential Western Philosophers series
Presocratics | Socrates | Plato | Aristotle | Epicureans | Stoics | Plotinus | Augustine of Hippo | Boethius | Al-Farabi | Anselm | Peter Abelard | Averroës | Maimonides | Thomas Aquinas | Albertus Magnus | Duns Scotus | Ramón Llull | Occam | Giovanni Pico della Mirandola | Marsilio Ficino | Michel de Montaigne | René Descartes | Thomas Hobbes | Blaise Pascal | Baruch Spinoza | John Locke | Nicolas Malebranche | Gottfried Leibniz | Giambattista Vico | Julien Offray de la Mettrie | George Berkeley | Baron de Montesquieu | David Hume | Voltaire | Jean-Jacques Rousseau | Denis Diderot | Johann Herder | Immanuel Kant | Jeremy Bentham | Friedrich Schleiermacher | Johann Gottlieb Fichte | G. W. F. Hegel | Friedrich von Schelling | Friedrich von Schlegel | Arthur Schopenhauer | Søren Kierkegaard | Henry David Thoreau | Ralph Waldo Emerson | John Stuart Mill | Karl Marx | Mikhail Bakunin | Friedrich Nietzsche | Vladimir Soloviev | William James | Wilhelm Dilthey | C. S. Peirce | Gottlob Frege | Edmund Husserl | Henri Bergson | Ernst Cassirer | John Dewey | Benedetto Croce | José Ortega y Gasset | Alfred North Whitehead | Bertrand Russell | Ludwig Wittgenstein | Ernst Bloch | Georg Lukács | Martin Heidegger | Rudolf Carnap | Simone Weil | Maurice Merleau-Ponty | Jean-Paul Sartre | Simone de Beauvoir | Georges Bataille | Theodor Adorno | Max Horkheimer | Hannah Arendt