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Augustine of Hippo

(Lat. Aurelius Augustinus; 354–430). One of the greatest of. the Lat. ch. Fathers and one of the outstanding figures of all ages. B. Tagaste, d. Hippo, both in Afr. His father, Patricius, though a mem. of the council of his hometown, was not esp. distinguished for either learning or wealth and remained hostile to the Christian ch. till shortly before his death in 371, when he was baptized. His mother Monica* was a consecrated woman, whose Christian virtues he praised in his writings. He was enrolled as a catechumen. Because of his fine progress in studies, a friend sent him to Madauros and Carthage for formal study. At Carthage he was drawn into sexual excesses, living with a mistress, by whom he had a son, Adeodatus, 372. While studying rhetoric and philos. he came under the influence of Manichaeism,* holding its views for ca. 9 yrs. without becoming a formal convert. Later be wrote Reply to Faustus the Manichaean, showing the unscriptural nature of Manichaeism. He taught grammar at Tagaste and rhetoric first at Carthage and then Milan, where he met Ambrose.* But, rejecting Manichaeism, Augustine was influenced by Neoplatonism,* as his early writings, esp. Of True Religion, show. It is hard to determine from his writings when he was converted. His own account is in his Confessions.

In the spring of 387, after many sessions with Ambrose and study of the Bible, Augustine was baptized. Returning to Afr., he sold his possessions and founded a monastic-like clerical school. His Christianity remained strongly ascetic. In 395 he was consecrated as coadjutor to Bishop Valerius of Hippo and soon succeeded to the office. He was a pastor till death. His writings, esp. the letters, show that most of his time and thought was spent on pastoral concerns.

For more than 30 yrs. Augustine was the leading theologian of Afr. Christianity. His influence at various synods was decisive. As the defender of the catholic faith he struggled against the Donatists and the Pelagians. In his writings against the Donatists, esp. On Baptism, he develops his theol. on the nature of the ch. and the sacraments. But it is esp. in his writings against the Pelagians, e.g., Of Grace and Free Will, that Augustine makes his great contribution to catholic theol. He clearly asserts man's total inability to exercise his will favorably before God, and stresses on the other hand that God is absolutely sovereign, indeed irresistible, in His gracious activity. His formulations were the center of theol. discussion through the Middle Ages. See also Free Will.

In 410 the Goths sacked Rome. The pagans blamed the Christians and their God for this disaster. Augustine put the capstone on his theol. activity by defending the Christians against this charge in City of God. He showed that the Father of Jesus Christ and the ch., of which He is the Head, can never be identified with any one society, culture, or state. God directs all hist. toward a purpose that is beyond human structures, the City of God.

Other works include De Genesi ad litteram; De spiritu et littera; De Trinitate. WWO

See also Alaric; Analogia entis; Augustinian Rule; Bible Versions, J 2; Credo ut intelligam; Deaf, 2; Docta ignorantia; Doctor of the Church; Donatist Schism, The; Fathers of the Church; Federal Theology; Patristics, 6; Pelagian Controversy, 3, 6; Philosophy; Preaching, History of, 6; Psychology, E 2–3; Restitution; Time.

MPL, 32–47; NPNF, Ser. 1, I–VIII; S. J. Grabowski, The Church: An Introduction to the Theology of St. Augustine (St. Louis, 1957); A. C. Pegis, The Mind of St. Augustine (Toronto, 1944); E. Gilson, The Christian Philosophy of Saint Augustine, tr. L. E. M. Lynch (New York, 1960); A Companion to the Study of Saint Augustine, ed. R. W. Battenhouse (New York, 1955).


Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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Original Editions ©Copyright 1954, 1975, 2000
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Content Reproduced with Permission

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