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Augustine

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Saint Augustine Bishop of Hippo

Saint Augustine Bishop of Hippo

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Name: Aurelius Augustinus
Parents: Patricius (Roman pagan, converted to Christianity by his death) and Monica (Christian, and perhaps a Berber)
Son: Adeodatus
Dates: November 13, 354 - August 28, 430
Occupation: Theologian, Bishop

Who Is Augustine?


Augustine was an important figure in the history of Christianity. He wrote about topics like predestination and original sin. Some of his doctrines separate Western and Eastern Christianity, and he defined some doctrines of Western Christianity. Example: Both Eastern and Western Churches believe there is original sin in the actions of Adam and Eve, but the Eastern Church, not influenced in this by Augustine, does not hold that humans share the guilt, although they experience death as a result.

Augustine died while the Germanic Vandals attacked northern Africa.

Dates:


Augustine was born on 13 November 354 at Tagaste, in northern Africa, in an area that is now Algeria, and died in 28 August 430, in Hippo Regius, also in what is modern Algeria. Coincidentally, this was when the Arian Christian Vandals were besieging Hippo. The Vandals left Augustine's cathedral and library standing.

Offices:


Augustine was ordained Bishop of Hippo in 396.

Controversies / Heresies:


Augustine was attracted to Manicheeism and Neoplatonism before his conversion to Christianity in 386. As a Christian, he was involved in a controversy with Donatists and opposed the Pelagian heresy.

Sources:

Augustine was a prolific writer and his own words were very important for the formation of church doctrine. His disciple Possidius wrote a Life of Augustine. In the sixth century, Eugippius, at a monastery near Naples, compiled an anthology of his writing. Augustine is also featured in Cassiodorus' Institutiones.

Distinctions:


Augustine was one of the 8 great Doctors of the Church, along with Ambrose, Jerome, Gregory the Great, Athanasius, John Chrysostom, Basil the Great, and Gregory of Nazianzus. He may have been the most influential philosopher ever.

Writings:


Confessions and City of God are Augustine's most famous works. A third important work was On the Trinity. He wrote 113 books and treatises, and hundreds of letters and sermons. Here are some, based on the Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy's entry on Augustine:
  • Contra Academicos [Against the Academicians, 386-387]
  • De Libero Arbitrio [On Free Choice of the Will, Book I, 387/9; Books II & III, circa 391-395]
  • De Magistro [On The Teacher, 389]
  • Confessiones [Confessions, 397-401]
  • De Trinitate [On The Trinity, 399-422]
  • De Genesi ad Litteram [On The Literal Meaning of Genesis, 401-415]
  • De Civitate Dei [On The City of God, 413-427]
  • Retractationes [Reconsiderations, 426-427]
For a more complete list, see Church Fathers and James J. O'Donnell's list.

Saint's Day for Augustine:


In the Roman Catholic Church, Augustine's Saint's Day is August 28, the date of his death in A.D. 430 as the Vandals were (supposedly) tearing down the city walls of Hippo.

Augustine and Eastern Christianity:

Eastern Christianity holds that Augustine was wrong in his statements on grace. Some Orthodox still consider Augustine a saint and a Church Father; others, a heretic. For more on the controversy, please read The Blessed (Saint) Augustine of Hippo His Place in the Orthodox Church: A Corrective, from the Orthodox Christian Information Center.

Augustine Quotes:

  • "Virtue and vice are not the same, even if they undergo the same torment."
    City of God I.8.
  • "My ears were already satiated with similar things; neither did they appear to me more conclusive, because better expressed; nor true, because oratorical; nor the spirit necessarily wise, because the face was comely and the language eloquent." (A thing is not necessarily true because badly uttered, nor false because spoken magnificently.)
    Confessions V.6.
  • "Grant me chastity and continency, but not yet."
    Confessions VIII.7.

Augustine is on the list of Most Important People to Know in Ancient History.

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