The Church in Ancient Society: From Galilee to Gregory the Great

By Henry Chadwick | Go to book overview

48 Augustine 1

Born on 13 November 354, the son of a small-time farmer at Thagaste (Souk-Ahras in north-east Algeria) and a Christian mother Monnica, Augustine's training was as a teacher of the liberal arts, notably Latin literature ('grammar'), rhetoric or the art of persuasive public speaking, and logic. He was also informed about arithmetic, geometry, musical theory (though he never wrote a book on pitch), astronomy and medicine. Love of Cicero's prose and Vergil's poetry permanently marked his style. He also much admired the sombre writings of Sallust and knew well the comedies of Terence. Occasional allusive quotations from Juvenal and Seneca show him at home there. Aged 18, he read Cicero's defence of philosophy, the (lost) dialogue Hortensius, offering a guide to life and happiness. Briefly he picked up parts of the Bible, but was repelled by the banausic style of the Old Latin version, by the patriarchs' polygamy, and by the two divergent genealogies of Jesus. In any event he was attracted by the Manichee theosophy and explanation of the problem of evil, namely that while God is good, he is not all-powerful. For a decade he associated with a Manichee ascetic community, which did not discourage him from acquiring a concubine of low class sharing bed and board with her in much contentment. By her he had an unintended son Adeodatus who was educated as an orthodox Catholic; a boy of high intelligence, he died at the age of 16. In his memory Augustine wrote on non-verbal communication, often discussed with his son; gestures and tone of voice are more revealing than words, which in any event are incapable of expressing the deepest things. Texts show that in this age it was normal for young men to take a concubine until such time as they were earning their living and could acquire a regular wife.

In adult life he earned his bread by teaching, but riotous students at Carthage made him aspire to a similar post in Rome. There, however, he found the students evading payment of their fees. With the support of the powerful pagan prefect Aurelius Symmachus he was able to get a teaching post at Milan, residence of the western emperor Valentinian II as also of

-473-

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The Church in Ancient Society: From Galilee to Gregory the Great
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Church in Ancient Society iii
  • Prefatory Note vi
  • Contents vii
  • Abbreviations ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1: The First Followers of Jesus 5
  • 2: The Jewish Matrix 13
  • 3: Jews and Christians Survive Rome's Crushing of Revolts 21
  • 4: The Hebrew Scriptures in the Church 27
  • 5: Interpreting Scripture 32
  • 6: Apostles and Evangelists 43
  • 7: Women Among Jesus' Followers 53
  • 8: 'Barnabas', Jewish Christianity, Trouble at Corinth 56
  • 9: Ignatius of Antioch 65
  • 10: Didache 84
  • 11: Marcion 89
  • 12: Justin 93
  • 13: Irenaeus of Lyon 100
  • 14: The New Testament Text 108
  • 15: Celsus: A Platonist Attack 110
  • 16: Montanism: Perpetua 114
  • 17: Tertullian, Minucius Felix 118
  • 18: Clement of Alexandria 124
  • 19: Julius Africanus 130
  • 20: Hippolytus and Liturgy 132
  • 21: Origen 135
  • 22: Cyprian of Carthage 145
  • 23: Dionysius of Alexandria 161
  • 24: Paul of Samosata 166
  • 25: Mani 170
  • 26: Plotinus, Porphyry 173
  • 27: Diocletian and the Great Persecution; Rise of Constantine 176
  • 28: Constantine 190
  • 29: The Seeds of Reaction 201
  • 30: The Church at Prayer 212
  • 31: Athanasius, Marcellus, and the Gathering Storm 226
  • 32: A Fiasco at Serdica 240
  • 33: Religious Division 254
  • 34: Athanasius' Return 260
  • 35: Constantius' Double Council of Unity 279
  • 36: Julian and the Church 295
  • 37: Damasus, Siricius, Papal Authority, Synesius of Cyrene 314
  • 38: Basil of Caesarea (Cappadocia) 331
  • 39: Ambrose 348
  • 40: Ambrosiaster 379
  • 41: Donatism 382
  • 42: Monks: The Ascetic Life 394
  • 43: Messalians 411
  • 44: Schism at Antioch 415
  • 45: Jerome and Rufinus 433
  • 46: Pelagius, Caelestius, and the Roman See in Gaul and North Africa 446
  • 47: Julian of Eclanum 464
  • 48: Augustine 473
  • 49: John Chrysostom 479
  • 50: Innocent I and John Chrysostom's Honour 499
  • 51: The Christological Debate, I 515
  • 52: The Christological Debate, Ii 538
  • 53: The Christological Debate, Iii 557
  • 54: The Aftermath of the Council of Chalcedon 592
  • 55: Justinian, Origen, and the 'Three Chapters' 612
  • 56: The Ancient Oriental Churches 628
  • 57: The Church and the Barbarian Invasions in the West 633
  • 58: Pope Gregory the Great (590-604) 658
  • 59: Worship After Constantine 675
  • 60: Pilgrims 684
  • 61: Penance 688
  • Further Reading 694
  • Dates of Roman Emperors 714
  • Index 721
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