Augustine of Hippo

Born in 354 to a Christian family in North Africa, he was extremely gifted and was trained in rhetoric and philosophy in Carthage.

He held several professorships before ending up in Rome. His desire was to use his position and contacts to acquire a position in the government.

In Rome, he took a concubine, who bore him a child. Although his mother, Monica, prayed for his conversion to Christianity, he became a Manichean, which he considered to be much more sophisticated. It was a dualist faith, a hybrid of Gnosticism, Buddhism, and Zoroastrianism.

The Elect would transcend this battlefield of good and evil, while Hearers were on their way to that status.

In 384, he moved to Milan, where he met Christian intellectuals, who for the first time inspired him.

In 387, he and his son were baptized by Ambrose.

He wrote works against the arguments of Manicheans and others, largely dealing with authority vs. reason and the nature of evil.

He returned to Africa and was ordained a priest. In 395, he became bishop of Hippo.

St. Jerome by Lionello Spada, ca. 1610s

St. Augustine in His Study by Vittore Carpaccio, ca. 1502

St. Augustine in His Study by Vittore Carpaccio, ca. 1502

In 397, he wrote his Confessions.

Much of his time was taken up by the Donatist controversy, which continued to cause schism eighty-five years after Diocletian's persecution.

A council in Carthage heard all sides in 411. Emperor Honorius outlawed the Donatists.

The sack of Rome in 410 led to the production of the City of God, which would fundamentally shape Western Christian philosophy.

Augustine recast history as one of man's movements toward salvation, or the City of God.

His other treatises touched on a wide array of subjects.

Echoing the opinion of Paul, Augustine insisted that Jews must be tolerated. They were the living reminders of the promises of God that were fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

The necessities of Christian rulers required an understanding of warfare in the Christian perspective. Augustine defined just Christian warfare, arguing against those who insisted on pacifism.

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