- 1 Saint Augustine
- 2 Life overview
- 3 St. Augustine Biography
- 4 Saint Augustine — The Augustinians
- 5 Augustine of Hippo
- 6 St. Augustine
- 7 Influence of Manichaeism
- 8 Influence of Platonism
- 9 Conversion to Christianity
- 10 Theory of Knowledge
- 11 Creation from Nothing
- 12 Time as Extension
- 13 Eternal Soul
- 14 Philosophy of History
- 15 Further Reading on St. Augustine
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is St. Augustine?
Augustine of Hippo, also known as Saint Augustine of Hippo, original Latin name Aurelius Augustinus, (born November 13, 354 in Tagaste, Numidia—died August 28, 430 in Hippo Regius; feast day August 28),bishop of Hippo from 396 to 430, one of the Latin Fathers of the Church and, after St. Paul, perhaps the most influential Christian thinker of the second century. Augustine’s application of classical ideas to Christian teaching resulted in a theological system that has had a significant and long-lasting impact on the world.
He is technically acknowledged as an adoctor of the church in the Roman Catholic faith.
- His prominence would have been more comparable to that of some of his contemporaries had no written works remained, but he would still have been a significant person in his own right if none of his written works had survived.
- His peculiar theological approach molded LatinChristianity in a way that was second only to the influence of the Bible itself.
- Augustine symbolizes the most influential integration of the ancientPlatonictradition with Christian concepts that has ever occurred in the Latin Christian culture, both intellectually and philosophically.
- In many respects, both modern Roman Catholic and Protestant Christianity are indebted to the ideas of Augustine, but in other ways each group has been ashamed to acknowledge that loyalty in the face of irreconcilable components in his thought.
According to certain scholars and historians, Augustine has been described as both a champion of human liberty and an outspoken defender of divine determinism, and while his ideas on sexuality were compassionate in design, they have frequently been perceived as restrictive in practice.
On Augustine’s birthplace at Tagaste, a tiny Roman settlement in a river valley in Africa 40 miles (64 kilometers) from the Mediterranean coast, close to where the veneer of Roman civilization began to thin off in the highlands of Numidia, he was given the name Augustine. Augustine’s parents were members of the respectable class of Roman society, who were able to survive off the labor of others, although their financial situation was occasionally precarious. They were able to provide Augustine with a first-class education, sometimes with the help of borrowed funds, and, despite the fact that he had at least one brother and one sister, he appears to have been the only kid who was sent away to be schooled.
- His teaching career began at Tagaste, where he taught rhetoric, the prime science for the Roman noble, for a short period of time before returning to Carthage to teach rhetoric, which he was apparently quite adept at.
- Augustine left Africa in 383 when he was 28 years old, restless and ambitious, in order to pursue a career in Rome.
- Milan, the emperor’s traditional home at the time, served as the de facto capital of the Western Roman Empire and the location where the most successful professions were established.
- Augustine’s professional life, on the other hand, came to a halt in Milan.
- It was there that he spent his time as an educated squire, caring for his family’s land and rearing the son, Adeodatus, who had been left by his long-term girlfriend (her name is unknown), who had been kidnapped from the lower ranks, while also pursuing his literary pursuits.
- The shift did not come as a complete surprise.
- From that point on, all of his writings were motivated by his commitment to a particular sort of Christianity that was both orthodox and intellectual in nature.
His coreligionists in North Africa accepted his distinctive stance and style with some difficulty, and Augustine chose to associate himself with the “official” branch of Christianity, which was approved by emperors and reviled by the most enthusiastic and numerous branches of the African church.
- It was his uncanny ability to write at a high theoretical level for the most discriminating readers while still being able to deliver sermons with passion and fierceness in anidiom that a less-cultured audience could enjoy that distinguished him.
- Hippo was a trade city with little in the way of riches or culture compared to Carthage or Rome, and Augustine never felt completely at ease there.
- Aristotle’s educational background, as well as his experience in the Roman military, prepared him for the art of rhetoric, which consisted in asserting the strength of one’s own person via speech that distinguished him from his peers and influenced the audience to accept his point of view.
- This style of rhetorician carried over into his clerical character for the rest of his life.
- While in rustication and early in his Hippo period, he authored book after book against Manichaeism, a Christian sect that he had joined in his late teens and abandoned ten years later when it became politically untenable to continue with them.
- After falling foul of the Christian emperors who succeeded Constantine (reigned 305–337), the local African Christian tradition was labeled as schismatic and given the name Donatism after Donatus, one of its early founders; it was eventually suppressed.
- Carthage was at the center of the dispute when the ruling emperor dispatched an official agent to settle it in 411.
The legal limits placed on Donatism as a result of this decision determined the outcome of the battle in favor of Augustine’s party.
Augustine progressively worked himself up to a polemical fever over views that Pelagius may or may not have advocated, after taking offense at the implications of the teachings of a wandering social preacher named Pelagius.
While other churchmen were befuddled and reacted with some caution to Augustine, Augustine persisted.
Pelagius and Celestius had been condemned by two councils of African bishops in 416 and again in Carthage in 418.
During these years, Augustine had worked hard to establish a solid name as a writer throughout Africa and the world.
In his latter years, he meticulously cataloged all of his works, marking them with bristling defensiveness in order to dissuade accusers of inconsistency from making false accusations.
Despite his prominence, Augustine died with his local legacy tarnished as a result of the invasion of the West.
The assaulting armies, which were dubbed theVandals by their contemporaries, consisted of a mixed mixture of “barbarians” and adventurers looking for a place to call home.
After a century of dominance in Africa, Roman soldiers dispatched from Constantinople defeated the Vandals, who adhered to a more strongly particularist form of the Christian faith than any of the Africans with whom Augustine had been in contact during his journey.
The Islamic invasions of North Africa in the 7th century brought an end to a revival of orthodox Christianity that had begun in the 6th century under the patronage of Constantinople.
Augustine’s writings have persisted to this day.
Augustine’s literary opus, in its whole, managed to survive and make it out of Africa intact, against the odds.
However accurate the narrative is, some sort of coordinated retreat to Sardinia on the part of Augustine’s disciples, accompanied by his body and his works, is not impossible and remains the best guess at this point in time.
St. Augustine Biography
Background Information about the Author On November 13, 354 at the village of Thagaste, on what is now Algeria’s northern coast, Saint Augustine of Hippo was born. He was the first Christian martyr to be martyred. North Africa was a component of the Roman Empire, however it was seen as something of a backwater since it was so far away from the imperial centers of authority. It is believed that Augustine’s father Patricius (or Patrick) was adecurio, or a low-ranking officer in the Roman empire.
- As a result of this obligation, the family’s finances were likely put under continual strain, which may explain Augustine’s claims that his family was impoverished.
- In addition to being a pagan, Patricius was also a follower of the Roman civic religion.
- Patricius was just a lukewarm Christian, but he enabled Monica to raise the couple’s children as Christians, and he eventually committed to Christianity before his death in a car accident.
- Patricius, on the other hand, had little impact on Augustine’s personality, and Patricius emerges in the Confessions as a remote and ambiguous figure.
- He was sent to the adjacent town of Madaura for further studies, but due to a lack of funds, he was obliged to return home to Thagaste for a year, during which time his father attempted to save more money to cover the cost of tuition.
- Augustine’s parents were more concerned with his academic performance than with his personal behavior.
- He studied literature and poetry there in preparation for a future as a rhetor, a professional public speaker and rhetorical educator.
In Carthage, he established a home with a concubine, who would later become the mother of his son, Adeodatus, who was born about 372.
He believes this book instilled in him the drive to pursue truth in whatever form he may find it.
Attracted to Manichaeism by its clear demarcation between good and evil, its highly intellectual mythology, and its severe moral standards, Augustine studied it for several years.
Augustine went on to have a thriving career as a public speaker and educator.
Despite the fact that Augustine’s time in Rome was unsatisfactory, his abilities grabbed the attention of a Roman official, who nominated Augustine for the job of public orator for the imperial city of Milan.
The application of Neo-Platonic ideas to the interpretation of Christian scripture, presented with Ambrose’s famous eloquence, piqued Augustine’s interest.
Throughout his life, Augustine had been growing more disillusioned with Manichaeism, and Ambrose’s influence led him to end his association with them.
Meanwhile, Augustine’s professional life was thriving, and his long-term prospects seemed promising.
In the fall of 386, he had a conversion experience that led him to sacrifice his professional ambitions and future marriage chances in order to devote his life entirely to the service of God.
He was ultimately baptized by Bishop Ambrose on Easter Sunday in 387.
They were on their way back to Africa when they were delayed.
After his exile from Rome, Augustine retreated to Thagaste, where he lived on his family’s farm in a tiny quasi-monastic community until his death in 389.
In 391, he traveled to the city of Hippo Regius, which is about 60 miles away from Thagaste, with the intention of establishing a monastery, but he ended up being conscripted into the priesthood by a Christian congregation in the city of Hippo Regius instead.
Over the following 35 years, he spent his time preaching, celebrating mass with his congregation, mediating local issues, and ministering to them.
As a result of this division, the Christian church in North Africa was split into two competing groups, the Donatists and the Catholics.
Following the conclusion of the persecutions, the Catholic Church re-admitted those Christians who had publicly repented of having rejected their Christian religion.
Furthermore, they refused to acknowledge any priests or bishops other than their own, claiming that the Catholic bishops had been anointed by traitors and hence were not legitimate.
Augustine attempted diplomacy with the Donatists at initially, but they rejected his efforts, leading him to advocate for the use of force against them in the long run.
Although Donatism was outlawed by the Roman authority in 405, the fight persisted until 411.
Donatism was stifled by the imposition of heavy legal sanctions.
A disaster shook the Roman world during the height of the Donatist conflict.
Rome was the symbolic capital of an empire that had dominated the known world for hundreds of years.
As a result, Augustine began composing his greatest masterwork, The City of God Against the Pagans, which he labored on for 15 years and is considered his best achievement.
At around the same time that Rome was falling, a religious movement known as Pelagianism started to spread across the church, calling for a fundamental renewal of spiritual and physical discipline.
Pelagius was appalled by what he perceived to be the apparent helplessness of human beings implied by Augustine’s words.
Pelagius maintained that human beings may choose to reach moral perfection through pure power of will — and not only that they can, but that they must — and that this is the only way for them to be happy.
Christians can and should strive to be good, but they must also acknowledge their fallen state and their reliance on God’s grace in order to do so.
In any case, Pelagianism continued to have a significant influence, and Augustine spent his final years engaged in a long-distance debate with Julian of Eclanum, a brilliant and articulate advocate of Pelagianism.
Augustine associated the birth of sexual desire with the beginning of human disobedience, which he said was the result of Adam and Eve’s original sin, which blemished all of humanity.
He was adamant that sexual desire was merely another of the physical senses and that God’s justice would not punish the entire human race as a result of the disobedience of a single individual.
In light of Augustine’s contention that only God’s grace can drive human beings toward salvation, the question of how God selects those who would be saved became essential.
A form of uprising broke out among numerous French monastic communities in the year 428 as a result of this argument.
Augustine acknowledged that predestination was a difficult issue in response to letters from the monks, but he refused to concede the point.
The Vandals, another barbarian tribe from Europe, invaded north Africa in 429, bringing the region under their control.
According to Augustine’s biographer, Possidius, he spent the last days of his life studying the penitential psalms that he had written on the walls of his apartment and lamenting over his sins, as well as praying for the conversion of others.
He died on August 28, 430, at the age of 75, and thus did not live to witness the Vandals’ invasion and conquest of Hippo in 431.
Augustine had a tremendous impact on the civilisation that succeeded it, the Christianized civilization of Medieval Europe, and he was a major figure in that development.
Many of these works have not yet been translated into English, despite the fact that a massive translation project is currently under way in this country.
The labor of Augustine and his companion and biographer Possidius, despite the fact that he never completed this assignment, provided future readers with a well-documented list of Augustine’s writings.
Augustine was born in 397 and died in 427.
Saint Augustine — The Augustinians
Aurelius Augustine was born in 354 in Tagaste, Algeria, in North Africa, the son of Patricius, a non-believer, and his fervent Catholic wife, Monica. He was the son of Patricius and Monica, who were both devoted Catholics. Despite the fact that his mother enrolled him as a catechumen when he was a child, Augustine’s baptism was postponed until a later date in accordance with the prevalent norm. September had an inquisitive mind and a charming personality from an early age. He had set his sights on a career that would provide him with both wealth and fame, goals that were enthusiastically supported by his parents, who sought out opportunities to provide their son with the best education possible.
- A more significant spiritual trip that he undertook over an extended period of time in quest of inner peace and permanent contentment was suggested by his travels from city to city, which were prompted by numerous chances and difficulties.
- Bishop Ambrose of Milan performed his baptism when he was 33 years old.
- Alypius and Adeodatus were present during Augustine’s baptism, and the three of them headed off towards Augustine’s hometown, where they hoped to join other men who had had a similar fundamental conversion to the Christian religion.
- Augustine, Adeodatus, and several friends lived an intensive life of prayer, work, and companionship at Tagaste, where they shared their thoughts about Scripture and the Christian vocation with one another.
- Despite this, he was willing to accept God’s plan, believing it to be for his own good and the that of others around him.
- When Augustine succeeded Valerius as bishop of Rome, he felt forced to relocate to the bishop’s residence in order not to interfere with the peace of the monastic community.
- As a result, from the time of his return to Tagaste until the time of his death, Augustine was adamant on living a monastic lifestyle in community.
- His pastoral responsibilities at Hippo were supplemented by his attendance at Church Council meetings all across North Africa.
- He traveled to Carthage, the metropolitan see, for talks with other bishops around thirty times throughout his nine-day tour.
- In the year 430, Augustine became unwell and was forced to retire to his bed.
- He died on August 28th, just as the Vandals were about to take control of the city of Hippo.
His body was initially buried at Hippo, but it was then transported to Sardinia for safekeeping before being transported to Pavia in Northern Italy, where it is presently interred in the Basilica of San Pietro in Ciel d’Oro.
Augustine of Hippo
Saint Augustine of Hippo (Aurelius Augustinus, 354-430 CE) was the first important philosopher of the Christian era and is considered to be the father of Western philosophy. It is thought that he served as Bishop of Hippo Regius in Numidia during the latter years of the Roman Empire, and his most renowned work, the City of God, explained what he considered to be the root reason of the fall. Some of his works dealt with topics such as original sin and free will, and his thoughts would have a lasting impact not just on the evolution of medieval theology but also on the theologians of the Protestant Reformation, who would follow him into exile after his death.
Aurelius Augustinus (354-430 CE) was the first great philosopher of the Christian era and is known as Saint Augustine of Hippo (Aurelius Augustinus). It is thought that he served as Bishop of Hippo Regius in Numidia during the latter years of the Roman Empire, and his most renowned work, The City of God, explained what he felt to be the root reason of the fall. In his writings, he also addressed issues like as original sin and free will, and his thoughts would have a lasting impact not only on the growth of the medieval church but also on the theologians of the Protestant Reformation.
Augustine’s works fall on the precipice of theological and philosophical traditions. He is a prolific author, and his significant works include the following:
- Written around the year 400 CE, Confessions is an autobiographical book. The City of God, a 22-volume epic produced between 413 and 425 CE, is a masterpiece of literature. The term “retractations” refers to a reexamination of his prior efforts.
Among his lesser-known publications are: Do you enjoy history? Subscribe to our free weekly email newsletter!
- The Greatness of the Soul
- Free Will
- Against Faustus the Manichaean
- Grace and Free Will
- Against Academics
- The Greatness of the Soul
The Greatness of the Soul; Free Will; Against Faustus the Manichaean; Grace and Free Will; Against Academics; The Greatness of the Soul; Free Will.
The City of God
His most renowned work, The City of God, was written following the fall of Rome by the Visigoths in 410 CE. It is considered to be his best work. Each individual in this city of God is a citizen of two other planets at the same time, and this is known as dual citizenship. The one is the kingdom of God, which is unchanging and everlasting, and the other, which was not a novel concept to many Christians, was the kingdom of the unstable world, which was not a new concept to many Christians. Augustine wrote The City of God in order to rebut pagan claims that the collapse of the Roman Empire in the Western world was caused by the people’s abandonment of the ancient gods in favor of Christianity, which he believed to be untrue.
Despite the fact that many Romans continued to believe in their own narrative of the empire’s demise, Augustine maintained that the empire’s prosperity had been mostly due to its desire to rule the world.
Unlike the city of the world, where both the rulers and the people they control are dominated by the desire for dominion, all members of the City of God serve one another in the spirit of kindness.
(631-631) Gochberg, 630-631) Overall, he claimed that history is the unfolding outcome of God’s purpose, and that mankind must choose between a heavenly city and an earthly city.
The Question of Free Will
The concept of free will was one of the areas in which Augustine was criticized, and this was one of those areas. How can people retain their ability to choose if God is all-knowing? This disagreement was on the verge of devolving into predestination, which was not formally embraced by the Church at the time. It would not be until the Reformation and the arrival of John Calvin that it would become the mainstream theory. While Augustine thought that God may be all-knowing, he argued that this had no influence on the concept of free will.
- As a matter of fact, Augustine distinguished between two sorts of evil: moral sins such as murder and human pillage, and natural ills such as earthquakes and tidal waves, among others.
- To be virtuous is to exercise control over one’s own will; God is only a guidance.
- Augustine’s Waver) (CC BY-NC-ND) Augustine also made an attempt to define the notion of original sin in his writings.
- After choosing to defy God, Adam and Eve brought about widespread human misery as a result of their actions.
- Augustine stated in his work The City of God that “a great deal has been thought, said, and written” about the Garden of Eden, the bliss that was attainable there, the existence of our first parents, their transgression, and their punishment.
- A decision has been taken in regards to the welfare of mankind.
- (Gochberg, 632) One receives the reward of heaven, and the other receives the penalty of hell.
When it came to the concept of free will, Augustine was called out on several occasions. In the face of God’s complete knowledge, how can people retain their ability to choose? As a result of this disagreement, the Church did not officially recognize predestination, which was a point of contention. Until the Reformation and the arrival of John Calvin, it would not become the dominant theory in the world. God may be all-knowing, but this does not negate the possibility of free choice, according to Augustine’s thinking.
- As a matter of fact, Augustine distinguished between two forms of evil: moral sins such as murder or human pillage, and natural ills such as earthquakes and tidal waves, among others.
- God just acts as a guidance, and to be virtuous is to exercise control over one’s own will.
- Augustine of Hippo) (CC BY-NC-ND) A second attempt was made by Augustine to elucidate the idea of original sin.
- After choosing to disobey God, Adam and Eve were responsible for the misery of all humans.
- Augustine stated in his work The City of God that “a great deal has been thought, said, and written” about the Garden of Eden, the bliss that may be found there, the lives of our first parents, their transgression, and their punishment.
A decision has been reached in regards to humanity. Those who live according to man are on one side of the spectrum, while those who live according to God are on the other. To the one, paradise is the prize; to the other, hell is the punishment. (Gochberg, 632)
One of the areas in which Augustine was criticized was his belief in the existence of free will. How can humans have free will if God is all-knowing? This disagreement had a strong resemblance to predestination, which was not formally embraced by the Church at the time. Until the Reformation and the arrival of John Calvin, it would not be able to establish itself as the dominant theory. While Augustine felt that God may be all-knowing, he did not feel that this had any influence on the concept of freedom.
- In reality, Augustine distinguishes between two forms of evil: moral sins such as murder and human pillage, and natural ills like as earthquakes and tidal waves.
- To be virtuous is to be in command of one’s own will; God is only a guidance.
- Augustine) (CC BY-NC-ND) Augustine also made an attempt to elucidate the notion of original sin in his sermons.
- As a result of Adam and Eve’s choice to defy God, human misery was the result of their actions.
- Augustine stated in his work The City of God that “a great deal has been thought, said, and written” about the Garden of Eden, the bliss that may be found there, the life of our first parents, their transgression, and their punishment.
- In terms of humanity, I’ve made a decision.
- (Gochberg, 632)One receives the reward of paradise, and the other receives the penalty of hell.
Influence of Manichaeism
The conversation Hortensius, written by Cicero at the age of 19, was an admonition to the study of philosophy. Augustine was 19 when he read it. As Augustine put it, “Suddenly, all the vanities in which I had put my hope was shown to be useless, and with an extraordinary intensity of yearning, I yearned after everlasting understanding” (Confessions,III,4). In order to do this, Augustine accepted the Persian religion of Manichaeism. The Manichaeans believed that there were two conflicting powers of virtue and evil in the earth, which they termed Ormuzd and Ahriman, respectively.
- Augustine was drawn to Manichaeism because of its materialistic viewpoint and description of evil, which he found to be highly compelling.
- Over the course of this period, his faith in Manichaeism began to wane.
- Upon his return to Rome, Augustine began teaching rhetoric.
- As a result, the following year, he accepted a civic position as professor of rhetoric in Milan.
Augustine had been attracted to the scholarly skepticism of Carneades and Cicero during his time in Rome. The skeptics believed that absolute certainty about any issue was impossible to achieve and that, as a result, all of mankind’s views should be treated as suspect.
Influence of Platonism
The sermons of the bishop Ambrose left a lasting impression on Augustine when he was in Milan. Around Ambrose lived a group whose members were equally at home as Platonists as they were Christians. They considered Platonism to be both consistent with and an anticipatory of Christian thought. Augustine was persuaded to take such a position after reading some Platonic texts, most likely those of Plotinus and Porphyry, as well as interacting with Christian Platonists during his lifetime. It was the platonists’ spiritualistic metaphysics, as well as their notion that evil was only a deprivation of good, that superseded Augustine’s prior Manichean materialism in his thinking.
Although he witnessed an astonishing metamorphosis, he perceived it as purely cerebral.
Conversion to Christianity
This occurrence is mentioned in Augustine’s Confessions in the renowned “garden scene” section (VII, 12). When he heard a child’s voice say, “Take and read,” Augustine opened his Scriptures at random and found the following passage in St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans (13:13): “Do not be involved in rioting and drunkenness, do not be involved in chambering and impurities, do not be involved in contention and envy, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ and do not make provision for the flesh in its desires.” Augustine then makes the following observation: “I had no desire or requirement to continue reading.
- After a three-year absence, Augustine returned to Tagaste and founded a monastic community.
- Until 430, Augustine kept himself busy with pastoral responsibilities as well as writing theological and philosophical writings.
- Augustine’s writings are just too numerous to include them all, even by title.
- There are also comments on various passages of the Bible.
Theory of Knowledge
Contra academicos is one of Augustine’s early works, in which he takes on skepticism and sets the framework for the possibility of knowing. He accomplishes this by drawing attention to propositions that even the most skeptical person cannot dispute. For starters, exclusive disjunctive statements may be relied upon to be correct. For example, it is definite that there is only one universe or that there are several worlds. It is likewise unassailable that the world has a beginning and an end, whether or not both are true at the same time, or that one is true but not the other, or that neither is true at all.
- Only when the appearance of something is perceived as reality can error occur in a person’s judgment.
- In addition, the correctness of mathematical judgements such as “two plus two equals four” is beyond question.
- If there is no such thing as a person, then there can’t be any uncertainty or wrong.
- Because both are well-known to be true, one recognizes that he has grasped the situation.
- For example, mathematical and logical propositions have the unique property of being both eternally and necessarily true.
- However, because the human mind is malleable and transitory, cognitions of eternal truths and standards are acts that are beyond the inherent capabilities of the human intellect.
- A common belief among many Greek philosophers is that the ultimate goal of man is bliss or beatitude, and that such a state is the result of possessing wisdom.
- Wisdom, on the other hand, is defined as Christian wisdom in Augustine’s eyes.
Creation from Nothing
Augustine’s Christian philosophy is founded on the premise that God created the universe out of nothing, which is one of the philosophical pillars. As a result, Augustine was hostile to the Neoplatonic concept of an universe that was created by God out of necessity. It is also necessary to reject the Greek concept of world formation, which is based on the paradigm of an artist creating an accomplished object from the resources at hand, in order to achieve “creation from nothing.” For a heavenly artisan to be able to work on such a model, prior and independent material must be available.
At first glance, Augustine’s hardline view on creation appears to have been tempered by his additional notion of seminal causes (De genesi ad litteram,VI, 6, 12).
Augustine’s adoption of this thesis was primarily motivated by issues of scripture interpretation, which he considered to be important.
According to Genesis, different types of things arose at different periods throughout the days of creation, which were sequentially ordered.
However, if one believes, as Augustine does, that all things were formed together from nothing but that certain things were created from nothing in a seminal state, to be brought into real formation later, the impression of contradiction is eliminated.
Time as Extension
The reliance of creation on God is also emphasized in Augustine’s handling of the concept of time. (Book XI of The Confessions has his most in-depth and intriguing study of the subject.) In their view, the idea of creation from nothing provides insufficient justification for why God should create at any one time rather than another, and it also raises the unanswerable issue of what God was doing before he created the universe, which they felt was unanswerable. This is how Augustine responds to such objections: he insists that they are founded on an incorrect assimilation of time to an event in time.
As a result, the concept of events occurring before to the beginning of time is rendered meaningless.
He recognized that time must be quantifiable in order for man to have temporal conceptions, and that time must have magnitude in order for man to have measurability.
His best guess is as follows: “The present of things past is represented by memory, the present of things present is represented by sight, and the present of things future is represented by anticipation.
Similarly, Augustine’s interpretation of time emphasizes the utter reliance on God for all of creation. (Book XI of The Confessions is his most in-depth and intriguing treatment.) In their view, the doctrine of creation from nothing provides insufficient justification for why God should create at any particular time rather than another, and it also raises the unanswerable question of what God was doing before he created the world, which they asserted was impossible to determine. As a response, Augustine argues that such arguments lie on an incorrect assimilation of time to a specific event in history.
In this way, the concept of events occurring before the beginning of time loses any significance.
Man’s temporal concepts necessitated the measurement of time, and the measurement of time necessitated the magnitude of time, according to him.
Time being a magnitude, how does it exist then?
In my opinion, time is just an extension of something; but, what that something is is unclear—perhaps it is an extension of the mind itself ” (Confessions,XI, 20, 26).
Philosophy of History
Augustine’s fascination with time extends to his understanding of historical time. When it comes to the historical relevance of the Roman Empire, he makes a startling break with Christian thinking in The City of God. He writes: Prior to the 4th century, Christians had a natural tendency to regard Rome as a diabolical oppressor, which was understandable. When Christianity was formally accepted by the Roman Empire in 312, it appeared as though the empire had become the mechanism through which the Gospels were to be fulfilled.
- Augustine began work on The City of God three years later.
- As a matter of fact, Rome is only one of many empires that have come and gone, and the fate of the Church does not have to be tied to that of the Roman Empire.
- As defined by Augustine, a people is a “multitude of sensible individuals linked by their agreement in the things that they regard as important” (City of God,XIX, 24).
- One has the earthly city if one chooses self-love over love of God; if one chooses God over self-love, one has the heavenly city.
- To the contrary of Greek philosophers such as Hesiod and Plato, Augustine believes that ideals have existed in the past and may be rediscovered.
- The two cities will thereafter be able to exist in reality and independently.
- Between those two principles and today’s historical reality, the two values are intertwined in one historical reality.
Further Reading on St. Augustine
September’s fascination with time includes a perspective on historical time. When it comes to the historical significance of the Roman Empire, he takes a radical break from Christian thought in The City of God. Christianity, prior to the 4th century, had a natural tendency to regard Rome as an oppressive force that was controlled by the devil. It appeared as though the empire had become the instrument for the fulfillment of the Gospels when Christianity was formally accepted in 312, according to historical records.
Augustine began work on The City of God three years after the first.
Reality dictates that Rome is only one of several empires that have come and gone throughout history, and so its future does not have to be intertwined with the fate of the Christian Church.
As defined by Augustine, a people is a “multitude of sensible individuals joined by their agreement in the things that they regard as sacred” (City of God,XIX, 24).
There are two types of cities: the earthly and the heavenly.
If one chooses God-love over self-love, one gets the heavenly city.
As opposed to this, he asserts that the two ideals will only become historical realities towards the end of time.
In the heavenly city, members will spend eternity with God, whilst members of the earthly city will spend eternity in hell.
No matter how Augustine qualifies his statement, it implies that the Church and the state can only exist in uncomfortable harmony at best, and that the real Christian will go elsewhere for fulfillment of his dreams rather than to Rome or any other government.