Ondertexts
Augustine of Hippo
Search

Augustine of Hippo

Augustine of Hippo Augustine of Hippo[1†]

Augustine of Hippo, also known as Saint Augustine, was a theologian and philosopher of Berber origin and the bishop of Hippo Regius in Numidia, Roman North Africa[1†]. He was born as Aurelius Augustinus on November 13, 354, in Thagaste, Numidia (now Souk Ahras, Algeria) and died on August 28, 430, in Hippo Regius, Numidia (now Annaba, Algeria)[1†][2†].

Saint Augustine is recognized as one of the Latin Fathers of the Church and is perhaps the most significant Christian thinker after St. Paul[1†][2†]. His adaptation of classical thought to Christian teaching created a theological system of great power and lasting influence[1†][2†]. His numerous written works, the most important of which are Confessions (c. 400) and The City of God (c. 413–426), shaped the practice of biblical exegesis and helped lay the foundation for much of medieval and modern Christian thought[1†][2†].

In Roman Catholicism, he is formally recognized as a doctor of the church[1†][2†]. Augustine’s remarkable contributions to theology and philosophy, coupled with the strength and sharpness of his mind, have made him a figure of enduring significance in Christianity[1†][2†].

Early Years and Education

Augustine was born on November 13, 354, in Thagaste, Numidia (now Souk Ahras, Algeria)[2†][1†]. His parents made financial sacrifices to ensure that Augustine received a classical Latin education in the local school[2†][3†]. He delighted in Latin literature, but he detested the brutally enforced rote learning of arithmetic and Greek[2†][3†].

When Augustine was 11 years old, his parents sent him to attend school at Madaurus[2†][4†]. There, he learned Latin literature and gained knowledge about pagan beliefs and practices[2†][4†]. This early education laid the foundation for his later philosophical and theological pursuits.

At the age of 17, Augustine went to Carthage to continue his education in rhetoric[2†][5†][4†]. This was sponsored by a benefactor named Romanianus[2†][5†]. However, during this period, Augustine’s life took a turn towards a path of personal struggle. He fell into bad company, which led to a period of indulgence and irresponsibility[5†]. He took a mistress and fathered a son, Adeodatus, who died in 390 A.D[2†][5†].

This period of Augustine’s life, marked by personal turmoil and spiritual unrest, would later become a central theme in his autobiographical work, “Confessions”. It provides a profound insight into his journey from a life of sin and spiritual searching to his conversion to Christianity.

Career Development and Achievements

After his education in Carthage, Augustine returned to Thagaste, where he was ordained a priest[5†]. Known for his intelligence and eloquence in Latin, he was persuaded to serve as the bishop of Hippo, a position he held from 395 until his death in 430[5†][6†]. Throughout his career, Augustine participated in several African councils and fought hard against such heresies as Donatism and Pelagianism[5†][6†].

Augustine’s career was marked by his brilliant intellect, yet he maintained a simple life, much like a monk[5†]. His numerous written works, the most important of which are “Confessions” (c. 400) and “The City of God” (c. 413–426), shaped the practice of biblical exegesis and helped lay the foundation for much of medieval and modern Christian thought[5†][1†][2†].

In his autobiography “Confessions,” he details his battle against sin and his struggle toward a life of virtue in God’s grace[5†][7†]. Even as he was attaining his goals, his life was not fulfilled[5†][7†]. His distinctive theological style shaped Latin Christianity in a way surpassed only by Scripture itself[5†][2†]. His work continues to hold contemporary relevance, in part because of his membership in a religious group that was dominant in the West in his time and remains so today[5†][2†].

First Publication of His Main Works

Augustine of Hippo’s works have had a profound influence on Christianity and philosophy. His writings cover a wide range of topics, including theology, philosophy, and sociology[1†][8†]. Here are some of his main works:

These works represent Augustine’s intellectual journey as he sought to understand and articulate his faith. They continue to be studied for their insights into the nature of God, the self, and the world[1†][8†].

Analysis and Evaluation

Augustine of Hippo’s works have had a profound influence on Christianity and philosophy[2†][10†]. His writings cover a wide range of topics, including theology, philosophy, and sociology[2†][10†]. His adaptation of classical thought to Christian teaching created a theological system of great power and lasting influence[2†].

His best-known works, Confessions and The City of God, shaped the practice of biblical exegesis and helped lay the foundation for much of medieval and modern Christian thought[2†]. In his works, Augustine’s distinctive theological style shaped Latin Christianity in a way surpassed only by Scripture itself[2†]. His work continues to hold contemporary relevance, in part because of his membership in a religious group that was dominant in the West in his time and remains so today[2†].

His Confessions is what we would name today as a conversion story. It is a theological autobiography. The book is an account of life and confession of faith referred to as an apologia. It is meant to be a defense of Christian doctrine and testimony of faith[2†][10†].

Augustine’s views on predestination influenced later theologians, notably John Calvin[2†][9†]. His sermons and letters show the influence of Neoplatonism and carry on debates with the proponents of Manichaeism, Donatism, and Pelagianism[2†][9†].

Personal Life

Augustine of Hippo led a life marked by tireless work and rigorous denial of earthly pleasures[1†][11†]. In his late teens, he developed an affair with a young woman from Carthage[1†][12†]. This relationship resulted in the birth of his illegitimate son, Adeodatus, in 372[1†][12†][5†]. Despite these early indulgences, Augustine is described as having shunned the temptations of the flesh in his later years[1†].

His personal traits, as described by Possidius, paint a portrait of a man who ate sparingly, worked tirelessly, despised gossip, and exercised prudence in the financial stewardship of his see[1†]. Augustine devoted his final days to prayer and repentance as he battled illness and watched his home, Hippo, besieged by Germanic invaders[1†][11†].

Conclusion and Legacy

Augustine of Hippo’s legacy is vast and enduring. His writings, such as “Confessions” and “The City of God,” continue to be influential works studied by scholars and believers alike[13†]. His adaptation of classical thought to Christian teaching created a theological system of great power and lasting influence[13†][1†][2†]. His distinctive theological style shaped Latin Christianity in a way surpassed only by Scripture itself[13†][1†][2†].

In his own lifetime, Augustine almost single-handedly codified the standards for the priesthood and consecration of bishops[13†][14†]. His view of the visible church in concert with the sacraments administered by its clergy is foundational for Roman Catholic ecclesiology[13†][15†]. It was this view of the church, in its evolved late medieval form, that gave rise to the Protestant Reformation[13†][15†].

More than five million words of his writings survive, virtually all displaying the strength and sharpness of his mind and some possessing the rare power to attract and hold the attention of readers in both his day and ours[13†][1†][2†]. His work continues to hold contemporary relevance, in part because of his membership in a religious group that was dominant in the West in his time and remains so today[13†][2†].

Augustine’s story is a testament to the power of personal transformation and intellectual pursuit[13†]. His life and works serve as a beacon for those seeking to understand the complexities of faith, philosophy, and the human condition[13†].

Key Information

References and Citations:

  1. Wikipedia (English) - Augustine of Hippo [website] - link
  2. Britannica - Saint Augustine: Christian bishop and theologian [website] - link
  3. Augnet - 1025 Augustine's education [website] - link
  4. The Famous People - St. Augustine Biography [website] - link
  5. Learn Religions - Biography of St. Augustine, the Bishop of Hippo [website] - link
  6. Fourth Century Christianity » Augustine of Hippo [website] - link
  7. Simply Catholic - St. Augustine of Hippo [website] - link
  8. Wikipedia (English) - Augustine of Hippo bibliography [website] - link
  9. Britannica - Saint Augustine of Hippo and his works on theology [website] - link
  10. SpeedyPaper.com - 📚 Free Essay with the Analysis of St Augustine of Hippo, Confessions [website] - link
  11. Great Thinkers - Biography - Augustine of Hippo [website] - link
  12. Biography Online - St Augustine of Hippo Biography [website] - link
  13. Facts.net - 20 Surprising Facts About Augustine Of Hippo [website] - link
  14. Researchomatic - The Life And Legacy Of St. Augustine Of Hippo [website] - link
  15. The Gospel Coalition - Augustine of Hippo: His Life and Impact [website] - link
Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License 4.0; additional terms may apply.
Ondertexts® is a registered trademark of Ondertexts Foundation, a non-profit organization.