Bible – 1st Period
13 October 2018
St. Augustine of Hippo
St. Augustine of Hippo was a renowned teacher, philosopher, writer, and theologian from the fourth century. He turned his life from one of hedonism to that of a fully devoted Christian man and taught and wrote about it for others to learn from his experiences. He is one of the founding fathers of Catholic church. St. Augustine’s influence can be found in both the Catholic and Protestant churches. His teachings, ideas and written works had a profound influence of Christianity. St. Augustine is greatest theologian of all time.
Born as Aurelius Augustine on November 13, 354. He was born in a town called Thagaste, North Africa. He was born into an upper class family. His father, Patricius, was a lifelong Pagan and only converted to Christianity while he was dying. St. Monica was his mother and was a life long Christian and saint. His mother raised Augustine as a Christian but he chose to live his life filled with sin.
St. Augustine’s education began when he was sent away to a school in Madaurus when he was eleven years old in. It was at this school where he was taught and practiced Pagan beliefs and rituals. School was also where he became interested in philosophy and classical literature (Mastin). Augustine became an expert in Latin and rhetoric, or persuasive speaking and writing (Pettinger).
At age 17, he moved to Carthage where trained in rhetoric under a sponsor named Romanianus (Zavada). Augustine ran with a rowdy crowd in Carthage. He enjoyed visiting brothels and drinking. He took a mistress who he was with for 13 to 15 years but they never married due to their different social classes. They had a son in 372 who they named Adeodatus which meant “Gift from God (ReligiousFacts.com).”
Augustine worked as a professor in a Thagaste, Carthage, Rome, and Milan. He taught grammar and rhetoric in these cities (Pettinger). Augustine’s mother followed him to Milan concerned about his salvation. She convinced Augustine to leave his mistress while with him in Milan. Monica, his mother, arranged a marriage for Augustine within his social class but there are conflicting reports on whether or not it ever happened.
While in Milan, Augustine met with and listened to Bishop Ambrose. It was with the prayers and influence of Ambrose and his mother, Monica, that Augustine finally converted to Christianity in 386 and was baptized shortly after by Ambrose. In 388, Augustine returned to North Africa. His mother passed away on the journey home. His son, Adeodatus, died shortly after they returned home. Now that Augstine was all alone he sold everything he owned, donated the money, and turned the family home into a monastery. Augustine devoted the rest of his life to helping others and writing about his experiences.
St. Augustine was ordained as a priest in Hippo in 391. He became Saint Augustine of Hippo in 395 when was given the position of bishop which he held until his death on August 28, 430 during the siege of Hippo (Philsophybasics.com). After his death, the Roman Catholic Church made him a saint and Pope Boniface VIII declared him a doctor of church in 1298 (Thefamouspeople.com).
Although Augustine was raised as a Christian by his mother, he dabbled in other beliefs searching for answers to the things he questioned in the Bible. He spent around nine years of his life practicing Manichaeism. According to Religionfacts.com, Augustine was interested in Manichaeism’s use of philosophy and wisdom instead of authority. The followers of Manichaeism believed our souls were light trapped in a dark world. Manichaeans did not accept the Old Testament and this appealed to Augustine. Augustine met Faustus, a great Manichaean leader, who he hoped would answer some questions about the religion but according to Religionsfacts.com, St. Augustine left the meeting disappointed and without the answers he sought after and ultimately quit practicing Manichaeism.
In the life of “St. Augustine of Hippo” Portalié tells us that St. Augustine spent three years struggling with his faith upon his arrival in Milan. During this time, Augustine studied Academic Skepticism and Neo-Platonic philosophy. This phase left him with a desire to live a happy and perfect life but was still not fulfilled. He still could not find the answers he sought during this time in Milan.
With much prayer from his mother, St. Monica, and the help of Bishop Ambrose, Augustine finally converted to Catholic Christianity and was baptized with his son and a friend on Easter of 387 (Religionfacts.com). Following his conversion, Augustine quit teaching and devoted himself to God. Augustine gave up his wild life and rowdy ways. He did this by giving up the bars and partying life and becoming celibate for the remainder of his life choosing to live as almost monk-like.
St. Augustine wrote over one hundred books. His books where written in Latin. Augustine’s writings covered many different topics including anthropology, astrology, and philosophy. His books included the thoughts and ideas of all who influenced him over the years including Stoicism, Platonism, Neo-Platonism, and the poets Yirgil, Cicero, and Aristotle and reflected his personal life experiences (Philosophybasics).
St. Augustine is most famous for the “The Confessions.” Zavada tells us that Augustus wrote of his wild life and real world experiences. He also wrote how his mother brought him to love Christ so he would want to do better for himself. Philosophybasics.com tells us that St. Augustine spent thirteen years between 413 and 426 writing the 22 books that would become “De Civitate Dei” or “The City of God.” It is believed he wrote this series to argue that real religion is found in your spirit and not in the world (Pettinger).
St. Augustine wrote many apologies, letters, sermons, and other documents. His other theological works discussed every topic imaginable. Augustine wrote about sin, guilt, grace, the Trinity, the soul, predestination, the sacraments, sexuality, war, and free will (Religionfacts.com). Augustine also included true stories from his own personal life and experiences to share with his audience. Augustine had documents that talked about predestination and the grace of God.
Augustine was a firm believer that the Bible should not be interpreted literally if it went against science or reason. An example of Augustine’s interpretation is that he believed the world was created at one time and the seven days in the Bible where just a timeline and not the actual time required (Philosophybasics.com). St. Augustine believed and taught that the sins of man could only be redeemed by Christ. He believed God orders everything even though we make our own choices (Pettinger). The thoughts, teachings, and writings of St. Augustine influenced theologians for many years into the future. In 1303, St. Augustine was recognized as a doctor of the church because of his teachings, beliefs, writings, and influence in the Catholic Church (Religionfacts.com).
In conclusion, St Augustine is the greatest theologian of all time. He was the greatest because he chose to go down a bad path and followed it for many years of his life. It was not until he reached Milan and listened to Saint Ambrose and his own mother, Monica, that Augustine found all the answers he had been looking for and gave himself to Christianity. Once Saint Ambrose turned his life around he was able to tell others of his experiences and mistakes in his writings so that future generations might learn from him. What makes him even more great is that he owned up to his wrong doings and sins. Augustine demonstrated how a person can change even if they had a rough start or a late coming to Christ. Not only was he a big influencer for the Catholic church but for the Protestant church. After his death, Augustine was recognized by the Pope who declared him a doctor of the church which further cemented his legacy as the greatest theologian of all time.
Mendelson, Michael. “Saint Augustine.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford University, 24 Mar. 2000, plato.stanford.edu/entries/augustine/. Accessed 2 Oct. 2018.
Pettinger, Tejvan. “St Augustine of Hippo Biography.” Biography Online, Oxford, UK, 17 Apr. 2018, www.biographyonline.net/st-augustine-hippo-biography.html. Accessed 2 Oct. 2018.
Portalie, Eugene. “Life of St. Augustine of Hippo.” CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: St. Augustine of Hippo, New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907, 2018, www.newadvent.org/cathen/02084a.htm. Accessed 2 Oct. 2018.
“St. Augustine Biography.” Edited by TheFamousPeople.com, Childhood, Life Achievements & Timeline, TheFamousPeople.com, 6 Nov. 2017, www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/st-augustine-778.php. Accessed 2 Oct. 2018.
“St. Augustine of Hippo.” Edited by Luke Mastin, St. Augustine of Hippo > By Individual Philosopher > Philosophy, Jan. 2009, www.philosophybasics.com/philosophers_augustine.html. Accessed 2 Oct. 2018.
“St. Augustine of Hippo.” Edited by ReligionFacts.com, Www.religionfacts.com/Augustine, 21 Nov. 2016, www.religionfacts.com/augustine. Accessed 2 Oct. 2018.
Zavada, Jack. “How St. Augustine Went From Wild Sinner to Church Pillar.” ThoughtCo, 4 June 2018, thoughtco.com/biography-of-st-augustine-700002? print. Accessed 2 Oct. 2018.