The continual reference to Augustine in the West in the generations after him created Augustinianism term coined by Franz Ehrle in 1889, or better “Augustinianisms,” given the variety of interpretations of his thought in the theological, philosophical, spiritual and political spheres. If, on the one hand, the polymorphous interpretation of Augustine reflects the indubitable richness of his writings, it also indicates, on the other, their difficulty, so much so that Augustine himself felt the need to assist his readers. To this end he wrote his Retractationes three years before his death 427, the first book containing annotations to his writings before his episcopate 39697, the second regarding his writings as bishop. In the consciousness of transmitting the faith contained in the Sacred Scriptures and handed down by the Roman Church Ep. 194,1, he suggested criteria for reading his work, three in particular. 1 Bear in mind his progressive growth in knowledge of the Christian faith. If, for example wrote Augustine, one reads his writings from before his episcopate, he will see that Augustine himself had been Pelagian, thinking that faith originates in human beings and is not a gift of God; in fact he had already changed his opinion on this matter in the two books written to Simplicianus Praed. 4,8. 2 On many questions he was only able to indicate in some cases how far he was from understanding the question, in other cases only its complexity, and in still others only a sketch of a possible approach to a response Trin. 1, 1,3; Retract. 2,53; Corrept. 1,1. Thus to read Augustine by extrapolating texts and contexts without also taking into account the chronology of his writings, one can refer to him without really grasping his thought. 3 One must even consider the necessity of continually validating the results of his research, not ruling out the possibility of error Persev. 21,55. Thus he counseled his readers to attend to his writings once he had amended his life, and not to fall into the errors into which he may have fallen Trin. 1, 3,5. Augustine also thought that not everyone could follow some of his writings, and when this was the case he advised either leaving off reading as in Trin. 1, 3,5, or repeated reading accompanied by prayer, considering it a grace of God to be able to understand them in some way advice given the monks of Hadrumetum on the understanding of the coaction of God’s grace with human freedom Grat. lib. arb. 24,46; Corrept. 1,1. The problems that confront scholars with respect to Augustine’s legacy concern above all the Augustinian truth of the various Augustinianisms. Today, development of the methods of scientific criticism allows us to better distinguish Augustine’s thought from perspectives that derive from readings of his writings which occurred in contexts of concerns different from those of the original context. We will give a brief historical summary of these readings, ignoring, however, interpretations given to his thought while he was still alive, related esp. to the polemic with Julian of Eclanum and with the monks of Marseille on the latter, Ep. 225-226 inter augustinianas; and the Ep. Ruf. 5,6: PL 51, 77-90. After his death, interpretation of Augustine went in two directions, in two different periods: the first, from his death 430 to the Council of Trent 1563, transmitted through florilegia and four of his principal writings Confessions, De Trinitate, De civitate Dei, Enarrationes in Ps., though modulated by the Church of Rome; the second, which developed after the Council of Trent, according to the varying directions of the theological schools the controversialists and that of the Augustinenses, the Augustinian movement at Louvain Baius and Jansen, Paris Port-Royal and the spiritual school of De Berulle – Pascal, and 19th-c. Italian spiritualism V. Gioberti and A. Rosmini and 20th-c. philosophy. First period from Augustine’s death to the Council of Trent. The beginning of Augustinianism was marked negatively for Augustine by the libelli of double predestination to eternal life and death, drawn in some way from two Augustinian writings, De correptione et gratia and De praedestinatione sanctorum. These were read pessimistically, accusing Augustine of having sacrificed human freedom to God’s grace and considering humanity as a massa damnata or damnationis. These interpretations, already noted by Augustine during his lifetime 426– 427 in the Ep. of Prosper to Rufinus PL 51, 77-90, we also find after his death 431–435 in the following works: Prosper of Aquitaine’s Pro Augustino responsiones: ad capitula obiectionum Gallorum calumniantium PL 51, 155-174, also in PL 45, 1833- 1844, ad capitula obiectionum Vincentiarum PL 51, 176-186, also in PL 45, 1843-1850, and ad excerpta Genuensium PL 51, 187-202, also in PL 45, 1849- 1858; the Pseudo-Augustinian Responsio VI de praedestinatione to be dated not after 435, contained in Hypomnesticon contra Pelagianos et Caelestianos vulgo Libri Hypognosticon PL 45, 1611-1664, ed. J.E. Chisholm, Fribourg 1980, II, 191-208, which addressed the theme of predestination in 8 chapters, summarizing them in the Praedestinatio ad vitam and in the Praedestinatio ad mortem; Arnobius the Younger’s Praedestinatus of 432–435 PL 53, 583-672; ed. F. Gori CCL 25B. After 435 the question reappears in writings titled De praedestinatione et gratia divina-animae-gratiae qui intitulatur de voluntate Dei PL 45, 1677-1680 with the theme incommutabilis voluntas omnipotentis Dei 1,1, an interpretation that captivated all later predestinationists until Calvin, and those who speak of a “rigorous, extremist and pessimistic Augustinianism.” The reaction to such a reading of Augustine was immediate, both by the Church of Rome Augustine had always spoken in a way consistent with the Roman Church, e.g., regarding trinitarian faith Trin. 1, 4,7 and original sin: fides ipsa nobiscum Romanae Ecclesiae our faith is that of the Roman Church itself Ep. 194,1 and by his other readers. The Church of Rome paid tribute to Augustine’s auctoritas until the Council of Trent by officially recognizing him as a doctor: Celestine I decreed to the bishops of Gaul 431: Augustinum sanctae recordationis virum pro vita sua atque meritis in nostra communione semper habuimus, nec unquam hunc sinistrae suspicionis saltem rumor adspersit: quem tantae scientiae olim fuisse meminimus, ut inter magistros optimos etiam ante a meis semper praedecessoribus haberetur We have always had in our communion Augustine of sacred memory, a man known for both his life and merits; there has never even been a hint of a rumor of any sinister suspicion: we remembered how he had such great knowledge in those days having always considered him to be among the best teachers more so than any of my predecessors Ep. 21, 2,3; PL 50, 530. The following confirm this position. Gelasius I 492–496: Hieronymum atque Augustinum ecclesiasticorum lumina magistrorum Jerome and Augustine were the luminaries of the teachers of the churches Ep. 7; PL 59, 40 B-C; the Decretum Gelasianum early 6th c.: de opusculis sanctorum patrum, quae in ecclesia catholica recipiuntur item opuscula beati Augustini Hipponeregiensis episcopi Concerning the opuscula of the holy fathers which have been received in the catholic church there are likewise those of the blessed Augustine, Bishop of Hippo Rhegius IV, 2, 189-190; ed. Dobschütz TU 384, Leipzig 1912, 36-37; Pope Hormisdas 520 Ep. 70,5 Ad Possessorem: PL 63, 493A; Boniface II 531 Ep. 1 to bishop Caesarius of Arles: PL 65, 31-32, in connection with the Council of Orange in 529; Martin I pope 649–655 Mansi X, 798-799; in PL 87, 119-121 on the consanguinity of the faith of the African Church with that of the Roman Church, made possible by the common source in Augustine.
It should be noted how Martin I’s testimony went well beyond a simple defense of Augustine’s orthodoxy in questions regarding the grace of God and free will. Augustine’s auctoritas is also present in Leo the Great regarding Chalcedonian Christology, and consequently also in the synods of the Greek Church. Regarding other readings of Augustine, positive florilegia for the Bishop of Hippo were begun by Prosper of Aquitaine in the style of “sentences” Sententiae ex operibus S.A., in PL 51, 427-496 and also as epigrams Epigrammata ex sententiis S.A., in PL 51, 497-532, in which he was imitated by Vincent of Lérins PLS III,23-45 other excerpta. There are also the excerpta of Eugippius Excerpta ex operibus S.A., in PL 62, 561, which, beyond their frequent use, opened the way for the genre of the Testimonia divinae scripturae et Patrum of Isidore of Seville and of the collections of phrases of various authors that resulted in the medieval Libellus Scintillarum PL 88, 597-718 and PLS IV,218-2124. The Carolingian period esp., with its taste for collections, paved the way for the sententiae of the medieval masters who, in their teaching, did not have the original texts available to them, but collections of texts, called Tabulae or Auctoritates, which included an explanation. After Augustine’s death, Prosper, on the one hand, rejected the attribution to Augustine of a predestination ad mortem and, on the other hand, defended the Augustinian perspective on the relationship between God’s grace and the good done by the person. With him, however, the “predestination” problem began to be considered not so much in the Augustinian context of the grace of Christ but in the philosophical vision of the conception of God as the cause of everything. In this can be seen the first step toward the conception of predestination elaborated a century later by Fulgentius of Ruspe d. 533. Fulgentius nevertheless spoke of a “Catholic” reading of Augustine that of course went beyond any possible meaning that can be given to his statements Ad Monimum I,28,1-5: 28,1: dictorum sancti Augustini quid catholicus habeat intellectus de his quos ad interitum praedestinatos audemus We have heard of the statements of Saint Augustine which the catholic intellect holds concerning those who are predestined to destruction. Until the 9th c. the Carolingian Renaissance, the positive reception of Augustine continued in Caesarius of Arles, regarding the theology of grace and free will Council of Orange of 529; in Cassiodorus for the liberal arts; in Eugippius, who made a synthesis of Augustine’s works, having to some extent collected the library of Hippo; in Boethius for Augustinian trinitarian and christological themes; in the Victorine school for scriptural exegesis; in Alcuin for the elaboration of a program of studies that united the liberal arts and the gifts of the Holy Spirit; and in Anselm of Canterbury for theology united with philosophy fides quaerens intellectum. The low Middle Ages knew theological Augustinianism through Peter Lombard, compiler of the theological manual of the Sententiarum libri, the scholastic text most commented on by the great masters of the period, 90 percent of which was composed of sentences from Augustine. Through that text Augustine became the undisputed master of the medieval theological schools, including the masters of the Franciscan school e.g., Alexander of Hales, Bonaventure of Bagnoregio until Duns Scotus and William of Ockham, the masters of the Dominican school in particular Albert the Great until St. Thomas, and the masters of the University of Paris e.g., Henry of Ghent. In the English context things reached the point in 1277 where the theologians R. Kilwardby and J. Peckham condemned the doctrines of Thomas Aquinas in the name of those of Augustine. With St. Bernard came the spiritual Augustinianism of grace and free will, of the primacy of the love of God De diligendo Deo and of progressive ascetism degrees of humility. If the 13th c. saw the establishment of Thomistic Aristotelianism, Scotism, Ockhamism, etc., the 14th c. knew the Augustinianism of the theological school of the Hermits of St. Augustine OESA or OSA. Founded by Giles of Rome together with Giles of Viterbo, Augustinus Triumphus, Alexander of San Elpidio, William of Cremona, Ugolino of Orvieto, Simone Fidati and the Englishman Thomas Bradwardine d. 1349 they developed that “School of Augustine Augustinsschule” that Gregory of Rimini called the via Augustini. They emphasized the will the theologia cordis over knowledge the ratio and thus the superiority of theology over philosophy the theory of illumination, the absolute gratuity of gratia sanans, prescinding from any merit de condigno of human freedom. In the area of ecclesiology, the school maintained the spiritual primacy of the church over the worldly political power, which developed into “political Augustinianism,” according to Arquillère’s famous formula. Humanism took up Augustine with Petrarch Secretum, Cusanus Docta ignorantia, Marsilius Ficinus De Christiana religione and the Spanish humanist J.L. Vives, who wrote a celebrated commentary on the City of God. Italian humanism in particular knew a recovery of Platonism through the Augustinian convent of the Holy Spirit at Florence in its phase of “Augustinization,” whereas German Christian humanism emphasized evangelical categories devotio moderna. Second period from the Council of Trent, 1563, to Vatican II, 1965. With Luther’s much-discussed reading of Augustine, post-Tridentine Augustinianism lost its unified character, modulated by the Church of Rome, and fragmented into the Augustinianisms of the Catholic theological schools: the controversialist theologians; the school of the Augustinenses E. Noris, Gianlorenzo Berti, Belelli; the Augustinianisms of Louvain and Paris the first more theological, the second more spiritual: De Berulle, then Bossuet, Fénelon, Pascal, Malebranche, Blondel, Marcel; the Italian Augustinianism of Vico, Gioberti, Rosmini and, in more recent times, 20th-c. philosophy; the Augustinianisms linked to the Protestant Reformation Augustine’s authority was invoked against the legitimate authority of the Catholic Church and with the Catholics Michael Baius and Jansen – PortRoyal, condemned by the Roman Curia. Luther’s 1483–1546 anthropology of the human being as peccator the iniustitia hominis, being unable to overcome this, can only be covered by the iustitia Christi led to the identification of peccatum originis with concupiscentia, considering the latter not only fomes peccati but also sin, the equivalent of the Pauline lex membrorum or lex peccati; these theses were condemned by the Tridentine decrees De iustificatione, de peccato originali of 1547. Luther’s reading of the homo peccator was accredited to St. Augustine. Later with Baianism and Jansenism, after Rome’s condemnation of some of their propositions, a genuine mistrust set in regarding the reading of Augustine’s writings; from that point he came to be considered by many, esp. by the controversialists, more a weight from which to be freed than a Catholic author to be followed. The principal writings proposing a reading of Augustine contrary to that of the Catholic Church were Luther, Commentary on the Letter to the Romans “Ad romanos,” vol. VII, ed. Weimar 1931; Baius 1513–1589, De prima hominis iustitia 1564; Jansen 1585–1638, Augustinus, seu doctrina S.A. de humanae naturae sanitate, aegritudine, medicina adv. Pelagianos et Massilienses published posthumously in 1640. Following are two texts giving the tone of the difficulties such authors provoked in Christian people and among theologians.
Luther wrote: “It is impious to assert that after the sin of Adam the natural assets remained intact, whether in human beings or in angels” impie qui asseruerunt naturalia mansisse post peccatum integra, tam in hominibus quam daemonibus quarta disputatio, De loco Rom. 3,28, Weimar 1926, vol. 39, n. 14, p. 55; Jansen later wrote: “The grace of Adam issued from the fact of being created; it was due to his nature in its healthy and integral state” Gratia Adami est sequethe creationis, et erat debita naturae sanae et integrae in DS 2435. The Church of Rome intervened in this context to condemn a proposition of the Jansenist movement that invoked Augustine even to the disregard of papal bulls: Ubi quis invenerit doctrinam in Augustino clare fundatam, illam absolute potest tenere et docere, non respiciendo ad ullam Pontificis Bullam Where there is found a clear foundation for doctrine in Augustine, we hold and teach it with absolute authority, without regard for any papal bull Alexander VIII, Decreto del S. Officio 7 Dec. 1690: Errores Iansenistarum, in DS 2330. Augustinianism passed through its most difficult period in the 17th and 18th c. Today Augustinianism, more than reflecting a theological or spiritual system, is broadly present in postmodern attempts to rethink the human person rather than in a precise, conscious reflection. John Paul II, in the preface of the apostolic letter Augustinum Hipponensem, issued on the occasion of the 16th centenary of St. Augustine’s conversion 386–1986, summarizes the role of Augustine’s presence in the church and suggests new perspectives: “Augustine of Hippo, from the time when, one year after his death, he was numbered by my ancient predecessor Celestine I among the ‘best teachers of the Church,’ has continued to be present in the life of the Church and in the mind and culture of the entire West. To other Roman pontiffs then I also added my voice to that of my predecessors, expressing the deep desire that ‘his philosophical, theological and spiritual doctrine be studied and disseminated, such that he would continue his magisterium in the Church, a magisterium, I added, both humble and luminous, that speaks above all of Christ and of love.’” In conclusion John Paul II reaffirmed: “In some way all of us in the Church and in the West feel ourselves to be disciples and sons of Augustine . May the magisterium of such a doctor and pastor continue in the Church and in the world, to the benefit of culture and of faith.” First period. 1 H. Marrou, S. Augustin et l’augustinisme, Paris 1955; J.T. Lienhard, The Earliest Florilegia of Augustine: Augustinian Studies 8 1977 21-31; J. Madoz, Excerpta Vincentii Lerinensis, in PLS III,23-45; V. Grossi, La recezione “sentenziale” di Agostino in Prospero di Aquitania. Alle origini delle frasi sentenziali attribuite ad Agostino, in A. Zumkeller – A. Krümmel eds., Traditio Augustiniana. Studien über Augustinus und seine Rezeption Festgabe W. Eckermann, Augustinus VerlagWürzburg 1994, 123-140; V. Grossi, L’auctoritas magisteriale di Agostino e la Chiesa Romana sec. V-VIII, in Memoriam Sanctorum venerantes Miscellanea in onore di mons. Victor Saxer, Ed. PIAC 48, Vatican City 1992, 491-502; Id., L’auctoritas di Agostino nella dottrina del “peccatum originis” da Cartagine 418 a Trento 1546: Augustinianum 31 1991 329-360; P. Brezzi, Considerazioni sul cosidetto “agostinismo politico” altomedievale: Augustinianum 25 1985 235-284; R. Arbesmann, Der Augustiner-Eremitenorden und der Beginn der humanistischen Bewegung, Würzburg 1965; F. Stegmüller, Gratia sanans. Zum Schicksal des Augustinismus in der Salmantizenserschule, in M. Grabmann – J. Mausbach, Aurelius Augustinus , Cologne 1930, 395-409; D. Trapp, Augustinian Theology of the Fourteenth Century: Notes on Editions, Marginalia, Opinions and Booklore: Augustiniana 6 1956 146-274; A. Zumkeller, Die Augustinertheologen Simon Fidati von Cascia und Ugolin von Orvieto und Martin Luthers Kritik an Aristoteles: ARG 54 1963 15-37. 2 A. Bergvall, Augustinian Perspectives in the Renaissance, Uppsala 2001 Psychology, Epistemology, Semiology, Politics, The Two Kingdoms; D.C. Steinmetz, Luther and Staupitz: An Essay in the Intellectual Origins of the Protestant Reformation, Durham NC 1980; L. Smits, Saint Augustin dans l’œuvre de Jean Calvin I: Étude de critique littéraire, Assen 1957. Second period. 1 E. Stakemeier, Der Kampf um Augustin. Au- gustinus und die Augustiner auf dem Tridentinum, Paderborn 1937; V. Grossi, Agostino d’Ippona e il Concilio di Trento, in G. Alberigo – I. Rogger eds., Il Concilio di Trento nella prospettiva del Terzo Millennio, Brescia 1997, 313-341; Id., Indicazioni sulla recezione-utilizzazione di Agostino d’Ippona nella teologia post-tridentina: Lateranum 62 1996 221-251; on the Augustinianism of the 16th-17th c., the issue on the theme Le siècle de saint Augustin, of the journal: XVIIe siècle 34 1982 99-241; P. Stella, Agostinismo in Italia e cultura patristica europea tra sette e ottocento: Augustinianum 16 1976 173-203; M. Lamberigts ed., L’augustinisme à l’ancienne faculté de Théologie de Louvain, Louvain 1994; C. Senofonte, Baio – Giansenio – Arnauld: Augustinianum 36 1996 255-270; L. Ceyssens, Autour de la Bulle Unigenitus. La déclaration, dèrnière illusion et ultime désillusion de Louis XIV: RHE 84 1989 5-29; L. Ceyssens, Le “Saint Augustin” du XVIIe siècle: l’édition de Louvain 1577: Revue XVIIe siècle 135 1982 103-120; A. Vanneste, Pour une relecture critique de l’Augustinus de Jansénius: Augustiniana 44 1994 115-136; B. Neveu, Augustinisme janséniste et magistère romain: Revue XVIIe siècle 34 1982 191-209. 2 On the school of the Augustinenses in particular, W. Bocke, Introduction to the Teaching of the Italian Augustinians of the 18th Century on the Nature of Actual Grace, Louvain 1958; B. Van Luijk, Le controversie teologiche nei secoli XVII-XVIII e gli Agostiniani: Augustiniana 13 1963 201-225; Id., Gianlorenzo Berti agostiniano 1696-1766: Rivista di Storia della Chiesa in Italia 14 1960 235-262; 383-410; M.K. Wernicke, Kardinal Enrico Noris und seine Verteidigung Augustins, Würzburg 1973; A. Trapè, De gratuitate ordinis supernaturalis apud theologos augustinenses litteris encyclicis “Humani generis” praelucentibus: Analecta Augustiniana 21 1951 217-265; H. de Lubac, Augustinsme et théologie moderne Th. 63, Paris 1965; J. Rupp, Pour le dialogue entre l’église et le monde moderne: l’indispensable Augustinisme: L’Ami du Clergé 76 1966 n. 7 97-103; J. Morán, Presenza di S. Agostino nel Concilio Vaticano II: Augustinianum 6 1966 460-488; B. Neveu, Pour une histoire de l’Augustinianisme, in K. Flasch – D. De Courcelles eds., Augustinus in der Neuzeit, Brepols 1997, 175-201.