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Update: “Cofessions” – Book VIII: Chapters 7 – 12

“The Conversion of St. Augustine”, Fra Angelico (c. 1395  – 1455) and workshop

 

In the latter half of Book VIII, Augustine wrote a lot about free will, however, everyone in the group decided not to write about it (I was betting someone was bound to) surprisingly.  We did come around to discussing free will in the beginning and was equally surprised to learn that a majority of our group thought that free will was more or less an illusion and that everything was deterministic, even from a theological standpoint.

Interesting.

Anyway, here are our essays about whether or not conversion to Christianity limits your options and freedoms; thoughts about original sin; the role of shame and repentance prior to conversion (whether it’s necessary or not); and bibliolatry and the Barthian or “encounter” view of Scripture.

 

 

 

“Confessions” – Book VIII: Chapters 7 – 12

A clip from the movie “Restless Heart: The Confessions of Augustine.” Bishop Ambrose is depicted here embracing Augustine and later baptizing him.

 

This week, we will finish the rest of Book VIII – chapters 7 – 12 of Augustine’s Confessions.

In these final chapters, we encounter the monumental moment when Augustine finally devotes himself to the Christian faith as he recounts in great detail in these writings.

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UPDATE: “Confessions”: Book VII – Chapters 11 – 21

 

article_images/10.9.JesusReallyOnlyWay_150299367.jpg

 

This past week we concluded Book VII of “Confessions” by covering chapters 11 – 21.

We had good conversations about human reason and the (Neoplatonic) discipline of focusing on spiritual things to draw closer to God; is Jesus the only way? and religious pluralism; the nature of Jesus; the nature of evil; the distinction between Creator and creation; the influence of Platonic thought on Christian education throughout the centuries and its problems.

We also had a stimulating discussion centering around the questions, “Who is Jesus?”  One can easily spurt out, “Oh, he’s my Lord and Savior.”  But if you trip away the “churchy” language everyone uses and really, really ask yourself who he is to you and what he really means to you (if anything), it might be harder than you think it is.  One reason I believe that it is so hard is because that question is also a very personal question as well.

You can read our essays here.

 

 

“Confessions” Book VII – Chapters 11 – 21

Plotinus with his disciples. Looks like an early Christian relief doesn't it?

Plotinus with his disciples.

 

We will finish Book VIIChapters: 11 – 21 for this week.

Please read an outline of Neoplatonic philosophy here and some of the videos here on the impact of neoplatonic thought on Augustine.

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UPDATE: “Confessions” – Book VII: Chatpers 1 -10

 

St. Augustine Sacrificing to a Manichean Idol, 15th century, unknown Flemish master

 

Here are our submissions from last week on Confessions: Book VII – Chapters 1 – 10.  We wrote on the topics of the philosophy and theology of evil, God’s relation to his creation, questions on whether or not God still speaks to us today, an overview of Manichean theology and how its views are still present in some way in today’s church.

Here is a late submission from the last book by Doris that you will find at the very end of the page.

We will finish up Book VII next week.

 

 

“Confessions” – Book VII – Chapters 1 – 10

 

File:Lucifer3.jpg

“Lucifer, the Fallen Angel” by Gustave Dore (1832 – 1883)

 

 

Before mentioning the questions, please read Michael’s submission from last session here at the end.

 

We will begin Book VII: Chapters 1 – 10 of Confessions.

 

Although Augustine has been using Neoplatonic terms and ideas throughout the Confessions it’s here in Book VII that he reaches the point when he first reads Neoplatonic philosophy. This is a pivitol moment for the young Augustine, who finds in Neoplatonism a way of reconciling his long pursuit of philosophy with his new and serious faith in Christianity. The union of this philosophy and this theology will guide his work (including the Confessions) for the rest of his life.

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“Confessions” Book V: Chapters 8 – 13

https://i2.wp.com/www.traditioninaction.org/religious/religiousimages/D007_Bergognone_Ambrose.jpg

Augustine and Monica sit listening to a sermon from Bishop Ambrose in a painting by Ambrogio il Bergognone (1455 – 1535), Turin, Italy

 

Yes, we’re back from a month long hiatus.  We will finish Book V of Augustine’s Confessions.

 

In 383, at the age of 29, Augustine sailed from Carthage with his partner and their son, along with his two close friends Alypius and Nebridius, to Rome for a teaching position where he hoped to engage with better behaved students. By that time, Rome was no longer the center of the western empire; the emperor resided in Milan.

 

The next year, after winning a competition for a post as public teacher of rhetoric, he moved to Milan. It was there that he first encountered the formidable figure of Ambrose the bishop of Milan. He was to have a profound influence on Augustine’s life and thought.

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UPDATE: “Confessions” – Book V: Chapters 1 – 7

 

"Augustine Arguing with Faustus in the Presence of their Pupils"

“Augustin Contre Faustus (Augustine Arguing with Faustus in the Presence of their Pupils)”, Bibliotheque Municipale, Avranches, France. The Ms 90 St. (c. 12th century).

 

Last night we went over our essays on Book V: Chapters 1 – 7 which you will find here.  In these chapters, Augustine spends most of his time remembering his encounter with the preeminent Manichean scholar Faustus of Mileve and how it was through that meeting with him that eventually lead him away from Manichaeism.

 

We had an interesting discussion on the education (or lack of) in higher degrees for people in church leadership.  We also discussed whether or not animals or creation in general can worship God, how science and religion could be reconciled, and how science can expose errors in theology.

 

I also came across an interesting article in The Wall Street Journal on a new book about St. Augustine by Robin Lane Fox titled Augustine: Conversions to Confessions that you can check out here.

 

 

Confessions: Book V – Chapters 1 – 7

Uyghur Manichaean clergymen

Uyghur Manichaean clergymen, wall painting from the Khocho ruins, 10th/11th century AD. Located in the Museum für Indische Kunst, Berlin-Dahlem.

 

Book V follows the young Augustine (he was around 29 years old at this time) from Carthage (where he finds his students too rowdy for his liking) to Rome (where he finds them too corrupt) and on to Milan, where he will remain until his conversion.

He spends most of the first half of this book recounting his encounter with Faustus, a Manichee luminary.

Please write on one of the following topics:

 

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“Confessions” – Book IV: Chapters 9 – 16

An olive tree that is believed to have been planted by Saint Augustine in Thagaste.

An olive tree that is believed to have been planted by Saint Augustine in Thagaste.

 

Yes, it’s been a while.  But we’re still here and ready to go ahead.

 

We will continue with Book IV, Chapters 9 – 16.

 

In this book, returning to Thagaste from his studies at Carthage, Augustine began to teach rhetoric, making friends and chasing a career along the way. Though giving some account of these worldly matters, Augustine spends much of Book IV examining his conflicted state of mind during this period. Having begun his turn toward God (through the desire for truth) but continuing to be ensnared in sinful ways, Augustine wrestled painfully with the transitory nature of the material world and with the question of God’s nature in relation to such a world.

 

The these sections, be mindful of how Manichaeism influenced his thoughts during this time and how he tries to rectify them now looking back.

 

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