Augustine of Hippo

Biography, Biographie, Biografie

Augustine of Hippo – Latin: Aurelius Augustinus Hipponensis; 13 November 354 – 28 August 430, also known as Saint Augustine, Saint Austin, or Blessed Augustine, was an early Christian theologian and philosopher whose writings influenced the development of Western Christianity and Western philosophy. He was the bishop of Hippo Regius (modern-day Annaba, Algeria), located in Numidia (Roman province of Africa). He is viewed as one of the most important Church Fathers in Western Christianity for his writings in the Patristic Era. Among his most important works are The City of God and Confessions.

According to his contemporary, Jerome, Augustine “established anew the ancient Faith.” In his early years, he was heavily influenced by Manichaeism and afterward by the neo-Platonism of Plotinus. After his baptism and conversion to Christianity in 387, Augustine developed his own approach to philosophy and theology, accommodating a variety of methods and perspectives. Believing that the grace of Christ was indispensable to human freedom, he helped formulate the doctrine of original sin and made seminal contributions to the development of just war theory.

When the Western Roman Empire began to disintegrate, Augustine developed the concept of the pre-Schism Catholic Church as a spiritual City of God, distinct from the material Earthly City. His thoughts profoundly influenced the medieval worldview. The segment of the Church that adhered to the concept of the Trinity as defined by the Council of Nicaea and the Council of Constantinople closely identified with Augustine’s City of God.

In the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion, he is a saint, a preeminent Doctor of the Church, and the patron of the Augustinians. His memorial is celebrated on 28 August, the day of his death. He is the patron saint of brewers, printers, theologians, the alleviation of sore eyes, and a number of cities and dioceses. Many Protestants, especially Calvinists, consider him to be one of the theological fathers of the Protestant Reformation due to his teachings on salvation and divine grace.

In the East, some of his teachings are disputed and have in the 20th century in particular come under attack by such theologians as Father John Romanides. But other theologians and figures of the Orthodox Church have shown significant appropriation of his writings, chiefly Father Georges Florovsky. The most controversial doctrine surrounding his name is the filioque, which has been rejected by the Orthodox Church. Other disputed teachings include his views on original sin, the doctrine of grace, and predestination. Nevertheless, though considered to be mistaken on some points, he is still considered a saint, and has even had influence on some Eastern Church Fathers, most notably Saint Gregory Palamas. In the Orthodox Church his feast day is celebrated on 28 August and carries the title of Blessed.

Augustinus von Hippo, auch: Augustinus von Thagaste, Augustin oder (allerdings nicht korrekt) Aurelius Augustinus (tamazight ⵓ Urilus Agustinus; * 13. November 354 in Tagaste, auch: Thagaste, in Numidien, heute Souk Ahras in Algerien; † 28. August 430 in Hippo Regius in Numidien, heute Annaba in Algerien) war einer der vier lateinischen Kirchenlehrer der Spätantike und ein wichtiger Philosoph an der Epochenschwelle zwischen Antike und Mittelalter. Augustinus war zunächst Rhetor in Thagaste, Karthago, Rom und Mailand. Wie sein Vater war er Heide, unter dem Einfluss der Predigten des Bischofs Ambrosius von Mailand ließ er sich 387 taufen; von 395 bis zu seinem Tod 430 war er Bischof von Hippo Regius. Sein Gedenktag in der Liturgie ist der 28. August.

Augustinus hat zahlreiche theologische Schriften verfasst, die zu einem großen Teil erhalten sind. Diese Schriften bilden für Augustinus eine Einheit; der christliche Glaube ist ihm Grundlage der Erkenntnis (crede, ut intelligas: „glaube, damit du erkennst“). Das Werk Bekenntnisse (Confessiones) gehört zu den einflussreichsten autobiographischen Texten der Weltliteratur. Augustinus’ Philosophie enthält von Platon stammende, jedoch im christlichen Sinn modifizierte Elemente. Hierzu gehören insbesondere die Dreiteilung der Wirklichkeit in die Welt des höchsten Seins, die nur dem Geist zugänglich ist, die Geist-Seele des Menschen und die niedere Welt des Werdens, die den Sinnen zugänglich ist. Die erste Biographie des Augustinus stammt von Possidius von Calama, der ihn als Schüler noch gut gekannt hat.

Als einer der einflussreichsten Theologen und Philosophen der christlichen Spätantike bzw. der Patristik hat er das Denken des Abendlandes wesentlich geprägt. In der orthodoxen Kirche dagegen blieb er praktisch unbekannt; als seine Lehre im 14. Jahrhundert durch griechische Übersetzungen auch in Konstantinopel bekannt wurde, stieß sie auf Ablehnung, soweit sie nicht ohnehin dem Konsens anderer Kirchenväter entsprach. Seine Theologie beeinflusste die Lehre fast aller westlichen Kirchen, ob katholisch oder evangelisch.

 

…Was hat man denn gegen den Krieg?
Etwa dass Menschen, die doch einmal sterben müssen, dabei umkommen?

…Abergläubische Handlungen oder die Benutzung von magischen Gegenständen, z.B. Amuletten sind an sich wirkungslos, stellen aber eine Art Kommunikationsmittel mit Dämonen dar und bewirken den stillschweigenden Abschluss eines Dämonenpakts durch den Willen des Ausübenden und die dem Dämon gegebenen Zeichen.
De doctrina christiana (Lehre vom Dämonenpakt)

…Du willst, dass es Freude bereitet, dich zu loben, denn du hast uns zu dir hin geschaffen und ruhelos ist unser Herz, bis es ruht in dir.
Original lat.: “Tu excitas, ut laudare te delectet, quia fecisti nos ad te et inquietum est cor nostrum, donec requiescat in te.”
Confessiones 1,1

…Gib mir Keuschheit und Enthaltsamkeit – aber jetzt noch nicht.
Original lat.: “Da mihi castitatem et continentiam, sed noli modo.”
Confessiones 8,7, 17

…Liebe und tu, was du willst.
Original lat.: “dilige et quod vis fac.”; fälschlich oft: “ama et fac quod vis.”
In epistulam Ioannis ad Parthos, tractatus VII, 8

…Nimm das Recht weg – was ist dann ein Staat noch anderes als eine große Räuberbande
Original lat.: “Remota itaque iustitia quid sunt regna nisi magna latrocinia?”
De civitate dei, IV, 4, 1. Übers.: Papst Benedikt XVI, Rede vor dem Deutschen Bundestag am 22. September 2011, vatican.va

…Rom hat gesprochen, der Fall ist beendet.
Original lat.: “Roma locuta, causa finita.”
Sermones 131, 10

…”Soviel in dir die Liebe wächst, soviel wächst die Schönheit in dir. Denn die Liebe ist die Schönheit der Seele.
Original lat.: “Quantum in te crescit amor, tantum crescit pulchritudo; quia ipsa caritas est animae pulchritudo.”
In epistulam Ioannis ad Parthos, tractatus IX, 9

…Wandle das Herz, und das Werk wird sich wandeln! Reiß aus die Begierde, pflanze ein die Liebe! Wie nämlich die Begierde die Wurzel allen Übels ist, so ist auch die Liebe die Wurzel alles Guten. Warum also murren die Menschen unter sich oder führen Streitgespräche, indem sie sagen: Was ist das Gute? Wenn du doch nur wüßtest, was das Gute ist!
Original lat.: “Muta cor, et mutabitur opus. Exstirpa cupiditatem, planta charitatem. Sicut enim radix est omnium malorum cupiditas [I Tim. VI, 10]; sic et radix omnium bonorum charitas. Quid ergo mussitant homines inter se, vel contendunt, dicentes: Quid est bonum? O si scires quid est bonum!”
Sermo 72, 3, 4

…Was also ist » Zeit «? Wenn mich niemand danach fragt, weiß ich es; will ich es einem Fragenden erklären, weiß ich es nicht.
Original lat.: “Quid est ergo tempus? si nemo ex me quaerat, scio; si quaerenti explicare velim, nescio.”
Confessiones XI, 14

Late have I loved Thee, O Lord; and behold,
Thou wast within and I without, and there I sought Thee.
Thou was with me when I was not with Thee.
Thou didst call, and cry, and burst my deafness.
Thou didst gleam, and glow, and dispell my blindness.
Thou didst touch me, and I burned for Thy peace.
For Thyself Thou hast made us,
And restless our hearts until in Thee they find their ease.
Late have I loved Thee, Thou Beauty ever old and ever new.
Augustine of Hippo, Bishop and Theologian. Justus.anglican.org.

Augustine of Hippo, generally considered one of the greatest Christian theologians, was one of the first to assert that a Christian could be a soldier and serve God and country honorably. He claimed that, while individuals should not resort immediately to violence, God has given the sword to government for good reason (based upon Romans 13:4). Augustine argues that Christians as part of government should not be ashamed to protect peace and punish wickedness.
Augustine asserted that this was a personal, philosophical stance:

…What is here required is not a bodily action, but an inward disposition. The sacred seat of virtue is the heart.
Augustine of Hippo, Bishop and Theologian: Contra Faustum Manichaeum book 22 sections 69-76

…Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.
Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

…And men go abroad to admire the heights of mountains, the mighty waves of the sea, the broad tides of rivers, the compass of the ocean, and the circuits of the stars, yet pass over the mystery of themselves without a thought.
Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

…The punishment of every disordered mind is its own disorder.
Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

…The mind commands the body and is instantly obeyed. The mind commands itself and meets resistance.
Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

…How can the past and future be, when the past no longer is, and the future is not yet? As for the present, if it were always present and never moved on to become the past, it would not be time, but eternity.
Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

…Belatedly I loved thee, O Beauty so ancient and so new, belatedly I loved thee. For see, thou wast within and I was without, and I sought thee out there. Unlovely, I rushed heedlessly among the lovely things thou hast made. Thou wast with me, but I was not with thee. These things kept me far from thee; even though they were not at all unless they were in thee. Thou didst call and cry aloud, and didst force open my deafness. Thou didst gleam and shine, and didst chase away my blindness. Thou didst breathe fragrant odors and I drew in my breath; and now I pant for thee. I tasted, and now I hunger and thirst. Thou didst touch me, and I burned for thy peace.
Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

…You never go away from us, yet we have difficulty in returning to You. Come, Lord, stir us up and call us back. Kindle and seize us. Be our fire and our sweetness. Let us love. Let us run.
Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

…I held my heart back from positively accepting anything, since I was afraid of another fall, and in this condition of suspense I was being all the more killed.
Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

…The Bible was composed in such a way that as beginners mature, its meaning grows with them.
Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

…I was in misery, and misery is the state of every soul overcome by friendship with mortal things and lacerated when they are lost. Then the soul becomes aware of the misery which is its actual condition even before it loses them.
Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

…Too late came I to love you, O Beauty both so ancient and so new! Too late came I to love you – and behold you were with me all the time . . .
Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

…For what am I to myself without You, but a guide to my own downfall?
Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

…Late have I loved you, beauty so old and so new: late have I loved you. And see, you were within and I was in the external world and sought you there, and in my unlovely state I plunged into those lovely created things which you made. You were with me, and I was not with you. The lovely things kept me far from you, though if they did not have their existence in you, they had no existence at all. You called and cried out loud and shattered my deafness. You were radiant and resplendent, you put to flight my blindness. You were fragrant, and I drew in my breath and now pant after you. I tasted you, and I feel but hunger and thirst for you. You touched me, and I am set on fire to attain the peace which is yours.
Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

…Da mihi castitatem et continentiam, sed noli modo
(Give me chastity and continence, but not just yet)!
Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

…You called and shouted and burst my deafness. You flashed, shone, and scattered my blindness. You breathed odors, and I drew in breath and panted for You. I tasted, and I hunger and thirst. You touched me, and I burned for Your peace.
Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

…No one knows what he himself is made of, except his own spirit within him, yet there is still some part of him which remains hidden even from his own spirit; but you, Lord, know everything about a human being because you have made him…Let me, then, confess what I know about myself, and confess too what I do not know, because what I know of myself I know only because you shed light on me, and what I do not know I shall remain ignorant about until my darkness becomes like bright noon before your face.
Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

…You are my Lord, because You have no need of my goodness.
Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

…Free curiosity has greater power to stimulate learning than rigorous coercion. Nevertheless, the free ranging flux of curiosity is channeled by discipline under Your Law.
Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

…For I wondered that others, subject to death, did live, since he whom I loved, as if he should never die, was dead; and I wondered yet more that myself, who was to him a second self, could live, he being dead. Well said one of his friend, “Thou half of my soul”; for I felt that my soul and his soul were “one soul in two bodies”: and therefore was my life a horror to me, because I would not live halved. And therefore perchance I feared to die, lest he whom I had much loved should die wholly.
Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

…I look forward, not to what lies ahead of me in this life and will surely pass away, but to my eternal goal. I am intent upon this one purpose, not distracted by other aims, and with this goal in view I press on, eager for the prize, God’s heavenly summons. Then I shall listen to the sound of Your praises and gaze at Your beauty ever present, never future, never past. But now my years are but sighs. You, O Lord, are my only solace. You, my Father, are eternal. But I am divided between time gone by and time to come, and its course is a mystery to me. My thoughts, the intimate life of my soul, are torn this way and that in the havoc of change. And so it will be until I am purified and melted by the fire of Your love and fused into one with You.
Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

…Life is a misery, death an uncertainty. Suppose it steals suddenly upon me, in what state shall I leave this world? When can I learn what I have here neglected to learn? Or is it true that death will cut off and put an end to all care and all feeling? This is something to be inquired into…
…But no, this cannot be true. It is not for nothing, it is not meaningless that all over the world is displayed the high and towering authority of the Christian faith…
…Such great and wonderful things would never have been done for us by God, if the life of the soul were to end with the death of the body. Why then do I delay? Why do I not abandon my hopes of this world and devote myself entirely to the search for God and for the happy life?
Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

…Give me yourself, O my God, give yourself back to me. Lo, I love you, but if my love is too mean, let me love more passionately. I cannot gauge my love, nor know how far it fails, how much more love I need for my life to set its course straight into your arms, never swerving until hidden in the covert of your face. This alone I know, that without you all to me is misery, woe outside myself and woe within, and all wealth but penury, if it is not my God.
Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

…I recall how miserable I was, and how one day you brought me to a realization of my miserable state. I was preparing to deliver a eulogy upon the emperor in which I would tell plenty of lies with the object of winning favor with the well-informed by my lying; so my heart was panting with anxiety and seething with feverish, corruptive thoughts. As I passed through a certain district in Milan I noticed a poor beggar, drunk, as I believe, and making merry. I groaned and pointed out to the friends who were with me how many hardships our idiotic enterprises entailed. Goaded by greed, I was dragging my load of unhappiness along, and feeling it all the heavier for being dragged. Yet while all our efforts were directed solely to the attainment of unclouded joy, it appeared that this beggar had already beaten us to the goal, a goal which we would perhaps never reach ourselves. With the help of the few paltry coins he had collected by begging this man was enjoying the temporal happiness for which I strove by so bitter, devious and roundabout a contrivance. His joy was no true joy, to be sure, but what I was seeking in my ambition was a joy far more unreal; and he was undeniably happy while I was full of foreboding; he was carefree, I apprehensive. If anyone had questioned me as to whether I would rather be exhilarated or afraid, I would of course have replied, “Exhilarated”; but if the questioner had pressed me further, asking whether I preferred to be like the beggar, or to be as I was then, I would have chosen to be myself, laden with anxieties and fears. Surely that would have been no right choice, but a perverse one? I could not have preferred my condition to his on the grounds that I was better educated, because that fact was not for me a source of joy but only the means by which I sought to curry favor with human beings: I was not aiming to teach them but only to win their favor.
Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

…For you [God] are infinite and never change. In you ‘today’ never comes to an end: and yet our ‘today’ does come to an end in you, because time, as well as everything else, exists in you. If it did not, it would have no means of passing. And since your years never come to an end, for you they are simply ‘today’…But you yourself are eternally the same. In your ‘today’ you will make all that is to exist tomorrow and thereafter, and in your ‘today’ you have made all that existed yesterday and for ever before.
Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

…For a sentence is not complete unless each word, once its syllables have been pronounced, gives way to make room for the next…They are set up on the course of their existence, and the faster they climb towards its zenith, the more they hasten towards the point where they exist no more.
Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

…The soul is “torn apart in a painful condition as long as it prefers the eternal because of its Truth but does not discard the temporal because of familiarity.
Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

…What do I love when I love my God?
Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

…Your best servant is the person who does not attend so much to hearing what he himself wants as to willing what he has heard from you.
Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

…O Lord my God, tell me what you are to me. Say to my soul, I am your salvation. Say it so that I can hear it. My heart is listening, Lord; open the ears of my heard and say to my soul, I am your salvation. Let me run toward this voice and seize hold of you. Do not hide your face from me: let me die so that I may see it, for not to see it would be death to me indeed.
Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

 

Augustine of Hippo and the “Just War”

Nonetheless, he asserted, peacefulness in the face of a grave wrong that could only be stopped by violence would be a sin. Defense of one’s self or others could be a necessity, especially when authorized by a legitimate authority:

…They who have waged war in obedience to the divine command, or in conformity with His laws, have represented in their persons the public justice or the wisdom of government, and in this capacity have put to death wicked men; such persons have by no means violated the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.
Augustine of Hippo, Bishop and Theologian: Contra Faustum Manichaeum book 22 sections 69-76

While not breaking down the conditions necessary for war to be just, Augustine nonetheless originated the very phrase itself in his work:

…But, say they, the wise man will wage just wars. As if he would not all the rather lament the necessity of just wars, if he remembers that he is a man; for if they were not just he would not wage them, and would therefore be delivered from all wars.
Augustine of Hippo, Bishop and Theologian: The City of God

For the individual Christian under the rule of a government engaged in an immoral war, Augustine admonished that Christians, “by divine edict, have no choice but to subject themselves to their political masters and [should] seek to ensure that they execute their war-fighting duty as justly as possible.”

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