Christian Doctrine Prior to Augustine (Saint Augustine)

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t ir it e r I s ra ry jtejcIi indebted t o Me* Richard P . SoKeon, of th e U niver­ s i t y of C hicago, fee his c r lt ic ie ia s and su g g e stio n s sad fo r M s co n sta n t a s s is ­ ta n ce In the p ro g ress of t h is d is s e r ta tio n .


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continuous fight between good and evil.

Ihia Is the principle

which later will b© defended by the Slanicheans and will be fol­ lowed for some time by Augustine,

It. will be quit© difficult

for- til© Church to..liberate itself from the dualistic principle.

Seignbbos pointed out other forms o f p ra ctices that bar© penetrated Into the h ellen lsed world through the examples o f men who, under the name o f 'philosophers» hare adopted a type o f l i f e ooamon to th e hslleniz'e& Orient and India, c a lle d by the Greek name assetism (ex ercise) • I t bad a tendency to free the soul' "from the bladings o f the body and take i t to a sta te o f e c sta sy where i t can f e e l i t s e l f la com­ munication w ith the d ivin e world. Weakening the body by abstinence, v i g il s , Im m obility, and alien©®,. Is a practic© employed in India by fa k ir s . ®ae philosopher in th is form mad© a pretence of ae^Airing supernatural power that was m anifested by m iracles, e sp e c ia lly by cu res, and the resu rrection o f the dead, fhey have been c e lle d the work­ ers o f m iracles (thauam turgesl, and th e ir power Wes design natcd by the Greek word virfeua (power), flse lr a c ts were related In biographies destined to e x c ite r e lig io u s emotion. ShQSQ wer© w ritten by O rientals, in d ifferen t to tru th , who Judged i t laudable to t e l l the grea test p o ssib le num­ ber o f prodigies; to fo r tify fa ith in th e ir readers* Some persons have & tendency to recognise in th ese a sc e tic s the precursors o f C hristian fr ia r s and, in the biographies of thaumaturges, the models o f the liv e s o f sa in ts and com­ p ila tio n s o f m iracles*”11, Seoplatonlam, e sp e c ia lly in P lo tin u s, can be considered, to o , a® a precursor o f C h ristia n ity .

Tm extrema IdeaLism

the predominant character o f t h is doctrine

and aaoetlsm f o lf

low S tole dualism In the se v e r ity ,r ig o r and te^ srsae© .of M s thought*

i t gave great importance to ritu a l, and transformed the

r itu a l s e t Into an. a ct o f m agic, W& must n o t fo rg o t that Plotinus, and the N noplatonists, togeth er w ith the doctrines o f •the Fathers o f the tJharoh, supply the In te lle c tu a l content o f the f ir s t p art o f the Middle Ages* ■Edward- Schwarts has sa id : fisa Soman State'w as apt abandoned in th is war o f s p ir itu a l, potencies* I t was seconded by P latonic and Heoplaboal© ^ Selgn ob os, op. p i t ,. j>* 3.

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philosoph ers. 2he severs c r itic is m o f Porphyry Is a l i t ­ erary prelude to p ersecu tion. H ieroklas as governor per­ secuted the C hristiana and wrote a hook again st them; and the successor o f V aleriu s, Msximinus, surrounded h im self fcy a group o f philosophers and lite r a r y men* Boring the th ird century Platonism , which was before a philosophy w ith a strong th e o lo g ica l tin g e t became m In te lle c tu a l r e lig io n which united a ll th e elem ents, forming a great defease bul­ wark fo r th e proud Inheritance o f H ellen ic poetry, p h ilos­ ophy, and r e lig io n , in fron t o f the in vasion o f the new s e t ­ tlem ent, as th ey c a lle d C h ristian ity* For Plafconlsts the p retensions o f the Church were an o ffen se to Hellenism .*2 PMIosochy o r R elig io n ? TShen we ta lk about C h ristian ity i t i s necessary to d is ­ tin g u ish between the teaching o f Jesus and the h is to r ic Chris­ tia n movement o f great ayncrefcistle character which combined th e most d iverse elem ents.

At I ts f i r s t appearance C h ristian ity

has a d iffu sed character, but i t develops p recisio n and stren gth , becoming f in a lly * doctrine o f great s o c ia l importance.


has said : So m atter what a ctu a l a ttitu d e we have in regard to Chris­ tia n ity in the form In which we know I t , we have to recog­ n ize i t as on© o f the g re a te st phenomena o f human h isto r y . 1® cannot con sid er without deep adm iration th e C hristian Church which has survived fo r nearly twenty cen tu ries and which we se e s t i l l vigorous , in many cou n tries being mope powerful than the S ta te . Anything, th erefo re, th a t can contribute to a comprehension Of t h is Impressive phenom­ enon i s o f extreme importance and o f groat p ra ctic a l s ig ­ n ific a n c e . f h ls Is our a ttitu d e toward i t s study la h isto r y . IS th e teaching o f Jesus has as i t s most important element moral r u le s .

Arthur Cushman ffeG Iffert says*

S is message had two asp ects s i t was a t once a promise sad a warning. He proclaimed the gosp el or good hews o f the speedy coming o f the kingdom or reign o f God, so longed ■fee? by many, and a t th e same tim e warned h is hearers o f the d ivin e Judgment which was to attend i t s coming, . l%duardo Schwarts, 11 Sapsrador Constantino v la. Ig le s la fle Occidents (MadrIdT^M e J, ' •^Sarl E&ufcsky, El Grlstianiamo.Sua Qrioienes £ funda­ ment os, brans. I>« Rosado"^®"la''Es'pada PBS'Iclones: Frenfc©"'Cul-

■'tu r a l,” Mexico, 1939), p . 25.

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«hea some would toe found worthy to share it s b lessin g s vthflet others ■»eg© canaegaiBfl and e a st out.. He announced the o f th© kingdom not sh sp ly th a t man might .b all i t witb. r e jo icin g but th at they might repeat and amend tb o lr liv e s and thus b© f it t e d fo r the righteous m i© o f God.** Soiga other ’w riters have said that the te&cMng o f Jesus was only a lo g ic a l development o f -what bad been taught .and preached by tb s la te r Jewish prophets.

i t m s very d if f ic u lt

fo r feho world bo take up i t s m y toward a a cra l p erfection such as Jesus prsschhd, The^Ghrlstian movetaont, me®© sad more, stress®© th eo lo g ica l questions rath er than e th ic a l.

I t made considerable

use 'Of Greek philosophy such s s Epicureanism, S toicism , Blatoxtism, Neoplatonism, acquiring a t la s t the proportions of' ■&r e a l theology.. Chris fcia n s, as m i l a s noa-Ghris tia n s , proclaimed that the y&tJbsars o f th e GSsurOh. w s e the- so c ia l thinkers of th e ir time* They influenced too th e follow in g p eriod .

But the fa c t o f the

disappearance o f great thinkers and philosophers’ la the l a s t days o f the Roman Empire has sa easy explanations absorbed by the r e lig io u s movement .

'they were

In th is manner i t w ill be

p o ssib le to exp lain la t e r th e a ttitu d e o f the Siddl© «gsa, which was e» e s s e n tia lly r e lig io u s period in a r t, in philosophy, and in litera tu re* Is C h ristia n ity a philosophy o r a re lig io n ?

This is a

question th at must he faced' con stan tly in a d iscu ssio n o f Gbrlstla n lty *

fh© problem I s very n ic e ly treated by Btienne C llsm ,

and we s h a ll try t© summerla© end .present sc®®, o f M s p rincipal Id eas. Our general Impression when we read stu d ies about Chris­ tia n ity I s th a t t h is r e lig io n produced alm ost spontaneously and in e v ita b ly a s o c ia l pM losopay, but a philosophy ex c lu siv ely unl~ la t e r a l, because s o c ia l l i f e on Mae -earth was considered .so ^%acCifferfe* op.cit., pp«. $»&*

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