Historum - History Forums  

Go Back   Historum - History Forums > World History Forum > Medieval and Byzantine History
Register Forums Blogs Social Groups Mark Forums Read

Medieval and Byzantine History Medieval and Byzantine History Forum - Period of History between classical antiquity and modern times, roughly the 5th through 16th Centuries


Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old December 13th, 2017, 02:08 PM   #1
Citizen
 
Joined: Dec 2017
From: Somewhere
Posts: 3
What impact did St. Augustine of Hippo have on the Middle Ages?


Why was St. Augustine such an important figure in the Middle Ages? Would highly appreciate some good sources and your opinions. Thank you.
geekly is offline  
Remove Ads
Old December 13th, 2017, 07:49 PM   #2
Scholar
 
Joined: Jan 2013
From: Toronto, Canada
Posts: 799

Is this a homework question?
delta1 is offline  
Old December 14th, 2017, 01:23 AM   #3
Citizen
 
Joined: Dec 2017
From: Somewhere
Posts: 3

It is for an assignment!
geekly is offline  
Old December 14th, 2017, 04:29 AM   #4
Historian
 
Joined: Apr 2012
From: Romania
Posts: 6,063

Quote:
Originally Posted by geekly View Post
Why was St. Augustine such an important figure in the Middle Ages? Would highly appreciate some good sources and your opinions. Thank you.
I recommend you to read Saint Augustine and His Influence Through the Ages (original French title Saint Augustin et l'augustinisme) by Henri-Irénée Marrou, it's great little book.
Ficino is offline  
Old December 14th, 2017, 05:13 AM   #5
Citizen
 
Joined: Dec 2017
From: Somewhere
Posts: 3

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ficino View Post
I recommend you to read Saint Augustine and His Influence Through the Ages (original French title Saint Augustin et l'augustinisme) by Henri-Irénée Marrou, it's great little book.
Thank you
geekly is offline  
Old December 21st, 2017, 06:45 PM   #6
Lecturer
 
Joined: Sep 2015
From: Australia
Posts: 321

Augustine was arguably the most influential theologian in Western Christendom.

Augustine grew up as a Manichaeism (a now extinct religion that has its roots in Eastern gnosticism) which stressed that the spirit was God-created, while material substance was corrupt and evil. Although he later converted to Christianity it is without doubt that his influence of Manichaeism and his attempt to reconcile Plato into Christianity led to a corruption of Christian doctrine away from its Jewish roots toward Pagan and Greek philosophies.

Augustine was the theologian that introduced the doctrine of Original Sin and believed that all humans share in the sin and guilt of Adam. Augustine proposed that sin was transferred through semen from parent to child and that through sperm all humans were guilty of sin before God.
His view was in sharp contrast with Pelagius (Any serious study of Augustine also requires study of Pelagius - a Celtic theologian) who emphasised that God's creation was good and that humans possessed free will to seek God's grace.

It is also important to understand that Augustine was not fluent in Greek and thus could not read or interpret the original language of the New Testament. Instead he relied upon the Latin Vulgate translation which unfortunately mistranslated key passages in Romans 5:12 that essentially gave Augustine the impression that all humans were guilty of Adam's sin.

The KJV properly translates Romans 5:12 as, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Rom. 5:12). Many other English translations also properly translate this as “because all have sinned.” However, Augustine read Jerome’s Latin mistranslation which, instead of saying “for that all have sinned,” said, “in whom all sinned.” However, in the Greek “epi ho” never means “in whom.” This philosophical error was not corrected in the church for 1200 years, as the Latin Vulgate reigned supreme in Europe. It wasn’t until Erasmus that “epi ho” was properly translated to be “on who all have sinned” which is the proper idiomatic meaning. “Epi” means “on” or “upon” and “ho” means “who,” so “epi ho” properly means “on who.” So Paul was saying in Romans 5:12 that death came into the world through Adam and it passed upon all men who have sinned. Augustine’s supposed scriptural support for mankind existing and sinning in Adam was therefore greatly mistaken.

Augustine also attempted to merge Platonic philosophy into Christianity. One of Augustines verses - "The utterance of Plato, the most pure and bright in all philosophy, scattering the clouds of error . . ."

Plato understood the self as divided between body and soul, with the soul more closely related to goodness and truth; this made Christianity’s later soul-body division easier to understand. (Some early Christians, like Justin Martyr, even regarded the Platonists as unknowing proto-Christians, though this conclusion was later rejected.).

Plato also believed that the soul was immortal and that the body was a prison for the soul which would ultimately go to heaven or hell. It is also arguable that the christian concept of hell (which is never mentioned once in the old testament) was also carried over from pagan gnostic and platonic beliefs.

Ultimately Augustine won the debate again Pelagius who was declared a heretic by the council of Carthage hence the doctrine of Original Sin won over "free will".

The implications of Augustine's doctrine were immense. Because all souls were guilty of Adam's sin, infant baptism which up until then was considered a blessing, came to be seen as essential for the salvation of the child.
This caused problems in the Roman Catholic Church - i.e. how can a merciful God condemn a new born baby into eternal hellfire. So the solution the Catholics came up with was limbo - a temporary place where souls can work themselves out of hell.

Augustine more than any other theologian set the Roman Catholic Church into a direction where God became seen as more and more oppressive rather than a benevolent merciful God. It also opened the door to later theologies such as predestination and the Tenets of Calvinism which took Augustine's doctrines even further.

The reformation in Europe spearheaded by Luther and Calvin was not a return to Orthodox christianity as these men drew nearly all of their inspiration and theology off Augustine (The Eastern Orthodox Greek Theologians had very little or no influence on protestantism at all).
Thus the protestant reformation needs to be seen as a Augustinian inspired movement.
The religious theocracies that sprung up in Europe applied Augustine's fatalistic views in full force. In Geneva, Calvin instituted a church government reign of terror where it was illegal to be a non-christian and missing a church service could land you under immediate suspicion. It was even forbidden to give children a name outside of a biblical name.
The witch hunts that took place in Europe, as well as the puritan culture in Massachusetts can also be seen as the fruit of Augustine's doctrine of Original Sin.

The inherent danger with the doctrine of Original Sin is that it emphasises humanities worthlessness and never humanities potential. That all have sinned and deserve to burned in hellfire for eternity. This is the standard Roman Catholic teaching that was adopted an emphasised even more strongly by the protestants against the Roman Catholic Church's attempt to water down the doctrine by allowing indulgences...
If in doubt read Jonathon Edward's sermon "Sinner's in the Hands of an Angry God". This sermon which apparently caused people to faint in terror was the epitome of Puritanism which a strict form of Calvinism - so you have a religious framework that emphasises, All have sinned and deserve to burn in hell> God chooses who he wants to save > those not saved spend eternity in hellfire.

If you can convince yourself that a person who doesn't follow your religion is going to burn in hell for eternity it becomes very easy to set a regime that enforces religious laws under strict punishments. Hence the crusades, witch hunts, tyrannical theocracies and religious wars in Europe are all the fruit of Augustine's doctrine of Original Sin.

That's a pretty brief summary but I hope it expands your understanding of how influential Augustine's theology was and how its framework is built into the modern Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches

Last edited by Redaxe; December 21st, 2017 at 06:51 PM.
Redaxe is offline  
Old December 29th, 2017, 11:11 AM   #7

notgivenaway's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: Jun 2015
From: UK
Posts: 5,060

He still is an important figure theologically, as one of the Fathers of the Church.
notgivenaway is offline  
Old December 29th, 2017, 11:17 AM   #8
Historian
 
Joined: Apr 2012
From: Romania
Posts: 6,063

deleted (double post)

Last edited by Ficino; December 29th, 2017 at 11:21 AM.
Ficino is offline  
Old December 29th, 2017, 11:21 AM   #9
Historian
 
Joined: Apr 2012
From: Romania
Posts: 6,063

Quote:
Originally Posted by Redaxe View Post
Augustine was arguably the most influential theologian in Western Christendom.

Augustine grew up as a Manichaeism (a now extinct religion that has its roots in Eastern gnosticism) which stressed that the spirit was God-created, while material substance was corrupt and evil. Although he later converted to Christianity it is without doubt that his influence of Manichaeism and his attempt to reconcile Plato into Christianity led to a corruption of Christian doctrine away from its Jewish roots toward Pagan and Greek philosophies.

Augustine was the theologian that introduced the doctrine of Original Sin and believed that all humans share in the sin and guilt of Adam. Augustine proposed that sin was transferred through semen from parent to child and that through sperm all humans were guilty of sin before God.
His view was in sharp contrast with Pelagius (Any serious study of Augustine also requires study of Pelagius - a Celtic theologian) who emphasised that God's creation was good and that humans possessed free will to seek God's grace.

It is also important to understand that Augustine was not fluent in Greek and thus could not read or interpret the original language of the New Testament. Instead he relied upon the Latin Vulgate translation which unfortunately mistranslated key passages in Romans 5:12 that essentially gave Augustine the impression that all humans were guilty of Adam's sin.

The KJV properly translates Romans 5:12 as, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Rom. 5:12). Many other English translations also properly translate this as “because all have sinned.” However, Augustine read Jerome’s Latin mistranslation which, instead of saying “for that all have sinned,” said, “in whom all sinned.” However, in the Greek “epi ho” never means “in whom.” This philosophical error was not corrected in the church for 1200 years, as the Latin Vulgate reigned supreme in Europe. It wasn’t until Erasmus that “epi ho” was properly translated to be “on who all have sinned” which is the proper idiomatic meaning. “Epi” means “on” or “upon” and “ho” means “who,” so “epi ho” properly means “on who.” So Paul was saying in Romans 5:12 that death came into the world through Adam and it passed upon all men who have sinned. Augustine’s supposed scriptural support for mankind existing and sinning in Adam was therefore greatly mistaken.

Augustine also attempted to merge Platonic philosophy into Christianity. One of Augustines verses - "The utterance of Plato, the most pure and bright in all philosophy, scattering the clouds of error . . ."

Plato understood the self as divided between body and soul, with the soul more closely related to goodness and truth; this made Christianity’s later soul-body division easier to understand. (Some early Christians, like Justin Martyr, even regarded the Platonists as unknowing proto-Christians, though this conclusion was later rejected.).

Plato also believed that the soul was immortal and that the body was a prison for the soul which would ultimately go to heaven or hell. It is also arguable that the christian concept of hell (which is never mentioned once in the old testament) was also carried over from pagan gnostic and platonic beliefs.

Ultimately Augustine won the debate again Pelagius who was declared a heretic by the council of Carthage hence the doctrine of Original Sin won over "free will".

The implications of Augustine's doctrine were immense. Because all souls were guilty of Adam's sin, infant baptism which up until then was considered a blessing, came to be seen as essential for the salvation of the child.
This caused problems in the Roman Catholic Church - i.e. how can a merciful God condemn a new born baby into eternal hellfire. So the solution the Catholics came up with was limbo - a temporary place where souls can work themselves out of hell.

Augustine more than any other theologian set the Roman Catholic Church into a direction where God became seen as more and more oppressive rather than a benevolent merciful God. It also opened the door to later theologies such as predestination and the Tenets of Calvinism which took Augustine's doctrines even further.

The reformation in Europe spearheaded by Luther and Calvin was not a return to Orthodox christianity as these men drew nearly all of their inspiration and theology off Augustine (The Eastern Orthodox Greek Theologians had very little or no influence on protestantism at all).
Thus the protestant reformation needs to be seen as a Augustinian inspired movement.
The religious theocracies that sprung up in Europe applied Augustine's fatalistic views in full force. In Geneva, Calvin instituted a church government reign of terror where it was illegal to be a non-christian and missing a church service could land you under immediate suspicion. It was even forbidden to give children a name outside of a biblical name.
The witch hunts that took place in Europe, as well as the puritan culture in Massachusetts can also be seen as the fruit of Augustine's doctrine of Original Sin.

The inherent danger with the doctrine of Original Sin is that it emphasises humanities worthlessness and never humanities potential. That all have sinned and deserve to burned in hellfire for eternity. This is the standard Roman Catholic teaching that was adopted an emphasised even more strongly by the protestants against the Roman Catholic Church's attempt to water down the doctrine by allowing indulgences...
If in doubt read Jonathon Edward's sermon "Sinner's in the Hands of an Angry God". This sermon which apparently caused people to faint in terror was the epitome of Puritanism which a strict form of Calvinism - so you have a religious framework that emphasises, All have sinned and deserve to burn in hell> God chooses who he wants to save > those not saved spend eternity in hellfire.

If you can convince yourself that a person who doesn't follow your religion is going to burn in hell for eternity it becomes very easy to set a regime that enforces religious laws under strict punishments. Hence the crusades, witch hunts, tyrannical theocracies and religious wars in Europe are all the fruit of Augustine's doctrine of Original Sin.

That's a pretty brief summary but I hope it expands your understanding of how influential Augustine's theology was and how its framework is built into the modern Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches

Better would be for you if you actually read St. Augustine's great works and try to understand the problems that he addresses there. I know that we live the times when any ignorant fancies himself able and entitled to touch everything.

Last edited by Ficino; December 29th, 2017 at 12:30 PM.
Ficino is offline  
Old December 30th, 2017, 06:12 AM   #10
DPP
Academician
 
Joined: Jan 2014
From: Scotland
Posts: 94

Quote:
Originally Posted by geekly View Post
Why was St. Augustine such an important figure in the Middle Ages? Would highly appreciate some good sources and your opinions. Thank you.
The great benefit we have today, which was also the case in the Middle Ages, is we have access to an abundance of works from St. Augustine and many of his books, treatises, sermons and letters were copied and circulated across Western Europe.

His greatest impact was to help shape the theological doctrines of the Western Roman Catholic Church. It is essential to note that he was based in North Africa where Christianity had been spread since almost the very beginning by Jesus' Apostles and grew particularly in urban areas such as Carthage, Alexandria and Hippo Regius. As a result, there had been great theological ferment in the region which could turn quite violent.

Augustine spent much of his time arguing with Christians who followed the doctrines of Donatism, Pelagianism and made a case for his own doctrines to be incorporated into what we call Roman Catholicism whilst denouncing the other doctrines where he could get the Roman state to banish the ecclesiastical figures associated with those movements. He also denounced Manichaeism which was a very popular eastern gnostic religion in the Roman Empire at that time and the religion from which he converted to Christianity from. His arguments on original sin, grace, proved very influential and helped shape Catholic Christianity.

Augustine also wrote the "City of God" which helped shape the medieval perception that history was being guided by God. To place this work into context, Rome had been sacked by Alaric's Visigoths in 410AD and this event shook Roman society to the core - how could Eternal Rome suffer such a fate? Many of the pagans pointed the blame towards the state's adoption of Christianity as the state religion and effectively abandoning the old gods who they thought helped protect the city. Augustine sought to provide a comprehensive case for Christianity being the true religion and the perfect framework for understand life including all the good and bad events from the beginning to the end.

In terms of sources, you can always find primary sources available online. Otherwise, Peter Brown is a very good historian who covers this period and wrote a biography about Augustine.
DPP is offline  
Reply

  Historum > World History Forum > Medieval and Byzantine History

Tags
ages, augustine, hippo, impact, middle



Thread Tools
Display Modes


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Which Event(s) had a greater impact on the Middle East? Menshevik General History 9 April 12th, 2017 09:10 AM
The Middle Ages - When did it end? Lupin The Third Medieval and Byzantine History 72 May 9th, 2014 05:00 AM
The name of the Middle Ages Yekkelle European History 25 August 17th, 2013 09:33 AM
The impact of the Crusades on Middle Eastern Christians Salah Middle Eastern and African History 5 June 28th, 2013 09:45 PM
Middle Ages End Speed37 Medieval and Byzantine History 73 July 22nd, 2009 01:53 PM

Copyright © 2006-2013 Historum. All rights reserved.