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Augustine on "The True Religion": reflections of Manichaeism in "De vera religione"

Lossl, Josef ORCID: 2013. Augustine on "The True Religion": reflections of Manichaeism in "De vera religione". Van Oort, Johannes, ed. Augustine and Manichaean Christianity. Selected Papers from the First South African Conference on Augustine of Hippo, University of Pretoria, 24-26 April 2012, Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies, vol. 83. Leiden: Brill, pp. 137-153. (10.1163/9789004255067_009)

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Augustine's work "On True Religion", "De vera religione", reflects a wide variety of influences, Manichaean, Platonist, Classical, Biblical and early Christian. Accordingly, its intended purpose can be judged as rather complex. That it can, among others, also be considered an anti-Manichaean work is generally accepted and confirmed by Augustine himself, both in "De vera religione" itself and in the "Retractationes". This chapter proposes a number of main topics developed in the work which suggest a very close engagement with Manichaeism in it. For example, echoing authentic Manichaean sources (the North African "Epistula Fundamenti" and a passage in the Cologne Mani Codex), Augustine presents, or rather, mis-represents, Manichaeism as a doctrine teaching two substances pitched against each other as quasi two opposing metaphysical principles. A further Manichaean reference is the address to the dedicatee of the work, Romanianus, who seems to have remained a Manichaean after Augustine converted to Orthodoxy. Then, finally, there is the use of two important Manichaean concepts, "the way" and "religio" (or indeed "vera religio"), as key concepts of the work - "vera religio" even appearing in the title. These two concepts are usually interpreted as generic early Christian concepts. The present chapter, however, argues that Augustine employs them here with very specific Manichaean connotations. Put together, the findings of this chapter suggest that the original intention and purpose of "De vera religione" was perhaps more single-mindedly anti-Manichaean than is usually considered.

Item Type: Book Section
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BP Islam. Bahaism. Theosophy, etc
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
D History General and Old World > DE The Mediterranean Region. The Greco-Roman World
Publisher: Brill
ISBN: 9789004254770
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2022 13:38

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