Talk:Augustine of Hippo

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I made quite a few changes to this page. Because of the (vigorous) controversy regarding Augustine, I have removed the appellation 'Church Father' since that label should be reserved for those 'theolgical writers' whose writings do not require careful examination (e.g. St John the Theologian, St Gregory the Theologian, St John of Damascus, St John Chrysostom, St Photius the Great, St Simeon the New Theologian, St Gregory Palamas, etc.).

I expanded the passage on his feast day, explaining some of the controversy and changed the date from August 28 (from where did that come??) to June 15. Not only does June 15 match the GOA and OCA, it also matches the Wiki here! (August 28 did not.)

I cleaned up the Greek text. All those ampersands are hard to read!

I expanded the information on when Augustine's writings were translated into Greek (and removed the question mark in parentheses).

I added a category to the 'moderate views' on Augustine -- I felt there needed to be a reference to those who accept him as a saint but not as a Church Father.

I added another book by an Orthodox writer explicitly on Augustine. I believe it provides better balance.

Finally, I alphabetised the Bibliography and added another external link.

[2006.02.12 19:47]

Hi T.R. Thanks for your contributions and also the explanation of your changes. I put back in the "church father" part since it is commonly used for him, even by Orthodox folks (even Origen is referred to as a "Church Father" although not a Saint.) I'm not quite sure what the best way to preserve NPOV here. August 28th was the day of his death, or his birth into new life -- it is typically for this to be at least one of the feast days for a saint, although they may have others. I'm not sure why June 15th has precedence in the Eastern calendar. I put back the mention of Aug. 28th in a more qualified way. For the record (esp. for other readers), I generally find treatments such as Azkoul's very one-sided and not at all representative of "mainstream" Orthodoxy. Even so, I'm glad you added the book to the list. Thanks also for your work on the greek and on the bibliography. Finally, please sign your discussion posts by using three or four tildes. — FrJohn (talk).

IMO, applying the term 'Church Father' to Origen and Augustines renders the label worthless. Shouldn't the term be reserved for those who provide *solid* teaching? Of course, I recognise this is your Wiki and you can do what you think best. I just disagree with making the term 'Church Father' valueless by using it liberally.

I certainly agree that Fr. Michael Azkoul is one-sided (I also dislike his predilection for snide comments in his writing) -- but then I believe Fr. Seraphim Rose is equally one-sided the other way. I believe somewhere in between the two extremes lies the truth. (I do agree, however, with Fr. Michael's attitude regarding the term 'Church Father' -- see Who Is a Church Father?].

I've got a lot more information on Augustine, but will need time to dig it out. :-) Also, I think there should be an article (I'll volunteer if no one else is willing!) on the 'Western Captivity' and make it a link in this article.

On a personal note, I suspect we know a lot of the same people -- my parish is St Joseph in Wheaton. Finally, I'm not entirely certain how to use the tildes since I didn't have an example to copy. Let me know, please.

Trvalentine 18:53, February 12, 2006 (CST)T. R. Valentine 2006.02.13 00:52 UTC

Hi again! I bet we do know a lot of people in common - maybe we'll get to meet in person someday! Trying to get beyond my own view of things (I tend to be more sympathetic with Augustine than many others), it seems to me that according to general usage, "church father" is a more liberal term than "saint" even - and is often used for people like Tertullian and Origen by Orthodox and Catholics alike. Maybe we could explain the dilemma of naming!
I think an article about the "western captivity" would be great. It's not simply a question of Jesuit influence though! And Greece, too, was heavily influenced by scholasticism. I think it's very possible to argue that this was a common mentality, East and West, corresponding to something of the "spirit of the age" rather than something distinctly Western that "invaded" the East. Similarly, the turn away from scholastic theology during the past century was not only, or even initially, an "Eastern" thing. One could say very convincingly that this movement began in the West and has progressed furthest in the West (among some of the better theologians). This change has permeated the work of many contemporary RC theologians, for example - one problem I have with Azkoul, Romanides and others is that when they talk about Catholic theology, it seems to me that they are talking to a large degree about a figment of their own imagination - or at least something that may have once existed but no longer does. Anyway, that's my 2 cents. Maybe others will want to chime in too! — FrJohn (talk)
P.S. Sometimes I wonder if those who attack Augustine so much have ever read him - I mean sat down and read through a book, not just looked for proof texts. Have they felt his warm spirit, seen his heart full of faith? It seems to me that they are angry with him from the beginning, more interested in promoting a certain narrow and "purist" understanding of Orthodoxy than in actually engaging him as a person or a thinker. (This is a totally subjective comment of course, and wouldn't pass muster with NPOV, at least without a detailed comparison of points of interpretation.)
Also, about the idea of "ownership" -- of course, I am the one who initially set up OrthodoxWiki. I take primary responsibility for it, and I am the one who has root access to all the files, etc. However, I don't exactly think of myself as "owning" it - at least not all the content, which is contributed by a whole lot of users who keep their own copyright (while licensing it under the GFDL and CC licenses we use), and make this site what it is. Also, there are many others who help me moderate and manage it. For these reasons, I think of it more as owned by the community than by me. — FrJohn (talk)

My recent edit

I changed "reception" to "always accepted" because the former gives the false impression that St. Augustine was at one time not accepted.

I also notice the follow written in the article:

The Fifth Ecumenical Council, held in Constantinople in A.D. 553, listed Augustine among other Fathers of the Church, though there is no unqualified endorsement of his theology mentioned (just as there is none for most saints of the Church):

We further declare that we hold fast to the decrees of the four Councils, and in every way follow the holy Fathers, Athanasius, Hilary, Basil, Gregory the Theologian, Gregory of Nyssa, Ambrose, Theophilus, John (Chrysostom) of Constantinople, Cyril, Augustine, Proclus, Leo and their writings on the true faith.[1] (emphasis added)

In the acts of the Sixth Ecumenical Council (not yet translated into English), he is called the "most excellent and blessed Augustine" and is referred to as "the most wise teacher." In the Comnenian Council of Constantinople in 1166 he is referred to as "Ό Αγίος Αυγουστίνος - "Saint Augustine."

I think a change is in order here, too. Why say "unqualified endorsement" when the wording of the Council says "in every way" and "their writings on the true faith"?. That is a contradiction because it is obviously an unqualified endorsement. If St. Augustine died in 430, and generations upon generations of lay and clergy lived and died learning from his writings, if there was no objection to anything particular, that particular would be considered fully endorsed. How could anyone say that 113 years went by and not a single soul noticed that St. Augustine professed heresy in is work on the Trinity?? Put yourself back there and imagine living 113 years! Where was the divine protection for the souls of those who lived and died believing what he wrote IF it were heresy? And furthermore, this point extends many more generations after that. St. Augustine flatly, and without speculation, taught that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father AND the Son. Who has the nerve to say that generations went by and not a single soul with the true Faith noticed anything wrong with it? --Myron 17:57, July 1, 2006 (CDT)

Hi Myron, Thanks for your comments. I agree that the working is a little awkward. I think the point being made here is that many of Augustine's writings weren't known in the East (hadn't been translated into Greek) until much later - therefore, it's not fair to say that the council is endorsing everything. Does that make sense? — FrJohn (talk)