Augustine: A New Biography by James J. O'Donnell

By James J. O'Donnell

Saint Augustine -- the prestigious theologian who served as Bishop of Hippo from 396 C.E. till his loss of life in 430 C.E. -- is broadly considered as probably the most influential thinkers within the Western international. His autobiography, Confessions, continues to be one of the most vital non secular writings within the Christian culture. during this eye-opening and eminently readable biography, popular historic student James J. O’Donnell selections up the place Augustine himself left off to provide a desirable, in-depth portrait of an remarkable flesh presser, author, and churchman in a time of uncertainty and spiritual turmoil.

Augustine is a victorious chronicle of a unprecedented lifestyles that's guaranteed to shock and enlighten even those that believed they knew the advanced and noteworthy guy of God.

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While Ambrose does discuss the healing transformation of “the body of death” that comes at the resurrection, he devotes more attention to the question of the moral unity of soul and body that is characteristic of a virtuous life. However, it is perhaps something of a misnomer to speak of conflict in the sense of the soul and body seeking different ends. In Ambrose’s anthropology, one typical of his day, the body does not actually do or seek anything except as it is moved by the animating soul. Therefore, moral unity is not, properly speaking, harmony of the soul and body but harmony between competing faculties or impulses of the soul that have different orientations.

3 The soul is the form of the body in the sense that its virtues or lack of virtues determine the actions of the body. The ends established by the soul determine what the body is and what it does. In his account of the body’s instrumental relation to the soul, Ambrose clearly shares Aristotle’s view that the soul is both the formal cause of the body in that it is the animating or actualizing principle and the final cause as that which determines the end to which our bodily actions are directed.

Moreover, he insists that those who are attracted to the comeliness of our outward appearance love us only for the superficial and fleeting beauty of our body and so do not, rightly speaking, love us. Ambrose’s assumption is that what is real is that which endures. To be sure, as creatures who by definition are not eternal, our soul does not possess a beauty like God’s, eternal and perfect. Nonetheless, the beauty of the soul outlasts the radiance of youthful beauty, the pursuit of which is vain. 83 Ambrose’s point is that the catechumen should seek that beauty in herself and in others that is not subject to decay with the mere passage of time.

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