Augustine’s Cyprian Matthew Gaumer retraces how Augustine of Hippo devised the ultimate strategy to suppress Donatist Christianity, an indigenous form of the religion in ancient North Africa. Spanning nearly forty years, Augustine’s entire clerical career was spent combating the Donatists and seeking the dominance of the Catholic Church in North Africa. Through a variety of approaches Augustine evolved a method to successfully outlaw and deconstruct the Donatist Church’s organisation. This hinged on concerted preaching, tract writing, integrating Roman imperial authorities, and critically: by denying the Donatists’ exclusive claim to Cyprian of Carthage. Re-appropriation of Cyprian’s authority required Augustine and his allies to re-write history and pose positions contrary to Cyprian’s. In the end, Cyprian was the Donatists’ no longer.
Augustine of Hippo (354-430) became known as the ‘doctor of grace’. He developed his theory of divine grace mainly in his systematic treatises directed against the Pelagians (ca. 411-430). Did he however also preach about this complex, and at first sight ‘demoralizing’, issue in his
sermons to the people? In his previous book (BSCH 59), Anthony Dupont studied the profile of the treatment of gratia in the anti-Pelagian
sermones ad populum. In a
Preacher of Grace Dupont offers an account of the presence of the theme of grace in Augustine’s sermones not situated in the Pelagian controversy. He first studies sermons preached on important liturgical feasts, which belong to the (non-polemical) pastoral preaching genre. They are distributed throughout the 40 years of Augustine’s preaching activity, and are Christological in content and moralising in intention. Secondly, he examines sermons situated in the Donatist controversy, preceding the anti-Pelagian sermons chronologically and differing from them in terms of content. This research provides a global picture of the presence and treatment of
gratia in Augustine’s
sermones and clarifies the interaction between context, audience and preaching genre on the one hand, and the theme of grace as a whole on the other. It also contributes to the debate on (dis)continuity in Augustine’s thought on grace.