Augustine’s Cyprian

Authority in Roman Africa


In 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.

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Matthew Alan Gaumer, Ph.D. (University of Leuven, 2012), is a U.S Army Officer based in Stuttgart, Germany. He has published extensively on ancient North Africa, Augustine of Hippo, the Donatist Controversy, logistics, and military strategy.
"This is a compellingly interesting study, well executed and raising new questions for the Augustine-Cyprian relations." - Allen Brent, King’s College, London, in: Church History and Religious Culture 98:1 (2018), pp. 139-141.

List of Figures and Tables


Part 1 Augustine’s Early Years as a Church Leader and Initial Reactions to Donatist Christianity
Augustine’s First Years of Ministry, the 390s
The Need for an Auctoritas, Why Did Augustine Need Cyprian?
The Election of Primian and Its Polemical Consequences, Mid 390s

Part 2 The Maturation of the Anti-Donatist Campaign
De Baptismo and the Controversy’s Escalation, 400–01
The Process of Appropriation
Sustaining Appropriation

Part 3 Augustine’s Cyprian in the Pelagian Controversy
The Cyprian-Appropriation in the Anti-Pelagian Campaigns

General Conclusions

For those interested in North Africa, past and present. Scholars of antiquity, ancient Christianity, and the Roman Empire will benefit from this text, undergraduates, graduate students, researchers, and writers alike.