Saturday, 11 April 2015

Brian Matz: Remembering Augustine in the Ninth Century Theological Controversies

To Gottschalk, a ninth-century monk condemned for his (what came to be known as) double-predestinarian views, Augustine apparently seemed so natural a supporter that rarely did he quote Augustine's texts. Just naming Augustine, at times, or listing the titles of Augustine's anti-Pelagian writings, at most other times, was fitting enough for Gottschalk. Yet, one of Gottschalk's principal supporters recognized the inadequacy of this position. Ratramnus of Corbie, perhaps the ninth-century's leading student of Augustine, documented Augustine's predestinarian leanings with extensive quotes from most of the texts available to him. Ratramnus' wide acquaintance with Augustine's writings are similarly prominent in another of his treatises, one he wrote in support of the addition of ‘filioque' to the Nicene Creed. It seems on a first reading of both treatises that Ratramnus has appropriately expressed his own views on both controversies through the words of Augustine; yet, Ratramnus treats Augustine differently in each text, and these differences suggest his desire to either screen or to illuminate his own view. In the predestination treatise, Augustine quotes are strung together with little to no interpretation or comment. Ratramnus seeks to avoid being caught into the same troublesome net as Gottschalk. In the filioque treatise, the quotes are interspersed with commentary and interpretation. Consequently, the paper argues the manner in which Augustine is cited in the ninth century had more to say about the reader of Augustine than it did about Augustine himself.

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