Saturday, 11 April 2015

Joseph Grabau: SC Augustine's Tractatus XV In Iohannis Euangelium. On the work of Christ

I examine here the fifteenth ‘tractate' of Augustine on the Fourth Gospel in which the bishop of Hippo advances a Christological doctrine introduced earlier in the series, namely on the role of Christ at baptism (tract. iii-vi); and on his essential work as God and man (tract. i-ii). Each of these activities serves to expose the central core of applied salvation-theory in Augustine's pastoral thought, on the Church as refuge for sinners and source of the sacraments for salvation.
In particular, I identify Augustine's view of baptism as decisive for comment on his exegesis in tract. xv - noting in particular the sixth verse for its value in determining a simultaneously anti-Pelagian and anti-Donatist theological position. I argue for a coordinated effort on Augustine's part in responding to the two challenges (and a likely implicit context contra recently a discarded Origenism, following Dominic Keech in his late analysis of Augustine and Origen's Pauline commentary). The result in Augustine's Johannine commentary is a positive doctrine of baptism as sacrament, including exposition of an organic synthesis in tract. xv of central concerns for Christ, his Church and salvation.
In short, I confirm prevailing views on the role of anti-Donatist (&c.) strategies at work also in pastoral texts; yet I also defend the resulting Augustinian synthesis as remarkably systematic, treating diverse theological topics and opponents with persistent coherence, and directed ever to spiritual concerns. The exegesis of the well scene in John iv proves a worthy occasion for a demonstration of such ability.

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