Friday, 8 May 2015

Diana Stanciu: Conscientia, capax Dei and salvation in Augustine

I will consider conscientia in Augustine as related to his notion of capax Dei, the human capacity to ‘connect’ to God and be saved. I will concentrate on the Adnotationes in Iob, where Augustine mentions ‘the peace human beings enjoy in their conscience with the remission of sin due to grace’ and on In Iohannis Evangelium tractatus, where Augustine touches upon ‘the happiness of humans who have God in their conscience as others have gold in their coffers’, ‘the human conscience set in motion’ [by grace], love (caritas) that comes ‘from a pure heart, a good conscience and an unfeigned faith’ (I Tim. 1.5) (idea also brought up in De Trinitate), and ‘conscience in the presence of God’ (coram deo). I will not neglect the mainstream discussions of Augustine’s conscientia as related to the intellect and to knowledge as illumination (especially with referrence to De magistro, the Confessiones and the Enchiridion) and their relationship to similar discussions on capax Dei/ imago Dei, but I will refer primarily to the emotional/ volitional aspects. For instance, in his In Iohannis Evangelium tractatus, Augustine associates conscience with the heart (conscientia cordis) and so does he in De diversis quaestionibus octoginta tribus. These suggestions fit Augustine’s referrences (also in emotional/volitional terms) to the human ‘capacity for beatitude’ (beatitudinis capax), the ‘capacity for the supreme nature’ (summae naturae capax) [that is for God] (De Trinitate), or the ‘capacity for the divine realm’ (capax regni Dei) (Enarrationes in Psalmos).

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