Sunday, 3 May 2015

Nicole Guerriero: Examining the tension between Philosophy and Theology in the Soul’s Journey towards Salvation, in the works of Saint Augustine

This short communication is part of a larger project concerning Saint Augustine’s treatment of the soul, focusing on The Homilies on the Gospel of John and Exposition of the Psalms.  This study explores Augustine’s identification of the soul, not only as humanity’s link to the divine, but also as the key to humanity’s salvation, with the hope of contributing to our understanding of Augustine’s soteriology and Christology, given the centrality of the soul to these areas of thought in his works.  This communication will focus on the role of the philosopher in the ascent of the soul, as described through Augustine’s use of two seemingly separate images.  The first is the ascender, found in The Exposition of the Psalms, focussing on his exposition of Psalms 119-121, and the second is the navigator from The Homilies on the Gospel of John.  This critical approach suggests that when examined together, these images expose a tension between the role of philosophy and theology in the soul’s journey towards salvation.  With the ascender and the navigator, knowing which mountain serves as the example and which leads to their destruction, is essential to a truly salvific ascent.  Augustine’s hermeneutics holds the key to understanding the link between these texts, thereby providing the foundation for a unique approach to understanding the role of the soul in the works of Saint Augustine as a whole.

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