The Bishop as Disciplinarian in the Letters of St. Augustine

The Bishop as Disciplinarian in the Letters of St. Augustine

by Daniel Edward Doyle
     
 

Church discipline is one of the burning questions facing the Church as it embarks on the new millennium. A careful reading of the correspondence of Augustine indicates the same can be said of the North African Church of late antiquity. In fact, discipline plays a decisive role in the bishop of Hippo’s understanding and exercise of his own episcopal ministry.

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Overview

Church discipline is one of the burning questions facing the Church as it embarks on the new millennium. A careful reading of the correspondence of Augustine indicates the same can be said of the North African Church of late antiquity. In fact, discipline plays a decisive role in the bishop of Hippo’s understanding and exercise of his own episcopal ministry. Although it can be viewed as negative and restrictive in primarily juridical terms, disciplina appears to be an organizing principle in Augustine’s ecclesiology and paradoxically makes the bishop one with the faithful. The bishop is not free to arbitrarily make up the rules; he too is subject to the Church’s tradition as it has been faithfully handed down. The correspondence of Augustine is the most fruitful locus for an investigation of the role of discipline in Augustine’s ministry because of its occasional nature reacting to concrete issues and difficulties. The close association between the two Latin terms, doctrina and disciplina, underscores that discovery of truth (doctrina) carries with it certain moral imperatives (disciplina). This investigation will explore the various influences on Augustine’s understanding of church discipline including the Bible and Roman law, and will evaluate the bishop’s exercise thereof in such spheres as doctrine, liturgy, and living the Christian life.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
«‘The Bishop as Disciplinarian in the Letters of St. Augustine’ offers a rare, but important, glimpse into the pastoral world of the great bishop of Hippo. Utilizing the letters of Augustine, Daniel Edward Doyle, O.S.A. illumines quotidian problems that challenged the renowned bishop and his colleagues. For readers acquainted only with the classic treatises of Augustine, this book provides an effective counterbalance as it explores the theological duties incumbent upon the great pastor of souls.» (Jane Merdinger, Associate Professor of Church History, The Catholic University of America, Washington D.C.)
«In ‘The Bishop as Disciplinarian in the Letters of St. Augustine’, Daniel Edward Doyle, O.S.A. has enriched the world of Augustinian scholarship with a splendid study of Augustine’s use of Church discipline in his office as bishop. He has wisely based his work on the letters of Augustine, which offer us the largest extant correspondence of any author from the world of antiquity and which have not previously been the object of the extensive scholarship that has been expended upon other major works of the bishop of Hippo. The Latin ‘disciplina’ is a much richer concept than the English cognate might suggest and embraces Church doctrine and the rule of faith as well as norms of Christian conduct and sanctions for misbehavior. Doyle shows that Augustine knew and used Roman law in his practice of discipline, and he clearly ties the bishop’s application of Church discipline to his understanding of our fallen human nature. Doyle persuasively argues that we cannot understand Augustine the bishop in his roles as teacher and as pastor without understanding his use of discipline and its central role in his ministry.» (Roland J. Teske, S.J., Donald J. Schuenke Professor of Philosophy, Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780820461304
Publisher:
Lang, Peter Publishing, Incorporated
Publication date:
01/08/2003
Series:
Patristic Studies Series, #4
Pages:
396

Meet the Author

The Author: Father Daniel Edward Doyle, O.S.A. is an Augustinian priest and a member of the Theology and Religious Studies Department at Villanova University in Pennsylvania. He received his B.A. in sociology at Villanova University; his M.S. in psychology from Loyola College, Baltimore, Maryland; and his M.A. in sacramental theology from the Washington Theological Union. Father Doyle completed his S.T.L. and his S.T.D. in patristic theology from the Institutum Patristicum Augustinianum. He has published articles in Studia Patristica and Augustiniana.

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