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Disciplining ChristiansCorrection and Community in Augustine’s Letters$
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Jennifer V. Ebbeler

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780195372564

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195372564.001.0001

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Conclusion: The Paper Trail

Conclusion: The Paper Trail

Chapter:
(p.227) Conclusion: The Paper Trail
Source:
Disciplining Christians
Author(s):

Jennifer V. Ebbeler

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195372564.003.0006

This chapter presents some concluding thoughts. This book has identified and provided a detailed explication of one remarkable aspect of Augustine's epistolary practice: his ultimately unsuccessful attempt to adapt the friendly letter exchange to the task of correcting error in the Christian community. From the analyses of the correspondences, it is apparent that Augustine's bold epistolary experiment was an unmitigated failure, in large part because he was unable to persuade his correspondents to embrace humbly their roles as objects of correction. In the eyes of his correspondents, Augustine's violation of conventional epistolary norms was unacceptable and aroused their suspicions. As each chapter of this study demonstrates, close attention to Augustine's literary practice produces new biographical, theological, and social-historical insights. The careful analysis of Augustine's correspondence with Jerome, Pelagius, and the Donatists permits us to evaluate these complicated but key relationships from a new perspective.

Keywords:   Augustine, epistolary practice, Christian community, letter exchange, correspondence

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