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Authority and Asceticism from Augustine to Gregory the Great$
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Conrad Leyser

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780198208686

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198208686.001.0001

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Augustine and the Problem of Authority

Augustine and the Problem of Authority

(p.3) 1 Augustine and the Problem of Authority
Authority and Asceticism from Augustine to Gregory the Great

Conrad Leyser

Oxford University Press

The moral drawn by Augustine of Hippo's early medieval readers — very different from the lesson he himself had attempted to expound — was this. The dream of reconstructing the first community of Christians at Jerusalem could only be sustained through an extraordinary display of episcopal authority. Acts four profferred the hope of a community that was self-regulating. However, if that was the promise of the Acts verses, it was not one they could deliver — not without the intervention of an expert on moral rhetoric. Augustine of Hippo's contemporaries and his late readers, for all that they may have respected and even required Augustinian authority, decided repeatedly that a systematic approach to the moral exercise of authority of the sort that Augustine had refused to give was the only way to preserve the hope of establishing a moral community.

Keywords:   Augustine of Hippo, community, Christians, Jerusalem, authority, Acts, moral rhetoric

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