This chapter considers the biographical, historical, and theological context of Augustine’s early works (386-96). It outlines the way in which these works have been read in scholarly debates over the last hundred years, demonstrating that they have generally been marginalised as the rather obsolete philosophical investigatons of a new, somewhat naïve, over-optimistic convert, still entrenched in the classical tradition of belief in human free will and perfectibility. These have generally been contrasted with the later, mature works of Augustine — the pessimistic theologian of the Fall, original sin, and human dependence upon divine grace. It considers Peter Brown’s analysis of the revolutionary transformation of the early into the later Augustine following his reading of Paul in the 390s, and sets out the argument of the book: that there is no discontinuity or revolutionary transformation of the early into the later Augustine, but rather a fundamental continuity between the two.
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