There is reason to propose that Augustine was the greatest writer of the Catholic Church.
In the space of some forty four years, from his conversion in Milan
in the year 386 to his death
in Hippo Regius in 430, Augustine wrote - mostly at dictation - a vast sprawling library of books, sermons, and letters.
His written output was vast. It comprised some 100 books, 240 letters, and more than 500 sermons.
This quantity of the literary output coming from one person is astonishing. A contemporary Augustinian scholar estimates this as being "approximately that of a 300-page printed book every year for almost 40 years."
For persons who read no language other than English, it is unfortunate that there is still a considerable amount of the remaining six million words from Augustine that have not been translated into English.
These fill fourteen volumes as they are reprinted in Migne, Patrologiae cursus completus, Series Latina (Vols. 32-45).
Augustine would not have regarded himself as primarily an author. He was a teacher of the Bible, and writing was one way to communicate its message, and to combat the error in the thought and writings of others.
With this goal in mind, Augustine regarded himself as much less an innovator than as a summator.
He was less a reformer of the Church than a defender of the faith of the Church.
The goal he chose was the protection of the Christian religion from the disruption of error and the lies of those with no Christian faith, and, above everything else, to renew the faithful hearing of the Good News of the abundant grace of God.
Augustine was not a person of careful distinctions, but a skilful and powerful orator more disposed to set up dramatic contrasts than to explore the middle ground between them.
His style did lead to extreme language and fixed positions (as similarly did that of the Augustinian scholar, Martin Luther
Augustine and Thomas Aquinas
were probably the two greatest intellectuals in the Western church. With the possible exception of Thomas Aquinas, Augustine has been described as "the greatest single mind the Catholic Church has ever produced." (source: A Concise History of the Catholic Church
by Thomas Bokenkotter).
For the depth and variety of his writings Augustine has no equal in the Western church.
He was not as subtle in his theological speculation as many of the fathers in the East, yet in its intellectual quality and clarity his work stands equal to that of the two greatest Fathers of the East, Origen and Cyril.
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