Augustine (354-430) is the most influential ecclesiastical writer in the Latin West. In many significant ways he established what were to become the principal outlines and foundations of Western theology.
Moreover, his impact can also be observed in secular areas such as political theory, philosophy of history, psychology, semiotics, epistemology, social ethics, anthropology, and the literary imagination.
This multifaceted Augustine, who is the subject of such multi-disciplinary academic interest, highlights the reality of the philosophical Augustine, the political Augustine, the monastic Augustine, the literary Augustine, the humanistic Augustine, the homiletical and exegetical Augustine, the pastoral Augustine, the episcopal Augustine, the iconographic Augustine, the theological Augustine and all the other ‘micro-Augustine’s’ that might be able to be identified.
To complicate matters further, these different role-determined aspects of Augustine were given different emphases and priorities at different phases of European history.
A separate specialist area of history has now developed, therefore. It is the study of the reception of Augustine throughout the ages. This is not as much about what Augustine thought as about what was thought about him.
How has this multifaceted Augustine been “seen”, and what varying influence did his thought exert, in successive centuries?
This has been formalised in the After Augustine Project, which is researching and documenting the reception of Augustine from his death in 430 to the year 2000.
Until now, no attempt has ever been made to pursue Augustinian reception as a continuum across all affected disciplines. The project does not intend to concentrate solely on what is often called ‘Augustinism’ or ‘Augustinianism’ in a narrow dogmatic sense; instead, the term ‘reception’ is chosen to indicate a much wider spectrum.
Even so, in this After Augustine Project the tradition of Augustine’s iconography will not be included, nor the history of the manuscript transmission of his works (a separate project in Vienna), or the history of the religious orders that follow the Rule of St Augustine (a separate project in Würzburg).
The web site of the After Augustine Project is
Quiz on Augustine
For a quiz on Augustine produced for the Augustinian postulants at Southlands, Nairobi, Kenya, click here