Justice in Augustine's City of God

Daniels, Amy Lydia (2012-12)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis outlines Augustine’s thought on justice as articulated in The City of God: against the Pagans. The purpose of the study was to investigate the place and role of his convictions about justice in his apologetic project. To this end, Books 19-22 of The City of God were read within the historical, religious and ideological contexts of Augustine’s day. Aspects deemed relevant to the stated goals of the thesis and which were therefore surveyed, were pagan-Christian relations and Neo-Platonism in the fifth century; the sacking of Rome in AD 410, a perceived injustice which occasioned rampant calumnies against the Christians and questions regarding the justice of God; secular jurisprudence and legal practice, with a focus on the role of bishops in dispensing justice; biblical perspectives on justice. A reading of Books 19-22 of the City of God was then done, in which it was found that justice was viewed by Augustine as subordinate to, but straining toward the Supreme Good, identified as peace. Moreover, it was shown that Augustine’s perspective on justice is inextricably linked with his eschatological convictions. These are that God is set to establish an eternal City, composed of those who, throughout history, have pledged allegiance to Him. That city is characterised by peace and justice, as determined by God. Any peace or manifestation of justice in the present age was shown to flow from humankind’s predisposition toward self-love (egotism). As such, they are presented by Augustine as a poor reflection of the perfect peace and justice that will be established by God. With regard to Augustine’s defence of the Christian faith, it was found that he employs a model of argumentation which takes as its point of departure the worldviews of his opponents, showing up cracks in their thinking. He then presents his own perspective as the better alternative. The juxtaposition of the current age, fraught with injustice and chaos, against the eternal peace and justice to be established by God, were shown to be important selling-points for Augustine. For him, life in the eternal City of God was an irresistible offer, which he sought to hold out to his opponents.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie tesis skets Augustinus se denke oor geregtigheid soos geartikuleer in Die Stad van God: teen die Heidene. Die doel van die studie was om die plek en die rol van sy oortuigings oor geregtigheid in sy apologetiese projek te ondersoek. Met hierdie doel is Boeke 19-22 uit Die Stad van God gelees binne die historiese, godsdienstige en ideologiese kontekste van Augustinus se tyd. Aspekte wat as relevant beskou is tot die vermelde doelwitte van die tesis en wat dus ondersoek is, is verhoudings tussen heidene en Christene asook Neo-Platonisme in die vyfde eeu; die plundering van Rome in 410 n.C., ’n vermeende onreg wat aanleiding gegee het tot onbeteuelde laster teenoor die Christene en vrae oor die geregtigheid van God; sekulêre wetsgeleerdheid en regspraktyk, met die fokus op die rol van biskoppe in die beoefening van regspraak; bybelse perspektiewe op geregtigheid. ’n Vertolking van Boeke 19-22 uit Die Stad van God is daarna gedoen, waarin daar bevind is Augustinus het gemeen dat geregtigheid ondergeskik is aan, maar wel streef na, die Hoogste Goed, wat naamlik as vrede geïdentifiseer word. Verder is daar getoon dat Augustinus se perspektief op geregtigheid onlosmaaklik verbind is aan sy eskatologiese oortuigings. Hierdie oortuigings is dat God ’n Ewige Stad sal vestig wat saamgestel is uit dié wat deur die geskiedenis heen trou aan Hom gesweer het. Daardie stad word deur vrede en geregtigheid gekenmerk, soos dit deur God bepaal is. Daar word gewys daarop dat enige vrede of manifestasie van geregtigheid in daardie tyd bloot voortgevloei het uit die mens se geneigdheid tot selfliefde (egotisme). Dít word deur Augustinus voorgehou as ’n swak weerspieëling van die volmaakte vrede en geregtigheid wat deur God ingestel sal word. Wat betref Augustinus se verdediging van die Christelike geloof, is daar bevind dat hy ’n redeneringsmodel gebruik wat die wêreldbeskouings van sy opponente as uitgangspunt gebruik, en só die foute in hul denke uitwys. Hy bied dan sy eie perspektief as die beste alternatief aan. Die naasmekaarstelling van die huidige era, vol ongeregtigheid en chaos, teenoor die ewige vrede en geregtigheid wat deur God ingestel sal word, is uitgewys as belangrike verkoopspunte vir Augustinus. Vir hom was die lewe in die Ewige Stad van God ’n onweerstaanbare aanbod wat hy aan sy opponente wou voorhou.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/71609
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