“A Bond Between Souls”: Understanding Spiritual Friendship in Augustine of Hippo with Special Reference to His Letters
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SubjectAugustine, of Hippo, Saint, 354-430
This dissertation argues that especially in his letters, Augustine conceived of spiritual friendship as an outflow of Christian love, integral to the Christian life for the purpose of building Christ-like virtue and manifesting itself in various forms based on the occasion and the person. While the goal remained the same—encouraging Christ-like virtue—the manner and mode varied depending on his friend’s vocation and context. Chapter 2 provides an overview of friendship within Greco-Roman philosophy prior to Augustine. Chapter 3 examines the nature of spiritual friendship between Augustine and Jerome, with a focus on correction and frankness as the key to building Christ-like virtue. Chapter 4 looks at the nature of spiritual friendship as mutual encouragement in Christian living, highlighting Augustine’s relationship with monastics and virgins. Chapter 5 provides a summary of spiritual friendship with fellow clergy, with an emphasis on spiritual friendship as building Christ-like virtue and theological reflection as part of the pastoral calling. Chapter 6 assesses the nature Augustine’s spiritual friendship with civic officials, highlighting the public nature of Christ-like virtue for the sake of the common good. Chapter 7 encapsulates Augustine’s view of spiritual friendship, highlighting key themes that arise from his epistolary interactions. Chapter 8 concludes the dissertation.