Questioning Christian baptism: insights from Augustine’s correspondence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This article explores letters Augustine wrote to or about catechumens (Ep. 258 to Marcianus, Ep. 151 to Caecilianus, Ep. 2* to Firmus and Ep. 227 (probably sent to Alypius). It argues against the indifferent mass stereotyping of catechumens in late antiquity, postponing baptism until death and the idea that catechumens did not represent a pastoral challenge for bishops. (Catechumens might be deeply involved in Christian communities while still preferring to adopt Christianity quite gradually, considering baptism to be the climax rather than the starting point of their religious experience.) The letters convey the sense of an ongoing negotiation on the normative markers of Christian belonging, with catechumens representing a crucial challenge for Augustine as he argued for a more clear-cut definition of belonging, centred around baptism. The article also discusses a new identification, suggesting that Firmus in Ep. 2* and Gabinianus in Ep. 227 are the same individual and thus dating Ep. 227 after Ep.2*, probably to 429.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)452-482
JournalRevue d'Histoire Ecclesiastique
Volume111
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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Augustine of Hippo
Baptism
Questioning
Letters
Cut
Stereotyping
Climax
Religious Experience
Christianity
Christian Community
Late Antiquity

Keywords

  • catechumenate
  • conversion
  • letters
  • Augustine of Hippo
  • late antiquity
  • late roman Africa
  • baptism

Cite this

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title = "Questioning Christian baptism: insights from Augustine’s correspondence",
abstract = "This article explores letters Augustine wrote to or about catechumens (Ep. 258 to Marcianus, Ep. 151 to Caecilianus, Ep. 2* to Firmus and Ep. 227 (probably sent to Alypius). It argues against the indifferent mass stereotyping of catechumens in late antiquity, postponing baptism until death and the idea that catechumens did not represent a pastoral challenge for bishops. (Catechumens might be deeply involved in Christian communities while still preferring to adopt Christianity quite gradually, considering baptism to be the climax rather than the starting point of their religious experience.) The letters convey the sense of an ongoing negotiation on the normative markers of Christian belonging, with catechumens representing a crucial challenge for Augustine as he argued for a more clear-cut definition of belonging, centred around baptism. The article also discusses a new identification, suggesting that Firmus in Ep. 2* and Gabinianus in Ep. 227 are the same individual and thus dating Ep. 227 after Ep.2*, probably to 429.",
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Questioning Christian baptism: insights from Augustine’s correspondence. / Pignot, Matthieu.

In: Revue d'Histoire Ecclesiastique, Vol. 111, No. 3-4, 2016, p. 452-482.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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