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Revisiting The Adversary In Augustine's Contra Aduersarium Legis Et Prophetarum

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Chapter Summary

Augustine of Hippo's Contra aduersarium legis et prophetarum was composed in or about the year 420, in rebuttal to writing which, after a public reading at Carthage, was submitted to his evaluation. Augustine's allusions to direct quotes from the refuted text comprise about 6 percent of the Contra aduersarium. In 1892 Theodor Zahn expressed the view that the aduersarius could be neither Manichaean nor Marcionite. The majority of opinions since Zahn have favoured one of the latter two scenarios, that is, Marcionite/Patrician, or Marcionite with something else. Three allusions in Augustine's text further advocate the theory of a Manichaean affiliation for the aduersarius. The first is an anthropological note, in which Augustine refers to the adversary's idea of the soul as being 'part of God'-a typically Manichaean notion. So is another which Augustine attributes to his adversary, that of light alone as truly good-because it is identified with God.

Keywords: Augustine; Contra aduersarium legis et prophetarum; Manichaean; Marcionite

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