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Does The Canon Need Converting? A Meditation On Augustine's Soliloquies, Eriugena's Periphyseon, And The Dialogue With The Religious Past

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Chapter Summary

Augustines early work the Soliloquies has played an important role throughout his scholarly career. The aim of this chapter is to ponder why contemporary scholars fixate on and feel such a need to define Augustines Christian identity. It draws on examples from both early-Christian and medieval culture, arguably among the most religious of historical eras in the West. Lincolns declaration of a new birth of freedom is a far distance from Carolingian times, but one can ask if, in spirit, his claim is really so different from the confidence with which Alcuin pledges that the Carolingian school, however primitive, has come to replace the glory of the Platonic academy. The chapter focuses on Augustines use of genre, i.e., the Platonic dialogue-form which he probably encountered through Cicero. Canon has to do with community in an organic, not a prescriptive sense.

Keywords: Augustines Christian identity; Cicero; Platonic academy; religious canon



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