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Did Augustine Win His Debate With Fortunatus?

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Chapter Summary

For two days in August of 392, Augustine, Catholic priest of Hippo, engaged in debate with Fortunatus, the leader of the citys Manichaean community. The traditional reading of the debate as a victory for Augustine has been shaped by a teleological tendency in favor of Augustines positions in Western intellectual history, by the detail that it is Fortunatus who calls for an end to the debate, and by the impression that the Nebridian Conundrum posed by Augustine is decisive in the debate because he persists in posing it in a way that does not acknowledge any answer from Fortunatus. The debate between Augustine and Fortunatus encapsulates the confrontation between the two chief competing theodicies of late antiquity. At the heart of the debate is the classic impasse between assertions of Gods omnipotence and of Gods goodness.

Keywords: Augustine; Fortunatus; late antiquity; Nebridian Conundrum



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