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Nuancing Augustine's Hermeneutical Jew: Allegory and Actual Jews in the Bishop's Sermons

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By investigating Augustine's preaching on the Jews, this paper seeks to nuance recent scholarship that maintains that the bishop's doctrine of the Jews took shape not in the context of his daily interactions with real Jews in Hippo Regius but rather against the backdrop of various aspects of his theology. A consideration of Augustine's homiletic corpus reveals a biblically-constructed and theologically-crafted "hermeneutical Jew." At the same time, however, Augustine the preacher also repeatedly refers to actual Jews in his late antique North African context. After reviewing the basic historical and historiographical evidence for Jews in ancient North Africa, it is here argued that it is precisely for actual Jews and their potential proselytes that Augustine spins the hermeneutically-crafted Jew (indeed, several of them) out of his allegorical interpretation of various biblical stories.


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