Constructing an Ecclesial Community: Ambrose's Ethical Vision

Ivor J. Davidson

in Ambrose: De Officiis

Published in print February 2002 | ISBN: 9780199245789
Published online August 2004 | e-ISBN: 9780191601453 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Early Christian Studies

Constructing an Ecclesial Community: Ambrose's Ethical Vision

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By the late 380s, Ambrose had emerged, to some extent, from the struggle to assert his authority that had marked his earlier years as bishop, though he still had enemies. De officiis is intended as a moral manifesto for this social context. It contains practical advice on ‘seemly’ behaviour, including speech, body language, attitudes, and actions, and on the importance of controlling the passions through reason. There is a strong emphasis on charity and on self–denial, including sexual abstinence. It is seen as vital for the church to present a convincing appearance to a watching world.

Keywords: ‘Seemly’ behaviour; body language; charity; passions; self–denial; sexual abstinence; speech

Chapter.  13432 words. 

Subjects: Early Christianity

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