Jennifer V. Ebbeler

in Disciplining Christians

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780195372564
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199932122 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Late Antiquity


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This introductory chapter sets out the focus of the book, namely Augustine's inspired conversion of letter exchange from a practice that frequently reaffirmed the connection between absent friends to one that facilitated the correction of error in the Christian community. In its most basic form, the exchange of letters functioned to convey information across space and to affirm the connection between the correspondents. In Augustine's hands, however, these textual exchanges provided the medium for the in absentia correction of supposedly errant Christians. What was innovative about Augustine's epistolary practice was not his inclusion of rebuke in a letter—multiple examples of this type of letter survive. Instead, it was his expectation that a letter of rebuke would be reciprocated, that it would initiate an ongoing correspondence between Augustine and the object of his epistolary correction. An overview of the subsequent chapters is also presented.

Keywords: Augustine; letter exchange; Christians; epistolary correction; corrective correspondence

Chapter.  12392 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

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