Experiments in Epistolary Correction

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

Experiments in Epistolary Correction

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This chapter examines Augustine's initial, tentative efforts to initiate corrective correspondences. Between c.391 and 395, he began to test the possibility of a corrective letter exchange with a disparate group of correspondents: Maximus, a schoolteacher in Madaura; Maximinus, a Donatist bishop; and Jerome, the most famous biblical scholar of his generation. In each case, Augustine attempted to persuade his correspondent to participate in a serious, corrective letter exchange. As far as we can tell, these efforts ended in failure, either because the addressee resisted or because the letter was never delivered. In the end, Augustine's seemingly ideal correspondent, Paulinus of Nola, approached him, with encouragement from Alypius. In Paulinus, Augustine finally found a correspondent who claimed to desire a mutually corrective epistolary conversation as much as Augustine did. Despite Paulinus's willingness to play along, however, his correspondence with Augustine was remarkably formulaic and conventional. The only targets of correction in their letters were the wayward souls Augustine entrusted to Paulinus, most notably Romanianus's son Licentius. Even when confronting Paulinus over his continuing endorsement of Pelagius, Augustine carefully avoided overt criticism of Paulinus's actions.

Keywords: Augustine; Maximus; Maximinus; Herome; Paulinus of Nola

Chapter.  19282 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

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