Manual The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire: Volume 1, AD 260-395

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He was prepared to enlist the long arm of the state in enacting and enforcing laws against them, but was very sensitive to accusations that this amounted to persecution.

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He sought to defend himself from the charge that it was not right for Christians to involve the state and that he was being inconsistent in insisting both upon church unity and the punishment of recalcitrant schismatics by appealing to external coercion and punishment. Cherchell is a seaside town with a fine harbour on the Mediterranean coast of Libya, some one hundred kilometres west of Algiers. It was the second most important port in Africa after Carthage, and possibly contained a population of about 20, There is mosaic evidence that suggests it was a fertile area, growing grapes, vines, and corn, 19 although it was a more mountainous and harsh terrain that Africa Proconsularis.

Theodosius, father of the future emperor, Theodosius I, discovered Caesarea burnt in by the African rebel, Firmus, son of Nubel, king of Mauretania, and himself dux Mauretaniae , who had risen up against the corruption of Romanus, the local governor, or his failure to deal with corruption. Augustine regards him as well educated and thoughtful man.

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Augustine made his second point, honing in on the Donatist inconsistency in being the pure church they claimed to be, by turning their logic back on themselves. Augustine stated that the Donatists could not condemn the rest of the universal church the way they did with the Caecilianists in Africa. This argument only works if the Donatists did so condemn the rest of the church, for Augustine then added his reverse application: if the Donatists were going to condemn the rest of the church along with the Caecilianists in Africa, even though the former seemed not to have done anything wrong, then among themselves the Donatists ought to condemn those who did wrong, even though it remained undetected, which, obviously they did not.

Augustine could draw two conclusions from this: the Donatists ought not to condemn the rest of the church for undetected crimes and if the undetected crimes within their own Donatist communities did not contaminate their community while they remained undetected, then even after they were detected they could not contaminate them.

The prosopography of the later Roman Empire

What is required of Christians is that they disapprove of sinful person even while willing to approach the altar with them. But more to the point, while Augustine could praise the Donatists for not having split their own community by expelling even a great sinner like Optatus, he chastised Emeritus for remaining within a community that was founded by the splitting of the church. The schism of splitting is made into a heresy by persisting in it. While Optatus was not to be defended, Augustine conceded that it was fair enough not to condemn him if, as Emeritus would no doubt argue, he did not know enough about him to condemn him.

In like manner, the universal church โ€” built on the apostles Augustine added, just to emphasise their superiority over Donatist communities โ€” could not and should not be blamed as the Donatists did for not condemning anyone during the time of Diocletian, as they did not know enough about what was happening.


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Again, Augustine turned to the Scriptures to demonstrate that it was not the responsibility of a Christian to judge another: Galatians and Romans Thus, the Donatists should not try and rebaptize Christians from the universal church. Augustine then returned to a variation on his opening argument about the universal church.

Just as the Donatists condemned and would take no heed of their own splinter group, the Maximianists, because they were a much smaller group and, of course, Augustine was not going to mention the fact that there were quite a number of reasons the Maximianists were condemned, as that would detract from his case , they ought to be the ones condemned by the universal church rather than doing the condemning.

by Jones, A. H. M., J. R. Martindale, & J. Morris

By Augustine equating the size of the Maximianists negatively with the size of the Donatists he was attempting to thwart this possible Donatist tactic. He investigated the question of state involvement in the Donatist controversy, for this must have been the most telling of the attacks against them: for the group that urged tolerance and inclusiveness, the Caecilianists were perceived to have a weakness in that they involved the state in rooting out Donatists. But enough of defence for the moment, Augustine repeated the attack he outlined earlier to prove that their schism was of the latter kind: they condemned the rest of the church for something they themselves were guilty of and used as an excuse, viz.

While it is true that Christians ought not persecute each other, it was a different matter with the state, for as Romans 13 had established, this was the function of the state. The Donatists could not argue that Christians could not work with the state, because the Donatists themselves had colluded with Virius Nicomachus Flavianus, uicarius Africae in , whom Augustine accused of being a Donatist, although he was famously a non-Christian.

His response is to state that they had brought it upon themselves by starting a schism and rebaptizing, something the emperors had long forbidden. This is why Paul appealed to the state against the Jews Acts Even though Lancel notes that here Augustine sought to justify appeal to the state as an act of defence, it is not the only justification Augustine offered in the letter.

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Even if some Caecilianists did direct state authorities to take action against the Donatists, their aim was to cleanse the church before the chaff is separated from the wheat on the last day Matt Correction corrigo not expulsion was the aim as far as Augustine was concerned. Augustine offered a scriptural organic image: the Donatists were branches detached from the roots, who could be reattached, just as Paul stated Rom Since Donatist sacraments were valid, the Caecilianists did not rebaptize.

Even so, the detached branch could be corrupted, and even if it were not, it still remained fruitless unless reattached to the roots. The use of nostri seems to be some belated acknowledgement that the Caecilianists were involved in rousing the state to take action.

So long as the Donatists kept their faith intact they could be received back into communion intact after punishment or correction uel damnatione punitisi, uel indulgentia correctis. Augustine concludes by restating his belief not only that the Donatists started it, but that Emeritus was intelligent enough to figure out that Augustine was right. What happened since the schism started was of less importance. Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire usually abbreviated as PLRE is a set of three volumes that describes prominent individuals who lived from AD to AD, whose careers, writings and relations had influence over the outcome of recognizable historical events.

These volumes are valuable sources of biographical information, and include citations from literature, inscriptions, and other written sources. Copy and paste this code into your Wikipedia page. Need help? Last edited by ImportBot. March 21, History. Add another edition?

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Written in English. Places Rome , Byzantine Empire , Italy.