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Title: Augustine and Patristic Argumentation in his Anti-Pelagian Works
Subtitle: Change or Continuity?
Author(s): CHRONISTER, Andrew C.
Journal: Augustiniana
Volume: 64    Issue: 1-4   Date: 2014   
Pages: 187-226
DOI: 10.2143/AUG.64.1.3080612

Abstract :
This study offers an overview and analysis of Augustine’s polemical usage of quotations from Christian authors in several key texts from throughout the Pelagian controversy. Contrary to the account of Éric Rebillard, I argue that Augustine consistently used the opinions found in these quotations as evidence of his own orthodoxy and of the Pelagians’ heterodoxy and, thus, consistently employed an argumentative technique modern scholars have called 'patristic argumentation'. Augustine regularly coupled his use of patristic argumentation with displays of rhetorical prowess, as he sought to convince his audience of the agreement between his own position and that of the quoted author. Further, Augustine often attempted to validate his use of patristic argumentation by suggesting that the authors whom he had quoted were reliable witnesses to the orthodox doctrine found in Scripture and in the Church’s teaching. I also argue that it is important to recognize the broader context of the controversy when attempting to understand Augustine’s use of these quotations. From the very beginning of the controversy, Augustine and his allies were confronted with Pelagian claims that African theology was out of step with that of the broader Church – claims that only increased in intensity as the controversy progressed. In this sense, the quoted opinions of his Christian predecessors provided Augustine with crucial evidence to persuade his readers that his positions were traditional and orthodox.

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