Department of Middle Eastern Studies
Department of Middle Eastern Studies

"Augustine, the Donatists, and Letters of Peace"

Tue, October 6, 2009 | Texas Union, Sinclair Suite (3.128)

4:00 PM

The Workshop on Late Antiquity Presents:

"Augustine, the Donatists, and Letters of Peace"
a talk by
Jennifer Ebbler, Department of Classics

In the opening section of Contra Litteras Petiliani, an anti-Donatist treatise composed c. 400 CE, Augustine characterizes his letters to leading Donatist bishops as litterae pacificae.  He carefully distinguishes his “peacemaking letters” from the communion letters (litterae communicatoriae) that were more usually exchanged between Christian bishops. Still, the precise meaning and implications of Augustine’s terminology are uncertain.

This paper explores the possibility that Augustine’s terminology was deliberate and intended to encourage his early fifth century readers to see a connection between his Donatist letters and the letters of peace that imprisoned Christian confessors and soon-to-be martyrs wrote on behalf of lapsed Christians following the Decian persecutions (249–251 CE).

Jennifer Ebbler is Associate Professor in the Department of Classcis.  Her book Disciplining Christians: Correction and Community in Augustine’s Letters is forthcoming from Oxford University Press.

Sponsored by: Center and Department for Middle Eastern Studies, and the Department of Religious Studies

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