Volume 46, Issue 1, 2015
Geoffrey D. Dunn
Augustine’s Use of the Pauline Portrayal of Peter in Galatians 2
The incident at Antioch described in Galatians 2:11–14 features in a number of Augustine’s works: Expositio epistulae ad Galatas, his correspondence with Jerome, De mendacio, Sermo 162C, and in De baptismo contra Donatistas. While a few scholars have seen Augustine’s anti-Donatism as a driving force behind all his comments about this encounter between Peter and Paul, this article argues that, while the idea of Peter’s humility is to be found in his commentary, the sermon, one of the letters, and the treatises, Augustine interpreted the scriptural passage in a variety of different ways, depending upon his situation. In the commentary, Augustine wanted to defend the reality of the argument between Peter and Paul because of his belief that scriptural authors would not lie. The same idea occurs in his letters, e.g., Epistula 82, where he adds that his interpretation was supported by Cyprian. Contrary to the aforementioned scholars, it is only in De baptismo that Augustine applies the Galatians passage, which he takes as referring to Peter’s humility, to Cyprian himself as an imitator of Peter. Thus, it is only in this treatise that Augustine seeks to redeem Cyprian from the clutches of the Donatists. A close reading of this variety of interpretation by Augustine contributes to an appreciation of the complexity of his reception of Cyprian, a topic of ever-increasing importance in Augustinian studies.