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Augustinian Studies

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published on January 24, 2020

Thomas Clemmons

De Genesi Aduersus Manicheos
Augustine’s Anthropology and the Fall of the Soul 

This article examines Augustine’s early anthropology, particularly through De Genesi aduersus Manichaeos. The most thorough treatment of this topic is found in the enduring work of Robert J. O’Connell, SJ. O’Connell argues that Augustine drew directly from the Enneads in De Genesi aduersus Manichaeos to formulate his anthropology. This article evaluates and critiques the evidence and implications of O’Connell’s position concerning Augustine’s articulation of the “fall of the soul.” I argue that an attentive text-based reading of De Genesi aduersus Manichaeos reveals the shortcomings of O’Connell’s “Plotinian” rendering of Augustine’s anthropology. More importantly, I show that De Genesi aduersus Manichaeos illuminates dimensions of Augustine’s anthropology often overlooked. These include the human’s transformation to spiritalis through Christ and the eschatological configuration of the caeleste corpus. In contrast to O’Connell’s theory, which emphasizes the necessary “circularity” of Augustine’s anthropological framework (that is, the soul “returns” to a condition identical to the aboriginal state), I argue that in De Genesi aduersus Manichaeos Augustine advances an anthropology that is not merely “circular.”

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