Augustinian Studies

Volume 54, Issue 2, 2023

Hans Feichtinger
Pages 177-202

Noli usque ad mortem: Augustine and the Death Penalty

Scholars do not agree on where Augustine exactly stands regarding capital punishment and whether his position is still relevant for debates today. This paper establishes Augustine’s starting point for his considerations on the death penalty, identifies the scriptural input into his views, both critical and supportive of capital punishment, and, finally, examines how he approaches concrete cases of people facing the death penalty. On this basis, it makes a somewhat new proposal for understanding how Augustine sees capital punishment as legitimate in principle but problematic in concrete cases, in particular, cases involving the church.