Augustinus

Volume 63, Issue 250/251, Julio/Diciembre 2018

Joseph Grabau
Pages 385-399

Hermenéutica pastoral y exégesis polémica. Reflexiones sobre el método en 'Io. eu. tr.’ de Agustín de Hipona (406-407)

In this paper, the author first presents the earliest tractates (or ‘homilies’) on the Gospel of John, delivered in 406-407 A.D. by Augustine of Hippo, in their hermeneutical and polemical context, arguing that Augustine adapts his preaching style to reach members of his audience with distinct educational backgrounds, social identity and degree of knowledge and commitment to the Christian faith. Here, the concern is primarily contextual and lightly linguistic, with attention to the rhetorical strategies and overall presentation that Augustine adapts in delivering this distinct form of the late-antique sermon. The second half of the paper, then, seeks to flesh out in greater detail the implications of such a “middle style”, adapted to suit the homilist’s audience, by reconsidering a central tenet of Augustine’s own anti-Donatist agenda, that of the universality of the Church, and likewise of Christ’s sacrifice. By evaluating this series of theological questions, which arise for Augustine in his reading of and preaching about the Gospel of John yet receive substantial Ímpetus from his pastoral commitment to correct Donatist (“other North African”) forms of ecclesiology, and theology of the atonement and redemption, the paper suggests important features of Augustine’s synthetic approach: to the bible, and to bridging catechetical needs with polemical conditions of his ministry and the experience of his congregation and social setting. The essential implications of this study, therefore, are to further augment current understanding of Augustine’s preaching, interpretation of John’s gospel, and ability to synthesize modes of preaching and levels of discourse effectively.