Augustine and Catholic Christianization

The Catholicization of Roman Africa, 391-408

by Horace E. Six-Means (Author)
©2011 Monographs VIII, 214 Pages
Series: Patristic Studies, Volume 10


A religious reformation occurred in the Roman Empire of the fourth and fifth centuries which scholars often call Christianization. Examining evidence relevant to Roman Africa of this period, this book sharpens understanding of this religious revolution. Focusing on the activities of Augustine and his colleagues from Augustine’s ordination as a priest in 391, to the fall of the Emperor Honorius’ master of soldiers, Stilicho, in 408, it proposes Catholicization as a term to more precisely characterize the process of change observed. Augustine and Catholic Christianization argues that at the end of the fourth and beginning of the fifth century Augustine emerged as the key manager in the campaign to Catholicize Roman Africa by virtue of a comprehensive strategy to persuade or suppress rivals, which notably included Donatists, Arians, Manichees, and various kinds of polytheism. Select sermons from 403 and 404 reveal that Augustine’s rhetoric was multivalent. It addressed the populus and the elite, Christians and non-Christians, Catholics, and Donatists.
Key sources examined are selected laws of the Theodosian Code, the Canons of the African Council of Catholic Bishops, Augustine’s Dolbeau sermons (discovered in 1990), Contra Cresconium, as well as other sermons, letters, and treatises of Augustine. This book clarifies our perception of Augustine and Christianity in the socio-religious landscape of Late Roman Africa in at least three ways. First, it combines theological investigation of the sources and development of Augustine’s ecclesiology with sociohistorical tracing of the process of Catholicization. Second, an account of the evolution of Augustine’s self-understanding as a bishop is given along with the development of his strategy for Catholicization. Third, Augustine is identified as resembling modern political «spin-doctors» in that he was a brilliant spokesperson, but he did not work alone; he was a team player. In brief, Augustine influenced and was influenced by his fellow bishops within Catholic circles.


VIII, 214
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2012 (February)
Canons Augustine Bishop Catholic Catholicization Roman Empire Roman Africa Theodosian Code Dolbeau Sermons Spin-Doctor Preaching Rhetoric Early Church Early Christiani Councils Carthage Late Antiquity Christianization
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2011. VIII, 214 pp.

Biographical notes

Horace E. Six-Means (Author)

Horace E. Six-Means, a 2008 Research Fellow at the Wabash Center for Teaching Theology and Religion, earned his PhD in the History of Christianity at Princeton Theological Seminary, where he also earned his M.Div. and Th.M. degrees. From the University of Pennsylvania he earned a BA degree in design with a minor in philosophy. Dr. Six-Means, a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, practices engaged pedagogy and studies the relationships between Christianity and culture from antiquity to our emerging postmodern present.


Title: Augustine and Catholic Christianization