The Donatist Controversy (396 – 411)- Part 2 - Translation, Introduction and Annotation by Frederick Van Fleteren
ii implicitly present in the human responsibility for sin and good works as found in Scripture. Whether an incipient doctrine of free will is present in Plotinus is a quaestio disputata. Whether Augustine read any such texts in Plotinus is doubtful. The Epistle to the Romans, especially Romans 7, is a major influence. Free will is a power of the intellectual, as distinct from the sensitive, soul. Gradually, Augustine develops a doctrine of grace. Based on Paul, this teaching of grace and free will dominate Augustine’s later writ- ings. The Christian tradition until the present struggles with this problem, Augustine responds to Manichean cosmological metaphysics with Plotinian and Porphyrian metaphyics. Since Plato’s Republic evil had been viewed as a deviation from the ideal. Plotinus and Porphyry develop this thinking into a notion of evil as non-being. The extended mythology of fall and return to the ideal enlarges upon this negative metaphysics. Perfect being truly exists. All other beings except the One are composed of being and non-being. Absolute evil would be total non-being. Augustine develops a metaphysics of being (esse) and non-being (non esse) in this tradition. There is no material principle of evil. Thirdly, the Manicheans rejected the Jewish Scripture as incoherent. They accepted a bowdlerized version of the New Testament. Passages in the gospels and epistles in which the Jewish Scripture was cited were excised— under a claim of corruption of the text. Augustine’s responds with a theory of allegorical exegesis, first found in Philo Judaeus, developed by...
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