Between Pagans and Pelagians: Almsgiving and the Crisis of Unity in Augustine’s Preaching, 410-420

Few topics dominate Augustine’s sermons so thoroughly as almsgiving. According to one scholar, twenty percent of Augustine’s 567 sermons include some call to almsgiving. The themes that Augustine constellates under the topic of almsgiving are, of course, bewilderingly diverse: wealth and poverty, sin and redemption, faith and love, to name only a few. Augustine’s discourse on almsgiving is, however, never far from the controversies of Roman African churches. In this paper, I hope to bring to light the complexity of Augustine’s understanding of almsgiving during the denouement of the Donatist controversy and first stage of the Pelagian controversy, a period that spans the 410s.

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