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Date of Award

6-2008

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Religious Studies

Supervisor

Peter Widdicombe

Language

English

Abstract

In this thesis I provide a critical exposition of the theme of the reform of the image of God in human beings (Gen. 1:26) in Augustine's De Trinitate, a theme that has hitherto been neglected in Augustinian scholarship. I argue that this reform is a trinitarian process in which the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit seek to remedy the defects in their image in the human mind -- defects that Augustine believes were introduced by original sin. I emphasize the psychological character of this process of reform, focusing on how Augustine argues the persons of the Trinity improve the operations of the human mind in order to make it fit for the knowledge of God (sapientia), which he believes is the source of well-being for the divine image. Insofar as Augustine believes the divine image is reformed through the knowledge of God, my thesis also criticizes the opinions of some modern interpreters of Augustine's theology who argue that his method for coming to understand the Trinity in the De Trinitate departs from the external economy of salvation through what they believe is his excessive focus on introspection as a means to the knowledge of God. Against these scholars, I argue that for Augustine human beings are always dependent on divine grace and faith to advance in their understanding of God, even at the most seemingly introspective level. I also contend that for Augustine the reform of the divine image, although focused on the individual, incorporates the interests of the community through his emphasis on the necessity of the love of God and the neighbour (Matt. 22:36-40) for this reform.

McMaster University Library

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