“A Bond Between Souls”: Understanding Spiritual Friendship in Augustine of Hippo with Special Reference to His Letters
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This dissertation argues that especially in his letters, Augustine conceived of spiritual friendship as an outflow of Christian love, integral to the Christian life for the purpose of building Christ-like virtue and manifesting itself in various forms based on the occasion and the person. While the goal remained the same—encouraging Christ-like virtue—the manner and mode varied depending on his friend’s vocation and context. Chapter 2 provides an overview of friendship within Greco-Roman philosophy prior to Augustine. Chapter 3 examines the nature of spiritual friendship between Augustine and Jerome, with a focus on correction and frankness as the key to building Christ-like virtue. Chapter 4 looks at the nature of spiritual friendship as mutual encouragement in Christian living, highlighting Augustine’s relationship with monastics and virgins. Chapter 5 provides a summary of spiritual friendship with fellow clergy, with an emphasis on spiritual friendship as building Christ-like virtue and theological reflection as part of the pastoral calling. Chapter 6 assesses the nature Augustine’s spiritual friendship with civic officials, highlighting the public nature of Christ-like virtue for the sake of the common good. Chapter 7 encapsulates Augustine’s view of spiritual friendship, highlighting key themes that arise from his epistolary interactions. Chapter 8 concludes the dissertation.