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Rethinking Augustine's Early TheologyAn Argument for Continuity$
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Carol Harrison

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199281664

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2006

DOI: 10.1093/0199281661.001.0001

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The Will

The Will

(p.198) 7 The Will
Rethinking Augustine's Early Theology

Carol Harrison (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues against scholars’ interpretations of books one to three of Augustine’s work, On Free Will. Namely, scholars who view book one as revealing Augustine’s early, optimistic estimate of the freedom and ability of the will, and books two and three as betraying the later bishop’s pessimistic conviction of the fallen will’s inability to do anything but sin without grace. It is argued that this work should be read as a unified piece. Book one sets out a theoretical picture of the freedom and ability of the will which was only possessed by Adam, while books two and three reflect on the ignorance and difficulty which characterize its operation after the Fall. Augustine’s own later comments on the work, as well as other works written at the same time, are examined in order to support this interpretation.

Keywords:   free will, ability, ignorance, difficulty, Retractationes, evil, origin of soul

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