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When Souls Had WingsPre-Mortal Existence in Western Thought$
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Terryl L. Givens

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195313901

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195313901.001.0001

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Augustine and the Formation of Orthodoxy

Augustine and the Formation of Orthodoxy

(p.99) 5 Augustine and the Formation of Orthodoxy
When Souls Had Wings

Terryl L. Givens (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Preexistence was often linked to immortality, a threat to orthodox conceptions of the human soul. Other problems with the doctrine were its connection with Gnostics and with Plato and its incompatibility with creation ex nihilo (pushed by Basilides). Unlike Jerome, Augustine initially favors preexistence but distances himself in reaction to Pelagianism. Facing that threat, he finds it more important to defend God's grace (thereby emphasizing depravity) than to defend his justice (by emphasizing human choice and by implication, preexistence). Theodicy is largely discarded as a theological problem, and Justinian pronounces an anathema on preexistence.

Keywords:   Augustine, Basilides, creation ex nihilo, Gnostics, Jerome, Justinian, Pelagianism, theodicy

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