St. Augustine, Preacher of Paradox and Promise in Early Fifth-Century North Africa

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingPaper in conference proceeding


Augustine mainly addressed men of the upper and middle classes. Their wives are assumed to be present (and, frequently, to be more pious than their husbands), but are seldom directly addressed. Servants and beggars are not addressed either, but stood to benefit from admonitions to the men in the audience, e.g. that they should give alms regularly and not sexually abuse their subordinates. All this must be understood in terms of the social structure of Roman North Africa.

God is depicted as a parent who through the preacher admonishes his children for the sake of their well-being, in this life and in the next. Key factors in their well-being are that they take part in the life of the Church and that they learn to love virtue more than transitory pleasures.

Focusing on Sermon 9, "On the then strings of the harp", the paper identifies two paradoxes and one ultimate promise. The paradox of sin depends on the paradox of God being both just and merciful. To love God is to strive for justice and plead for mercy, at the same time. The paradox of salvation entails that the dead are alive to Christ, and that it is possible to store up treasure in heaven by giving away money on earth.

The ultimate promise in the sermon is that God's image can be renewed in every human being, with the concomitant promise of an eternal sabbath to be enjoyed in the hereafter.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • History of Religions
  • History
  • General Literature Studies


  • Augustine, History of preaching, Sermons
Translated title of the contributionAugustinus som paradoxens och löftets predikant i det tidiga 400-talets Nordafrika
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPreaching Promise within the Paradoxes of Life
EditorsJohan Cilliers, Len Hansen
PublisherAfrican Sun Media
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-928314-48-6
ISBN (Print)978-1-928314-47-9
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Publication categoryResearch
EventSocietas Homiletica Twelfth International Conference 2016: Preaching promise within the paradoxes of life - Protea Hotel Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Duration: 2016 Mar 112016 Mar 16
Conference number: 12

Publication series

NameStudia Homiletica
PublisherSocietas Homiletica


ConferenceSocietas Homiletica Twelfth International Conference 2016
Abbreviated titleSocietas Homiletica
CountrySouth Africa
Internet address

Related activities

Borgehammar, S. (Presenter)
2016 Mar 13

Activity: Talk or presentationPresentation

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