The Transmission of Sin: Augustine and the Pre-Augustinian Sources
The Transmission of Sin: Augustine and the Pre-Augustinian Sources  -     By: Pier Franco Beatrice, Adam Kamesar
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Oxford University Press / 2012 / Hardcover
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The Transmission of Sin: Augustine and the Pre-Augustinian Sources

Oxford University Press / 2012 / Hardcover

In Stock
Stock No: WW751413


Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 304
Vendor: Oxford University Press
Publication Date: 2012
ISBN: 0199751412
ISBN-13: 9780199751419

Publisher's Description

Originally published in Italian in 1978, The Transmission of Sin is a study of the origins of the doctrine of original sin, one of the most important teachings of the Catholic Church. While the doctrine has a basis in biblical sources, it found its classic expression in the work of St. Augustine. Yet Augustine did not work out his theory on the basis of the biblical texts alone, rather he sought to understand them in the context of the religious thinking of his own time. Pier Franco Beatrice's work seeks to illuminate that context, and discover the post-biblical influences on Augustine's thought.

Although he made considerable efforts to defend and elaborate the doctrine of hereditary guilt, says Beatrice, the doctrine already existed before Augustine and was in fact widespread in the Christianity of the time, particularly in the West. He locates its origins in Egypt in the second half of the second century CE, in Jewish-Christian circles that saw sexual congress as the source of the physical and moral corruption that afflicts all humans. In reaction to this extreme view, which rejected marriage and procreation as inherently evil, other theologians developed a more moderate position, recognizing only personal sin, which could not be inherited. Beatrice argues that Augustine's doctrine exemplified a synthesis of these two trends which would ultimately triumph as the orthodox Catholic position.

Author Bio


Pier Franco Beatrice is Professor of Classics and Religious Studies at the University of Padua.

Adam Kamesar is Professor of Judaeo-Hellenistic Literature at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, OH.

Editorial Reviews


"Augustine's doctrine of original sin is one of the most controversial and least understood legacies of ancient Christianity. Exposing original sin's 'encratite' origins, Pier Franco Beatrice's The Transmission of Sin remains as insightful and astonishing as when it first appeared in Italian. Thanks to Adam Kamesar's lucid translation, more students and scholars can learn from a book that uncovers the 'heretical' strands in the thought of an icon of orthodoxy."--David Brakke, Joe R. Engle Chair in the History of Christianity and Professor of History, Ohio State University


"Beatrice argues that the doctrine of original sin was not invented by Augustine, but stemmed from groups--Encratites and Messalians--that the Church came to consider heretical. Tracing the concept's development from the New Testament to Augustine, Beatrice explores its implications for marriage, procreation, and the baptism of infants. Now in English translation, this book is a 'must-read' for all students of early Christianity."--Elizabeth A. Clark, John Carlisle Kilgo Professor of Religion and Professor of History, Duke University


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