Browsing by Subject "ekumeniikka"

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  • Nisula, Timo (2011)
    This study analyses Augustine s concept of concupiscentia, or evil desire (together with two cognate terms, libido and cupiditas) in the context of his entire oeuvre. By the aid of systematic analysis, the concept and its development is explored in four distinct ways. It is claimed that Augustine used the concept of concupiscentia for several theological purposes, and the task of the study is to represent these distinct functions, and their connections to Augustine s general theological and philosophical convictions. The study opens with a survey on terminology. A general overview of the occurrences of the negatively connoted words for desire in Latin literature precedes a corresponding examination of Augustine s own works. In this introductory chapter it is shown that, despite certain preferences in the uses of the words, a sufficient degree of synonymy reigns so as to allow an analysis of the concept without tightly discriminating between the terms. The theological functions of concupiscentia with its distinct contexts are analysed in separate chapters. The function of concupiscentia as a divine punishment is explored first (Ch 3). It is seen how Augustine links together concupiscentia and ideas about divine justice, and finally suggests that in the inordinate, psychologically experienced sexual desire, the original theological disobedience of Adam and Eve can be perceived. Augustine was criticized for this solution already in his own times, and the analysis of the function of concupiscentia as a divine punishment ends in a discussion on the critical response of punitive concupiscentia by Julian of Aeclanum. Augustine also attached to concupiscentia another central theological function by viewing evil desire as an inward originating cause for all external evil actions. In the study, this function is analysed by surveying two formally distinct images of evil desire, i.e. as the root (radix) of all evil, and as a threefold (triplex) matrix of evil actions (Ch 4). Both of these images were based on a single verse of the Bible (1 Jn 2, 16 and 1 Tim 6, 10). This function of concupiscentia was formed both parallel to, and in answer to, Manichaean insights into concupiscentia. Being familiar with the traditional philosophical discussions on the nature and therapy of emotions, Augustine situated concupiscentia also into this context. It is acknowledged that these philosophical traditions had an obvious impact into his way of explaining psychological processes in connection with concupiscentia. Not only did Augustine implicitly receive and exploit these traditions, but he also explicitly moulded and criticized them in connection with concupiscentia. Eventually, Augustine conceives the philosophical traditions of emotions as partly useful but also partly inadequate to deal with concupiscentia (Ch 5). The role of concupiscentia in connection to divine grace and Christian renewal is analysed in the final chapter of the study. Augustine s gradual development in internalizing the effects of concupiscentia also into the life of a baptized Christian are elucidated, as are the strong limitations and mitigations Augustine makes to the concept when attaching it into the life under grace (sub gratia). A crucial part in the development of this function is played by Augustine s changing interpretation of Rom 7, and the way concupiscentia appears in Augustine s readings of this text is therefore also analysed. As a result of the analysis of these four distinct functions and contexts of concupiscentia, it is concluded that Augustine s concept of concupiscentia is fairly tightly and coherently connected to his views of central theological importance. Especially the functions of concupiscentia as a punishment and the function of concupiscentia in Christian renewal were both tightly interwoven into Augustine s view of God s being and God s grace. The study shows the importance of reading Augustine s discussions on evil desire with a constant awareness of their role in their larger context, that is, of their function in each situation. The study warns against too simplistic and unifying readings of Augustine s concupiscentia, emphasizing the need to acknowledge both the necessitating, sinful aspects of concupiscentia, and the domesticated features of concupiscentia during Christian renewal.