chapter  4
12 Pages

BOOKS OF THE PLATONISTS

The historical details of Augustine’s early theological development are difficult to recover. But it is clear that the very idea of God’s transcendence of the physical cosmos was something that came to him with some effort, either through a direct encounter with pagan Platonism, or through its mediated exposure under the direction of Ambrose and his Christian Platonic circle in Milan. However this story is written, one fact is salient: divine transcendence is portrayed by Augustine as a discovery, something that he had not grasped through his exposure to orthodox Christianity throughout his youth and early adulthood. This larger fact must be kept in view, for it lurks behind Augustine’s growing disenchantment with the religious materialism that he had adopted during his student days, Manichaeism. The Manichees were not alone in their inability to recognize a transcendent God.