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Augustine's Contra epistulam fundamenti: a study of the Epistula fundamenti, Augustine's knowledge of Manichaean cosmogony and his response to this Epistula, with commentary

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posted on 28.03.2022, 09:51 by Kevin Warren Kaatz
Augustine’s Contra epistulam quam uocant Fundamenti (Contra ep.fund.), written in 396 soon after he became bishop, is a little-studied work. It is, in effect, two works in one:the Manichaean Epistula Fundamenti {Ep. fund.) and Augustine’s response to this letter. Therefore the dissertation was broken up into two parts, followed by a commentary: the first (Chapters Two and Three) examines what the Ep.fund. might have been, followed by an analysis of Augustine’s knowledge of Manichaean cosmogony, from his own words. The second half of the dissertation (Chapters Four and Five) examines Augustine’s response to the Ep. fund. Chapter Two is a detailed analysis of what the Ep. fund, might be. While the Epistula Fundamenti has been the object of two studies, there has been no detailed investigation of what this work might have been. It was determined that, as the title suggests, it was a letter from the hand of Mani, the founder of Manichaeism. Following from this, the dissertation then examines how the Ep. fund, can be used to show what kind of Manichaean Augustine really was (Chapter Three). It was determined that while Augustine was knowledgeable about Manichaean cosmogony, it was only after he had become a bishop that this particular knowledge grew, aided mostly by the Epistula Fundamenti. Unlike the Ep. fund, itself, Augustine’s response to this particular letter has never been studied. Thus the second part of the dissertation deals with Augustine’s response. This was broken up into two parts. First, Augustine’s use of scripture against the Manichaeans was examined (Chapter Four). Second, Augustine’s response to the Ep. fund. (Chapter Five) was investigated. It was found that this response was primarily a philosophical one, guided by the idea o f an ascent of the soul. It was shown that Augustine was using this ascent to teach the Manichaeans both the correct way to think about matter and therefore the correct way to think about God. A commentary on the Latin text of the Contra ep. fund. completes the dissertation.


Table of Contents

Introduction -- The mystery of the Epistula fundamenti -- Augustine's knowledge of Manichaean cosmogony -- Augustine's response (1): use of scripture -- Augustine's response (2): the ascent -- Conclusions -- Commentary.


Typescript. Bibliography: p. 307-330

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


Thesis (PhD), Macquarie University (Division of Humanities, Department of Ancient History)

Department, Centre or School

Department of Ancient History

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Sam Lieu

Additional Supervisor 1

Alanna Nobbs


Copyright Kevin Warren Kaatz 2003. Copyright disclaimer: http://mq.edu.au/library/copyright This thesis was digitised for the purposes of Document Delivery. Macquarie University ResearchOnline attempted to locate the author but where this has not been possible; we are making available, open access, the thesis which may be used for the purposes of private research and study. If you have any enquiries or issues regarding this work being made available please contact Macquarie University ResearchOnline - researchonline@mq.edu.au




1 online resource (ix, 330 p., bound)

Former Identifiers

mq:70494 http://hdl.handle.net/1959.14/1264819