Augustine Mentoring Women
In somewhat of a followup to my book Augustine as Mentor, I will be presenting a paper entitled "Ministering to the Whole Family of God: Augustine and Women in Theological Correspondence" at the annual Evangelical Theological Society meeting in a couple of weeks in Atlanta. My abstract follows:
One key means that Augustine used to influence church leaders, political leaders, and the church at large in his day was letters. For example, in his correspondence with other ordained clergy, he addressed theological issues, practical church matters, and even started on a few books through the medium of a letter. In all, his corpus of letters adds up to 252 communications most of which were composed during his nearly forty years as presbyter and bishop of Hippo. Letters in Augustine’s day were not necessarily private conversations; rather, they served as a platform for Augustine and others to publish ideas and ultimately shape the direction of the church.
Another means of Augustine’s mentoring was the monastery in which he lived in spiritual community with other men—initially with laymen and then later with other clergy—during this same period of his life in ministry. Women, of course, were not an integral part of these communities and great care was taken to see that Augustine’s monks did not succumb to temptation through interaction with the opposite sex. So does this mean that Augustine’s spiritual and mentoring influence on women was limited or non-existent? To the contrary, Augustine maintained a stimulating correspondence with a number of prominent women in which theological and spiritual matters were engaged with much depth. In this paper, I will briefly explore these letters, identifying the correspondents and discussing the theological issues involved toward showing Augustine’s ministry in a bit of a different light by arguing that the scope of his pastoral and mentoring ministry extended to women as well.
 Cf. Edward L. Smither, Augustine as Mentor: A Model for Preparing Spiritual Leaders (Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2008), 157-185.
 Cf. Maureen Tilley, “No Friendly Letters: Augustine’s Correspondence with Women,” in Dale B. Martin and Patricia Cox Miller, eds. The Cultural Turn in Late Ancient Studies (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005), 41; Catherine Conybeare, “Spaces Between Letters: Augustine’s Correspondence with Women,” in Linda Olson and Kathryn Kerby-Fulton, eds. Voices in Dialogue: Reading Women in the Middle Ages (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2005), 57.
 Cf. Smither, Augustine as Mentor, 134-157.
Comments are closed.