On Augustine’s Hostile Audience

Reflections from Peter Brown on Augustine’s Dolbeau sermons:

For instance, the Dolbeau sermons make abundantly plain that, when Augustine preached, his statements were by no means the ex cathedra statements of the representative of a securely established Catholic hierarchy. Brilliant, urgent and, at times, intransigent, his sermons are better described as ‘dialogues with the crowd’.’ They are often inconclusive dialogues. One senses in them the constant presence of the unpersuaded, the indifferent and the downright disobedient. We do not hear the voice of a man confident that, as a Catholic bishop, he had been called to rule an entire society. Indeed, the very urgency and trenchancy of their tone betrays how little authority Augustine actually wielded over his hearers.


    1. Yeah, this is really interesting to me. Augustine preached a sermon “On Obedience” and it was in response to being shouted down during his previous attempted sermon. Augustine really did not have the power that he would later gain through his posthumous writings.

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