Augustins Priesterweihe in Hippo Regius (391 n. Chr.)Selbstaussagen, Hagiographie und moderne Deutung

Zusammenfassung / Abstract

„Augustine’s ordination in Hippo Regius (391 AD)? Personal statements, hagiography and modern interpretations“ – The name of Augustine is inextricably linked with the Algerian port city of the former Hippo Regius (Bone / Annaba). When he returned to Africa from Rome in 388 AD, it was only natural that he would turn to his home town of Thagaste. But what (or who) brought him to Hippo Regius in 391, where he soon became a priest and afterwards bishop? All we have to rely on is his own testimony. Modern biographies tend not to dwell on the fact that we do not have one single narrative for this turning point. Instead, we have two – subtly different – „memories“ (both of which can be found in Sermo 355). Augustine’s pupil and biographer Possidius, who began to write his Vita immediately after the Church Father’s death, seems already to have been aware of a certain tension between these two self-declarations (was it about founding a monastery in Hippo or visiting a friend?) and decided to drop the first. This brought him into accord with the central – but: not the only – statement in Augustine’s sermon, which he then proceeded to escalate for dramatic and hagiographic purposes: the famous scene where the wholly unsuspecting hero is surprised by the favor of the people and, being pressed immediately into the priesthood, bursts into tears. Augustine himself does not mention this in Sermo 355 (in the same year 391, in his letter 21 he gives a different review of the events), he does stress however that he had not come to the town to become a cleric. The paper examines these more or less open contradictions and attempts to reconstruct the „Sitz im Leben“ of Sermo 355, in which Augustine negotiates two central objectives of his way of life: lack of possessions and voluntary dependence.

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