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Political TheologiesPublic Religions in a Post-Secular World$
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Hent de Vries and Lawrence E. Sullivan

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780823226443

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: March 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fso/9780823226443.001.0001

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Politics and Finitude: The Temporal Status of Augustine's Civitas Permixta

Politics and Finitude: The Temporal Status of Augustine's Civitas Permixta

(p.113) Politics and Finitude: The Temporal Status of Augustine's Civitas Permixta
Political Theologies

M. B. Pranger

Fordham University Press

In a different reading of Saint Augustine's conception of the saeculum, there is a tradition of medieval political thinking that counterbalances the unstable temporality of the terrestrial civitas with the motif of the corpus mysticum, the mystical body of Christ. This chapter focuses on the temporal dimension of the Augustinian model, thus relating the question of politics to that of “finitude”. It examines the specific ways in which Augustine's The Confessions and The City of God address transience. In both works, the individual self and its voice, as well as the body politic and its institutions, depend for their shaky existence—characterized by personal sin and skepticism concerning communal forms—on the sustenance of their Creator, that is to say, on grace and authority. Out of the shifting movements of the city of God, the city of the devil, the image of the city of God, and the image of the city of the devil—and the possible images of those images—one concrete city emerges, the civitas permixta, which rightly lays claim to being secular, historical, and temporal.

Keywords:   Saint Augustine, temporality, civitas permixta, city of God, The Confessions, saeculum, politics, finitude, transience, devil

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