Augustine of Hippo, Saint (354-430 AD) Epistolae. Liber Epistolarum Beati Augustini Episcopi Hipponensis Ecclesie. [Basel]: Johann Amerbach, 93. Folio, second edition of Augustine's letters, illuminated portrait of Augustine in the initial showing the Saint wearing a Bishop's mitre, and holding a sceptre and a small red book on the first page of text (a1), text handsomely printed in a roman type in single column throughout, smaller initials and capital marks in red and blue, title washed and silked, some occasional light browning; bound in later half parchment and marbled paper boards, 11 3/4 x 8 in.
Augustine's Letters, printed here for the second time in the incunabula period with an extensive alphabetical index, present a detailed and compelling window into Christian ecclesiastical life in North Africa at the beginning of the fifth century. As Bishop of Hippo (ancient name of Annaba, Algeria) Augustine's letters naturally delve into ecclesiastical and episcopal affairs. However, he also writes on other events of late Roman empire Africa. Slavery and the slave trade's growth was an important issue, and Rome's involvement in African civil and ecclesiastical affairs is a recurring theme.
In addition to the overarching issues of church doctrine and discipline, we also see Augustine contemplating the pastoral problems facing his congregation, including marriage and family. Details regarding the Donatist schism are found here, and the Bishop's other daily worries: an inadequate supply of clergy, clerical scandals, church finances, the church's role in providing sanctuary (and the inevitable problems with civil authorities that result from granting it), disputes over episcopal succession, and other difficulties that still sound familiar today.
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Goff A1268; HC 1969*; Pell 1483; Girard 43; Bod-inc A-546; Sheppard 2442; Pr 7599; BMC III 755; BSB-Ink A-888; GW 2906.
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