“The Structure and Intention of Augustine’s De Trinitate”

Cavadini, John. “The Structure and Intention of Augustine’s De Trinitate.” Augustinian Studies, Vol. 23 (1992), pp. 103-23.



“Augustine often commented on the “extreme difficulty” of his work On the
Trinity, repeatedly remarking that it would be comprehensible only “to few.”2
This may explain why, while there is a surfeit of modem discussions which
draw upon material from the De trinitate, there are virtually no modem
treatments of the work as a whole.3 Perhaps this is because, of all of
Augustine’s works, the De trinitate appears to us to be the most moorless, an
intractable mass of speculation floating oddly aloof from foundation in any
particular social context Peter Brown, commenting on the De trinitate in his
biography of Augustine, warns us that we are wrong if we do not think that
Augustine was capable of writing a book out of purely speculative motivation. 4
But perhaps this too is merely a polite way of suspecting that the work is
essentially irrelevant, and indeed Brown immediately drops the work from
further consideration, and others have followed suit In this paper I would like
to take an exploratory first step towards removing the stigma of pure
speculation from this work by suggesting a location for it within a circle of
discourse peculiar to Augustine’s intellectual milieu, and I would like to
propose that the key to such an enterprise will lie in a consideration of the
structure of the work as a whole.”

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