By Matthew Alan Gaumer, University of Leuven, Belgium
In Augustine’s Cyprian Matthew Gaumer retraces how Augustine of Hippo devised the ultimate strategy to suppress Donatist Christianity, an indigenous form of the religion in ancient North Africa. Spanning nearly forty years, Augustine’s entire clerical career was spent combating the Donatists and seeking the dominance of the Catholic Church in North Africa. Through a variety of approaches Augustine evolved a method to successfully outlaw and deconstruct the Donatist Church’s organisation. This hinged on concerted preaching, tract writing, integrating Roman imperial authorities, and critically: by denying the Donatists’ exclusive claim to Cyprian of Carthage. Re-appropriation of Cyprian’s authority required Augustine and his allies to re-write history and pose positions contrary to Cyprian’s. In the end, Cyprian was the Donatists’ no longer.