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Font of Life: Ambrose, Augustine, and the Mystery of Baptism (Emblems of Antiquity)

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Font of Life: Ambrose, Augustine, and the Mystery of Baptism (Emblems of Antiquity) Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

One of the most important sites in the Christian world lies hidden under the piazza of the cathedral (Duomo) in Milan. Rarely visited, it is part of the foundations of a 4th-century cathedral where, at dawn on Easter of 387, a group of people seeking baptism, including Augustine, gathered after an all-night vigil. After Ambrose performed the sacrament, the catechumens were greeted by their fellows in the faith, including Augustine's mother Monnica and the two men who had taught Augustine his theology and philosophy, Mallius Theodore and Simplician. Though the occasion had deep significance for the participants, this little cluster of devotion was unaware that they were creating the future of the Western church. Ambrose, already a powerful leader, would go on to forge new liturgies, new forms of church music, and new chains of churches; Augustine would return to his native Africa to become bishop of Hippo and one of the most influential writers of Christianity of his time and ours.

In Font of Life, Garry Wills uses this baptistry to chronicle a pivotal chapter in the history of the Church. In doing so, he highlights the often uncomfortable relationship between Ambrose, the cultured and influential official in imperial Milan, and Augustine, the ambitious man from the provinces with searching questions about his faith. In addition, the baptistry allows Wills to neatly explore two issues of paramount importance to the early Church: the sacrament of baptism and the incorporation of Neoplatonic philosophy into the Western faith. Wills provides a richly detailed account of this watershed moment in Western intellectual history while promising to make widely known an unjustly neglected early Christianity landmark.

Review:

"In his latest book, prolific author and historian Wills (Lincoln at Gettysburg) takes the reader beneath Milan's famed cathedral to the 'font of life,' the baptistry where Ambrose baptized Augustine in 387 C.E. He explores the historical moment during which the two famous and highly influential Christians met, dramatically bringing to life this critical time in the history of Christianity. Painting a backdrop of heresies and tense clashes with Roman emperors, Wills provides a captivating and rich description of Ambrose's baptismal rite and theology. He then compares these to Augustine's own baptismal rite and theology, analyzing to what extent Ambrose might have influenced the future bishop of Hippo. Wills compellingly argues that despite their encounter in Milan, in which Ambrose initiated Augustine into the Christian community, the two men differed greatly both in personality and theology. Their respective baptismal rites were influenced largely by the heresies they wished to disprove and condemn, not by one another. A well-researched and fascinating historical look at Ambrose, Augustine, and the sacrament of baptism. Agent: Andrew Wylie." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Synopsis:

No two men were more influential in the early Church than Ambrose, the powerful Bishop of Milan, and Augustine, the philosopher from provincial Africa who would write The Confessions and The City of God. Different in background, they were also extraordinarily different in personality. In Font of Life, Garry Wills explores the remarkable moment when their lives intersected at one of the most important, yet rarely visited, sites in the Christian world. Hidden under the piazza of the Duomo in Milan lies part of the foundations of a fourth-century cathedral where, at dawn on Easter of 387, Augustine and a group of people seeking baptism gathered after an all-night vigil. Ambrose himself performed the sacrament and the catechumens were greeted by their fellows in the faith, which included Augustine's mother Monnica. Though the occasion had deep significance for the participants, this little cluster of devotees was unaware that they were creating the future of the Western church. Ambrose would go on to forge new liturgies, new forms of church music, and new chains of churches; Augustine would return to Africa to become Bishop of Hippo and one of the most influential writers of Christianity. Garry Wills uses the ancient baptistry to chronicle a pivotal chapter in the history of the Church, highlighting the often uncomfortable relationship between the two church fathers and exploring the mystery and meanings of the sacrament of baptism. In addition, he brings long overdue attention to an unjustly neglected landmark of early Christianity.

About the Author

Author of Negro President: Jefferson and the Slave Power, Why I Am a Catholic, Papal Sin, and Lincoln at Gettysburg, winner of the Pulitzer Prize.

Table of Contents

Key to Brief Citations

Illustration List

Map of Milan

Introduction: Tale of a Font

I. Milan

1. Ambrose's Town

2. Ambrosian Disicipline

3. Ambrose Fights for His Churches

4. Augustine on the Way to Milan

5. Augustine in Milan

II. The Baptism

6. Augustine Approaches the Font

7. Augustine at the Font

8. After the Font

III. Hippo

9. Baptism in Africa

10. The Ritual

11. Augustine Needs Ambrose

Index

Product Details

ISBN:
9780199768516
Author:
Wills, Garry
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Subject:
Ancient - Rome
Subject:
Classical Studies | Ancient History | Roman
Subject:
Biography - General
Publication Date:
20120431
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
14 illus.
Pages:
208
Dimensions:
5.7 x 8.3 x 0.9 in 0.7 lb

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
History and Social Science » World History » Ancient Near East
Religion » Christianity » Christian Church » History
Religion » Christianity » Church History » Early
Religion » Christianity » Church History » General

Font of Life: Ambrose, Augustine, and the Mystery of Baptism (Emblems of Antiquity) Used Hardcover
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Product details 208 pages Oxford University Press, USA - English 9780199768516 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In his latest book, prolific author and historian Wills (Lincoln at Gettysburg) takes the reader beneath Milan's famed cathedral to the 'font of life,' the baptistry where Ambrose baptized Augustine in 387 C.E. He explores the historical moment during which the two famous and highly influential Christians met, dramatically bringing to life this critical time in the history of Christianity. Painting a backdrop of heresies and tense clashes with Roman emperors, Wills provides a captivating and rich description of Ambrose's baptismal rite and theology. He then compares these to Augustine's own baptismal rite and theology, analyzing to what extent Ambrose might have influenced the future bishop of Hippo. Wills compellingly argues that despite their encounter in Milan, in which Ambrose initiated Augustine into the Christian community, the two men differed greatly both in personality and theology. Their respective baptismal rites were influenced largely by the heresies they wished to disprove and condemn, not by one another. A well-researched and fascinating historical look at Ambrose, Augustine, and the sacrament of baptism. Agent: Andrew Wylie." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Synopsis" by , No two men were more influential in the early Church than Ambrose, the powerful Bishop of Milan, and Augustine, the philosopher from provincial Africa who would write The Confessions and The City of God. Different in background, they were also extraordinarily different in personality. In Font of Life, Garry Wills explores the remarkable moment when their lives intersected at one of the most important, yet rarely visited, sites in the Christian world. Hidden under the piazza of the Duomo in Milan lies part of the foundations of a fourth-century cathedral where, at dawn on Easter of 387, Augustine and a group of people seeking baptism gathered after an all-night vigil. Ambrose himself performed the sacrament and the catechumens were greeted by their fellows in the faith, which included Augustine's mother Monnica. Though the occasion had deep significance for the participants, this little cluster of devotees was unaware that they were creating the future of the Western church. Ambrose would go on to forge new liturgies, new forms of church music, and new chains of churches; Augustine would return to Africa to become Bishop of Hippo and one of the most influential writers of Christianity. Garry Wills uses the ancient baptistry to chronicle a pivotal chapter in the history of the Church, highlighting the often uncomfortable relationship between the two church fathers and exploring the mystery and meanings of the sacrament of baptism. In addition, he brings long overdue attention to an unjustly neglected landmark of early Christianity.
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