Augustine, Ancestors and the Problem of Evil: African Religions, the Donatists, and the African Manichees

Abstract

In this paper, I compare the philosophy of Augustine with the philosophy of relevant African traditions: Donatists, Manichees, and African traditional religions. I try to demonstrate that Augustine’s religious thought was partly influenced by local African religions or movements, but also differed from them substantially. I will carry out this comparative work looking at two important issues: the problem of evil and the existence of other supernatural entities, such as ancestors, and their relationship with humans. These comparisons lead to a new understanding of evil in Augustine’s thought; namely, evil as an inevitable world phenomenon.

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