Posted on

Augustine and the Jews

PaleJudaica directs us to Time magazine’s interview with Paul Fredriksen, on the subject of her new book, Augustine and the Jews: A Christian Defense of Jews and Judaism, which I happen to be reading now.

What caused you to question the received wisdom?
Back in 1993 I was reading a work of Augustine’s attacking a Christian heretic. Usually when ancient orthodox Christians said terrible things about heretics, they found even worse things to say about Jews. Until 395, Augustine had not been much different, but here he was, writing about one of the flashiest heresies of his time, and marshaling as arguments unbelievably positive things about Jews. As I read further, my scalp tingled. I had been working on Augustine for 20 years and I’d never seen anything like this before. Not only could I establish that he had changed his position, but I could locate this shift in his thinking very precisely, to the four-year period when he also wrote his monumental Confessions.