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Font of Life Ambrose, Augustine, and the Mystery of Baptism

ISBN-10: 019976851X

ISBN-13: 9780199768516

Edition: 2012

Authors: Garry Wills

List price: $21.95
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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.InFont 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.
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Book details

List price: $21.95
Copyright year: 2012
Publisher: Oxford University Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 4/6/2012
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 208
Size: 8.30" wide x 5.70" long x 0.90" tall
Weight: 0.682
Language: English

Garry Wills, 1934 - Garry Wills was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1934. Wills received a B.A. from St. Louis University in 1957, an M.A. from Xavier University of Cincinnati in 1958, an M.A. (1959) and a Ph.D. (1961) in classics from Yale. Wills was a junior fellow of the Center for Hellenic Studies from 1961-62, an associate professor of classics and adjunct professor of humanities at Johns Hopkins University from 1962-80. Wills was the first Washington Irving Professor of Modern American History and Literature at Union College, and was also a Regents Professor at the University of California in Santa Barbara, Silliman Seminarist at Yale, Christian Gauss Lecturer at Princeton, W.W. Cook Lecturer at the University of Michigan Law School, Hubert Humphrey Seminarist at Macalester College, Welch Professor of American Studies at Notre Dame University and Henry R. Luce Professor of American Culture and Public Policy at Northwestern University (1980-88). Wills is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and his articles appear frequently in The New York Review of Books. Wills is the author of "Lincoln at Gettysburg," which won the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction in 1993 and the NEH Presidential Medal, "John Wayne's America," "A Necessary Evil: A History of American Distrust of Government" and "The Kennedy Imprisonment." Other awards received by Wills include the National Book Critics Award, the Merle Curti Award of the organization of American Historians, the Wilbur Cross Medal from Yale Graduate School, the Harold Washington Book Award and the Peabody Award for excellence in broadcasting, which was for writing and narrating the 1988 "Frontline" documentary "The Candidates."

Key to Brief Citations
Illustration List
Map of Milan
Introduction: Tale of a Font
Ambrose's Town
Ambrosian Discipline
Ambrose Fights for His Churches
Augustine on the Way to Milan
Augustine in Milan
The Baptism
Augustine Approaches the Font
Augustine at the Font
After the Font
Baptism in Africa
The Ritual
Augustine Needs Ambrose