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Augustine of Hippo, Saint  

Louis Munoz

Augustine of Hippo was born in Tagaste (modern Souk Ahras, Algeria) in 354 and died almost seventy-six years later in Hippo Regius (modern Annaba, Algeria) in 429 on the Mediterranean coast. Only four of his seventy-five years were spent outside Northern Africa. However, those few years would influence considerably his thought and his work.

Augustine s Africa had been part of Rome s empire since the destruction of Carthage five hundred years before his birth The language of business and culture throughout Roman Africa was Latin Yet some distinctly African character continued to mark life in the province Some non Latin speech either the Berber tongue of the desert or Punic which ancient Carthaginians had spoken continued to be heard The dominant religion of Africa had become Christianity a religion opposed to the traditions of old Rome but that could not have spread without the unity that Rome had brought ...


Augustine, of Hippo  

James J. O'Donnell

Christian bishop and theologian, was born Aurelius Augustinus on 13 November 354 CE in Tagaste (mod. Souk Ahras, Algeria) in Roman Africa, the son of Patricius and Monnica. The names of father and son are marked by emphatic affiliation with Rome (echoing the imperial title of Augustus and the high dignity of “patrician”), while the mother’s name echoes the traditional Punic culture of Africa and one of its leading deities. Augustine died as bishop of Hippo Regius (mod. Annaba, Algeria) on 28 August 430. He never ceased to surprise his contemporaries, and he has astonished many more to this day.

As the older son in a family of some social pretensions but limited resources Augustine should have grown to manhood as a country squire of narrow horizons But his parents were ambitious and found the money from an influential friend to send him away for education He studied first at ...


Augustine, Saint  

Eric Bennett

One of the most famous theologians of his time, Augustine was raised in a mixed household: his mother was Christian but his father, an official of the Roman empire, was pagan. He spent his early years in what is today called Souk-Ahras, in Algeria Despite the piety of his mother Augustine abandoned Christianity at an early age attracted instead by Manichaeism a system of material dualism that claimed the human soul was like light imprisoned by darkness A precocious learner Augustine considered Christian scripture intellectually crude Inspired by Hortensius a now lost text by Cicero he mastered rhetoric and while still in his teens held a professional chair of rhetoric in Carthage Ever questioning the nature of things Augustine discarded Manichaeism for Academic Skepticism and later Neoplatonism At the age of twnenty eight he left Carthage for the Roman capital of Milan in search of better disciplined students In ...


Cyril of Alexandria  

Carmen De Michele

Christian theologian and bishop, who initiated a doctrinal dispute with the patriarch of Constantinople, Nestorius, about the two natures of Jesus Christ, was born in Alexandria in the year 375. He spent several years of his life in a monastery in the Nitrian Mountains until he succeeded his uncle Theophilus as bishop of Alexandria in 412. He confronted the church of the Novatianists, a sect that opposed the power of the church and granted protection and absolution to those believers who returned to idolatry because of persecution. He closed their churches and took over their church treasuries. Cyril further challenged the authority of the civil government by expelling the Jews from the city of Alexandria in the year 415, triggering violent riots.

Cyril was also indirectly involved in the murder of one of the most prominent female pagan philosophers and scientists of antiquity Hypatia A highly respected and influential citizen ...


Fulgentius, of Ruspe  

Gregory Hays

, Christian theologian, bishop, and saint, was born at Thelepte, in modern-day Tunisia, to an upper-class family. His father, Claudius, died soon after Fulgentius’s birth, and he and his younger brother were raised by their mother, Mariana. As a young man he embarked on an administrative career but abandoned it to enter a monastery, subsequently moving to a second one headed by a longtime friend, Felix. As a Trinitarian Catholic, Fulgentius was involved in the ongoing conflict with other Christians (often referred to as Arians), who held different views on the nature of Jesus Christ and his relationship to God the Father. This group included other clergy, as well as the Vandal regime. On at least one occasion, both Fulgentius and Felix were severely beaten by an Arian priest and his supporters.

Shortly before 500 Fulgentius embarked on a voyage to Egypt the homeland of monasticism However he actually went ...


Hadrami, Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Muradi al-  

Russell Hopley

North African Islamic theologian and jurist, was born in the city of al-Qayrawan to an Arab family with origins in the Hadramawt region of southern Arabia. His nisba al-Muradi further suggests a lineage among the Madhij Bedouin of Maʾrib in the Yemen. Al-Hadrami received his early education in al-Qayrawan, where he was able to study with a number of luminaries, including the influential jurist Abu ʿImran al-Fasi (d. 1039). He quickly drew the notice of his teachers for his formidable intellect and impressive command of the Arabic language. Al-Hadrami subsequently departed al-Qayrawan, possibly prompted by the Bedouin invasions of the mid-eleventh century, and took up residence in the Moroccan city of Aghmat, southeast of Marrakech. Here, he embarked on a career teaching the Islamic sciences, and he is known to have produced at least one student of note, the theologian Abu al-Hajjaj Yusuf bin Musa al-Kalbi al-Darir (d. 1126).

It ...


Ibn Rushd  

Allen J. Fromherz

philosopher, scientist, and theologian, was born Abu al Walid Muhammad bin Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Rushd. Known in the Medieval Latin West as Averroes, he was one of the most influential commentators on Aristotle and on Plato’s Republic. A philosopher, scientist, and theologian of remarkable ability, Ibn Rushd famously stated that there was no inherent inconsistency between Greek rational thought and Islam. Born in 1120 in Cordoba Ibn Rushd wrote and studied in North Africa as well as in Muslim Spain al Andalus Although his life has often been portrayed as a struggle between rational thought and the tyranny of the African Almohad rulers who reigned in al Andalus Ibn Rushd s thinking was influenced as much by his time in Africa as his time in Spain Popular depictions of Ibn Rushd as an oppressed liberal thinker and as a European stifled by the close mindedness of the ...


Ibn Wahb  

Russell Hopley

Egyptian Islamic theologian and traditionist, was born in Cairo. His full name was ʿAbd Allah bin Wahb bin Muslim al-Qurashi ibn Wahb. Ibn Wahb received his early training in the Islamic sciences under the tutelage of the Egyptian scholar ʿUthman ibn ʿAbd al-Hakam al-Judhami (d. 779), and he traveled thereupon to Medina to study with Malik ibn Anas (d. 795), the eponymous founder of the Maliki school of Islamic jurisprudence. Ibn Wahb is said to have spent some twenty years in Medina studying at the hand of Malik, and this latter figure was sufficiently impressed with him that he gave the young man the title faqih reportedly the only student upon whom he bestowed this honorific Despite the esteem these two figures felt for one another they did have points of dispute between them over for example whether a Muslim should receive instruction from a non Muslim Malik reportedly ...


Llull, Ramon  

Allen J. Fromherz

known in Latin as Raimundus Lullus, Ramon Llull was a Catalan intellectual, translator, doctor, mathematician, theologian, and missionary born in 1232 or 1233 in Palma, the capital of the island of Majorca in the western Mediterranean south of Barcelona. The Catalans had almost suddenly become masters of the western Mediterranean, and the conquest of Majorca by King James I from the Berber North African Almohad Empire in 1229 three years before his death was still fresh in 1232. Ramon Llull would spend most of his life at a crossroads between the Christian powers of Europe and the Muslim powers of North Africa, absorbing the influence of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian traditions. Having experienced an Augustinian conversion from a life licentiousness to one of spiritual contemplation, the first decades of his life from a biography, Vita coaetanea are described as given to ...



Annewies van den Hoek

Christian theologian from Alexandria who wrote in Greek. His Greek name, which translates as “son of Horus,” indicates that he had traditional Egyptian roots. He was a very influential writer, in spite of being branded as a heretic in later times. Virtually all information on Origen’s life comes from the Church historian Eusebius (c. 263–339), who reported that Origen was brought up in a Christian household in Alexandria but received a traditional Greek education. His father Leonides was martyred in the persecutions of 202, and thereafter Origen became a teacher and then the head of a Christian school in Alexandria. Other information stems from one of his students, who is usually identified as Gregory the Wonderworker (c. 213–270). Gregory wrote a Panegyric on Origen and may have been the link between Origen and the later Cappadocians, such as Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory of Nazianzen, and Basil the Great.

Eusebius mentioned ...



Elias Bongmba

Many consider Origen (c. 185–254 c.e.) (Origenes Adamantius) an African theologian because he was born in Alexandria, Egypt, into a Christian family of seven children. His father, Leonides, was beheaded and he died as a martyr in Alexandria during the persecution of Christians ordered by the Emperor Severus. Leonides taught Greek and the Bible to Origen. Following the death of his father, Origen started a school of rhetoric where he taught grammar to support his family. Later Bishop Demetrius invited Origen to teach at the famous catechetical school of Alexandria headed by Clement of Alexandria from about 190 c.e Origen later succeeded Clement as head of the school Some of his students taught the catechumens while Origen taught the advanced students Origen lived an ascetic life and castrated himself in obedience to his literal interpretation of Matt 19 12 and put away all distractions when he taught female ...


Philo of Alexandria  

Duane W. Roller

also traditionally known as Philo Judaeus, was a Jewish scholar and political leader of the Julio-Claudian period and the best-known scholarly proponent of the hellenized Judaism of the first century CE. He was from a wealthy family in Alexandria; his brother Alexander was one of the richest men of the period and a leader in the Jewish community, and his nephew Tiberius Julius Alexander was an important Roman official and intimate of Emperor Vespasian.

Almost everything that is known about Philo comes from his own works Beyond his famous embassy to the emperor Gaius Caligula there is little information although it is known that he visited Jerusalem at least once In 39 CE he was head of a delegation to Rome to discuss with the emperor complaints about the treatment of the Jewish community in Alexandria one of many problems that developed during Gaius s erratic reign Philo wrote a ...


Sawirus ibn al-Muqaffaʿ  

Wafik Nasry

also known as Abu al-Bishr ibn al-Muqaffaʿ, the Egyptian Scribe, is celebrated as the first Coptic scribe to write theology in Arabic. The dates of his birth and death are currently unknown. However, scholars assign the year 905 as his approximate birth date and estimate his death around the ripe age of eighty. Sawirus ibn al-Muqaffaʿ was a prolific writer; in fact, the certain known dates in his life are all related to three of his compositions, namely his commentary on the Gospels Tafsir al-Amanah (Commentary on the Trust) in 950, which he lost, and then the rewriting of the same commentary in 955; finally in 987 he helped compose a letter to the Syrian Patriarch. All other dates are given as educated hypotheses.

Sawirus grew up in Old Cairo Egypt before the foundation of modern Cairo by the Fatimid caliphs As a young man Sawirus distinguished himself as a ...



Stacey Graham

early North African Christian thinker, was the earliest Christian apologist and theologian to write in Latin. Brought up in a pagan family and given a solid classical education, Tertullian became one of the most outspoken defenders of Christianity after his conversion, writing original and passionate texts on Christian morals and against heretics and nonbelievers. Most significant among them are the Apologeticum, a bitingly sarcastic and yet unassailably logical indictment against imperial policy of arresting and trying Christians, and the Adversus Praxean, a response to a heretic, which articulates the theology of the Trinity for the first time.

Most of the details of his life are unknown; the main source of biographical information is Jerome’s De viris illustribus of the late fourth century According to Jerome Tertullian was born in Carthage to a father who was a proconsular centurion in the Roman army Tertullian converted to Christianity in ...


Turmeda, Anselmo  

Matthew K. Myers

Franciscan friar who converted to Islam and wrote polemical works supporting Islam against Christianity, was born in what is now known as Palma, Mallorca. Turmeda was his father’s only son and was possibly of Jewish descent. Mentioned as a witness in the will of James IV (c. 1336–1375), pretender to the throne of Mallorca, Turmeda’s father, Pere Silvestre, was a prominent figure in the community and a member of the weavers’ textile guild. Turmeda was conversant in both Catalan and Arabic as well as being experienced with Italian, French, Castilian, Latin, and Aramaic, allowing him to function as an interpreter and rise to positions of authority and prominence under the Hafsid Sultan of Tunis Abuʿl-Abbas Ahmad (r. 1370–1394) and his son Abu Faris ʿAbd al-Aziz (r. 1394–1434). The account of his conversion to Islam from Christianity is among the few such extant works.

Turmeda undertook training for the Christian priesthood ...