When I say I am a historical theologian, a common response, typical of our racially charged scholastic milieu, is, “Oh, so you like the dead white guys!” Of course, I affirm the need to diversify our interlocutors and methods, and to critically name the historical forces silencing certain voices even today. But after admitting these realities, I usually retort, “Most of the Church Fathers were not white.”Justo González’ reading of Augustine through the lens of mestizaje is a refreshing take on patristics generally and on Augustinian studies specifically. This cultural critical move agitates our sedate reception of the North African bishop. To state the obvious, Augustine, and for that matter most of the Gregories and both Cyrils, were — being anachronistic here — “brown” and “black.” The Mothers and Fathers, as González attests, were subtly yet profoundly shaped by their cultural identity.González’ central claim is simple: to truly understand Augustine, we need to see him as a mestizo, as a hybrid of Roman and North African cultures, who did “mestizo theology” (p. 18). The term mestizo/a was originally an epitaph given by Spanish invaders in the Americas to persons of mixed descent (Amerindian and Iberian). As González concludes, “his
Journal of Religious History – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
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