Rome and the African Church in the Time of Augustine

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This groundbreaking book examines the vibrant North African Christian Church of the 4th and 5th centuries and its relationship to Rome. Merdinger provides a lively account of cases of canon law that arose in Africa but were adjudicated in Rome-including the notorious Apiarius affair-and shows how African Christians gradually became dependent on the papacy for enforcement of church discipline. A tour de force. Engagingly readable, full of lively details, it provides both an accessible introduction to the development of papal and episcopal authority in the West and a challenging new reading of the evidence for the initiated scholar. Merdinger's use of the recently published 'Divjak letters' of St. Augustine to re-interpret the relations of the Roman and North African Churches in the early fifth century is particularly exciting. Clearly this is the fullest and most sophisticated treatment available in English of a crucial period in the growth of Church life and structures. -Brian E. Daley, S. J., University of Notre Dame Merdinger's book achieves the seemingly impossible task of making the subject not only of wide general interest but actually a gripping read: the excitement of the cases which illustrate her central thesis often read like a very good historical novel. . . . Her gift for telling a good story holds together a complicated and often protracted plot in an engaging way: characters breathe, emotions are stirred, circumstantial details beguile, complexity lends richness rather than confusion. This is history at its best. -Carol Harrison, Church Times