Augustine of Hippo may never have heard of Galen of Pergamum. Three centuries separated the two, as did an almost impassable geographic and cultural divide that kept the works of Galen and other Greek writers virtually unknown in the Latin west for a millennium. Yet Galenic assumptions about human sexuality and the materiality of the soul underlie Augustine’s signature doctrine of original sin. Galen’s influence was so widely felt in the Greek-speaking east that Christians almost immediately worked his assumptions into their own theologies. Their conclusions thus became the new assumptions that found their way into the library of Ambrose of Milan, Augustine’s mentor. Despite the many years and many hands through which they passed, a set of core Galenic ideas – the one-sex theory of gender, the inferiority of female generative ability and the materiality of the human soul – were left virtually intact. Galen’s influence on original sin seems to have been indirect enough to be largely overlooked by scholars. Nevertheless, this paper argues that the bishop from Hippo, whose doctrine has had incalculable effects on Christianity and the world for more than 1,500 years, owes much to the pagan doctor from Pergamum.
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"Sex, Sin and the Soul: How Galen’s Philosophical Speculation Became Augustine’s Theological Assumptions,"
Conversations: A Graduate Student Journal of the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Theology: Vol. 1
, Article 1.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.acu.edu/conversations/vol1/iss1/1