Looking Ahead to #SBLAAR 17: the Augustinian Refugee

It looks as though finally registering for the 2017 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion paid off: my name is now included as part of our panel! No longer shall I be known as “Unregistered Participant.”

My presentation this November will represent a bit of a departure for me. Whereas I usually focus on Augustine’s place in the history of the philosophy of time, this time I’ll be zeroing in on what exactly Augustine means when he writes of peregrinatio or (as it’s usually rendered) “pilgrimage.”

Here’s the short version: the problem with translating this term as “pilgrimage” is that it too readily evokes the image of devotion to the cult of the saints (e.g., a pilgrimage to the relics of St. Stephen, etc.). But the term’s origins go back further than that, more commonly denoting the experience¬†of any migrant, exile, or (at times) even tourist.

My question is: What if we re-translated peregrinatio as “migrancy” in key texts of Augustine’s, such as City of God I? Out of that, further questions grow: Would we get a better sense of what it means to be a (so-called) “pilgrim” in this life? Would we better understand the resonances connecting the migrant experience to the Christian sensibility expressed so memorably in the words of Augustine?

It is my earnest hope that the answer to that last question is: “Yeah, pretty much!”

[H/T to the heroic organizers of the Augustine & Augustinianisms section at AAR, Dr. Matthew Drever and Dr. Paul Kolbet. Great guys, the both of ’em!]