Journal of Religious Ethics
Augustine’s exposition of the image of God in Book 15 of On The Trinity (De Trinitate) sheds light on multiple issues that arise in scholarly interpretations of Augustine’s account of lying. This essay argues against interpretations that posit a uniform account of lying in Augustine—with the same constitutive features, and insisting both that it is never necessary to tell a lie and that lying is absolutely prohibited. Such interpretations regularly employ intertextual reading strategies that elide distinctions and developments in Augustine’s ethics of lying. Instead, I show how looking at texts written prior and subsequent to the texts usually consulted suggests a trajectory in Augustine’s thought, beginning with an understanding of lies as morally culpable but potentially necessary, and culminating in a vision of lying as the fundamental evil and the origin of every sin.
Puffer, M. (2016). "Retracing Augustine’s ethics: Lying, necessity, and the image of God." Journal of Religious Ethics, 44(4), 685–720. https://doi.org/10.1111/jore.12159