Our knowledge of the earliest monastic communities in North Africa comes primarily and almost exclusively from the writings of St. Augustine or from other works written by authors closely related to him. These literary sources represent specific categories with a strongly persuasive function and as such they belong to the prescriptive, apologetic or hagiographical writings. While studying any aspect of early monasticism in North Africa it is necessary to pay attention to the literary and rhetorical traits of the texts. The prescriptive works (Rule of St. Augustine, De opere monachorum) pointed to the ideal which could be perceived as a task to be completed by the monks themselves as well as by their superiors; the apologetic sources (Sermones 355-356) were to show that this ideal, seemingly imperfect as it was, functioned quite well; finally, the hagiographical sources (Vita Augustini) tried to convince the reader that the ideal had come true. The perfect and clearly established example of this ideal is found in the apostolic community in Jerusalem outlined in the Acts of the Apostles 4, 32-35.
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