Augustine through the Ages: An Encyclopedia

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Augustine through the Ages: An Encyclopedia. Edited by Allan D. Fitzgerald, O.S.A. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999. il + 902 pp. $75.00 (cloth).

This volume, superbly edited by a Roman Catholic scholar and Augustinian monk and published by a leading Protestant press, clearly demonstrates Saint Augustine's continuing importance among both Catholics and Protestants. Not incidentally, it also strikes a nice note for ecumenical harmonics. Wary of Augustine's extreme views on, among other things, original sin and predestination, I was relieved early on to have Jaroslav Pelikan in his Foreword commend the book even to "those many readers who would never dream of calling themselves Augustinians" (p. xiv). Pelikan is right: this encyclopedia will be of use to a wide variety of people interested in a large range of Church history and theology from late antiquity to the Reformation and beyond.

The title of the volume indicates its scope, though perhaps a bit misleadingly. Augustine through the Ages does indeed follow the saint's influence through time, with articles on, for example, Bede, Bernard of Clairvaux, Bonaventure, Calvin, Erasmus, Heidegger, Kierkegaard, and Luther, as well as general essays such as "Augustinianism in the Reformation." (There is a "List of Entries" on pp. ix-xii.) Nevertheless, it is safe to say that 90% of the volume deals with Augustine's life, writings, and theology; thus the book's focus is patristic. For this purpose, the editors have assembled an eminent group of contributors, with numerous leading scholars of Augustine: J. Patout Burns, Brian Daley, James O'Donnell, Gerald Bonner, R. A. Markus, Roland Teske, Frederick van Fleteren, John Cavadini, William Harmless, George Lawless, Tarsicius van Bavel, and Mary Clark, to name just a few. They are joined by other outstanding scholars such as Elizabeth Clark, Boniface Ramsey, and Rowan Williams.

As befits its namesake (Augustine wrote more than one hundred works, in addition to letters and sermons, with an output estimated at more than five million words), Augustine through the Ages is truly encyclopedic, with almost 500 entries by nearly 150 scholars, and with an entry on every one of Augustine's writings. More importantly, the volume is arranged very helpfully, with a number of tables: "Augustine's Works," with abbreviations, Latin and English titles, Latin editions, and English translations (pp. xliii-il); "Epistulae/ Letters," with the number, location of the Latin text, date, and recipient of each letter (pp. 299-305); and "Sermons," with the number, collection, Latin editions, and place and time of each sermon (pp. 773-89). In addition, a list of "Abbreviations" (pp. xxiii-xxvi), a "General Bibliography" (pp. xxvii-xxxiii), and an "Index" (pp. 895-902) will help the reader navigate the entries. Of further assistance, each entry contains cross-references and has an ample bibliography. …