Augustine and His Critics: Essays in Honour of Gerald Bonner

Augustine and His Critics: Essays in Honour of Gerald Bonner

Augustine and His Critics: Essays in Honour of Gerald Bonner

Augustine and His Critics: Essays in Honour of Gerald Bonner


Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-430) is arguably the most controversial Christian thinker in history. His positions on philosophical and theological concerns have been the subjects of intense scrutiny and criticism from his lifetime to the present. Augustine and his Critics gathers twelve specialists' responses to modern criticisms of his thought, covering: personal and religious freedom; the self and God; sexuality, gender and the body; spirituality; asceticism; cultural studies; and politics.Stimulating and insightful, the collection offers forceful arguments for neglected historical, philosophical and theological perspectives which are behind some of Augustine's most unpopular convictions.


'What I desire for all my works, of course, is not merely a kind reader but also a frank critic'. Augustine did not fear criticism. Nor did he have to search far to find it. It may safely be asserted that from the time he began to write, his opus met with both kindly readers and frank critics, often enough together in the same persons. Interest in Augustine's thought on the part of scholars and enquirers engaged in various fields of study has not waned even in our own times. Contemporary philosophers, theologians, spiritual writers, cultural theorists and social scientists take him to task for certain positions of his on issues ranging from human sexuality and the body, gender, personal freedom, religious liberty and the ethics of force, to his concepts of the self and God. Today, more often than not, Augustine's outlook is characterised as 'pessimistic', and he is charged with responsibility for a certain Christian malaise.

Inspired by the eirenic, yet tenaciously scholarly example of Professor Gerald Bonner, to whom this volume is affectionately dedicated, the contributors of Augustine and his Critics wished to examine the arguments of certain strident, present-day critics of Augustine in an effort both to respond to the more inaccurate and unfair of these criticisms, and to argue in favour of some of the much-neglected historical, philosophical and theological perspectives that lie behind Augustine's most unpopular convictions. Far from desiring to stifle criticism of Augustine in this way, or to 'whitewash' his controversial positions, the authors gathered here hope to promote a deeper conversation concerning the purposes, direction and, where possible, the contemporary value of the difficult, disputed areas of his thought.

Following an appreciation of Gerald Bonner prepared by Daniel Hardy, Hubertus Drobner opens the volume with a panoramic report on research trends in Augustinian studies over the last decade. His essay offers to specialists and students alike a concise indication of the multifaceted interests in Augustine's work which today command the greatest amount of attention from scholars.

Concern with Augustine's critics, then, begins with Part One of the volume, 'If Plato Were Alive', a phrase rendered famous by Augustine's

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