Augustine's City of God: A Reader's Guide

Augustine's City of God: A Reader's Guide

Augustine's City of God: A Reader's Guide

Augustine's City of God: A Reader's Guide

Synopsis

The City of God is the most influential of Augustine's works which played a decisive role in the formation of the Christian West. It's scope embodies cosmology, psychology, political thought, anti-pagan polemic, Christian apologetic, theory of history, biblical interpretation and apocalyptic themes. This book is the first comprehensive modern guide to City of God in any language.

Excerpt

The City of God is the most influential of Augustine's works, but there is no comprehensive modern guide to it in any language. My book provides a detailed yet accessible reading of Augustine's vast and complex masterpiece. I have written it bearing in mind that most of Augustine's readers are not specialists, but that he is consulted by students of late antiquity, historians, theologians, philosophers, medievalists, Renaissance scholars, interpreters of art and iconography, and many more. Therefore all the Latin cited is translated, and essential information about the principal features of Augustine's thought is given, with copious references to more detailed studies. The City of God has a wide-ranging scope, embracing cosmology, psychology, political thought, polemic, Christian apologetic, theory of history, biblical interpretation, and apocalyptic themes. To understand this work is to appreciate the ways in which Augustine's ideas are interrelated, and there is no clearer evidence of the formative role that he has played in the history of the Christian West.

Chapters 1-5 elucidate the early fifth-century political, social, literary, and religious background to the City of God, and the structure of the work. In Chapters 6-10 a running commentary on each part of the work considers both the principal themes of each section and the development of Augustine's argument. Chapters 11-12 are on influences and sources, and the place of the work in Augustine's writings. Translations are my own, unless otherwise indicated. In biblical citations from Augustine and other Patristic authors I translate their version of the text: where appropriate, I adopt the Revised Standard Version.

Many friends and colleagues have helped me in the writing of this book. It would be impossible to name them all, and invidious to name only some. I should, however, like to acknowledge the encouragement and criticism which I received at the start of the project from Reinhart Herzog: his incisive scholarship is sadly missed by all who knew him. The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation made a generous gift of books which greatly facilitated my work.

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