Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Grace of Christ and the Grace in Augustine of Hippo: Christocentrism or Theocentrism?

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Grace of Christ and the Grace in Augustine of Hippo: Christocentrism or Theocentrism?

Article excerpt

The Grace of Christ and the Grace of God in Augustine of Hippo: Christocentrism or Theocentrism? By Basil Studer, trans. by Matthew J. O'Connell. (A Michael Glazier Book.) Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1997. vii + 261 pp. $29.95 (paper).

Basil Studer presents in this work a concise survey of Augustine's theology, and one that extends well beyond its Christology and doctrine of God. Its greatest merit is that while Studer reviews the whole Augustinian corpus, he avoids falling into the trap of oversimplifying a complex oeuvre whose author underwent some significant changes of opinion.

The strength of Studer's examination of Augustine's work in light of the two central themes would make it an ideal introduction to Augustine's thought, but for a quirk in its conception. The book grew out of the author's articles in the Augustinus-Lexikon on "Christ" and "God." Its origins become quickly apparent, for at the core of Studer's treatment of the grace of Christ is a lexical study of actual appearances of the word Christ in Augustine's work. Studer's preoccupation with occurrences of terms and the lexical environment in which they appear may seem odd or unimportant to some readers, especially non-specialists. Readers looking for an introduction to Augustine's thought may also find bewildering Studer's procedure of studying the word Christ but the concept "God," especially since he does not explain what he takes to be the difference between a word and a concept, or why he chose one approach for the study for the Christological study and another for his examination of the doctrine of God.

Odder still is the lack of sustained attention at the beginning of the book to the question of how Christ and God are understood to be contrastive terms. Studer eventually addresses this point in the conclusion, but it would have been helpful to address it much earlier, since this is the book's central issue. Although Studer forthrightly acknowledges (p. 1 ) that he attends to the Trinity only as it touches the Father and the one God, he does not answer the question of how a study of Augustine's theology of Christ and God can be adequately addressed without treating the Trinity more generally. …

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