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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brief comment
I just had one comment to make about the book, since it rarely seems to get discussed in the other reviews here, if at all.
Besides the many important issues the book dicusses, one of the main themes Augustine was concerned with is how an intelligent man could be religious. This problem is all the more important today since the rise of science has seriously called...
Published on Oct. 17 2002 by Magellan

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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Abridged "City of God"
I was interested in studying examples of spiritual healing in the early Christian Church.I was quite disappointed to discover that only about six pages of Book XXII, Chpt. 8 were recorded, the remaining twelve pages were dismissed by an abridgement statement "Twelve more pages describe similar miracles witnessed by, or directly reported to Augustine."
Published on April 17 2000 by Kemp Maples


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brief comment, Oct. 17 2002
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This review is from: The City of God (Paperback)
I just had one comment to make about the book, since it rarely seems to get discussed in the other reviews here, if at all.
Besides the many important issues the book dicusses, one of the main themes Augustine was concerned with is how an intelligent man could be religious. This problem is all the more important today since the rise of science has seriously called into question the Bible's picture of the universe. Whether I agree with his answers or not, Augustine was a great intellect for any age and a great man of God, and his book should be read more often by Christians, or anybody interested in religious history and philosophy.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fair alternative for casual study and reading, Sept. 11 2003
This review is from: City of God (Paperback)
This abridged version of St. Augustine's work is great for casual readers who are looking to brush up on their classics or, as in my case, for students who either don't have time to read and decipher the text in its entirety or need help doing so. If you want to truly study "The City of God," you should probably stick with the Modern Library edition (ISBN 0679783199) which provides better explanatory footnotes, one sentence chapter summaries, a collection of commentaries, and a much more comprehensive subject index. This Image abridged version, however, benefits from simpler and more fluid prose. After reading a chapter of the Modern Library edition, I often found myself referring back to this edition to reinforce and/or clarify what I had just read. I also appreciated the better biblical footnotes found in this version. Certainly the existing chapters are condensed and those that the editors have omitted are given brief summaries. Overall, this edition does not take away the essence of Augustine's original but it does make it slightly more digestible to the average reader.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Colossal Inquiry of the Most Important Kind, Jan. 8 2015
This review is from: The City of God (Hardcover)
This is an epic history, perhaps the greatest of its class; it is a meticulous investigation over a large swath of time. It involves the examination of eras, philosophies, and biblical concepts in considerable detail in order to proving a Christian thesis: the truth and superiority of biblical religion over pagan systems and the eventual, complete, and final victory over the godless by God’s community of saints. Therefore you might say that this is an apologetic history of the Bible and of philosophy. Augustine takes us from eternity past to eternity future, and so deals with issues like the will of God, creation, and the source of evil on the one end; and with judgment, misery, and felicity on the other. In between is an evaluation of the myths, ideas, and acts of notable thinkers; and the exposition of high points of Scripture. The centerpiece of this exposition is the city of God; Jesus Christ is the nucleus of that. “Certainly that city shall have no greater joy than the celebration of the grace of Christ, who redeemed us by His blood” (p. 866.)

Roughly speaking, the first part of the volume (pp. 3-344) is an analysis of philosophy and a criticism of idolatry; the second part (pp. 345-867) is Bible exposition. The first part is a refutation of the objections of idolaters who prefer their gods to “the Founder of the holy city” (p. 344.) The second part regards “the origin, history, and deserved ends of the two cities, which…are in this world commingled and implicated with one another” (p. 344.) This he traces to Revelation, from the first sin and act of grace in Genesis. Part one contains much that is very dry. Books number six and seven are the driest portions of the whole. If a person were to mind only what’s best, he could begin in book nine without missing too much.

More particularly, this Post-Nicene enterprise is an essay to contrast the city of man (consisting mostly of Greek and Roman cultures) with the city of God. By the city of man is meant the ‘kingdoms of the earth,’ summed up as ‘the city of this world’ (p. 610.) This ‘community of the ungodly’ is distinguished from ‘the holy city’ (p. 344.) Broadly speaking, the city of God includes every entity on God’s side; the city of man, every rebel (pp. 310, 311.) Sometimes only a district is meant when referring to either of these two cities. The principal meaning of the city of God is the society of God’s people on earth, as in ‘the pilgrim city of King Christ’ (p. 38.) So this might be called the Church, or the kingdom of heaven (pp. 725-727.) The Scripture verse that the title and thesis are derived from is probably Psalm 87.3. The key page where the ‘city of God’ proofs are set forth is 345. This may sound more complicated than it is. The context discovers the meaning so well that I scarcely had to think of what district or aspect of each city that he meant while I read.

It is easy enough, if you’re not careful, to miss the point of Augustine’s vision and to refer to this tome as a sort of mystical commentary on an obscure Old Testament theme. If this fault is committed, one will get sidetracked, and end up focusing too much on matters that are more interesting and exciting than edifying and helpful. There is much matter here to entertain the person whose tendency is to major in minor things: like Egyptian prophecy, sexual rites, the science of numbers, the Roman gods, the apples of Sodom, fabulous miracles, monstrous births, the Olympics, and the Millennium. It is no slip that I include the Millennium as one of these matters to keep in a subordinate place. It is an outrage that some Christians, usually Protestants, will have nothing to do with Augustine simply on the ground that his view of the Millennium is neither Pre nor Post! So what if he turned from some version of one or the other of these in favor of some form of Amillennialism? (p. 719.) He should not be shunned for that.

So what if he rejected the idea of a literal, future one thousand years of corporeal peace on earth with Christ in the flesh. Are we saved by holding to one version or other of this enigmatic facet of eschatology? Jesus is coming back to judge: to damn and to bless. The old creeds are right to distinguish no more than this. If we had more respect for creeds, Augustine would be cut some slack. I think he is wise to pass over this knotty issue when he sums up what he believes are the main events leading up to the end. “Elias the Tishbite shall come; the Jews shall believe; Antichrist shall persecute; Christ shall judge; the dead shall rise; the good and the wicked shall be separated; the world shall be burned and renewed” (p. 762.) So long as we subscribe to the monumental facts of judgment and resurrection, it should be of little account whether we agree or not with his formula exactly. Augustine is careful to add that he does not dogmatize on how this all will come to pass; neither does he insist on the order. We could take a lesson from that.

Because of sectarian jealousies, there are those who wish to dismiss or condemn. Such harsh accusers ignore this intellectual giant except to zone in on his seeds of false doctrine: like purgatory (pp. 784, 795) and prayers to the martyrs (p. 826.) This last one is no doubt idolatrous. But if we refuse Augustine a hearing everywhere on account of what his opinion is somewhere, then we shut ourselves out from some of the most capable articulation of those primary doctrinal constituents of our Faith. The City of God deserves to be read. For instance, it deserves to read for its content on the Incarnation: “When He chose to be in the form of a servant, and lower than the angels, that He might be our Mediator, He remained higher than the angels, in the form of God—Himself at once the way of life on earth and life itself in heaven” (p. 294.) This is orthodoxy with a vengeance—better than anything that our leading pigmy pilgrims can do. Therefore it is wrong to jump all over this Church Father’s faults in order to make him into nothing but a heretic, just as it is wrong to amplify strange matters in order to make him into nothing but a mystic. Only by keeping mostly to what he himself thought cardinal, do we arrive at what his principal oeuvre is about. It’s mostly about Jesus Christ: who he is, what he did, and our future in consequence of his Person and Work. It is not a risk to conjecture that no literary production of its day, or even of a thousand years following, deserves to be read more than this. It is one of the most convincing, compelling, and therefore influential, history projects of all time. Its great rank is secure. Sectarians can do nothing about it.

Aside from all the compliments that one could heap upon an author who is second to none as a rhetorician, the principal note that I wish to mention concerning his style regards his frequent and interesting summation. Whatever subject or point he has been laboring, this he tumbles into divers constructions, and fits into many contexts for the reader. You always know where you’re at and what he’s about, especially at the close of each book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The foundations of Christianity, Feb. 13 2004
By 
Roberto P. De Ferraz "ferraz9" (Sao Paulo, Brazil) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Saint Augustine (354 - 430 AD), was born at a time when the Roman Empire was in its nadir, a situation quite antipodal to the heydays of the glorious times of the philosopher emperor Julius Caesar and a few others that, for the glory of Rome, spread the wings of the Roman conquest to the borders of almost all the civilized world, from Britain in the West to the occidental limits of the Persian Empire in the East. The barbarians hordes were already knocking at the gates of Rome and many other important cities and eventually got there invadind Rome trough the auspices of the Germanic barbarian Alaric, who, along with Atila the Hun, was one of the cruelest of his kind. The "Civitatis Dei" was written a few years after the first sack of Rome, a thrilling background to and the starting point of many of Saint Augustine ideas concerning God's attitude toward the city and its citizens. Despite the impending fall of the Western Empire, Christianism was steadily gaining ground as the official religion vis-à-vis Paganinsm, which began to suffer all the burden of (unofficial) persecuted by some Roman emperors. But Paganinsm still had strong adherents in many important places, specially in the Senate, and the purpose of Saint Augustine was to counterpoise the ascending fortunes of Christianity.
Augustine, born in the north of Africa in the city of Hippo, was one of the most important theoreticians of Christian doctrine of all times, a great thinker in his own right, who could be compared to great Catholic thinkers as Saint Thomas Aquina and Saint Paul, being one of the true founding fathers of the Catholic tradition and religion along with the Gospel four Evangelists. His written output is impressive, even outstanding, both from the point of view of its quantity as from the point of view of its inner quality. His most important works, written in Latin as usual at the time, are "The City of God" (Civitatis Dei) and "Confessions", the former an impressive book of 1,100+ pages of teachings concerning various aspects of the lives of Christians and pagans in the V century he lived.
The book's lenght notwithstanding, it is a very pleasant and easy reading, not losing the elegance it should have in Latin, with all the quotations necessary for the full understanding concerning some allusion of Augustine to the recent or remote history of Rome, ROman and Greek mythology and philosophical citations from authors renowned at the time but almost unknown today. A good introduction to the life and work of Saint Augustine is also provided.
TO sum it up, the book is a very good one and an essential reading to anyone interested in the importance of the philosophical thinking before the Middle Ages, most certainly influenced by Plato instead of Aristotle. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Augustine: A man of thought and of God, Feb. 10 2004
By 
Ian A Witter (Denton, Nebraska United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The City of God (Hardcover)
The City of God is a work for both the scholar and the Christian; it pours light, not only on the struggle between the early Church, but also on the bases of the faith and Augustine's belief's concerning God, man, heaven, hell, angels, law, sexual behaviour, and the practise of the faith.

Laid out in articles within chapters, this excellent translation of Augustine's monumental work flows from sentence to sentence, giving each word and phrase the flavor of the original. It draws from both Augustine's lively prose and his spontaneous poetic sense which is always built upon his prodigous knowledge of scripture. For the academic, the student, the priest, or the fellow-man; this is a work worth reading and cherishing.
St. Augustine, bishop of Hippo around Carthage, was not always the revered father of the Church as we know him today. First, a liberal youth, then a believer in and defender of the Manicheans, and finally a staunch catholic, he searched for truth wherever he could. Here, in his City, he lays out the difference between the world of faith and the world of mammon, i.e., those who live by worldly standards and those who live as if they were not true citizens of this world but only pilgrims on their way to the great city.

The book is a beautiful exegesis on the scriptures, a treatise on many theological points, and a manual of moral guidelines. St. Augustine addresses the world and ideas of his time, and yet his work remains timeless, for the same truths apply today.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Augustine's tale of two cities., March 1 2003
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This review is from: The City of God (Paperback)
"The City of God" is Augustine's most famous work. I agree with Thomas Merton's introduction to the latest Modern Library version, which says that an uninitiated reader of Augustine may wish to read his "Confessions" first to get a good background on the author. "The City of God" is long and deep, covering many philosophical and Biblical debates (many that are still alive today), so one who has been introduced to Augustine through his auto-biographical "Confessions" may find it easier to follow his logic as he discusses the numerous topics of "The City of God."
The first few hundred pages of "The City of God" may be very slow and difficult for the average modern, Western, reader. Augustine is speaking directly to the average Roman citizens of the time (413 AD), so the first several chapters of "The City of God" are spent debunking the Romans' beliefs in polytheism, a mindset long since abandoned by most in the civilized Western world (thanks mostly to... Augustine). But the difficulty of these first few chapters should only make one appreciate Augustine all the more for having helped dismiss such a convoluted belief system. Once Augustine has broken down the problems with Zeus and friends, he moves on to discussing Plato, Aristotle, and other Greek philosophers. Augustine discusses why these founders of Western culture came close to understanding the idea of the Judeo-Christian God, but he shows where they too eventually fell short of total comprehension of Him.
After Augustine has dealt with these religions and philosophies of the Romans, he begins to address the Bible and how it concerns the City of God and the earthly city (Rome, which had been sacked by Alaric in 410, was the best example of the latter). Augustine outlines the differences in the beliefs and actions of believers and non-believers, or in other words, the citizenries of the two cities in question. In doing this, Augustine discusses numerous debates and questions, including figurative vs. literal interpretations of Old Testament stories, how the Old Testament prophets pointed towards Jesus Christ and how Christ fulfilled their prophesies, as well as many other questions that are still discussed every day, nearly 16 centuries later. Ultimately, Augustine gives us the beautiful picture of life graced by Christ through the faith he gives to the citizens he elects to join his city. Augustine shows us how Christ's grace removes his predestinated citizens from the worries of the earthly city, while (paradoxically) energizing them to care that much more for the inhabitants of this city (as the Christians in Rome did for non-believers they sheltered from Alaric's invaders).
One note of recent relevance: The City of God is often referenced today for Augustine's discussion of "just war" theory. While Augustine definitely believed that war can at times be just, and therefore morally obligatory, he does not really go into great detail about "just war" theory in "The City of God." In nearly 900 pages (in the Modern Library edition), he writes about war for no more than 1-2 pages.
I highly recommend "The City of God" to everyone, Christian or not. Just for the history of it, this book is fascinating, but the theology makes it one of the greatest works ever written.
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4.0 out of 5 stars For the ages..., April 11 2001
By 
James T Humphrey II (Huntersville, NC United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The City of God (Hardcover)
St Augustine's City of God is a work for the ages. It was not only a great apologetic to the Christian faith of the 5th century; it is an apologetic to Christian faith for all centuries. It is the story of history unfolded in two exact opposite cities. It is the struggle between the two cities against one another. It is the story of the fall, grace, redemption, and salvation of man for those who live in the city of God. For those of the other city, it is the exact opposite. It is the story of the fall, judgment, damnation and ultimate destruction of those who loved themselves more than they loved God. This was the story of love, by one of the greatest saints of the Catholic Church, Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hippo.
The reason I give 4 stars out of 5 is because of the amazing difficulty that comes with reading this book. This is a VERY VERY heavy read, and one should be familiar with the prevailing Roman philosophies of the day, as well as Roman history.
Augustine talks of Plato, Cicero, Virgil and others frequently through the book. He also talks of the history of Rome, and these factors play a heavy note in his book. An few survey classes of Philosophy, and a World Civics class as well as a decent understanding of Christian history at this time, and theology is also a must. You should be familiar with the scriptures. Because of all these factors, you cannot just pickup and read this book. You'll have to know what Augustine is talking about to some level before you read this.
Other than that, this book is brilliance, and while some parts will be a little dry, it is very inspiring. You see Augustine write, sign, and stamp the doctrine of Original Sin, Amillinialism, and doctrines concerning Grace, the Trinity, and various "problems" concerning the Canon of Scripture.
He setup Christianity for the next 1000 years, and is still felt strongly today in Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox circles.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The defining work of the Christian faith outside the Bible, Oct. 31 1999
By 
Clif Droke (Silver Spring, MD) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The City of God (Hardcover)
Like one of the reviewers above, I, too, set about the daunting task of reading this book from cover to cover, and it took me a good six months to complete it. But what a wonderful and worthwhile investment of time it was! It would do the modern Church well to read this book since Augustine places the City of God (i.e., Christ and His Church) within the context of the pagan world in which we live, and its message is as applicable to today as it was 1,500 years ago when he first wrote it. Most impressive, his grasp of both classical and biblical history and his profound understanding of Scripture is unparalleled by almost any author I have ever read, from Jerome's time until the present. If for no other reason, Christians should buy this book to gain an appropriate understanding of the last days and the rightful interpretation of the book of Revelation. Most of today's books on this subject pale in comparison to Augustine's exposition of this lofty and (sometimes) arcane subject.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Consummation of the Classical Tradition!!, Dec 20 1998
By 
PSGags@aol.com (Philadelphia, PA) - See all my reviews
I read this book for the sake of pleasure, and nothing more. What a surprise I was in for! I've always admired classical texts, and the tradition of rhetoric which has influenced even the greatest speakers of our own times, such as Martin Luther King Jr., and John F. Kennedy. However, I was totally unprepared for the moving experience of St. Augustine's written words. Had I not been a Christian before I read this book, I believe I would have been compelled to convert! The most interesting aspect of this work seems to me, to be that the utilization of such an ingrained, classical tradition as rhetoric was being applied (and rather effectively so) toward what was to become the new paradigm of Western Heritage. All things classical would be replaced by all things Christian, but thus so by the influence of powerful speakers--who were trained in the Classical tradition! This book is an enjoyable read; both for aspiring religious scholars AND lovers of classical culture.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Righteous Defense of Christ, Strong Refutation of Paganism, July 19 2000
By 
Johannes Platonicus (South Bend, Indiana) - See all my reviews
The venerable St. Augustine is to be ordained as the best Christain Apologist ever. The way in which he explains the flaws of Paganism and reveals the truths of Christianity will give wings to your rational mind and set forth new horizons of thought. This masterpiece is essential for any Christian who wishes to grasp a higher concept of Theology. Augustine begins with a refutation of pagan worship, thus proving the ignorance that reflected in their system of delusive beliefs. Later on in this work he explains many prohecies that were fulfilled in relation to Christ and the Church. After laying a sound foundation based on scriptural facts and Theological truths, he then incorporates a splendid picture of heaven and hell along with the resurrection of the body adjoined in felicity with the spirit for eternity with God the Father. Many words may be used to describe this text, but none of mine are credible enough to express the eminence of this work.
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The City of God
The City of God by St. Augustine (Paperback - Sept. 12 2000)
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