5 of 5 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 into...
Published on Oct. 17 2002 by magellan
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brief comment,
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.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fair alternative for casual study and reading,
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.
5.0 out of 5 stars I just pray I could understand it.,
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Monumental,
And yet I am a little sad to have finished it, for no matter what was going on in my life, like Scripture, the City of God had relevance. How to summarize such a monumental work?
First of all, I do not concur with the dimishment of the early parts of the work. While Books 1 through X are indeed more clearly tied to the dissolving Roman world, it is extremely helpful for us to get our minds into a time when pagans were more than countercultural "post-Christian" teenage losers. Augustine's vivid arguments against the pagan "theology" are incisive. More notably, they bring into focus a world that was both ultra-rational in the Platonic/Aristotilean tradition, and "superstitious" in its belief in household gods, demons, curses, and magic. That both a very advanced science and such beliefs could coexist is a lesson to us in our secularized, smug modern world.
The temporal proximity of Augustine to Christ and the Apostles brings another level of clarity. While Augustine emphasized that "none shall know the day nor hour," it is clear that there is an apocolyptic undercurrent in the Christian society he inhabits. The urgency of Christian life seems to me to have diminished.
Particularly striking are Augustine's arguments against those "tender-hearted Christians" who hold various levels of Salvation for even the most depraved. In our world of ecumenical outreach, guitar-Mass hippy communalism, Augustine's defense of the limited Salvation is a necessary wake-up call.
Certainly there are moments of "how many angels on the head of a pin," which I suppose Augustine inspired in latter theologians. The various discussions of the form, age, and physical condition of post-Resurrected faithful seems unworthy of discussion. And yet he was writing in direct argument against contemporaries. This, at least, is fascinating; that anti-Christians of Augustine's day tried to build a rational case against particular aspects of Christian doctrine, rather than against the underlying thesis of Christ.
The more history you know, the more mythology you have read, and the better acquainted with Scripture you are, the more you will get out of The City of God. But such things are not necessary. Augustine is a patient writer (as exemplified by the vast scope of this and other works). He walks his readers painstakingly through each subject.
I must agree with other reviewers that the last two Books are worthy to stand alone, treating of hell, purgatory, and heaven. As vivid and daunting as the discussion of hell is, so is the beatific vision inspiring and easing. Augustine above all knows the value of true peace - the peace of Christ. And he knows too well the limits of the City of Man in attaining this peace. That he has indeed "tasted and seen" is wonderfully clear, and he inspires and encourages his readers to share in that faith and hope which motivate his life.
There are so many details of note: from the Christ-prophetic visions of Greek sybils to the independent trinitarian philosophy of Plato. Such details are commonplace to Augustine, but we have forgotten them. Truly, The City of God must be reckoned among the necessities of catechismic formation, mostly for Roman Catholics, but if certain later prejudices can be ignored, for all Christians as well. I would caution Jewish readers that Augustine makes no bones about the deicide and subsequent temporal punishment that he believes the Jews endure, until their conversion with the Last Judgement. As to pagans and heretics of all stripes, you've met your match in Augustine... he outwitted you 1500 years ago.
Lest I be as prolix as Augustine himself, I will conclude by referencing the great spiritual help that this book provides. Particularly in modern times, though American Christians (and even American Catholics) are notably free from persecution, the City of Man calls us ever more away from Truth. Augustine's book helps us walk, not on the path of our own disordered priorities, but toward that greater and infinite blessedness we have been promised in Christ.
5.0 out of 5 stars The foundations of Christianity,
This review is from: Penguin Classics Concerning The City Of God Against The Pagans (Mass Market Paperback)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.
5.0 out of 5 stars Augustine: A man of thought and of God,
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.
4.0 out of 5 stars Re translation of COG,
By A Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this and be changed forever.,
The Modern Library edition has Thomas Merton's beautiful introdution, which I found to be an extremely helpful guide in walking through Augustine's epic. Read this and be changed forever.
5.0 out of 5 stars Augustine's tale of two cities.,
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.
5.0 out of 5 stars History and Theology in One Rich Volume,
By A Customer
This review is from: The City of God (Paperback)This is a difficult read. It is worth the effort because it is highly educational and very enjoyable. Some familiarity with Roman history and mythology would be helpful but is not necessary. Augustine shows his reader the superiority of the City of God over the city of man. With Biblical and historical examples, Augustine shows that citizens of the City of God have characters and hopes that set them apart from the ungodly. He exposes the ugliness of paganism and the folly of men outside of the City of God. Today's reader will see that these differences between the two cities manifest themselves as clearly in our day.
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The City of God by St. Augustine (Paperback - Sept. 12 2000)
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