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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (June 7, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192854526
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192854520
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 4.4 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #177,975 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


"The ten chapters of this volume discuss Augustine's views of free choice, vocation, creation, and other societal questions, while it also reveals biographical facts of the sage's life."--Worship and Arts


"The book is a marvel of comprehension achieved without a loss of clarity. As a connected account of Augustine, the thinker, it will doubtless stand as among the most popular which now exist."--International Philosophical Quarterly


"I do not know of any other summary of the mind of Augustine which serves the reader so well."--History: Reviews of New Books


"The best brief introduction to Augustine's context and thought for the beginning undergraduate. Excellent for history, philosophy, and religion courses--clear, elegant, thorough."--Robert I. Burns, University of California, Los Angeles


"All the main thought elements of Augustine set in the attracively told narrative of a fascinating life."--John J. Glanville, San Francisco State University


About the Author


Henry Chadwick (1920-2008) enjoyed international renown as one of the leading church historians of the twentieth century. He held senior appointments at both Oxford and Cambridge Universities, latterly as Emeritus Regius Professor of Divinity, Cambridge. Chadwick's scholarship was complemented by his active involvement in church life. Ordained a priest in the Church of England in 1944, he developed a deep commitment to church unity and took a leading role in the Anglican and Roman Catholic dialogues of the mid-1970s.

Chadwick authored numerous books and articles throughout his career. At Oxford University Press he held series editorship of Oxford Early Christian Texts and Oxford Early Christian Studies, and co-edited the Oxford History of the Christian Church series with his brother, Professor Owen Chadwick. His acclaimed translation of Augustine's Confessions is available from Oxford World Classics.

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Customer Reviews

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Anyone should be able to sit down with this book and read it in a matter of hours enjoying every minute of it.
G. Kyle Essary
Due to his continuing controversy - and the man is one of the more controversial orthodox thinkers in the history of the Christian Church - this book is worth reading.
benjamin
A wonderful book for anyone wishing to learn about the theology of Augustine and the excellent work of Henry Chadwick.
Grant Hemingway

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By I X Key on September 28, 2003
Format: Paperback
This compact book is perfect.
It provides just the right background information, from influences of people who lived before St. Augustine to influences of his modern world, as well as lots of other information about the early Christian era & pagan dissidents, numerous similar & conflicting spiritual beliefs -- without getting boring by losing focus on the topic, Augustine, or by focusing on him too much which would mean omitting information about the strata he found his place in.
It offers a great framework of biographical information which sheds much light on Augustine's works.
It also, significantly, contains brilliant scholarly summaries & explanations & assessments of many of Augustine's beliefs without becoming subjective or dry ever.
I recommend this as compulsory background reading for anyone interested in mysticism, medieval history, philosophy, saints, or especially Augustine himself.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By benjamin on March 20, 2003
Format: Paperback
Firstly, it should be noted that this book is not 895 pages! It is, in actuality, 144 pages - and it is a detailed 144 pages, too. This is actually the first book I ever read that got me interested in the thought of the early Church Fathers and it is a great introduction to St. Augustine. (The entire series is great, actually.)
Although this book is only a sketch, it provides some really helpful information when it comes to issues such as the Pelagian controversy and Augustine's views on Original Sin. It is interesting to note that although Augustine is held in such high regard by many today, his own ideas were sometimes reviled and considered heretical in his own time. Of course, it is also worth noting that Augustine's ideas are oftentimes completely misunderstood today; people sometimes force later developments onto Augustine.
Due to his continuing controversy - and the man is one of the more controversial orthodox thinkers in the history of the Christian Church - this book is worth reading. For those interested in further reading, the suggested readings in the back are a great place to start (I myself just picked up Peter Brown's autobiography on Augustine). For those who have no desire to become scholars on Augustine, however, this "very short introduction" is a very fine introduction as well. It is a great place to start.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By David C. Johnson on February 20, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Man, I wish I had these books when I was in school. Its not an indepth review of all of Augustine's thought & writings, but its amazing how much is packed into this little book (it will literally fit into your shirt pocket). The book will give you a great laymans introduction to Augustine, and you can be sure to impress anyone should your conversation turn towards the topic.
Recommended for the layman, just don't use it to prepare for debates with religious scholars :-)
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By George R Dekle on March 29, 2006
Format: Paperback
A country-boy-come-to-town who tries to make his mark on secular society while enjoying himself as much as possible winds up an ascetic philosopher/theologian who shapes the course of Western thought for the next several centuries. A profound thinker with a talent for poetic prose, St. Augustine was a prolific writer. More of his writings survive than of any other ancient author.

The book is small, but don't let the size fool you--the typeface is also small. Chadwick crams more information onto fewer pages than you could think possible. The typeface and the dense content lend themselves to a rather tedious reading experience, but the reward is well worth the effort.

Augustine's thought is placed in the context of contemporary society, and the reader learns of the little-known Manichee and Donatist heresies. The way the ancient Church dealt with the Donatist heresy stands in stark contrast to the way the medieval Church dealt with heretics.

Chadwick, of course, discusses the "Confessions" and "The City of God," but he does not neglect Augustine's other writings, taking pains to point out how indebted Augustine was to the Old Testament and the Classical authors (Cicero in particular) for his language, but not his ideas. It is ironic that Cicero, such a mediocre philosopher, had such a profound effect on St. Augustine, such a towering figure in the fields of philosophy and religion.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By G. Kyle Essary on January 18, 2009
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book was an absolute pleasure to read. Henry Chadwick's erudition is evident in his writing, but his style keeps the reading highly enjoyable. Anyone should be able to sit down with this book and read it in a matter of hours enjoying every minute of it.

This is not a biography of Augustine's life as much as a biography of Augustine's thought. It traces the development of his thought in neoplatonism and his reliance upon Plotinus in particular, his time as a follower, but later opponent against Manicheeism and his prolonged arguments against Donatism. The book is not comprehensive, but gives brief introductions to Augustine's thoughts on Creation, Trinity, Politics, Sacerdotalism, and a few other topics and shows how they developed through his life and ministry.

I highly recommend this short volume and would suggest that it would be a perfect read for a short introduction to Augustine at an undergraduate level.
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