From Library Journal
An associate professor of religious studies at Franklin and Marshall College in Pennsylvania, Cooper offers a kind of guided tour through the great theologian Augustine's Confessions summarizing here, explaining there, spicing the whole with substantial quotations from his own translations from the original. Augustine's life and mind are never out of place and always worth bringing to a new audience, so that while Cooper himself is somewhat overshadowed by Augustine, this cleanly written book should be a worthwhile addition to many libraries.
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If this sounds like a popularization, well, it is. But except for its overly chipper cartoon illustrations, there is nothing condescending about it. Cooper follows the first nine books of the Confessiones
closely, producing not so much an explication of Augustine's theology as a biography of the great Catholic convert, bishop, and doctor of the church. His citations from Augustine appear in his own translations, which contain more contemporary patter than the main text; as a result, Cooper's Augustine sounds more contemporarily vernacular than Cooper. Cooper incidentally shows how acute a psychologist Augustine was, not least of early childhood, as Garry Wills argued in Saint Augustine's Childhood
(2001). The saint's long struggle with eros, flirtation with Manichaeism, mounting frustration with a worldly career, sudden enlightenment (an archetypal decision for Christ), and homecoming to Carthage, saddened by the successive deaths of mother, best friend, and son, become in Cooper's retelling a vivid illustration of Augustine's famous observation that God makes us for Himself, and our hearts are uneasy until we find rest in Him. Ray OlsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved