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The Imitation of Christ (Vintage Spiritual Classics) Paperback – March 24, 1998

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Editorial Reviews Review

The Thomas à Kempis fan club includes St. Ignatius, Thomas Merton, Thomas More, and even Agatha Christie's Miss Marple. (She reads a chapter of The Imitation of Christ every night before sleep.) Imitation has exerted immense influence on Christian worship, ethics, and church structure, because it gives specific yet broad-minded guidance about the central task of Christian life--learning to live like Jesus. Better to read this book a little here and there, now and then, than to try gobbling it cover to cover. Imitation is no triumph of orderly thinking, but it's a great monument and incentive to deep living. --Michael Joseph Gross


If a man tells you that he is fond of the Imitation, view him with sudden suspicion; he is either a dabbler or a saint...Heaven help us if we find easy reading in the Imitation of Christ -- Ronald Knox None, I believe, except the Bible, has been so universally read and loved by Christians of all tongues and sects -- Thomas Carlyle The most influential devotional book in Western Christian history -- Professor John van Engen --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 242 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Rev Sub edition (March 24, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375700188
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375700187
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (748 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #84,328 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

145 of 148 people found the following review helpful By Mark Blackburn on January 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Want to know the best advice I ever heard?" asked Larry King, in an interview published today in Canada's National Post newspaper: "I never learned ANYTHING while I was talking." 50 years experience at the interviewer's microphone and Larry's best advice comes down to one word. "Listen!"

Coincidentally (or maybe not!) I picked up this just-received book, sent to me by a dear friend who recalled my reviewing an earlier published edition of this same "Ronald Knox translation." And it literally fell open to these words,

"By all means ask questions, but LISTEN to what holy writers have to tell you . . . often enough, (when we hear) Holy Scripture, we are distracted by mere curiosity; we want to seize upon some point and argue about it, when we ought to (listen) and move on."

I flipped open "The Imitation" just now and my eyes (lately fixated on my newest pride and joy were these: (p 32 under the heading, "ABOUT SELF-CONFIDENCE, AND HOW TO GET RID OF SELF-CONCEIT")

"It is nonsense to depend for your happiness on created things (and) why all this self-importance? Do not boast of riches, if you happen to possess them . . . nor about the important friends you have; boast rather of God's friendship.

"Do not give yourself airs, if you have physical strength or beauty; it only takes a spell of illness to waste the one, or mar the other. Do not be self-satisfied about your own skill or cleverness; God is hard to satisfy, and it is from him that they come, all these gifts of nature.

"He reads our thoughts, and will only think the worse of you, if you think yourself better than other people.
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217 of 225 people found the following review helpful By Mark Blackburn on March 13, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have several translations of the Imitation but I keep coming back to this one. I believe many readers will find this translation 'flows' better than the others, written as it is in a warm, gentle and accessible style by a master translator and communicator, Monsignor Ronald Knox. A convert to Catholicism who produced an acclaimed Latin-to-English translation of the Bible, Knox completed the first 30 or so chapters of the Imitation before his death in 1957. He wrote to Michael Oakley, two months before his passing: "If I die without finishing my translation, please tell my executors that you are to finish it." The younger Latin scholar did a splendid, seamless job of completing Knox's superb translation of what was--until this century--the second most widely read book in the world. What a delight that this version is once again available, almost 40 years after its first publication. If you purchase only one copy of the Imitation in your lifetime, make it this one.
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164 of 175 people found the following review helpful By Adam C. Roberts on October 24, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a pastor I see so many people who are miserable. They are depressed, filled with worry and have so little joy in their lives. This book speaks specifically to those problems.
In a nutshell this book says that we are miserable because we are trying to find joy in other people and in other things and everything out there will fail us and let us down. The only thing that provides true happiness, peace and contentment is God. The Imitation of Christ goes through exercises on how we can detach ourselves from worldly things to focus on God. Once we are focused solely on God and have the faith that God will provide everything we need, then we can really enjoy the world around us. Enjoy it because once we receive true happiness from God we can see how beautiful the world is and enjoy it as the gift God created it to be, instead of something that we grab onto in the hopes that it will provide us our happiness and security.
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99 of 105 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Leach HALL OF FAME on June 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
I'm not a Christian but I have almost completed a minor in Christianity at the college I attend. I study Christianity because of my interest in European history. This book, written by a 15th century cloistered monk, is amazing for its strong use of language to convey how one should interact with God through Jesus. But even outside the sphere of religious thought, there are some good statements that could apply to everyday life, although Thomas would scoff at the idea that someone could do this independent of God. Consider the following short excerpts:
"It is only by patience and true humility that we can grow stronger than all our foes." --pg. 40
"For every bodily pleasure brings joy at first, but at length it bites and destroys." --pg. 52
"Alas, a long life often adds to our sins rather than to our virtue!" --pg. 58
These are just a few quotes from a book that has many memorable lines. Most of the book deals with how man should submit himself to Christ. The format Thomas uses is dialogue, between Christ and a disciple. Like Plato's use of dialogue, it is an effective means of getting his ideas across. Thomas even examines the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, and concludes that only through pure thought and hard work at patience and humility can one be able to effectively use these sacraments to become one with Christ, and through him, God.
The only downfall I can see with this book is that it is aimed at the cloistered, or as Thomas calls them, the "Religious." Thomas sees the process of submitting to God as more then a full-time job. Because of this, most people would be shut out of union with Christ. But the book was written to help those in the monastery.
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