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Apologia pro Vita Sua (Penguin Classics) Paperback – January 1, 1995

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

A highly influential figure in the Church of England, John Henry Newman stunned the Anglican community in 1843, when he left his position as vicar of St. Mary's, Oxford, to join the Roman Catholic church. Perhaps no one took greater offense than Protestant clergyman Charles Kingsley, whose scathing attacks against Newman's faith and honor inspired this brilliant response. Apologia Pro Vita Sua, Newman's spiritual autobiography, explores the depths and nature of Christianity with flowing prose and a conversational style that has ensured its status as a classic.
"False ideas may be refuted by argument, but by true ideas alone are they expelled. I will vanquish," Newman promised, "not my accuser, but my judges." His honest and passionate defense consists of a personal history of his religious convictions, from earliest memory through the Oxford movement and his ultimate conversion. His concluding point-by-point refutation of Kingsley"s charges features thought-provoking contentions that strike at the very roots of the principles underlying Protestantism. Newman won respect and admiration with his Apologia, a work that has helped clarify perceptions of Roman Catholicism among readers of every faith.
Dover (2005) unabridged of the work as published by Longmans, Green and Company, London, 1908.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

John Henry Newman (1801 - 1890) was a vicar of Oxford University's church from 1828 - 1842, when his controversial Tract attempting to interpret the 39 Articles of Faith of the Church of England in a Catholic sense, led to him retiring to Littlemore, where he lived in monastic seclusion. He was received into the Catholic Church in 1845 and ordained in 1847. Apologia Pro Vita Sua appeared in 1864.

Ian Ker has a MA from Oxford and a Ph.D from Cambridge. He was ordained a Roman Catholic Priest in 1979 and has taught at universities in Britain and the United States. He is the author and editor of sixteen books on Newman, including Newman and the Fullness of Christianity (1993).
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Revised ed. edition (January 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780140433746
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140433746
  • ASIN: 0140433740
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.1 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #394,571 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D. S. Heersink on March 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
There are few autobiographies as moving and eloquent as Newman's "Apologia." This is his "defense" of his life's choice to leave the Church of England and "go home to Rome." It's a moving testament to an individual's struggle with spiritual issues and theological dogmas and how they inform our lives. I know of no other spiritual autobiography of such importance other than Augustine's "Confessions."
Yet, for all these superb reasons to read this spiritual autobiography, perhaps there is one "secular" reason to read Newman: His command of the English language. Newman has an excellent command of rhetoric, logic, and exposition that makes him a stellar example of Victorian belle letters.
I'd recommend the Norton Critical Edition over the Penguin edition, obviously, not for the "translation," but for the criticism that helps put the issues involved in context for the 20th century reader.
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Format: Paperback
since the "Confessions" of St. Augustine of Hippo 1600 years earlier.
In this book, John Henry Newman, in order to defend himself from (rather unfair) charges of insincerity, outlines the history of his spiritual development, from his beginnings as a liberal thinker, to his conversion to the Evangelical wing of the Church of England, to his ordination as an Anglican priest, to his gradual move toward Catholic thought, practice and worship in the Church of England, to his leadership in the so-called "Oxford Movement" and its call to holiness and Catholicity in the Church of England, and finally to his ultimate submission to Rome.
Whether one agrees or disagrees with Cardinal Newman theologically; whether one can accept his particular conclusions is not important to the enjoyment of this book. It is an honest account of a spiritual journey, written by an articulate man, which should prove inspirational to all persons of faith, and to all on a spiritual pilgrimage.
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By A Customer on January 5, 1999
Format: Paperback
There are autobiographies, and then there is Newman's "Defense for my way of life." Sadly, this wonderful work is found in English Literature and Victorian England courses. This spiritual journey of one of the most influential thinkers of the late 19th century has much more applicability than such narrow confines.
Besides being one of the best autobiographies ever written, it is one of the most personal and intimate works in its field: Newman explains the changes, and the conflicts that gave rise to them, with an intensity and eloquence uniquely his own. While the subject matter is Newman's conversion from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism, his story is about life's choices.
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Format: Paperback
"Apologia Pro Vita Sua" is John Henry Cardinal Newman's explanation of his religious views and actions from 1833 to the time of his writing in 1864. In order to understand this work, it must be understood that "Apologia" is translated more precisely as an explanation, rather than as an apology. Newman apologizes for nothing. He explains everything.

John Henry Cardinal Newman was a major British religious figure of the Nineteenth Century. A prominent Anglican priest, leader of the Oxford Movement and proponent of the "Via Media", Newman's conversion to Catholicism created many hard feelings among his Anglican friends.

This book was written as an answer to specific charges brought against him by particular people at various times. Much of the book involves references to actions and words of those with whom he collaborated, corresponded or met. At times it is difficult to maintain interest in charge-counter charges which make up much of the book. Although some of the charge-counter charges seem of little import today, I cannot say that the book ever becomes boring.
In some sections, particularly in his footnotes, Newman explains theological issues, although that is not the main thrust of the work.

This book gave me a deeper understanding of Newman individually and of the religious environment in England during his time than I had had previously. This book reveals the Anglican Church as a "Big Tent", so to speak, including a "High Church" which valued hierarchy and formal liturgy and a "Low Church" which more resembled the Methodist and other Protestant churches.

Newman viewed the Anglican Church as a branch of Catholicism in England.
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I wish I'd bought a different edition of the Apologia. This one did not include any of Newman's correspondence with Mr. Kingsley nor does it have any explanatory material which summarizes or explains that correspondence. I had to look up an online version of the Apologia to read all that. There are no footnotes, no index or any aids to help a modern reader understand the context of this autobiography. Newman includes many names and references to events and controversies which he assumed his contemporaries would understand but whose importance has been lost to the dustbin of history. This edition does nothing to help a reader recover their meaning. The book is also an oversized paperback and I found it quite unwieldy to carry around with me.
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