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The City of God [The Modern Library] Hardcover – February 1, 1994
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--Saint Thomas Aquinas
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
The reason I give 4 stars out of 5 is because of the amazing difficulty that comes with reading this book. This is a VERY VERY heavy read, and one should be familiar with the prevailing Roman philosophies of the day, as well as Roman history.
Augustine talks of Plato, Cicero, Virgil and others frequently through the book. He also talks of the history of Rome, and these factors play a heavy note in his book. An few survey classes of Philosophy, and a World Civics class as well as a decent understanding of Christian history at this time, and theology is also a must. You should be familiar with the scriptures. Because of all these factors, you cannot just pickup and read this book. You'll have to know what Augustine is talking about to some level before you read this.
Other than that, this book is brilliance, and while some parts will be a little dry, it is very inspiring. You see Augustine write, sign, and stamp the doctrine of Original Sin, Amillinialism, and doctrines concerning Grace, the Trinity, and various "problems" concerning the Canon of Scripture.
He setup Christianity for the next 1000 years, and is still felt strongly today in Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox circles.
The City of God would probably not be considered light reading by most, but if one can complete it while trying to digest as much as they can, it is certainly worth it. This is one of those works which is probably understood a little differently each time it is read. One helpful disclaimer offered by Thomas Merton is that if one is unfamiliar with Augustine and his writing, they would be best served to first read Augustine's Confessions (Penguin Classics) prior to tackling The City of God. It really is good advice.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A classic Catholic reference. I especially liked the way the book is laid out and ease to access the material. It replaces a much more difficult edition to navigate.Published 7 days ago by jack
I am not a historian or scholar, but read history everyday and have for years. As I have read over the years, this book keeps popping up, so I decided to read it. Read morePublished 1 month ago by djp1
Not quite what I expected from other reviews. I was expecting a theory of good government, but that is not what the book is about. A bit boring at times. Read morePublished 1 month ago by John A. Wills
I loved this work, but you need significant understanding in theology to get to the nuts and bolts of this work. It is heavy reading.Published 2 months ago by Michael N.Green
I read the City of God long ago in the seminary, but it faded with time. The City of God is considered Augustine's master-work, but I cannot give it five stars for interest and... Read morePublished 2 months ago by William Taylor