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Evil and the Augustinian Tradition

Overview

"Recent scholarship has focused attention on the difficulties that evil, suffering, and tragic conflict present to religious belief and moral life. Thinkers have drawn upon many important historical figures, with one significant exception - Augustine. At the same time, there has been a renaissance of work on Augustine, but little discussion of either his work on evil or his influence on contemporary thought." This book fills these gaps. It explores the "family biography" of the Augustinian tradition by looking at Augustine's work and its
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Overview

"Recent scholarship has focused attention on the difficulties that evil, suffering, and tragic conflict present to religious belief and moral life. Thinkers have drawn upon many important historical figures, with one significant exception - Augustine. At the same time, there has been a renaissance of work on Augustine, but little discussion of either his work on evil or his influence on contemporary thought." This book fills these gaps. It explores the "family biography" of the Augustinian tradition by looking at Augustine's work and its development in the writings of Hannah Arendt and Reinhold Niebuhr. Mathewes argues that the Augustinian tradition offers us a powerful, though commonly misconstrued, proposal for understanding and responding to evil's challenges. The book casts new light on Augustine, Niebuhr, and Arendt, as well as on the problem of evil, the nature of tradition, and the role of theological and ethical discourse in contemporary thought.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This rewarding book expands our imagination for Augustinianism, the phenomena of evil, and the nature of tradition. It is interdisciplinary without sacrificing rigor, and provocative but not dogmatic. It engages in moralism, but chastens the hold morality has on us. The book deserves a wide audience in moral philosophy, social criticism, theology, and religious ethics." Ethics

"The argument is gracefully, and at points poetically, presented, and, in a sometimes indirect but effective manner, is solidly grounded in the cross and resurrection." First Things

"This is a brave and successful book. With subtlety and profundity it takes the problem of evil by the horns in a way that a modern pastor will find useful. There is much meat for reflection in what may well prove a book to start a lively debate in seminaries." Interpretation

"This is a rich and thought-provoking book. Mathewes writes accessibly and with a light touch, and he is able to speak to many live debates within contemporary theology...Mathewes speaks in his own voice-one worth listening to." Anglican Theological Review

"Charles T. Mathewes thoughtfully readdresses a perennial philosophical and theological problem... Mathewes' book should be of interest to both philosophers and theologians." Virginia Quarterly Review

"A book about evil is always timely, and Mathewes's bursts with energy." Religious Studies Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521035446
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 2/12/2007
  • Pages: 284
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles T. Mathewes is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia, where he teaches theology, ethics, and religion and culture. He has published in The Journal of Religious Ethics, Modern Theology, The Journal of Religion, Anglican Theological Review and The Hedgehog Review.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
List of abbreviations
Introduction: reaching disagreement 1
I Preliminaries: Evil and the Augustinian Tradition
1 Modernity and evil 21
2 The Augustinian tradition and its discontents 59
II Genealogy: Remembering the Augustinian Tradition
3 Sin as perversion: Reinhold Niebuhr's Augustinian psychology 107
4 Evil as privation: Hannah Arendt's Augustinian ontology 149
III The Challenge of the Augustinian Tradition to Evil
5 Demythologizing evil 201
Conclusion: realizing incomprehension, discerning mystery 239
Works cited 247
Index 267
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