Jerusalem and Babylon: A Study into Augustine's City of Godand the Sources of his Doctrine of the Two Cities

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Although many studies have been devoted to Augustine's City of God and its most important theme, viz. the antithesis between the civitas Dei and the terrena civitas,until now no consensus has been reached concerning the sources of this doctrine. Was Augustine decisively influenced by Manichaeism, by (Neo)Platonism, the Stoa or Philo, by the Donatist Tyconius? Or should we look in another direction and refer to preceding Christian, Jewish, and especially to archaic Jewish-Christian traditions?
This lucidly written books opens with a survey of the research carried out so far on the aim, structure and central theme of the City of God. Chapter 2 analyzes the essentials of Augustine's life, of his City of God, and of his doctrine of the two cities. Making use of one of the recently discovered letters of Augustine in Chapter 3 the author describes the City of God as an apology and as a catechetical work. Chapter 4 provides an investigation into the possible sources of Augustine's doctrine of the two cities in Manichaeism, in (Neo)Platonism, the Stoa and Philo, and in the works of Tyconius.
The idea of two antithetical cities proves to be present most clearly in writings in which, closely related to Jewish thinking, archaic Christian concepts occupy an important place. In a final chapter some pertinent remarks are made on Jewish and Jewish-Christian influences on pre-Augustinian Christianity in Africa.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
‘... enjoyable and well-constructed book’
Henry Chadwick, Journal of Ecclesiastical History 43 (1992) 116

‘... deserves to be studied by all who are interested in the history of ideas and should assure the author an eminent place among Augustinian scholars’
William H. C. Frend, Vigiliae Christianae 45 (1991) 302

‘... demonstrates a high standard of erudition, good methodological skill, and a fine understanding of the subject by the author’.
G.H. Allard, Speculum. A Journal of Medieval Studies 68 (1993) 900

‘... careful and complete research ...’ ‘... forcefully argued thesis ...’
Kenneth B. Steinhauser, Theological Studies 51 (1992) 347/9

‘... excellente introduction au De ciuitate Dei et au grand thème des deux Cités’
Goulven Madec, Revue des Études Augustiniennes 37 (1991) 391

‘... sehr wertvolle Untersuchung ...’
Basil Studer, Theologische Revue 89 (1993) 215

‘... hervorragende Dissertation ...’
Basil Studer, Augustiniana 40/41 (1990) 937

‘...architettura esemplare ... saggio esemplare ...’
P.T. Stella, Salesianum 56 (1994) 147

‘... hermosa construcción ... solemne tesis ...’
José Anoz, Avgustinvs 37 (1992) 184

Originally (1986) a doctoral thesis at the U. of Utrecht, thoroughly reviews the early Christian writer's life, his City of God, and especially his doctrine of two antithetical cities; surveys the previous research on possible sources for the doctrine; and makes some original suggestions based on a recently discovered letter by Augustine, and references to Manichean, Platonic, archaic Jewish, and other traditions. Translated from Dutch. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9789004093232
  • Publisher: Brill Academic Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/1/1990
  • Series: Vigiliae Christianae, Supplements Series, #14
  • Pages: 427
  • Product dimensions: 6.46 (w) x 9.62 (h) x 1.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Johannes van Oort is lecturer in Ecclesiastical History at the University of Utrecht, and since, 1987, senior research fellow of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences. Publications (inter alia): Augustiniana Traiectina, (1987); Signum Pietatis (1989); Studia Patristica (1989), and Collectanea Augustiniana (1990).
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