Augustine was arguably the greatest early Christian philosopher. His teachings had a profound effect on Medieval scholarship, Renaissance humanism, and the religious controversies of both the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation. Here, Henry Chadwick places Augustine in his philosophical and religious context and traces the history of his influence on Western thought, both within and beyond the Christian tradition. A handy account to one of the greatest religious thinkers, this Very Short Introduction is both a useful guide for the one who seeks to know Augustine and a fine companion for the one who wishes to know him better.
About the Series: Combining authority with wit, accessibility, and style, Very Short Introductions offer an introduction to some of life's most interesting topics. Written by experts for the newcomer, they demonstrate the finest contemporary thinking about the central problems and issues in hundreds of key topics, from philosophy to Freud, quantum theory to Islam.
About the Author
Henry Chadwick (1920-2008) enjoyed international renown as one of the leading church historians of the twentieth century. He held senior appointments at both Oxford and Cambridge Universities, latterly as Emeritus Regius Professor of Divinity, Cambridge. Chadwick's scholarship was complemented by his active involvement in church life. Ordained a priest in the Church of England in 1944, he developed a deep commitment to church unity and took a leading role in the Anglican and Roman Catholic dialogues of the mid-1970s.
Chadwick authored numerous books and articles throughout his career. At Oxford University Press he held series editorship of Oxford Early Christian Texts and Oxford Early Christian Studies, and co-edited the Oxford History of the Christian Church series with his brother, Professor Owen Chadwick. His acclaimed translation of Augustine's Confessions is available from Oxford World Classics.
Table of Contents
List of illustrations
1. The formation of Augustine's mind: Cicero, Mani, Plato, Christ
2. Liberal arts
3. Free choice
4. A philosophical society
7. Unity and division
8. Creation and the Trinity
9. City of God
10. Nature and grace
What People are Saying About This
All the main thought elements of Augustine set in the attracively told narrative of a fascinating life.
(John J. Glanville, San Francisco State University)
The best brief introduction to Augustine's context and thought for the beginning undergraduate. Excellent for history, philosophy, and religion coursesclear, elegant, thorough.
(Robert I. Burns, University of California, Los Angeles)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A wonderful book for anyone wishing to learn about the theology of Augustine and the excellent work of Henry Chadwick. Chadwick is a venerated figure in modern theology having held positions at Oxford and Cambridge and manages to explain Augustine's theology in a surprisingly easy to read manner. Chadwick also explains the complex influence of Greek philosophy, specifically Neoplatonism on Augustine's thought. Prior to Chadwick this was something that many theologians had downplayed for obvious reasons. This is a fascinating read and should inspire readers to learn more about Augustine and the Early Church in general. I would recommend moving on to Chadwick's The Early Church when you have completed this book.
I like this series, but it does strike me that the supposedly succinct introductions can become a deceptively long read. In this case, the author made up for space with big vocabulary, which actually results in a nice challenging piece of work. I still advocate my principle of reading the source before the commentary (in this case, especially the Confessions. This author shows the diversity of Augustine's thoughts, as they apply to philosophy, religion, and literature. He also brings out Augustine's life and personality. And he shows the way Augustine's writings affected future doctrine. In particular, Augustine believed in the force of government (he was a Roman citizen), but he would have opposed the severe practices adopted later by the Catholic and Byzantine church. The author also explains Augustine's thoughts about prayer (not to change God's will but to conform to it - mostly silent and and then OK to pray in hope for the basics of health and food). Chadwick also discusses briefly that Augustine believed that Peter as "the rock" reflected the first of many redemptions Christ would make, rather than positioning Peter as the one leader (though he later left open that possibility). With respect to religion and state, Augustine believed in the power of the latter, but also felt a government without justice was the equivalent of a very powerful thug. He believed the redistribution of resources through taxation was necessary as the church's charitable efforts would not be sufficient.