20 January 2014

Reading Augustine in 2014

Recently Collin Garbarino, a history professor from Houston Baptist University, had the bright idea of creating reading programme for Augustine’s City of God with a view to reading a couple of chapters a day. If you stick with it, you should get through the entire volume by the middle of December. He has set up a Facebook group for people who wish to read it with him and discuss any issues that arise. Fortunately for folk like me who keep well away from all things Facebook, David Reimer of Edinburgh University has now started a non-Facebook reading group using the same reading programme.

But why would anyone want to read City of God? According to Collin Garbarino:
Because it’s awesome. Augustine of Hippo started his magnum opus after Germans sacked the city of Rome in 410. Both pagan Romans and Christian Romans took the destruction of the city pretty hard, and both looked for meaning in the event. The pagans blamed the Christians, and many Christians couldn’t understand how this catastrophe could happen in a Christian empire. Augustine writes his book to put historical events in a theological perspective. City of God has everything—history, theology, philosophy, science. Augustine crams a lot of ancient learning into this one book. I like to think of the City of God as the capstone of the ancient world. It’s definitely worth reading.
My own answer would be that, quite apart from its importance for understanding Augustine and its more general theological importance, it is one of the seminal works in the philosophy of history. 

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