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City of God (Penguin Classics) by Augustine…
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City of God (Penguin Classics) (edition 2004)

by Augustine of Hippo (Author), Henry Bettenson (Translator)

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5,252331,583 (3.95)92
One of the great cornerstones in the history of Christian philosophy, The City of God provides an insightful interpretation of the development of modern Western society and the origin of most Western thought. Contrasting earthly and heavenly cities--representing the omnipresent struggle between good and evil--Augustine explores human history in its relation to all eternity. In Thomas Merton's words, "The City of God is the autobiography of the Church written by the most Catholic of her great saints." This Modern Library Paperback Classics edition is a complete and unabridged version of the Marcus Dods translation.… (more)
Member:Vgarci410
Title:City of God (Penguin Classics)
Authors:Augustine of Hippo (Author)
Other authors:Henry Bettenson (Translator)
Info:Penguin Classics (2003), Edition: Reprint, 1184 pages
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Concerning the City of God against the Pagans by Saint Augustine

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Following the barbarian invasion of the 'Christianized' Rome, and the sacking thereof, Augustine writes 'City of God' in response to the events leading up to it, its consequences, and various relevant criticisms made by non-believers.

Book 1:

Augustine answers the anti-Christian rhetoric by pointing out the miraculous preservation of those who sought asylum in Christian churches; the godless barbarians spared these people. Augustine points out to critics that this is an example of Divine Intervention.

Much of what is covered in the Book of Job is also covered here, as Augustine deals with the fundamental questions of why God permits saints and sinners alike to suffer.

Augustine discusses at length his opinion on the inherent sinfulness of suicide, systematically raising and undercutting classic objections to the position, namely that of suicide to escape rape. Read this portion with caution.

Finally Augustine discussing the growing moral decay of Rome leading up to the sacking, suggesting that it may have played a role in the judgment of conquest.

Book 2: Augustine points to Rome's moral decay and societal decadence LONG before the advent of Christ and Christianity. He identifies an inherent irony in the Roman pagan religion in that its adherents propitiate (honor/revere) their gods via immoral pantomimes/plays; while these plays are considered sacrosanct, their participants (viz. the actors) are barred from any and all conduct in 'honorable' society due to their immoral actions. If such actions, in 'honor' of the gods, are heinous, then those gods are heinous; therefore, says Augustine, they are not gods; they are demons masquerading as gods, baiting Rome into immorality under the guise of worship. Augustine covers much of Roman history demonstrating his points to this effect. This book closes with a call to convert from the false gods of Rome, who do nothing to teach moral uprightness to their adherents, to the One True God, whose Church teaches what it is to live an 'upright life.'

BOOK 2 Quotes: "[T]he intelligent are infected by a gross mental disorder which makes them defend the irrational workings of their minds as if they were logic and truth itself, even when the evidence has been put before them as plainly as is humanly possible" (48).

"It is impossible for the divine majesty to be propitiated by arts which cast a stain on human dignity" (87).

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  djlinick | Jan 15, 2022 |
Philosophical treatise vindicating Christianity written by the medieval philosopher Saint Augustine as De civitate Dei about 413–426 ce. A masterpiece of Western culture, The City of God was written in response to pagan claims that the sack of Rome by barbarians in 410 was one of the consequences of the abolition of pagan worship by Christian emperors. St. Augustine responded by asserting, to the contrary, that Christianity saved the city from complete destruction and that Rome’s fall was the result of internal moral decay. He further outlined his vision of two societies, that of the elect (“The City of God”) and that of the damned (“The City of Man”). These “cities” are symbolic embodiments of the two spiritual powers—faith and unbelief—that have contended with each other since the fall of the angels. They are inextricably intermingled on this earth and will remain so until time’s end. St. Augustine also developed his theological interpretation of human history, which he perceives as linear and predestined, beginning with creation and ending with the Second Coming of Christ.

The City of God was one of the most influential works of the Middle Ages. St. Augustine’s famous theory that people need government because they are sinful served as a model for church-state relations in medieval times. He also influenced the work of Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin and many other theologians throughout the centuries. ( )
  Marcos_Augusto | Oct 24, 2021 |
Under the shock of the election results, I looked for a book that would help me think about reconciling the demands of being a citizen and a Christian. This venerable masterpiece seemed as good a place to start as any. I began reading the 19th century Dods translation in the Great Books set, also widely available for free online. It’s not bad, based on the passages I compared with the Latin original, which can also be read online (thelatinlibrary.com). Nevertheless, to reduce the difficulty a bit, I switched to the recent translation by R. W. Dyson. I regret that my Latin isn’t good enough for me to read the book in the original. In one passage I compared, it took Dods and Dyson each 19 words to render what Augustine said elegantly in eight. And yet both were good translations.
In all, I found the book long, repetitive, and not always consistent (see for example his discussion of free will), but still valuable. One benefit of reading it was to become aware of how different the world in which Christianity took its classic form was from ours. His defense of God takes place against the background of a polytheistic society. Not only the existence of God or gods was rarely questioned; Augustine lived in a time when the existence of mediating beings—angels, demons—was unquestioned. Most held that the highest God had no direct dealing with humans.
Another difference between then and now: Ever since the Enlightenment, many have insisted an atheist could be an ethical person; in other words, they have argued for uncoupling morality and faith. Augustine, though, wrote at a time when he could point to the ethical component in the Judeo-Christian tradition as one of the traits that made it superior to polytheism. The Judeo-Christian God was the first to demand ethical behavior from his followers—something the pagan gods neither demanded nor modeled. Further, Augustine could assume that all thinking people, Christian and non-Christian, shared the assumption of a final end, or ultimate good, in life. Drawing on Plato—his primary partner in dialogue among the philosophers—Augustine denies that this could be found in that which pertains either to the mind or the body, and certainly not in anything extrinsic (money, honor, etc.), but in that which the mind contemplates, i.e., the God who is the cause of all. In other words, the most important thing in life was to achieve the blessed life after this life, and therefore Augustine limits the discussion to how this can be gained. Augustine’s argument ultimately rests on the divergent eternal fate of the citizens of the two cities: never-ending torment or everlasting bliss in the presence of God. So this book is a reminder of how far concern has shifted from the afterlife to this one.
It was also valuable to finally read what Augustine believed happened in Eden. One of the first things I knew about Augustine, long before I read him, was that he was certain Adam got an erection right after eating the fruit Eve proffered. In essence, those who reduce Augustine for popular consumption cut straight to the money shot. But reading about it in context—from chapter 16 on in Book XIV—I’m struck by how psychologically acute Augustine is. Nevertheless, he suffers here, as through the entire work, from his rigorous soul/body duality. Physiology has made some progress since his time.
As for help in thinking about the at times complementary, at times contradictory demands of citizenship and faith, one theme was helpful. That was Augustine’s definition of populus, a people. To him, it is a group bound together not by race nor language, but “an assembled multitude of rational creatures bound together by common agreement as to the objects of their love” (XIX:24).
Who should read this book today? Certainly, anyone who is wrestling with the conflicting claims of faith and patriotism, looking for a classic formulation of the dilemma. Beyond that, I imagine the book would interest anyone exploring Christian interaction with Greek philosophical tradition. Most other readers, I’m afraid, will be put off by its length, its density. Those who take it on nonetheless will come across many insights surprisingly relevant for our time, even though far removed from the world in which it was written.
( )
  HenrySt123 | Jul 19, 2021 |
The City Of God - Volume 2 is an unchanged, high-quality reprint of the original edition of 1871. Hansebooks is editor of the literature on different topic areas such as research and science, travel and expeditions, cooking and nutrition, medicine, and other genres. As a publisher we focus on the preservation of historical literature. Many works of historical writers and scientists are available today as antiques only. Hansebooks newly publishes these books and contributes to the preservation of literature which has become rare and historical knowledge for the future.
  OLibrary | Jul 1, 2021 |
Not an easy book, translated from the original Latin, to read. Augustine (354-430) discusses, in 22 books, two main themes. In the first half of the work (books I-X), he details the development of Roman paganism, refutes the famous philosophers of his day, and explains why the Greek and Roman gods, being demons, should not have been worshiped. In the second half (books XI-XXII) , he pours on the theology in tracing the parallel development of the earthly city (Rome) and the Heavenly City (the New Jerusalem). Those who worship the one true God go to heaven while those who don't go to hell. ( )
  Jimbookbuff1963 | Jun 5, 2021 |
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» Add other authors (307 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Saint Augustineprimary authorall editionscalculated
Barker, ErnestIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bettenson, HenryTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bourke, Vernon J.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dods, MarcusTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dods, MarcusTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Facetti, GermanoCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gilson, EtienneIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Giry, LouisTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Healey, JohnTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Honan, Daniel J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Knowles, Davidsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mayes, BernardNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McCallion, DavidNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Meadows, MarkNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Merton, ThomasIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Monahan, GraceTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Slider, DarynNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tasker, R.V.G.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Walsh, Gerald GrovelandTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zema, Demetrius B.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Here, my dear Marcellinus, is the fulfilment of my promise, a book in which I have taken upon myself the task of defending the glorious City of God against those who prefer their own gods to the Founder of that City.--Bettenson translation (1984)
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One of the great cornerstones in the history of Christian philosophy, The City of God provides an insightful interpretation of the development of modern Western society and the origin of most Western thought. Contrasting earthly and heavenly cities--representing the omnipresent struggle between good and evil--Augustine explores human history in its relation to all eternity. In Thomas Merton's words, "The City of God is the autobiography of the Church written by the most Catholic of her great saints." This Modern Library Paperback Classics edition is a complete and unabridged version of the Marcus Dods translation.

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