Augustine of Hippo (/ɔːˈɡʌstɪn/; Latin: Aurelius Augustinus Hipponensis; 13 November 354 – 28 August 430 AD), also known as Saint Augustine, was a theologian, philosopher, and the bishop of Hippo Regius in Numidia, Roman North Africa. His writings influenced the development of Western philosophy and Western Christianity, and he is viewed as one of the most important Church Fathers of the Latin Church in the Patristic Period. His many important works include The City of God, On Christian Doctrine, and Confessions.
According to his contemporary, Jerome, Augustine “established anew the ancient Faith”.[a] In his youth he was drawn to the major Persian religion, Manichaeism, and later to Neoplatonism. After his baptism and conversion to Christianity in 386, Augustine developed his own approach to philosophy and theology, accommodating a variety of methods and perspectives. Believing the grace of Christ was indispensable to human freedom, he helped formulate the doctrine of original sin and made seminal contributions to the development of just war theory. When the Western Roman Empire began to disintegrate, Augustine imagined the Church as a spiritual City of God, distinct from the material Earthly City. His thoughts profoundly influenced the medieval worldview. The segment of the Church that adhered to the concept of the Trinity as defined by the Council of Nicaea and the Council of Constantinople closely identified with Augustine’s On the Trinity.
Augustine is recognized as a saint in the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Anglican Communion. He is also a preeminent Catholic Doctor of the Church and the patron of the Augustinians. His memorial is celebrated on 28 August, the day of his death. Augustine is the patron saint of brewers, printers, theologians, and a number of cities and dioceses. Many Protestants, especially Calvinists and Lutherans, consider him one of the theological fathers of the Protestant Reformation due to his teachings on salvation and divine grace. Protestant Reformers generally, and Martin Luther in particular, held Augustine in preeminence among early Church Fathers. Luther was, from 1505 to 1521, a member of the Order of the Augustinian Eremites.
In the East, his teachings are more disputed and were notably attacked by John Romanides. But other theologians and figures of the Eastern Orthodox Church have shown significant approbation of his writings, chiefly Georges Florovsky. The most controversial doctrine associated with him, the filioque, was rejected by the Orthodox Church. Other disputed teachings include his views on original sin, the doctrine of grace, and predestination. Nevertheless, though considered to be mistaken on some points, he is still considered a saint and has influenced some Eastern Church Fathers, most notably Gregory Palamas. In the Orthodox Church his feast day is celebrated on 15 June. Historian Diarmaid MacCulloch has written: “Augustine’s impact on Western Christian thought can hardly be overstated; only his beloved example, Paul of Tarsus, has been more influential, and Westerners have generally seen Paul through Augustine’s eyes.”
Film Augustine: Son Of Her Tears
- On the city of God against the pagans
On the city of God against the pagans (Latin: Dē cīvitāte Deī contrā pāgānōs), often called The City of God, is a book of Christian philosophy written in Latin by Augustine of Hippo in the early 5th century AD. The book was in response to allegations that Christianity brought about the decline of Rome and is considered one of Augustine’s most important works, standing alongside The Confessions, The Enchiridion, On Christian Doctrine, and On the Trinity. As a work of one of the most influential Church Fathers, The City of God is a cornerstone of Western thought, expounding on many profound questions of theology, such as the suffering of the righteous, the existence of evil, the conflict between free will and divine omniscience, and the doctrine of original sin.
The sack of Rome by the Visigoths in 410 left Romans in a deep state of shock, and many Romans saw it as punishment for abandoning traditional Roman religion for Christianity. In response to these accusations, and in order to console Christians, Augustine wrote The City of God as an argument for the truth of Christianity over competing religions and philosophies. He argues that Christianity was not responsible for the Sack of Rome, but instead responsible for its success. Even if the earthly rule of the Empire was imperiled, it was the City of God that would ultimately triumph. Augustine’s focus was Heaven, a theme of many Christian works of Late Antiquity. Despite Christianity’s designation as the official religion of the Empire, Augustine declared its message to be spiritual rather than political. Christianity, he argued, should be concerned with the mystical, heavenly city, the New Jerusalem, rather than with earthly politics.
The book presents human history as a conflict between what Augustine calls the Earthly City (often colloquially referred to as the City of Man, but never by Augustine) and the City of God, a conflict that is destined to end in victory for the latter. The City of God is marked by people who forego earthly pleasure to dedicate themselves to the eternal truths of God, now revealed fully in the Christian faith. The Earthly City, on the other hand, consists of people who have immersed themselves in the cares and pleasures of the present, passing world.
Augustine’s thesis depicts the history of the world as universal warfare between God and the Devil. This metaphysical war is not limited by time but only by geography on Earth. In this war, God moves (by divine intervention, Providence) those governments, political/ideological movements and military forces aligned (or aligned the most) with the Catholic Church (the City of God) in order to oppose by all means—including military—those governments, political/ideological movements and military forces aligned (or aligned the most) with the Devil (the City of the World).
This concept of world history guided by Divine Providence in a universal war between God and the Devil is part of the official doctrine of the Catholic Church as most recently stated in the Second Vatican Council’s Gaudium et Spes document: “The Church … holds that in her most benign Lord and Master can be found the key, the focal point and the goal of man, as well as of all human history … all of human life, whether individual or collective, shows itself to be a dramatic struggle between good and evil, between light and darkness … The Lord is the goal of human history the focal point of the longings of history and of civilization, the center of the human race, the joy of every heart and the answer to all its yearnings.”
- The City of God
Book 1 Augustine censures the pagans, who attributed the calamities of the world, and especially the recent sack of Rome by the Goths, to the Christian religion, and its prohibition of the worship of the gods. He speaks of the blessings and ills of life, which then, as always, happened to good and bad men alike. Finally, he rebukes the shamelessness of those who cast up to the Christians that their women had been violated by the soldiers.
Book 2 In this book Augustine reviews those calamities which the Romans suffered before the time of Christ, and while the worship of the false gods was universally practised; and demonstrates that, far from being preserved from misfortune by the gods, the Romans have been by them overwhelmed with the only, or at least the greatest, of all calamities — the corruption of manners, and the vices of the soul.
Book 3 As in the foregoing book Augustine has proved regarding moral and spiritual calamities, so in this book he proves regarding external and bodily disasters, that since the foundation of the city the Romans have been continually subject to them; and that even when the false gods were worshipped without a rival, before the advent of Christ, they afforded no relief from such calamities.
Book 4 In this book it is proved that the extent and long duration of the Roman empire is to be ascribed, not to Jove or the gods of the heathen, to whom individually scarce even single things and the very basest functions were believed to be entrusted, but to the one true God, the author of felicity, by whose power and judgment earthly kingdoms are founded and maintained.
Book 5 Augustine first discusses the doctrine of fate, for the sake of confuting those who are disposed to refer to fate the power and increase of the Roman empire, which could not be attributed to false gods, as has been shown in the preceding book. After that, he proves that there is no contradiction between God’s prescience and our free will. He then speaks of the manners of the ancient Romans, and shows in what sense it was due to the virtue of the Romans themselves, and in how far to the counsel of God, that he increased their dominion, though they did not worship him. Finally, he explains what is to be accounted the true happiness of the Christian emperors.
Book 6 Hitherto the argument has been conducted against those who believe that the gods are to be worshipped for the sake of temporal advantages, now it is directed against those who believe that they are to be worshipped for the sake of eternal life. Augustine devotes the five following books to the confutation of this latter belief, and first of all shows how mean an opinion of the gods was held by Varro himself, the most esteemed writer on heathen theology. Of this theology Augustine adopts Varro’s division into three kinds, mythical, natural, and civil; and at once demonstrates that neither the mythical nor the civil can contribute anything to the happiness of the future life.
Book 7 In this book it is shown that eternal life is not obtained by the worship of Janus, Jupiter, Saturn, and the other
select gods of the civil theology.
Book 8 Augustine comes now to the third kind of theology, that is, the natural, and takes up the question, whether the worship of the gods of the natural theology is of any avail towards securing blessedness in the life to come. This question he prefers to discuss with the Platonists, because the Platonic system is
facile princeps among philosophies, and makes the nearest approximation to Christian truth. In pursuing this argument, he first refutes Apuleius, and all who maintain that the demons should be worshipped as messengers and mediators between gods and men; demonstrating that by no possibility can men be reconciled to good gods by demons, who are the slaves of vice, and who delight in and patronize what good and wise men abhor and condemn— the blasphemous fictions of poets, theatrical exhibitions, and magical arts.
Book 9 Having in the preceding book shown that the worship of demons must be abjured, since they in a thousand ways proclaim themselves to be wicked spirits, Augustine in this book meets those who allege a distinction among demons, some being evil, while others are good; and, having exploded this distinction, he proves that to no demon, but to Christ alone, belongs the office of providing men with eternal blessedness.
Book 10 In this book Augustine teaches that the good angels wish God alone, whom they themselves serve, to receive that divine honor which is rendered by sacrifice, and which is called
latreia. He then goes on to dispute against Porphyry about the principle and way of the soul’s cleansing and deliverance.
Book 11 Here begins the second part of this work, which treats of the origin, history, and destinies of the two cities, the earthly and the heavenly. In the first place, Augustine shows in this book how the two cities were formed originally, by the separation of the good and bad angels; and takes occasion to treat of the creation of the world, as it is described in Holy Scripture in the beginning of the book of Genesis.
Book 12 Augustine first institutes two inquiries regarding the angels; namely, whence is there in some a good, and in others an evil will? And, what is the reason of the blessedness of the good, and the misery of the evil? Afterwards he treats of the creation of man, and teaches that he is not from eternity, but was created, and by none other than God.
Book 13 In this book it is taught that death is penal, and had its origin in Adam’s sin.
Book 14 Augustine again treats of the sin of the first man, and teaches that it is the cause of the carnal life and vicious affections of man. Especially he proves that the shame which accompanies lust is the just punishment of that disobedience, and inquires how man, if he had not sinned, would have been able without lust to propagate his kind.
Book 15 Having treated in the four preceding books of the origin of the two cities, the earthly and the heavenly, Augustine explains their growth and progress in the four books which follow; and, in order to do so, he explains the chief passages of the sacred history which bear upon this subject. In this fifteenth book he opens this part of his work by explaining the events recorded in Genesis from the time of Cain and Abel to the deluge.
Book 16 In the former part of this book, from the first to the twelfth chapter, the progress of the two cities, the earthly and the heavenly, from Noah to Abraham, is exhibited from Holy Scripture: In the latter part, the progress of the heavenly alone, from Abraham to the kings of Israel, is the subject.
Book 17 In this book the history of the city of God is traced during the period of the kings and prophets from Samuel to David, even to Christ; and the prophecies which are recorded in the books of Kings, Psalms, and those of Solomon, are interpreted of Christ and the church.
Book 18 Augustine traces the parallel courses of the earthly and heavenly cities from the time of Abraham to the end of the world; and alludes to the oracles regarding Christ, both those uttered by the Sibyls, and those of the sacred prophets who wrote after the foundation of Rome, Hosea, Amos, Isaiah, Micah, and their successors.
Book 19 In this book the end of the two cities, the earthly and the heavenly, is discussed. Augustine reviews the opinions of the philosophers regarding the supreme good, and their vain efforts to make for themselves a happiness in this life; and, while he refutes these, he takes occasion to show what the peace and happiness belonging to the heavenly city, or the people of Christ, are both now and hereafter.
Book 20 Concerning the last judgment, and the declarations regarding it in the old and new testaments.
Book 21 Of the end reserved for the city of the devil, namely, the eternal punishment of the damned; and of the arguments which unbelief brings against it.
Book 22 This book treats of the end of the city of God, that is to say, of the eternal happiness of the saints; the faith of the resurrection of the body is established and explained; and the work concludes by showing how the saints, clothed in immortal and spiritual bodies, shall be employed.
- THE CONFESSIONS OF SAINT AUGUSTINE
By Saint Augustine Bishop of Hippo
Translated by E. B. Pusey (Edward Bouverie)
Confessions (Latin: Confessiones) is the name of an autobiographical work, consisting of 13 books, by Saint Augustine of Hippo, written in Latin between 397 and 400 AD. The work outlines Saint Augustine’s sinful youth and his conversion to Christianity. Modern English translations of it are sometimes published under the title The Confessions of Saint Augustine in order to distinguish the book from other books with similar titles. Its original title was Confessions in Thirteen Books, and it was composed to be read out loud with each book being a complete unit.
Confessions is generally considered one of Augustine’s most important texts. It is widely seen as the first Western Christian autobiography ever written (Ovid had invented the genre at the start of the first century AD with his Tristia), and was an influential model for Christian writers throughout the Middle Ages. Professor Henry Chadwick wrote that Confessions will “always rank among the great masterpieces of western literature.”
The work is not a complete autobiography, as it was written during Saint Augustine’s early 40s and he lived long afterwards, producing another important work, The City of God. Nonetheless, it does provide an unbroken record of his development of thought and is the most complete record of any single person from the 4th and 5th centuries. It is a significant theological work, featuring spiritual meditations and insights.
In the work, Augustine writes about how much he regrets having led a sinful and immoral life. He discusses his regrets for following the Manichaean religion and believing in astrology. He writes about his friend Nebridius’s role in helping to persuade him that astrology was not only incorrect but evil, and Saint Ambrose’s role in his conversion to Christianity. The first nine books are autobiographical and the last four are commentary and significantly more philosophical. He shows intense sorrow for his sexual sins and writes on the importance of sexual morality. The books were written as prayers to God, thus the title, based on the Psalms of David; and it begins with “For Thou hast made us for Thyself and our hearts are restless till they rest in Thee.” The work is thought to be divisible into books which symbolize various aspects of the Trinity and trinitarian belief.