St. Augustine, the North African bishop of Hippo (AD 354-430), has been much studied. But there has been no systematic attempt to consider the context which shaped his life and thought. Augustine's long and controversial career and his vast literary output provide unrivalled evidence for understanding the diverse ways in which Christianity confronted, assimilated, and finally transformed the traditional society of late antiquity. This book sets Augustine in his cultural and social context showing how, as a Christian, he came to terms with the philosophical and rhetorical ideals of classical culture, and, as a bishop, with the ecclesiastical, ascetic, and political structures of late antique society. According to Augustine, the Fall of man and Original sin fracture and vitiate mankind's ability to know or to will the good. This is revealed as the keystone of his theology, effecting a decisive break with classical ideals of perfection and shaping the distinctive theology of Western Christendom.
Dr Harrison's new study on Augustine is most welcome. It is concise, lucid and organised very sensibly into chapters that address the master themes of Augustine thought. it combines the best of current research with an appreciable knowledge of the classics of scholarly literature. This feature insures that the book will be relevant to specialists no less than to beginners. (Sobornost (incorporating Eastern Churches Review)). this book is sure to become an indispensable guide to Augustine's theology in context. (Sobornost (incorporating Eastern Churches Review))
By asking familiar theological questions against the cultural and social and political background Harrison has succeeded in saying much that is new and full of insight. many lively perceptions. (Journal of Ecclesiastical History)
It is a brave, honest, and scholarly work which will be of value and interest to a wider range of reader than the students the author envisaged. (Journal of Theological Studies)
To treat the life, thought, and cultural climate of Augustine of Hippo is no small feat; to do it as judiciously and as well as Carol Harrison has here, is remarkable. Here is one of the most thorough and articulate sketches of Augustine's life available today, earning a place on the shelf next to Bonner, Bourke and Brown. (Journal of Early Christian Studies)
Carol Harrison is to be congratulated on achieving so much in the small compass of the series volumes. The happy marriage of teaching and research is especially evident in the sure-footedness with which she selects a place to begin on each issue. The beginner in Augstine studies will notget lost in this book, and the student who has had his writings on the bedside table for many years will find fresh insights. (Church Times 12/01/2001)
Augustine (AD 354-430) is perhaps the most influential figure in the transition from pagan antiquity to the Middle Ages. This book sets him in his social and cultural context. It shows how his belief in Christian truth and his conviction of human fallenness cut at the roots of classical aspirations after perfection.