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The City of God

3.87  ·  Rating Details ·  7,643 Ratings  ·  331 Reviews
No book except the Bible itself had a greater influence on the Middle Ages than The City of God. As medieval Europe was the cradle of modern Western society, this work is vital for understanding our world & how it came into being.
Augustine may be the most influential Christian thinker after Paul. This is his masterpiece, a vast synthesis of religious & secular kn
Paperback, An Image Book (Abridged), 551 pages
Published February 1958 by Doubleday (first published 426)
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James M. Henry Bettenson's translation, with introduction and footnotes. (Since edited by G. R. Evans - I do not know what changes she has made to Bettenson's…moreHenry Bettenson's translation, with introduction and footnotes. (Since edited by G. R. Evans - I do not know what changes she has made to Bettenson's work.)(less)

Community Reviews

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Bud Smith
Nov 18, 2008 Bud Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
ok, this is my one brag book. anybody who gets through this (unabridged only), gets to go to heaven, no questions asked.
Roy Lotz
Once on the beach at Utica, I saw with my own eyes—and there were others to bear me witness—a human molar tooth so big that it could have been cut up, I think, into a hundred pieces each as big as one of our modern teeth.

I’m trying to think of books that might be equal to this one in importance to Western history: Plato’s Republic? the works of Aristotle? Euclid’s Elements? Homer’s epics? There aren’t many. This book arguably set the tone for the entire Middle Ages that followed. It is a vast,

I only had to read half of this for school. But it was still really long.

Imagine you're in a math class. And the teacher says, "Now we're going to learn about numbers: one plus one is two, two plus two is four, etc." And you think, "Yeah. Okay. I get that." Then all of a sudden, while your mind wanders around, the teacher says, "So now that you've got that, let's talk about calculus." And then your brain explodes from the jump that it just made.

This is sort of how City of God treated me. A
Chris Comis
Feb 09, 2009 Chris Comis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books ever written. Augustine wrote this just as Rome was coming to an end. Part of the impetus was to show that the City of God was not confined to the Roman Empire, but would outlast any earthly empire. The amount of detail he poured into describing the pagan culture of his time was also amazing. Also, he offers some fascinating theological insights towards the end of the book.

If you want to understand Western Christendom, you really have to read this book from cover to cover.
Brian Eshleman
Rob Roy
Apr 04, 2013 Rob Roy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a monumental work of theology. Written just after the sacking of Rome, it starts by answering how God could allow a Christian city to fall. This proceeds with a detailed attack on paganism, and a defense of Christianity. He belabors these points, but then goes on to a treatise on Christian theology which sets a decided uncompromising tone. He endorses the predestination arguments later made by Calvin, and shows a narrow moral view. What you get is an excellent view of the early Christian ...more
I had no idea what I was getting into when I began this book. It sometimes felt like it would never end, but it was a great experience. First, I discovered how early on very basic doctrines were lost. I loved what he says about the trinity. I was fascinated by how he defined demons (man-made gods). I would define a demon as a devil's angel. Also interesting to me was Augustine's take on the God of Israel's name being the conjugated Hebrew verb "to be" rendered "I am that I am." To me, this seems ...more
David Boyce
Evolution was a religious Idea. Back in 410 Augustine, Bishop of Hippo in North Africa was the first to describe evolution by natural selection. "We see a constant succession, as some things pass away and others arise, as the weaker succumb to the stronger, and those that are overwhelmed change into the qualities of their conquerors; and thus we have a pattern of a world of continual transience."

This book is a tremendous work. At 1090 pages long it is a vast collection of religious musings and t
Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
Could not finish it. Don't care to. It's a rather lengthy and often times boring read. I got enough of the gist by making it about halfway through and then skipping around through the rest. His unsurprising righteous indignation about the truth and beauty of 4th century Christian doctrine and the falsity and demoralizing nature of "paganism" makes me want to run for the bathroom. But when I look upon it as a book written by a man whose mind would've been blown by the mere revelation that the Ear ...more
Erik Graff
Jan 08, 2010 Erik Graff rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: students of late antiquity/patristics
Recommended to Erik by: Henry Kintner
Shelves: religion
Ironically, I switched my major at Grinnell College from history to religion because of this book. We had just read Thucydides in the Historiography class, the last course required to complete the major, when Professor Kintner assigned De civitate Dei. That weekend, openig the tome and beginning to read, I decided it was simply too much. Augustine seemed to be psychotic polemics, not history. Being a junior and having accumulated a lot of religion credits almost by chance, I determined a switch ...more
Oct 24, 2013 Isaac rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't really know how to review something like this in a format that I've used primarily for rating fiction, but I'll give it a shot.

The three stars are not meant as some kind of snobbish modern judgment on The City of God but my attempt to balance its theological and historical significance with the difficulty and not infrequent irrelevancy of the material. Augustine was adept at philosophy and rhetoric, keen in his exegetical analysis, and thorough in his argumentation, but many of the topi
James M.
Nov 06, 2013 James M. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book weighs in at over 1,000 pages - 22 books in the original. Fortunately for the reader, St. Augustine frequently wanders from his main theme, for many pages at a time, providing fascinating explorations of why the number 11 symbolises sin (short answer: it transgresses the perfect 10 of the Decalogue); of how the Ark of Noah is an allegory of Christ; of the creation and fall of the angels, and of much, much more.

These questions are digressions, but they do help to make the book palatabl
Justin Evans
Dec 06, 2016 Justin Evans rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-etc
Any star rating is entirely meaningless. This is a ludicrous book, astonishing in scope, and in desperate need of an editor to make sense of it. I simply can't; it's overwhelming. Arid stretches of rhetoric suddenly cough up a fascinating philosophical argument, which then itself belches forth more arid rhetoric, and so on. Augustine takes the ancient pagan beliefs to pieces by showing that they simply can't be rationalized--then immediately forgets the obvious lesson and tries to rationalize Ch ...more
Read this back in the 1990's but now I want to reread it. I know I would get a lot more out of it.
Zaman Ali
A very long book and very difficult to have full focus in reading all book but it's the book of long influence in human history because of Augustine theological thoughts. And this book has long explanatory views on theological ideology and Augustine explains it very well and point by point and even you agree with Augustine or not but one thing is certain that Augustine made a significant change in philosophy by adding the theological reasons in philosophy and that made him popular in throughout ...more
Sep 13, 2009 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the great classics in all of Christian--no, check that--human history, The City of God presents two contrasting groups of people, or to use the imagery of the book, two contrasting cities: the earthly and the heavenly. Everyone in the world falls into either one city or the other, and Augustine painstakingly lays out their origins, their history, and their destiny.

This fifth century book was the classic Christian book throughout the church's history until the individualism of the Enlighte
Amy C.
Jan 19, 2014 Amy C. marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: faith, didn-t-finish
Reading this along with a Facebook group. Just through book One now and really enjoying the book and the experience with the reading circle. The group's organizer posts a reading schedule and regular comments with the readings, and other commenters have been so valuable to read. I'm getting so much out of it because of the group. If you're reading it now or want to read it, check out the Reading the City of God group on Facebook.
Apr 04, 2011 Matt rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I stumbled across Augustine when I was teenager and I remember this being much more profound. Having just reread it cover to cover, I was wholly disappointed. Augustine writes in response to attacks on Christianity for which the decline of the Roman Empire is being increasingly blamed. The first half of the book criticizes, effectively, the irrationality of pagan belief. However, he fails to turn the same clear-eyed analysis to Christianity. In one of the more painfully oblivious passages, Augus ...more
Aug 30, 2009 Jeremy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
Okay, from what I read, which certainly wasn't the whole book, there are a few useful ideas here. Augustine does an excellent job (though unintentionally) of showing how religious doctrines do not come about by an organic, bottom up process, but are the products of artificial acts of committees and compilers. And he also shows how large institutions are necessary in order to keep a doctrine going once it gains a modicum of acceptance. But honestly, I found this work overall to be hopelessly reac ...more
James Violand
May 20, 2011 James Violand rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone.
Shelves: own
This is one of my favorite works. Yeah, I know you're skeptical, but here me out. I've begun my quest to read the basic works of western man beginning with Gilgamesh and in sequence reading through to the present. It's a lifelong ambition. I've read most of the ancient works of some repute, including Roman histories from Greek and Roman historians. When I arrived at 411 AD, I picked up The City of God. Shortly after the first sack of Rome, Augustine wrote it not as an apology for the claim that ...more
Sep 23, 2016 Laura marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: My father
Free download available at Vol. I - Project Gutenberg.

Free download available at Vol. II - Project Gutenberg.
Gwen Burrow
Jun 11, 2009 Gwen Burrow rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
Stunning. Not just a theologically good book, but also an enjoyable one.
Nov 20, 2014 Pinkyivan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I did it. Feels good man.
Mar 01, 2013 Jay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
Often brilliant. Occasionally tedious.

Here are some quotes that stood out to me:

"I am sick of recalling the many acts of revolting injustice which have disturbed the city's history; the powerful classes did their best to subjugate the lower orders, and the lower orders resisted - the leaders of each side motivated more by ambition for victory than by any ideas of equity and morality." Book II, 17

"At the beginning of history the supreme power over races and nations rested with kings, who rose to
David Sarkies
Mar 28, 2013 David Sarkies rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those interested in Theology & Ancient History
Recommended to David by: I Dunno, I guess I just wanted to read it.
Shelves: christian
Where the pagan and the Christian culminate in the Ancient World
28 March 2013

Now this book is an absolute brick and even though I had decided that I would read it I questioned how long it would take for me to actually wade through it. As it turned out it was quite quickly, namely because there was a great deal of Roman History included which I find quite fascinating. The City of God traces the concurrent history of Israel and Rome and outlines the contrast between the city of men (as represente
This is simply an initial reaction book review. Further and deeper thoughts will follow on a blog somewhere...

I have finished reading City of God. It is a massive book. It took me a year plus a few months to achieve this, albeit sometimes going weeks without peaking inside. This is one of the largest works from antiquity, and it's basically an education in a volume -- history, the theory of history, theology, biblical scholarship, pagan religion, philosophy, political philosophy, moral philosoph
Mubarak bin Jerusalem
I picked up City of God in the winter of 2014 after a year or so of preparation. My swash-buckle existence in Hell, New York, afforded me a room with a window, bed, a chair squeezed in against the wall so as to prop up my legs on the bed in order to read or write, the hardcover was a no-go - this was a let down, as Thomas Merton's introduction seemed as if a near divine green light in this bleak hour of my life, or Augustine had put it, 'This matter of days.' I ventured out and picked up a paper ...more
Justin Tapp
My review is far too long for Goodreads. Check out the full version on my blog:

Free at and
Augustine is probably the most-cited but least-read of the early church writers. Everyone claims a piece of him. I think the massiveness of this work keeps some people from starting, but I found it quite readable and interesting-- particularly if you want a good overview of Scripture. This is the longest and most important book I've consume
Jonathan Platter
Jun 17, 2015 Jonathan Platter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
This is a tough read. St Augustine offers an extended critique of the internal logic of Roman and Greek mythology/religion and then counters its failures with the divine logic of Christianity. He then continues to contrast the two cities -- the one which is shaped by the lust for power, the other by the desire for God -- all the while drawing the reader toward immersion in the logic of Christianity -- more adequately the logic of the triune God -- and away from the (il)logic of the "earthly" cit ...more
Czarny Pies
May 27, 2014 Czarny Pies rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who find it on the required reading list of a course they are enrolled it.
Recommended to Czarny by: Required reading for an undergraduate course
I give this book a four star rating in recognition of its enormous importance in world history. There is a strong argument for not reading it given the wildly different results that are obtained depending whether the edition that you happen upon is a Calvinistic or a Roman Catholic project.

St. Augustine's first achievement is to demonstrate the strengths of Christianity versus Pagan religion and Pagan Philosophy. His second achievement is that he provides a comforting explanation of why the Visi
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peccable 1 1 May 05, 2017 08:19AM  
رواية ام كتاب روحي؟ 1 3 Dec 18, 2015 10:22PM  
Which editions of Augustine's City of God would you recommend? 2 19 Dec 15, 2013 10:14PM  
  • The Major Works
  • Selected Writings
  • On the Incarnation
  • On the Apostolic Preaching
  • The Complete Works
  • Three Treatises
  • The History of the Church: From Christ to Constantine
  • Saint Thomas Aquinas
  • Catherine of Siena: The Dialogue (Classics of Western Spirituality)
  • The Idea of a University
  • Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2 Vols
  • The Christian Tradition 3: The Growth of Medieval Theology 600-1300
  • Christianity and Culture: The Idea of a Christian Society and Notes Towards the Definition of Culture
  • Against Christianity
  • Bonaventure: The Soul's Journey into God, the Tree of Life, the Life of St. Francis (Classics of Western Spirituality)
  • Lectures on Calvinism
  • The First and Second Apologies (Ancient Christian Writers)
  • On God and Christ, The Five Theological Orations and Two Letters to Cledonius: St. Gregory of Nazianzus
Aurelius Augustinus Hipponensis, in English Augustine of Hippo, also known as St. Augustine, St. Austin, was bishop of Hippo Regius (present-day Annaba, Algeria). He was a Latin philosopher and theologian from the Africa Province of the Roman Empire and is generally considered as one of the greatest Christian thinkers of all times. His writings were very influential in the development of Western C ...more
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“God is always trying to give good things to us, but our hands are too full to receive them.” 159 likes
“What are kingdoms without justice? They're just gangs of bandits.” 29 likes
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