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Apologia Pro Vita Sua

4.09  ·  Rating Details ·  791 Ratings  ·  64 Reviews
Students will be able to place the Apologia in its proper intellectual context by examining it alongside other important documents from the Newman-Kingsley controversy included in this volume: correspondence: Kingsley's pamphlet, "What, Then, Does Dr. Newman Mean?"; Newman's pamphlets "Mr. Kingsley's Mode of Disputation" and "True Mode of Meeting Mr. Kingsley"; and Newman' ...more
Paperback, 506 pages
Published July 17th 1968 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1864)
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I finished it, sort of. I finished the main text, not all the appendices and I cannot say I understood all I read. But what I understood stretched me. Currently I am rereading The One Thing Is Three: How the Most Holy Trinity Explains Everything (for the 3rd time I think) by Fr. Michael Gaitley and since I was also reading Newman, what Gaitley had to say about him clicked this time. Before I had no frame of reference.

Gaitley says that Newman, is a very personal author. By contrast, Thomas Aquina
Webster Bull
Newman's meticulous recall of the steps by which he passed from the Anglican Church to the Catholic in 1845 is one of the hardest and most beautiful books of Christian writing imaginable. Bring your intellectual A-game but especially your heart.
Pater Edmund

John Henry Newman’s Apologia pro Vita Sua is generally considered not only a great work of theology, but also one of the great classics of English literature. Often compared to Augustine’s Confessions, one of the first reviews (included in this Norton Critical Edition) goes so far as to call it “a far deeper revelation, and a far greater moral achievement” than even the Confessions. Even the Bloomsbury critic Lytton Strachey, who was not only vociferously opposed to Newman’s theology, but was al

Jul 25, 2008 Lyndon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
The word that came to mind while reading Apologia was: plodding. And that's okay. Newman's account of the seismic shift in his thinking that led eventually to reception into the Roman Catholic Church is not a fast read, nor a particularly enjoyable read. It is Newman as a Catholic, re-tracing the steps that brought him into the Catholic fold from the embrace of his mother English church. It is also a defense so he is addressing specific questions and concerns that might not at first be evident t ...more
I had to read this for one of my classes, and I must say it was one of the driest books I have ever read. Still, Newman's writing is lyrical and often quite aesthetically pleasing (when it's not convoluted). I also appreciated how much of Newman's voice cam through. His account of his journey from Anglicanism to Catholicism in a time when Catholics were seen as "idolaters" in England is honest and truly heartfelt, and he seems like a man I would like to chat with over coffee. I'd never sit down ...more
Jul 15, 2014 Nick rated it it was amazing
Take a long, slow walk through this masterpiece.

Newman's autobiography is "the only one that bears mentioning in the same sentence with Augustine's Confessions". In this opinion of Father Oakes SJ I do concur. To enter into the Apologia (hereafter APVS) is to draw near to the heart of one of the greatest figures in literature and Christianity. One can share this opinion without necessarily sharing his religious convictions; much of what is in dispute during Newman's conversion from Anglicanism t
Luke Langley
“A Defense of One's Life” is not a great work and I would not suggest it to anyone as a ‘must read’. However I don’t think the book is lacking because Newman is at fault, but because the book is misconstrued to be a classic when that isn’t what the author intended. Newman was obviously writing to specific people who thought the way he converted from Anglicanism to Catholicism was improper. He was wringing a defense (as stated in the title) to address specific accusations and not a true autobiogr ...more
Jan 24, 2008 Aaron rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was surprised by this book. Often it is mentioned as one of the great classics of spirituality; often it is compared to Augustine's Confessions.

But it is not a spiritual work in that sense. It is not intended to edify. It is, simply, a record of Newman's changing beliefs which led by a fairly direct route to Catholicism. It is a justification of his conversion as intellectually honest. It is not apologetic, as he is not primarily concerned with giving arguments, and those which appear are inc
Daniel Swanger
Feb 03, 2016 Daniel Swanger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: seekers of truth and theology
Recommended to Daniel by: book catalogue description
For all who want to discern truth and gain insights into theology, St John Newman's apologia is priceless. His detractor, Charles Kingsley, will go down as ignominious for his blasphemy and calumny of a churchman whose subtleties of thought in service of truth are beyond him. England was known in the Age of Faith as Our Lady's Dowry; today we have unfortunate divisions in Christianity esp since the Protestant Reformation. Newman sees the telescoping development of doctrine in Christianity which ...more
Oct 01, 2014 Urh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Zelo lepo napisana knjiga z zelo težkimi temami o prihodnosti vere in o težavah nacionalne cerkve, ki se ne ozira na svojo, četudi še tako davno, zgodovino.
Ker je pisec ne toliko komplicirana oseba kot človek uperjen v učenje svoje argumentacije, je vse zelo stopnjevito in metodično obrazloženo in pri tem subjektivno kot šolano vodeno predavanje o času v katerem anglikanci in rimokatoliki bijejo boj za duše in za svoj lastni smisel. Ker je pisec šolan anglikanec, ki je postal proti koncu življe
Meg Hunter-Kilmer
I hate myself for saying this because I love Newman but this book was so caught up in minutiae and self-defense (think modern-day Nehemiah) that it was *very* difficult to get through. That said, Newman remains eminently quotable and he's got some real gems in here.
Mar 23, 2014 C.D. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Though it can seem tedious at times, this is a work worth persevering through. It is entirely contemporary to modern difficulties with faith and reason. But I defer to Pater Edmund's excellent review:

Apr 08, 2011 Patrick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dense but rewarding and elegantly written. I almost filed this on my "Religion" shelf, but although John Henry Newman was a famously religious man, to understand his spiritual odyssey, you have to look at his whole biography.
I hate to admit it, but I had a really hard time getting through this book just because Newman is so introspective & inwardly-directed. The point of the work was to explain the history of his own religious opinions, so the book's focus isn't unwarranted, but for me personally it made it a bit dull in places. I also found his prose not as compelling as expected, largely because he spends much of the book quoting excerpts from his own letters, or making numbered lists of items to address in se ...more
Nov 04, 2007 Jamey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hated it in 1988, but I think I'd like it now. High ranking 19th Century Anglican clergyman decides to become a Catholic, explains why.
Jan 22, 2011 Kathleen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the most influential books I've ever read. Greatly affected me for years to come. An amazing man.
Jon Wilson
Glosses over some of his real motivations, but that is understandable with as many positions as the author took in his long illustrious life. Newman is always so numinous and intuitive in argument, and I am surprised how easily he bears me along in his writing. I wish he had stopped at the door and remained an Anglo-Catholic, since I think his strong personality could have kept Anglicanism from years of struggle. But if he had, then there would have been no Vatican II (which I guess some conserv ...more
Jan 13, 2015 Greg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
John Henry Newman’s explanation of his conversion from Anglicanism to the Roman Catholic Church is documented in his own words. Considered a classic in the mode of St. Augustine’s Confessions, the Apologia Pro Vita Sua is less lyrical, and less psychological than the work of Augustine. Newman writes with the purpose of refutation, rather than proclamation. As such, the words rarely ring, but are methodical and sometimes verbose as befits an English clergyman in the 19th century.

The words themsel
Bernard Norcott-mahany
Apologia pro Vita Sua by John Henry Cardinal Newman
I'll be spending 2013 reading biographical materials: autobiographies, biographies, diaries and letters. Over the course of the next twelve months, I'll be reading and discussing three items in each of those four categories. It isn't just that the people who are the focus are important, and that their stories are fascinating, but biographical material itself poses its own questions – how is the life of a real person constructed in narrative? Wha
Kevin de Ataíde
Extraordinary and detailed autobiography, describing Blessed Newman's battle with his self, as he left his beloved Anglican Church for the Roman Church. With a great sigh, I come to 1845 and the writing of the treatise on the development of doctrine, when the great man finally felt that both reason and conscience beckoned him towards Rome. The language is excellent; I had some trouble with it until I got through a book of Dickens, whereupon it was suddenly easy to read Victorian prose. It's odd ...more
Feb 09, 2010 Shep rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Newman's classic account of his conversion from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism was eloquently written and enlightening. Like Abraham Kuyper, he was concerned with the Modernistic principles in the culture of his day, and with the growing Liberalism in the church. While Kuyper found a firm foundation in the principles of Calvinism, Newman turned to the principles of Roman Catholicism. His arguments concerning Tradition are powerful and appealing. Both Protestants and Roman Catholics will find m ...more
Susan Barsy
Oct 27, 2013 Susan Barsy rated it it was amazing
I read this as a young Episcopalian looking to understand more about the history of Anglican church and its relation to Catholicism. Newman's book is a powerful recounting of his passionate intellectual and spiritual involvement with Anglicanism, an involvement that first led him into an ardent defense and justification of the church and then ultimately away from it toward a wholehearted embrace of the Catholic creed.

This book is at the same time a fascinating time-capsule, documenting the spiri
The intellectual autobiography par excellence. Refreshingly honest, the Apologia accurately traces the development of Newman's religious opinions as he drifts from Evangelicalism to High Church Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism. Not all readers will survive full immersion in the world of Victorian theological controversy, but those who do will find themselves richly rewarded.
William Gill
May 17, 2015 William Gill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you can survive all of the many tangential and wandering paths Newman drags you down by way of exhausting explanation of his words and behavior, you will finish the journey through his defense as a richer person. Newman is very quotable and despite his tortured verbosity, he often cuts to the heart of a matter with a clarity that reminds me of Chesterton.
Morgan Djuna Sorais Harrigan
Dense and at times plodding, but deeply rewarding. One of my favorite quotes:
"I want an intelligent, well-instructed laity – I wish [them] to enlarge [their] knowledge, to cultivate [their] reason, to get an insight into the relation of truth to truth, to learn to view things as they are, to understand how faith and reason stand to each other, what are the bases and principles of Catholicism.”
Father John
Apr 14, 2016 Father John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not what you expect

I had read excerpts before, but reading the whole work was full of surprises. This is not at all a typical apologetically work. It goes much deeper, and gives an awe inspiring glimpse into an especially gifted mind and soul, who now has been beatified.
Rachel Murphy
One of the many reasons I want to visit Oxford next year is to see the place that formed such a crystalline intellect ~ such a pure heart and a courageous one. And so perfectly English.

I first read the Apologia when I was 15, and it was wonderful to revisit it with a fuller understanding (though not as complete as I'd like) of the issues that surrounded JHN's conversion and the Oxford Movement. I feel immensely sorry --and, guiltily, delighted--for Mr Kingsley's poorly judged attack on Newman &
Casey Taylor
Well educated Anglican priest turns Roman Catholic in mid 19th c England. A tough book to read in part because of it's formal Victorian style, in part because Newman defends himself against the charge that he was always a closet Catholic by reprinting numerous letters chronicling his development of thought. That means his self defense is less an original work and more a gathering of fragments into a whole.
Nicole Gervasio
Unless you get really titillated by ecclesiastical life-writing or you're absolutely desperate for yet another possible venue for helping you recover your lost faith in a Christian God, there really is no reason to subject yourself to this 400-page homily.

Most of the book consists of Newman defending himself and his conversion from Anglicanism to Catholicism (which I guess was totally radical at the time, but now seems like practically a baby step between religious identifications). His defense
Andrew Stout
May 21, 2010 Andrew Stout rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderful account of Newman's involvement in the Oxford movement and his conversion to the Catholic Church. His reflections on the nature of the church and on ethical issues such as lying and deceit are fascinating. It seems that many of his pre-conversion views on what it means to read the 39 Articles in light of broader catholic commitments are still extremely relevant, and parallel some of the discussions that I hear taking place in conservative Reformed circles regarding the way th ...more
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Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman was an important figure in the religious history of England in the 19th century. He was known nationally by the mid-1830s.
Originally an evangelical Oxford University academic and priest in the Church of England, Newman then became drawn to the high-church tradition of Anglicanism. He became known as a leader of, and an able polemicist for, the Oxford Movement, an
More about John Henry Newman...

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