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On Christian Doctrine

3.99  ·  Rating Details ·  2,321 Ratings  ·  95 Reviews
On Christian Doctrine is an introduction to the interpretation & explanation of the Bible which exerted an enormous influence throughout the Middle Ages.
Paperback, 191 pages
Published January 11th 1958 by Library of Liberal Arts/Bobb-Merrill (Indianapolis, IN) (first published 397)
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Justin Evans
Feb 27, 2016 Justin Evans rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
A fascinating little book for all kinds of people: late antiquity buffs; philosophers; hermeneuts; and of course, Christians. Augie usually manages to find his way to a reasonable middle position: against biblical literalism, also against waiting for a direct experience of God.

Book one describes 'things' rather than signs, and we get some of Augie's less up to date opinions: you shouldn't love people for themselves, but for the sake of God, and the same thing goes for one's self. But these are
As teacher of Christian doctrine and a teacher of such teachers, St. Augustine’s classic work by this name seemed like something I ought to read. And yet I didn’t want to approach it as a philosophy student being forced to study some dusty old textbook, but rather as the curious seeker wanting to discover what this ‘Christian doctrine’ was all about. I discovered St. Augustine is an excellent teacher!

He begins with the rules for the interpretation of Scripture, which he considers very serious, e
Brent McCulley
Mar 16, 2017 Brent McCulley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
Good and useful.
May 29, 2011 Matt rated it liked it
In contrast to the unwieldy and meandering City of God, Augustine’s four books On Christian Doctrine are notably focused in comparison. Augustine seems to be at his best when he can let his rhetorical skills breathe. His arguments stay rooted in his fundamental belief in biblical truth, but at least here he engages in active interpretation. The entire last book is dedicated to honing skills to distinguish between literal and figurative biblical passages. He seeks for allegory in much of the Old ...more
David Withun
Oct 15, 2013 David Withun rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, religion
In this short book, St. Augustine presents a wealth of knowledge from which any Christian can derive an excess of benefit. In successive pages, Augustine lays out for the reader the foundations of the Christian faith, of the Christian spiritual life, of proper interpretation of Scripture, and of the correct manner of speech, life, and thinking for a Christian teacher. I recommend this book for Christian teachers and for anyone who wishes to deepen their understanding of the faith and the Scriptu ...more
J. Alfred
The first three books are extremely interesting in how to read and interpret the Bible, and indeed how to think: there's a good amount of discussion on what is a thing, what is a sign, how signs are things and things are signs, but you can get mixed up if you interpret a sign as merely a thing and vice versa-- pretty profound stuff, as you might expect from the saint.
Book four, on how Christians ought to try to sound good while speaking truth, is much less interesting.
Kevin Greenlee
Aug 31, 2009 Kevin Greenlee rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy, theology
On Christian Doctrine is the first work of Augustine’s I’ve ever finished. The reading group I’m in read the first two sections as a launching point for our discussion of myth and symbol, and I decided to finish the whole thing. The book is essentially a primer on how to read the Bible and then, in the fourth section, how to present the knowledge attained therein.

All in all, On Christian Doctrine is a very solid, though basic, examination of symbol, hermeneutics and eloquence. I like Augustine’s
Jacob Aitken
And so begins the epistemology of the Western world, Christian or otherwise. It begins as a pocket guide to ethics:

**use: to employ whatever means are at our disposal to obtain what one desires (I.4). In accordance with the ordo amoris, God uses rather than enjoys us (I.31). God uses us in references to his own goodness

**enjoyment: to rest with satisfaction in a thing. The Trinity is the true object of enjoyment. Objects of enjoyment must be eternal and unchangeable (I.22). This leads to the Ord
Apr 23, 2011 Shep rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the first major Christian hermeneutics texts. Modern exegetes may cringe at Augustine's use of the allegorical method of Scriptural interpretation, but no one can deny that his hermeneutics has been 1) profoundly influential throughout Christian history and 2) there is something to it. Augustine was attempting to mimic the methods of interpretation utilized by Christ and the apostles, and in this text he shows that he is aware of the extremes that allegorical interpretations can reach, bu ...more
First things first: I'm clearly not the kind of person for whom this book was intended. But that I thoroughly enjoyed De doctrina christianas—appropriately translated in my edition as On Christian Teaching, as opposed to the more misleading On Christian Doctrine—testifies to St. Augustine's sagacity and clarity as a thinker.

As for the work, it is comprised of four parts: The first concerns itself with the concept of love, which Augustine cleverly partitions into love as a means (what he calls to
Jul 23, 2010 Tim rated it it was amazing
St. Augustine's On Christian Doctrine provides historical insight into early church and medieval practices of Scriptural interpretation and rhetorical appropriateness - many of which are foreign to modern readers. It can be dry in portions, but it is also wise and spiritually rich. He champions the church's use of the world's knowledge for its own sake, using the image of the Israelites taking from the Egyptians as they begin their Exodus - "Every good and true Christian should understand that w ...more
William Curb
Jan 27, 2008 William Curb rated it liked it
Recommends it for: People studing religion or Christianity
While I would have never picked this book up on my own accord I found that I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. The book was assigned for my class on Dante to help us understand some of the literature that Dante would have read and to give us an idea of the type of literary criticism that Dante would expect. And it is true that our class needed to read this to see where Dante was coming from. The book is definitely dated in Christian ideas, but it does show a good foundation of what ...more
Books I-III: learning how to interpret the Bible; when is it literary and when is it figurative?; "rule of faith"; semiotics

Book IV: rhetoric (presenting what you've learned)

Good thoughts on hermeneutics, semiotics, and plundering the Egyptians.

Read again from Feb. 7-9, 2015.
Gwen Burrow
Jun 12, 2009 Gwen Burrow rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology
It's by Augustine, which means you should read it. And by the way, it's pronounced Au-gustine.
Aug 29, 2016 Emmiefiggs rated it liked it
Many good and useful quotes. Can be dry at times
Zachary Taylor
On Christine Teaching is a remarkably self-conscious book about biblical hermeneutics, the importance of symbolism, and the Christian rhetorical aesthetic. The text is divided into four books. The first differentiates between things (res) and signs (signa) in Scripture, and what it means to use (utor) things and to enjoy (fruor) things; the second examines unknown signa, unfamiliarity with which can be removed through comprehension of Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, the languages in which Scripture is ...more
Mar 23, 2015 Eli rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. I love Augustine's mind, and it is so exciting to see how identical the ancients were to modern man. Augustine shows in this book that he was a true scholar and lover of truth. Modern man has so much to learn from the men of old; to think otherwise is madness.

His advice and directions on learning various disciplines, such as logic, mathematics, art, animal science, history, etc. are excellent and should be read by young people, which would stimulate them and help them see why
Augustine's On Christian Doctrine would perhaps be better titled On Biblical Exegesis, an observation also made by the translator of this volume, D.W. Robertson, in the book's Introduction: "Esssentially, On Christian Doctrine is an introduction to the interpretation and explanation of the Bible" (ix). It is a fairly short work, consisting of a Prologue and four books. Its brevity appears at odds with Augustine's warning at the beginning: "[The subject of this book] is a great and arduous work, ...more
Timothy Darling
I include this book in a selection of books I call "Conversation with Christ." This is a powerful older book that has influenced Christian thinking for centuries, giving us some of the roots of thoughts practices that are still widely used today. Augustine of Hippo of course is one of the greatest of Church Fathers and should be heard on any topic he chooses to discuss. This book, however is sadly ignored in our homiletics and hermeneutics classes to our own detriment. We are an arrogant, short- ...more
Jul 16, 2012 Andrew rated it really liked it
I don't really feel comfortable rating a book from Saint Augustine, so I intend my rating to relate to the translation done by D.W. Robertson, Jr. For readers who need to carefully understand Augustine's argument, this translation is far superior to the more recent one done by R.H.P. Green, though Green's introductory material and notes are quite helpful.

One way to understand this book is as a project of replacing the 'corpus' of classical literature that Augustine and other Roman citizens were
Feb 25, 2013 Eric rated it liked it
Shelves: rhet-comp, field-exam
Augustine begins the first of On Christian Doctrine’s four books by stating, “There are two things on which all interpretation of scripture depends: the process of discovering what we need to learn, and the process of presenting what we have learnt” (1.1). He starts with discovery, further subdividing “things” from “signs” and focusing the remainder of the first book on learning which things (people included) are appropriate to use, enjoy, and/or love (1.2). The second book focuses on the sign, ...more
Kyle Barton
Apr 30, 2014 Kyle Barton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On Christian Teaching is made up of four books—three on discovering truth in the Scriptures and one on presenting the truth to others.

Here’s how the four books break down:

Book 1 is about “things”. Augustine says that of all the things, some are to be used and some are to be enjoyed. Ultimately, the only thing that is to be enjoyed is the Triune God and all other things are to be used to that end. Book one is the most theological and abstract of the four books and contextualizes Augustine’s teac
Chris Whisonant
This was a great read overall. I liked the first 3 parts, though I didn't care as much for the 4th part. It wasn't bad, but the discussion of the types of rhetorical language wasn't quite up my alley.
Ben Zornes
May 03, 2016 Ben Zornes rated it it was amazing
This was just fantastic. Augustine's work here clearly shaped and guided Christian thought and doctrine, and the effects of his wisdom are felt today. He navigates the heresies common to his day and leads the reader to understand what the Bible teaches. He offers timeless principles which should form and shape Christians, both the lay person and the leaders.

Two sections in particular I found most delightful and spiritually edifying. The first is in book 1, where he pursues how objects are to be
Apr 16, 2011 Josh rated it it was ok
Shelves: theology, nonfiction
I think the translation of the title to "On Christian Teaching" is more accurate, as the book doesn't relate to core theological points of the Christian faith, but rather principles for studying scripture and for teaching it. It consists of four books. Book 1 relates to loving God and people.

Books 2 and 3 relate to interpretive rules, and this is where I ran into some disagreements. Augustine describes interpreting numbers symbolically, refusing to believe that the disciples caught 153 fish just
Sep 24, 2010 Nemo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christianity
"Of all the Christian authors I've read (such as St. Teresa of Avila, C.S.Lewis, G.K.Chesterton, Thomas Merton), St. Augustine is the one I find most approachable and enjoyable, although he lived more than 1600 years ago. His books at once stimulate the mind, warm the heart and uplift the spirit, instructional and yet delightful, deep and rich in meaning and yet eloquent in style.

It's been more than 4 months since I finished his masterpieces
Confessions of Saint Augustine and City of God. Now re
Nate Walker
Oct 23, 2013 Nate Walker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a phenomenal work on education. As an inspiration for James Smith, his work on ordered loves emphasizes the goal of education not as simply the formation of the mind, but the formation of the loves, the heart. Augustine takes as his guiding principle for Christian education: What skills do students need to read and communicate God's word effectively? The answer: language and grammar (especially w.r.t. ancient languages), literature (understanding genre, poetry, etc.), history, geography, ...more
Apr 20, 2015 Lisa rated it liked it
Recommended to Lisa by: Potter's School Classical Track Year 2
A theological text written by St. Augustine of Hippo, it consists of four books published between 397 and 426 AD that explain how to interpret and teach the Scriptures using rules he provides. I only read selections from book four. In this book Augustine focuses on the teaching of scripture, not on interpreting them. He argues that Christian teachers should use the art of rhetoric to teach the meaning of scriptures (since those who teach falsehoods use rhetoric, why shouldn't those who teach the ...more
Jan 06, 2009 Ray rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Skip that Intro!

I've just read this book for my Intro to Theology class. While the publisher and the comments on the back of the book seems to cherish the 100 pages of introduction by other scholars, I have to say reading through the first 50 pages makes me want to pull my hair out or stop reading this book altogether.

I finally took the advice of my wife (who got an earful about the Intro) and skipped the last 50 pages of it. Suddenly, I found myself enjoying Augustine, which is simple and refle
Ryan Handermann
Just read this again. Very helpful. This book is really for pastors who are trying to understand the Bible, but he has a lot of principles that applicable today, even in a regular school setting. For instance, imagine a school teaching a Bible class and how to understand the Bible, well what is the most important thing to get out of it? Augustine says that rule of interpretation number one is that we should learn to love God and love our neighbor. This seems obvious, but how often is that actual ...more
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  • The Major Works
  • On the Apostolic Preaching
  • On the Incarnation
  • On the Holy Spirit
  • Three Treatises
  • Early Christian Doctrines
  • 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
  • The Idea of a University
  • The Complete Works
  • Augustine of Hippo: A Biography
  • On the Unity of Christ
  • Creeds of the Churches: A Reader in Christian Doctrine from the Bible to the Present
  • Bonaventure: The Soul's Journey into God, the Tree of Life, the Life of St. Francis (Classics of Western Spirituality)
  • For the Life of the World: Sacraments and Orthodoxy
  • Against Christianity
  • Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2 Vols
  • The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations
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
More about Augustine of Hippo...

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“We made bad use of immortality, and so ended up dying; Christ made good use of mortality, so that we might end up living.” 35 likes
“Whoever, then, thinks that he understands the Holy Scriptures, or any part of them, but puts such an interpretation upon them as does not tend to build up this twofold love of God and our neighbor, does not yet understand them as he ought.” 12 likes
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