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City of God

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  5,664 ratings  ·  245 reviews
No book except the Bible itself had a greater influence on the Middle Ages than Augustine's City of God. And since medieval Europe was the cradle of modern Western society, this work is vital for understanding our world and how it came into being.
Paperback, Penguin Classics, 1097 pages
Published November 27th 2003 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published 426)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Bud Smith
ok, this is my one brag book. anybody who gets through this (unabridged only), gets to go to heaven, no questions asked.

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
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.
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
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
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
Rob Roy
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
Brian Eshleman
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
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 Violand
Jul 08, 2014 James Violand rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
Erik Graff
Jan 12, 2014 Erik Graff rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
Amy C.
Jan 06, 2015 Amy C. marked it as to-read
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.
Gwen Burrow
Stunning. Not just a theologically good book, but also an enjoyable one.
I did it. Feels good man.
Jacob O'connor
One of the toughest classes I ever took was Art History. The teacher was brutal. The tests were all essay, there was a final project requiring both a written paper as well as physical example of art, meaning I had to do a painting for the class. But the real challenge was the students. Fresh out of the liberal arts factory, they attacked Christianity at every opportunity. The Church was at fault fordestroyingthe great works of antiquity, suppressing expression until theRenaissance, and holding b ...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
Czarny Pies
Jan 03, 2015 Czarny Pies rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
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
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
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
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
4 stars just for style alone--it's so perfectly organized and clear, despite the convoluted subject matter, and sometimes so charmingly snarky, it just made me want to go back in time and hug him. His theology is a little disappointing, though. It felt to me like half of it was perfectly coherent and logical, but unfortunately no longer relevant to the modern world (such as debunking some pagan beliefs of his time), while the other half was relevant and interesting, but weak on logic. He does ha ...more
May 31, 2008 Andre marked it as to-read
Considered by Augustine his magnum opus, this is an interesting book. Written as the Roman Empire was crumbling and doubts about why God would allow the christianized Rome to dissolve, Augustine went about showing where the real City of God exists. I wanted to read this book for several reasons: obviously it is classic and also I enjoy reading Augustine, but at the same time I am sometimes puzzled why we so earnestly labor to prove that America was the new Israel? I think that this book would be ...more
An amazing book in a lot of ways. The vocabulary and philosophy is beautiful. At times I had to read with a dictionary in hand to really get the meaning behind the words. It was refreshing to see that the thinking of Saint Augustine encompassed similar thoughts and concerns we find ourselves involved with today. He was obviously a well read/educated/thoughtful man. I did feel that I got more from the condensed foreword. The translation of the original writing was burdensome to read. I found myse ...more
Jeff Koloze
Although it is 1,600 years old (it was written to help Christians in the Patristic Age deal with the Sack of Rome in 410), St. Augustine’s “City of God” is relevant to contemporary American culture, which is bereft of a spiritual base; abortion legalized throughout the nine months of pregnancy for any reason whatsoever, the gay distortion of marriage pronounced by the Supreme Court, and Obama's continuing and increasing foreign policy failures are all examples which justify this claim.

The volume
Richard Minor
Written at the end of the Roman Empire, Augustine defends Christianity against paganism and then proceeds to lay out the differences between the worldly city and the city of God.

It's interesting to read this from a historical standpoint. You see arguments against the Pagan gods that had preceded Christianity in the Roman Empire. You read answers to the philosophical arguments of Augustine's day. You catch a glimpse of the church just before it entered the Middle Ages. You begin to understand wh
I read The City of God over six months last year in a translation by Henry Bettenson which runs to 1091 pages in my Penguin Classics edition. As Joe Morecraft says, this is a book on everything. I am not going to review it; all I feel that I can do is gesture helplessly in its general direction.

Read the rest at my blog, In Which I Read Vintage Novels.
The City of God is a work of almost infinite tedium, in which Augustine sets out to contrast the history of the titular city with the course of secular society. Along the way he indulges every half-baked whim of biblical exegesis, shoddy philosophy, selective reasoning, and fanciful speculation that pops into his head. Many readers have mistaken this random mishmash for depth of thought, and thus has City of God cemented its place among the "great works" of western civilization. What Bertrand Ru ...more
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Which editions of Augustine's City of God would you recommend? 2 13 Dec 15, 2013 10:14PM  
  • The Major Works (World's Classics)
  • The Complete Works
  • Summa Theologica, 5 Vols
  • Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2 Vols
  • On the Incarnation
  • On the Apostolic Preaching
  • Augustine of Hippo: A Biography
  • Saint Thomas Aquinas
  • Lectures on Calvinism
  • The History of the Church: From Christ to Constantine
  • Apologia Pro Vita Sua (A Defense of One's Life) (Dover Giant Thrift Editions)
  • Angels in the Architecture: A Protestant Vision for Middle Earth
  • The Bondage of the Will
  • On God and Christ: The Five Theological Orations and Two Letters to Cledonius
  • The Consolation of Philosophy
  • The Christian Tradition 2: The Spirit of Eastern Christendom 600-1700
  • The Rule of Saint Benedict
  • For the Life of the World: Sacraments and Orthodoxy
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 Christianity. According to his contemporary J ...more
More about Augustine of Hippo...
Confessions (Oxford World's Classics) On Christian Doctrine On Free Choice of the Will The Trinity The Enchiridion on Faith Hope and Love (Augustine Series 1)

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“God is always trying to give good things to us, but our hands are too full to receive them.” 126 likes
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