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The City of God

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  9,482 ratings  ·  410 reviews
One of the great cornerstones in the history of Christian philosophy, The City of God provides an insightful interpretation of the development of modern Western society and the origin of most Western thought. Contrasting earthly and heavenly cities--representing the omnipresent struggle between good and evil--Augustine explores human history in its relation to all eternity ...more
Paperback, Modern Library Paperback Edition, 905 pages
Published September 12th 2000 by Random House (first published 426)
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James 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)

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Bud Smith
Nov 18, 2008 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.
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's best to ignore the cynicism of some of the other reviewers. This is a truly COLOSSAL book.

You know, there are two ways of getting answers in the world... there’s getting the world’s answers (and all that’s just doublethink) and there’s getting TRANSCENDENTAL answers!

Sub specie eternitatis, transcendental answers are the ONLY important ones.

And they’re what Augustine gives us...

If you cut through the layer of your illusions about it, it's all about one central fact, from which you can then d
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
James Violand
May 20, 2011 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
Brian Eshleman
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 Christian 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, ...more
Chris Comis
Feb 09, 2009 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.
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
Great Book Study
Took almost a year to read, but worth it.
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
Rob Roy
Apr 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ancient-lit, religion
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
Lance Kinzer
Aug 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What is there to say about perhaps the greatest book ever written, other than Thanks be to God.
Nov 06, 2013 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
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.
Sep 13, 2009 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
Erik Graff
Jan 08, 2010 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
Justin Evans
Dec 06, 2016 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
Huh, this is a lot shorter than I thought it was - it appears to be a lot longer in iBooks. I'll go ahead and finish it, and then I'd like to get one of the longer-but-abridged editions (around 500 p). But I can't buy books right now, so maybe I'll be stuck with the unabridged version...

Finished! I'll have a review up in a few days (after I've reviewed March: Book One). I'll start the unabridged version, but I'm thinking I might stop after I finish vol. 1.


The editor of this abridged e
Oct 24, 2013 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
Nov 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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.
Douglas Wilson
Excellent. Great.
Jul 07, 2011 rated it liked it
Augustine is widely considered the most important of the early church fathers. He was born in North Africa in 354 A.D., became the Bishop of Hippo and wrote a vast number of works—most notably Confessions, On Christian Doctrine, On the Trinity, and City of God. Augustine’s legacy particularly in the Protestant tradition, cannot be underestimated, as his works left an indelible impression upon the Reformers—a legacy that Protestants still draw upon today. Indeed, the very nature of the argument c ...more
See my reading plan here (#cityofgod2019). I read parts of this in an graduate English seminar at Baylor in 2012.

i: brief biography
vii–viii: chronology
- 312: Constantine (Con.) becomes Xn and declares Roman Empire a Xn empire
- 325: Council of Nicaea
- 354: A born
- 361–3: brief return to paganism under Julian the Apostate
- 384: A becomes professor of rhetoric in Milan
- 386: A converts to Xnity
- 395: A becomes bishop of Hippo (North Africa)
- 410: sack of Rome (A age 56); encounter with many exiles
Czarny Pies
May 27, 2014 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
Amy C.
Jan 19, 2014 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.
Andrea Lawrence
Jan 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
Definitely a must read for every Christian!
Nov 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosphy
I did it. Feels good man.
Jon Pentecost
What else am I going to rate it?

I guess part of what makes a book a theological classic is that it changes the way you think--and City of God is definitely that kind of book. It's a stunning mix of addressing everything from the faults of Platonism to how Christian women should think through the threat of rape (in an empire being pillaged by barbarians) to tracing God's people throughout history to correcting those who think that church participation without faith and faithfulness is sufficient
La più monumentale opera agostiniana, il De Civitate Dei, segna un punto importante nella dottrina cattolica ma anche nella storia della filosofia e nella filosofia della storia: al di là del contenuto teologico - importante, va da sé - il De Civitate Dei introduce per la prima volta nella filosofia la storia, approntando tramite le vicende dell'Antico Testamento prima e la storia della civiltà greco-romana poi la dissertazione escatologica sulla storia dell'uomo e sull'utilizzo che di essa fa D ...more
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Reading the Churc...: Book I: Christianity and Evil 50 13 2 hours, 35 min ago  
Reading the Churc...: * Reading Schedule and Text 5 10 Jan 16, 2019 09:31AM  
Reading the Churc...: Preface 12 9 Jan 16, 2019 07:52AM  
Reading the Churc...: Background and Resources 3 9 Jan 14, 2019 07:06AM  
  • 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
“God is always trying to give good things to us, but our hands are too full to receive them.” 172 likes
“What are kingdoms without justice? They're just gangs of bandits.” 32 likes
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