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City of God

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  10,777 ratings  ·  514 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. ...more
Paperback, Penguin Classics, 1186 pages
Published November 27th 2003 by Penguin Books Ltd (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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 ·  10,777 ratings  ·  514 reviews

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Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a truly COLOSSAL book! Why, exactly, do I say that?

Because, you know, there are two ways of getting answers in the world... there’s getting the world’s answers (and that’s sometimes doublethink) and there’s getting SYMBOLIC answers!

Sub specie aeternitatis, symbolic answers are the ONLY important ones. Rather than show the world’s Real face, they Suggest it.

And they’re what Augustine gives us when he divides the world RIGHT UP THE MIDDLE.

If you cut through the layers of your illusions abo
Bud Smith
Nov 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
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 vas
Brian Eshleman
Jul 10, 2014 rated it really liked it

SECOND READING: Worth absorbing every seven years. He addresses a lot of issues we don't struggle with, but perhaps some of that is BECAUSE of the foundational grace God expressed through patriarchs like Augustine. I certainly found applicable insights even if the presenting issues of the 21st century are somewhat different. His passion comes through, as does his erudition. Extra star. Maybe in 2028 I will give City of God the fifth star I'm sure it deserves. This

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
Mar 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
dedicated with affection to Galiciius and Manny.

Ladies and gentlemen this review is written after a long time, though not as much as my most recent review"Most Picante Murder" by Karina Lumbert Fabian . I finished reading this book on March 25, and started it in February, instigated by my friend Galicius, as the group that presides over Manny with which I am joined by a great friendship, even though my presence is
Jan 30, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Ever wondered how sex worked in the Garden of Eden? Why Seth's genealogy lists more people than Cain's? Why there were three levels on the ark?
Yeah, me neither.
But now apparently I do.
And those topics only cover like a chapter of this book.
Like many people who took a Western Civ class, I knew Augustine pre-dated the Enlightenment and Enlightenment obsession with rationalism. He lived in an era where the mystic lived hand in hand with the everyday. Where martyrs' bones performed miracles and
Mar 31, 2013 rated it liked it
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
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.
Justin Evans
Dec 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 24, 2012 added it
Shelves: 1990s
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. ...more
Took almost a year to read, but worth it.
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
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, opening the tome and beginning to read, I decided it was simply too much. Augustine's approach seemed to be psychotic polemics, not history. Being a junior and having accumulated a lot of religion credits almost by chance, I determ ...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
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
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
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
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 exile
Simon Stegall
I get a similar feeling reading Augustine to when I read ancients like Homer and Thucydides: call it nostalgia if you must, but I think it’s something more akin to having a conversation with, say, a foreigner from an obscure country. What is it like over there? What are your buildings made of? What kind of animals lurk in your fields? What do you wear, eat, see? When I’ve had those conversations I’ve noticed that the most interesting aspect is not really the exotic differences (though those can ...more
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
Nov 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosphy
I did it. Feels good man.
Andrea Lawrence
Jan 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
Definitely a must read for every Christian!
Oct 24, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Aug 30, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
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
May 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
not hard to read but does take bit to read the book
Apr 01, 2020 rated it it was ok
What happens when you cross a brilliant, highly detailed, philosophical classic with a lack luster reader with a short attention span? A gigantic yawn. I know this 1,100 page tome is a cornerstone of Christian theology, but it left me beyond uninspired. The world view, the intellectual approach, the scientific and experiential underpinnings were so alien to my context that I never found an entry point or a moment of interest.
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
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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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