CategoriesChrist and Mystic ChristianityThe Early Church and Gnosticism City of God

City of God

City of God

Product no.: 0-14-044426-2
After Alaric and his Goths sacked the city in 410 AD, some claimed the traditional gods of Rome were angry with the people for abandoning their worship in favor of the Christian religion.

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Publisher's Synopsis

St. Augustine, bishop of Hippo, was one of the central figures in the history of Christianity, and City of God is one of his greatest theological works. Written as an eloquent defence of the faith at a time when the Roman Empire was on the brink of collapse, it examines the ancient pagan religions of Rome, the arguments of the Greek philosophers and the revelations of the Bible.

Pointing the way forward to a citizenship that transcends the best political experiences of the world and offers citizenship that will last for eternity, City of God is one of the most influential documents in the development of Christianity.


"We now stand at sufficient distance to see how faith in Rome and its greatness had become, by Augustine's time, a crutch on which a distraught and insecure people wanted desperately to be able to lean. The elite of the empire went on deceiving themselves as long as they could, long after the barbarians had come and gone. What Augustine offered was a chance to throw away the crutch.

The faith and hope of the Christian embolden him to be despairing about civil society. Where it is the natural tendency of human beings to respond to change by clinging to institutions (thereby guaranteeing the destruction of institutions), the Christian can bid farewell to fading institutions and passing loves, secure in a love that lasts forever and a vision of reality that depends for its goodness, not on the fragile creations of fallible mortals, but on the eternal goodness of God.

The material world is disputed territory, where the enemy holds sway for the moment. The followers of Christ, the citizens of the heavenly city, must live in this world as foreigners (peregrini, pilgrims) do, using the laws of the city in which they find themselves to shelter themselves, but always planning and preparing to leave that city behind to return home. For those of the earthly city, the earth seems (wrongly) to be home and they treat it as such, abandoning their claim to citizenship above."     ~James J. O'Donnell

"We have already stated in the preceding books that God, desiring not only that the human race might be able by their similarity of nature to associate with one another, but also that they might be bound together in harmony and peace by the ties of relationship, was pleased to derive all men from one individual, and created man with such a nature that the members of the race should not have died, had not the two first (of whom the one was created out of nothing, and the other out of him) merited this by their disobedience; for by them so great a sin was committed that by it human nature was altered for the worse, and was transmitted also to their posterity, liable to sin and subject to death.

And the kingdom of death so reigned over men, that the deserved penalty of sin would have hurled all headlong even into the second death, of which there is no end, had not the undeserved grace of God saved some therefrom. And thus it has come to pass that, though there are very many and great nations all over the earth, whose rites and customs, speech, arms, and dress, are distinguished by marked differences, yet there are no more than two kinds of human society, which we may justly call two cities, according to the language of our Scriptures. The one consists of those who wish to live after the flesh, the other of those who wish to live after the spirit; and when they severally achieve what they wish, they live in peace, each after its kind."         ~Chapter 1.—That the Disobedience of the First Man Would Have Plunged All Men into the Endless Misery of the Second Death, Had Not the Grace of God Rescued Many.

Author Augustine, St.
Translator Bettenson, Henry
Book Type Trade Paperback
Page Count 1097 pp.
Publisher Penguin Books 1984
Gold Medal

Gold Medal


  Gold Medal Essential Reading

Browse these categories as well: The Early Church and Gnosticism, The Church: Doctors, Saints and Mystics, Christian Classics: Ancient and Modern, Mystic and Esoteric Christianity, Masterworks of the Western Mystery Tradition, Gold Medal Essential Reading, Ave Maria: Solstice

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