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RELI 0050 Augustine of Hippo

This course examines the life and thought of one of the giants of Western Church, Augustine of Hippo (died 430).  Born into a landowning family in Roman Africa, Augustine had the upbringing of his class, including a period as a member of the Manichean sect, various relationships, and a glittering career as a professor of rhetoric. After a mystical experience and under the influence of Bishop Ambrose of Milan, Augustine converted to Catholic Christianity, becoming a bishop within ten years just as the Roman Empire was noticeably disintegrating. His surviving works cover a huge range from doctrinal theses, sermons and Biblical exegesis to attacks on heretics and his Confessions (which has been hailed as the first Christian autobiography). The subtlety, power and timing of his writing ensured that Augustine was profoundly influential in every age of the Western Church from his day to this.


Sample Syllabus 

  • ‘Christian Autobiography’: The Confessions
  • Living the Christian Life:  Augustine’s Rules
  • Philosophy and True Happiness: The Happy Life
  • Expounding the Gospel: Homilies on the Gospel of St John
  • Teaching the Preachers: On Christian Doctrine
  • Refuting Heresy: Against the Donatists
  • Loyalties: The City of God against the Pagans
  • Hipponiensis: The Long Shadow of Augustine

Introductory Reading

  • Chadwick, H., Augustine. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986
  • Brown, P., Augustine of Hippo: a Biography . London: Faber, rev’d edn, 2000
  • Bonner, G., St Augustine of Hippo: Life and Controversies. Norwich: Canterbury Press, 3rd edn, 2002
  • Markus, R.A., Saeculum: History & Society in the Theology of St Augustine. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2nd edn, 1988
  • Augustine, Confessions.  Many translations, including by H. Chadwick, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992 etc.
  • Augustine, Concerning the City of God against the Pagans.  Many translations, including by H. Bettenson, London: Pelican, 1972 etc.
  • Augustine, On Christian Teaching. Many translations, including by R.P.H. Green, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997
Thankful for every moment
I devoured the integral lectures, the seminars, the tea and biscuits, and the charming streets of Oxford. Aided by my tutors, my passion for the human...
Mike Rectenwald, Summer 2000, Geneva College