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Saint Augustine of Hippo: An Intellectual Biography

Oxford University Press / 2013 / Hardcover

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CBD Stock No: WW861590

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  • Others Also Purchased (15)
Others Also Purchased (15)

Product Description

St. Augustine was undoubtedly one of the great thinkers of the early church. Yet it has long been assumed-and not without reason-that the main lines of Augustine's thought have been more or less fixed since his death. That insofar as we should be aware of him in the twenty-first century, he is a figure described-if not circumscribed--by his times.

A major revisionist treatment of Augustine's life and thought, Saint Augustine of Hippo overturns this assumption. In a stimulating and provocative reinterpretation of Augustine's ideas and their position in the Western intellectual tradition, Miles Hollingsworth, though well-versed in the latest scholarship, draws his inspiration largely from the actual narrative of Augustine's life. By this means he reintroduces a cardinal but long neglected fact to the center of Augustinian studies: that there is a direct line from Augustine's own early experiences of life to his later commentaries on humanity. Augustine's Christianity did not--in blunt assaults of dogma and doctrine--obliterate what had gone on before.

Instead, it actually caught a subtle and reflective mind at the point when it was despairing of finding the truth. Christianity vindicated a disquiet that Augustine had been feeling all along: he felt that it alone had spoken to his serious rage about humanity, abandoned to the world and dislocated from all real understanding by haunting glimpses of the divine.

Thus, this book is-in every respect-a new treatment of Augustine and this superb intellectual biography shines a bright light on a genuinely neglected element in his writings. In so doing it introduces us to Augustine as he emerges from the unique circumstances of his early life, struggling with ironies and inconsistencies that we might just find in our own lives as well.

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 400
Vendor: Oxford University Press
Publication Date: 2013
Dimensions: 9.30 X 6.20 (inches)
ISBN: 0199861595
ISBN-13: 9780199861590
Availability: In Stock

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Publisher's Description

St. Augustine was undoubtedly one of the great thinkers of the early church. Yet it has long been assumed--and not without reason--that the main lines of Augustine's thought have been more or less fixed since his death. That insofar as we should be aware of him in the twenty-first century, he is a figure described-if not circumscribed--by his times.

A major revisionist treatment of Augustine's life and thought, Saint Augustine of Hippo overturns this assumption. In a stimulating and provocative reinterpretation of Augustine's ideas and their position in the Western intellectual tradition, Miles Hollingworth, though well versed in the latest scholarship, draws his inspiration largely from the actual narrative of Augustine's life. By this means he reintroduces a cardinal but long-neglected fact to the center of Augustinian studies: that there is a direct line from Augustine's own early experiences of life to his later commentaries on humanity. Augustine's new Christianity did not--in blunt assaults of dogma and doctrine--obliterate what had gone before. Instead, it actually caught a subtle and reflective mind at the point when it was despairing of finding the truth. Christianity vindicated a disquiet that Augustine had been feeling all along: he felt that it alone had spoken to his serious rage about man, abandoned to the world and dislocated from all real understanding by haunting glimpses of the Divine.

A major new treatment of Augustine on all fronts, this superb intellectual biography shines a bright light on a genuinely neglected element in his writings. In so doing it introduces us to Augustine as he emerges from the unique circumstances of his early life, struggling with ironies and inconsistencies that we might just find in our own lives as well.

Author Bio


Miles Hollingworth is Research Fellow in the History of Ideas at St. John's College, Durham University, in the United Kingdom. His writing on Augustine has won awards from the Society of Authors (2009 Elizabeth Longford Grant for Historical Biography) and the Royal Society of Literature (2009 Jerwood Award for Non-Fiction). He is the author of The Pilgrim City: St. Augustine of Hippo and his Innovation in Political Thought, which was shortlisted for the Royal Historical Society's Gladstone History Book Prize.

Editorial Reviews


"[An] ambitious and comprehensive work."--Church of Ireland Gazette


"Hollingworth shows why it is that Augustine has such broad appeal; not just because he finds him surprisingly humane and enlightened about our propensity to sin but because of the positive spin that he puts on the absence of God experience and the hope of meaning that his interpretation of the restless heart gives to those who suffer existential angst and radical doubt. This is therefore a book for all seekers after the Truth: theist and atheist as well as all lovers of Augustine."--Margaret Lane, Theology


"Hollingworth brings out the underlying vision and the lived meaning of Augustine's thought ... This book shares Augustine's concern to relate his life to the reader's own, and to require of readers an engagement with their own cultural and personal history. It is at times demanding, even frustrating. Readers will probably vary widely in their judgement of its success or failure, but success or failure must also attend upon the reader's work, as she or he squares up to Augustine's vision." --Journal of Theological Studies


"Learned and well documented."--Claremont Review of Books


"Relying primarily on Augustine's Confessions in order to unearth how the experiences of the young Augustine shaped the theology of the older clergyman, Hollingworth interweaves Augustine's theological insights with his personal plights in a lively and lyrical manner. In eleven chapters, Hollingworth covers diverse themes in Augustine's life under headings such as "Augustine's remarks on his parents" (chapter 3),"Manichaeism" (chapter 7), and "On the singular deportment of death, love, and grief" (chapter 8). Hollingworth's biography exercises the reader's historical, philosophical, psychological, and psychoanalytic imagination..." --Bryn Mawr Classical Review


"This is a book whose style and feel are really worthy of Augustine himself--humane and probing, full of telling metaphor and seriousness about the strangeness of human experience. It is capable of doing for a new generation a great deal of what Peter Brown's epochal biography did half a century ago." --Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury


"Hollingworth patiently explains Augustine to the contemporary reader, imagined as someone in whom a naïve historicism holds sway and in whom Augustine's claims, such as the damnation of unbaptized infants and the value of virginity, are easily ridiculed. He does so by an appeal to the human struggles of a great man. This type of presentation justifies the subtitle, 'An Intellectual Biography'; it is a study that embeds a person's ideas within their historical context. One can query this approach and raise issues concerning the historiography, but it brings readers closer to Augustine in all his complexity." --Heythrop Journal


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