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The Theology of Augustine

Baker Academic / 2013 / Paperback

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Product Description

Using seven of Augustine's most important texts, distinguished theologian Matthew Levering introduces the thought of this towering figure in an accessible and understandable text. Complementary to other introductions on Augustine, and ideal as a guide through the seven treatise Levering examines this book will bring Augustine to a wider audience including church leaders, laity, and students. Moreover, because the Augustinian corpus is so large, it will also prove very beneficial to scholars who often need to know Augustine but have not read him.

The seven works of Augustine covered include:
  • On Christian Doctrine
  • Answer to Faustus, a Manichean
  • Homilies on the First Epistle of John
  • On the Predestination of the Saints
  • Confessions
  • City of God
  • On the Trinity

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 224
Vendor: Baker Academic
Publication Date: 2013
Dimensions: 9.00 X 6.00 (inches)
ISBN: 0801048486
ISBN-13: 9780801048487
Availability: In Stock

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Publisher's Description

Most theology students realize Augustine is tremendously influential on the Christian tradition as a whole, but they generally lack real knowledge of his writings. This volume introduces Augustine's theology through seven of his most important works. Matthew Levering begins with a discussion of Augustine's life and times and then provides a full survey of the argument of each work with bibliographical references for those who wish to go further. Written in clear, accessible language, this book offers an essential introduction to major works of Augustine that all students of theology--and their professors!--need to know.

Author Bio

Matthew Levering (PhD, Boston College) is professor of religious studies at the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio. He is the author or editor of numerous books, including Ezra & Nehemiah in the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible. He is also coauthor of Holy People, Holy Land and Knowing the Love of Christ.


Matthew Levering introduces Augustine through seven of his most important texts--a wonderful idea. Augustine shines out as one whose theology focuses on the central mystery of the Christian faith, God's gracious drawing of humanity into the divine life through the work of the incarnate Word and the life-giving Spirit. Levering's treatment beautifully complements existing introductions, providing a guide that should aid generations of students and inspire the interested lay reader.
Lewis Ayres,
Bede Chair in Catholic Theology, Durham University

Matthew Levering applies his characteristic clarity of exposition and acuity of analysis to seven major works of Augustine; the result wonderfully substantiates his introductory claim that 'Augustine speaks as powerfully today as he did sixteen hundred years ago.'
Khaled Anatolios,
professor of historical theology, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry

The current reawakening of interest in Augustine's theology has created a great need for an introduction that is elevated enough to be of interest to specialists and yet accessible enough to be read by students and readers from other disciplines. Levering's study meets exactly that need. It points the way for those who are interested in how Augustine is relevant to our own theological quandaries, and it guides those who are just beginning to find their way in things Augustinian by helping them see theological themes as they are embodied in whole texts. An excellent contribution!
John Cavadini,
professor of theology and director of the Institute for Church Life, University of Notre Dame

Levering offers to students the best introduction to Augustine devised so far. He makes clear that Augustine himself was no 'Augustinian'; even though he invented subjective angst and had an acute sense of sin, Augustine was also a humanist and a profound metaphysician. This book successfully inducts us into the bishop of Hippo's integral blend of soul-searching, critical reading of sacred texts, ontological reflection, and social activism.
John Milbank,
professor of religion, politics, and ethics, University of Nottingham

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  1. Arlington, WA
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: male
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    The Theology of Augustine
    February 25, 2015
    Arlington, WA
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: male
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    This is an excellent resource for engaging in the study of St. Augustine's theology. I like the fact that Levering limited his scope to 7 major treatises and explained major sections each book down in a clear and concise manner. As he explained the specific treatises, I could see how St. Augustine grew in his faith and how he became a theological giant in the Western Church. Levering has given me a basic outline of how to study this great theologian. It is worthwhile to purchase, even if one is not thinking about studying the life and works of St. Augustine.
  2. Becancour, QC
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: male
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    October 1, 2014
    Becancour, QC
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: male
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    The Theology of Augustine: An Introductory Guide to His Most Important Works. By Matthew Levering. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academics, 2013. 204 pp. $28.99. ISBN 978-0-8010-4848-7.

    Augustine is, without a doubt, one of the most important (if not the single most important) theologian in the history of Christian theology. Thomas Aquinas, who is the father (in a sense) of Thomism, and whose works have been influential for all branches of Christendom, would have gladly called himself an Augustinian. John Calvin, the renowned reformer, was also an Augustinian theologian and pastor. In light of the enormous influence of Augustine it is primordial that Christians, of any and all branches of Christendom, be familiar with his works. It is because of this fact that Matthew Leverings book is so important. In this review we will consider the purpose, intended audience and general outline of this book. We will finish by a rapid discussion of the general worth of this book.

    Levering notes that the purpose of this book is to present, to the reader, what most scholars consider to be the 7 most important works of Augustine (p. xii): On Christian Doctrine, Answer to Faustus, a Manichean, Homilies on the First Epistle of John, On the Predestination of the Saints, Confessions, City of God, and On the Trinity. The intended audience for this book are those students and educated readers who desire an introduction to Augustine. (p. xiii) In other words, this book is meant as a non-technical introduction to the works of Augustine.

    In accordance with the authors purpose, this book is divided into an introduction, 7 main chapters (one chapter for each of the 7 important works of Augustine), a conclusion, a list of books for further research, and two indexes (subject and scripture). In the Introduction we are introduced to a short biography of Augustine including a survey of his education and intellectual influences, and some of the theological debates that he engaged in. In the first chapter Levering gives a survey of Augustines On Christian Doctrine. He explains that the purpose of On Christian Doctrine is to train the reader on how to interpret the Bible. We are then given a birds eye view of the Introduction, all 4 books, and the conclusion of this important work. As he leads the reader through Augustines work he discusses Augustines understanding of: (1) the Holy Spirits work in interpretation, (2) signs, (3) use and enjoyment of a thing, (4) God-talk, (5) friendship, (6) the steps of interpretation, (7) the relationship between philosophy and theology, (8) figurative signs, and (9) the necessity of training for Christian teachers and preachers.

    In chapter 2 Levering considers Augustines work Answer to Faustus, a Manichean. He explains the purpose and outline of this work, and, noting that the importance of this work is its contribution to Old Testament Exegesis, surveys those sections which are primarily concerned with the interpretation of the Old Testament. In each section he first considers the claims of Faustus, and then outlines Augustines response to Faustus. In chapter 3 the author looks at Augustines Homilies on the First Epistle of John. Levering explains that the Homilies can be divided into two main sections (homilies 1-5 and homilies 6-10). He then takes the reader through each of the homilies, and brings out how Augustine applies the theme of love, which flows throughout this epistle, to the schism of the Donatists. This book emphasises the importance of loving unity in the church.

    In chapter 4 we are introduced to Augustines important work On the Predestination of the Saints, written in response to critiques of his anti-pelagian writings. Levering notes that In On the Predestination of the SaintsAugustine argues that Gods grace causes the free charitable actions by which we attain to eternal life. (p. 71) In this chapter we are introduced to Augustines understanding of election and grace, and of faith and free-will. Levering explains Augustines answer to important questions such as: If God decides who will come to him, then why not save all men? And is faith a work? In chapter 5 we are introduced to Augustines Confessions. He gives an overview of the Confessions by breaking it down into four main sections (book 1, books 2-6, books 7-10, and books 11-13), and then considers each of these sections in turn. Levering explains that The Confessions argues that each and every moment of ones life, and ones life as a whole, has its true meaning in relation to the eternal living God. (p. 110)

    In chapter 6 we are given a birds-eye view of Augustines City of God. Levering explains that the book can be divided either into two parts or into five (and this is Augustines own explanation of the division of the book). Levering uses the five-part division to lead the reader through Augustines revolutionary interpretation of human history. Finally, in chapter 7 Levering provides the reader with an overview of Augustines On the Trinity. Levering explains that, according to Augustine, the 15 books of this treatise are supposed to form a coherent whole, however, to many readers, there does not seem to be any directing line that flows through the 15 books (p. 151-152). In order to show the interior coherence of this work Levering divides the book into 4 main sections, and seeks to show that the purpose of this book (to understand and to model what Christian life is all about (p. 153)) is the directing line of this work. In part 1 (books 1-4) we are introduced to Augustines biblical examination and establishment of the Trinity. In part 2 (books 5-7) Levering shows how Augustine understands the names of God. In part 3 (books 8-11) we are given an overview of how Augustine approaches the doctrine that man is made in the image of the Trinity. Finally, in part 4 (books 12-15) Levering explains Augustines consideration of whether and how the human can participate in the divine trinity. Levering concludes his book by noting that We are made to love the Triune God and to participate in his life. This is the message of these seven works of Augustine. (p. 190)

    In this readers humble opinion, this book is a must have for any serious student of Christian theology. For the advanced reader who is already familiar with Augustines works this book will be an easy, yet interesting, reminder of the contents of many of Augustines most important works. The advanced Augustinian scholar might wonder why certain works were not included, or contest certain interpretations of Augustine, but will, on the whole, enjoy the read. This book finds its primary importance, however, for the theologian, student, or layman, who has not given much time to studying Augustine. For such a person this book is a necessary addition to their library. The book reads like a collection of book reviews of Augustines major works. Though this may seem odd to some, it will help the reader, who is unfamiliar with Augustines works, to understand the theology of this great thinker, to locate Augustines main teachings, and to interact with Augustines theology.
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