Come study City of God with me!

St Augustine, by Philippe de Champaigne.

Boy, it’s been too long since I blogged. Of the many thoughts in my head, what I most want to share is this: I’m teaching Augustine of Hippo’s City of God for Davenant Hall this coming term, starting the week of April 10 and running for ten weeks! The deadline to apply is March 29, so register at this link now!

Why study City of God?

Well, it’s a major, influential book. Not as influential as Augustine’s On Christian Teaching or On the Trinity, but from his lifetime until the 1500s, more influential than Confessions, and to this day, in some circles, still more influential than Confessions. This book was an instant classic. We even have a manuscript from within Augustine’s lifetime, if I remember aright. That’s pretty sweet. So if you’re interested in the history of Christian thought or intellectual history more broadly, then City of God should be on your radar. It’s an important work of theology that operates in multiple spheres…

Most notably, it’s a major work of political theology. What do you do when the imperium is no more? When Augustine was born, the Mediterranean was a Roman lake. When he died in 430, Spain and most of North Africa were out of Roman control, along with Britannia and, in different ways, different parts of Gaul. But, of course, City of God is bigger than Rome. This is part of its appeal. It turns our eyes from “earth’s proud empires” that “pass away” (to cite the old hymn) to God’s throne, to God, “King of King of kings, Lord of lords, the only ruler of princes” (to cite the BCP). This earthly city, ciuitas, is not our home. Our citizenship is elsewhere. What does this mean?

City of God, then, is not simply an apologia for Christianity when pagans blamed their turning away from the old ways for Alaric’s sack of Rome in 410. It began as a commission of that sort and then grew and changed over the years, not merely asking, “Why aren’t the Christians to blame for the sack of Rome?” and asking, “What is the driving force of history, and how should we as persons and communities live in response?

Along the way, you get to read Augustine’s thoughts on the following (in the order they come to me):

  • Roman history — a sort of “greatest/worst hits from Livy”
  • The philosophy of history
  • Demonology
  • Angelology
  • Platonism and other pagan philosophical schools
  • Pagan gods
  • The interpretation of the opening chapters of Genesis
  • That which we call “mysticism”
  • Foundations of moral/ethical theology
  • Happiness
  • Suicide
  • Just War theory
  • What is the chief end of war? (This is related to happiness)
  • Capital Punishment

Come study City of God and read what Augustine has to say about these topics and more! Register here!


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