Although it is widely acknowledged that St. Augustine was a consummate artist as well as a great philosopher, and that he was deeply concerned with art, beauty and human values, relatively little attention has been paid to his theory of aesthetics. Now a distinguished Augustine scholar turns to this important subject and offers a book that is at once engaging, comprehensive and complete.
Father O'Connell begins with a paradox: how could so dedicated a literary artist propose, at times, a theory of art that amounts to the banishment of art? In attempting to answer this and other important questions, the author's purpose is not merely to recount but to retrieve St. Augustine's views. He suggests that Augustine's need to understand, and by understanding to exorcise, art's spell on him provides a key to all the philosophical and theological questions that absorbed him. Seen in this light, St. Augustine's aesthetic may lie at the very heart of his philosophy.
Saint Augustine's political thought has usually been interpreted by modern readers as suggesting that politics is based on sin. In Augustine and Politics as Longing in the World, John von Heyking shows that Augustine actually considered political life a substantive good that fulfills a human longing for a kind of wholeness.
Rather than showing Augustine as supporting the Christian church's domination of politics, von Heyking argues that he held a subtler view of the relationship between religion and politics, one that preserves the independence of political life. And while many see his politics as based on a natural-law ethic or on one in which authority is conferred by direct revelation, von Heyking shows how Augustine held to an understanding of political ethics that emphasizes practical wisdom and judgment in a mode that resembles Aristotle rather than Machiavelli.
Augustine and Politics as Longing in the World demonstrates some of the deficiencies in the way Augustine's political thought has been interpreted. It also explains why a rereading of his thought illuminates the current debates between "secularists" and proponents of "orthodoxy" and shows why these debates are miscast. By examining Augustine's political thought, von Heyking provides a way of resolving this controversy and shows how we can move beyond conflicting claims and thus moderate yet elevate political life.
Behind Augustine's apparent antipolitical rhetoric lies his substantial agreement with his Roman philosophical interlocutors on virtue and politics. This allegedly antipolitical rhetoric is meant to tame the lust for domination of Roman patriots by showing that lust can never be satisfied by political goods. By opposing extreme "worldliness" with extreme "otherworldliness," Augustine appears to reject politics as a natural good. On the contrary, he affirmed politics as a natural good.
Augustine and Politics as Longing in the World shows how Augustine's belief that politics was a way for humans to fulfill their longings for a kind of wholeness discloses a deeper affirmation of a more meaningful, pluralistic, and robust political life than his interpreters have previously appreciated.
Augustine of Hippo, a central figure in the history of Western thought, is also the author of a theory of reading that has had a profound influence on Western letters from the ages of Petrarch, Montaigne, Luther, and Rousseau to those of Freud and our own time. Brian Stock provides the first full account of this theory within the evolution of Augustine's early dialogues, his Confessions, and his systematic treatises.
Augustine was convinced that words and images play a mediating role in our perceptions of reality. In the union of philosophy, psychology, and literary insights that forms the basis of his theory of reading, the reader emerges as the dominant model of the reflective self. Meditative reading, indeed the meditative act that constitutes reading itself, becomes the portal to inner being. At the same time, Augustine argues that the self-knowledge reading brings is, of necessity, limited, since it is faith rather than interpretive reason that can translate reading into forms of understanding.
In making his theory of reading a central concern, Augustine rethinks ancient doctrines about images, memory, emotion, and cognition. In judging what readers gain and do not gain from the sensory and mental understanding of texts, he takes up questions that have reappeared in contemporary thinking. He prefigures, and in a way he teaches us to recognize, our own preoccupations with the phenomenology of reading, the hermeneutics of tradition, and the ethics of interpretation.
The Augustinian Person
Peter Burnell Catholic University of America Press, 2005 Library of Congress BT701.3.B87 2005 | Dewey Decimal 233.092
Through careful analysis of Augustine's writings, Burnell concludes that Augustine conceives of human nature as a unity at every level--socially, morally, and in basic constitution--despite very common objections that he fails to achieve such a conception
Contemporary scholarship tends to view Albert Camus as a modern, but he himself was conscious of the past and called the transition from Hellenism to Christianity “the true and only turning point in history.” For Camus, modernity was not fully comprehensible without an examination of the aspirations that were first articulated in antiquity and that later received their clearest expression in Christianity. These aspirations amounted to a fundamental reorientation of human life in politics, religion, science, and philosophy.
Understanding the nature and achievement of that reorientation became the central task of Christian Metaphysics and Neoplatonism. Primarily known through its inclusion in a French omnibus edition, ithas remained one of Camus’ least-read works, yet it marks his first attempt to understand the relationship between Greek philosophy and Christianity as he charted the movement from the Gospels through Gnosticism and Plotinus to what he calls Augustine’s “second revelation” of the Christian faith.
Ronald Srigley’s translation of this seminal document helps illuminate these aspects of Camus’ work. His freestanding English edition exposes readers to an important part of Camus’ thought that is often overlooked by those concerned primarily with the book’s literary value and supersedes the extant McBride translation by retaining a greater degree of literalness.
Srigley has fully annotated Christian Metaphysics to include nearly all of Camus’ original citations and has tracked down many poorly identified sources. When Camus cites an ancient primary source, whether in French translation or in the original language, Srigley substitutes a standard English translation in the interest of making his edition accessible to a wider range of readers. His introduction places the text in the context of Camus’ better-known later work, explicating its relationship to those mature writings and exploring how its themes were reworked in subsequent books.
Arguing that Camus was one of the great critics of modernity through his attempt to disentangle the Greeks from the Christians, Srigley clearly demonstrates the place of Christian Metaphysics in Camus’ oeuvre. As the only stand-alone English version of this important work—and a long-overdue critical edition—his fluent translation is an essential benchmark in our understanding of Camus and his place in modern thought.
Western liberal societies are characterized by two stories: a positive story of freedom of conscience and the recognition of community and human rights, and a negative story of unrestrained freedom that leads to self-centeredness, vacuity, and the destructive compromise of human values. Can the Catholic Church play a more meaningful role in assisting liberal societies in telling their better story?
Australian ethicist Robert Gascoigne thinks it can. In The Church and Secularity he considers the meaning of secularity as a shared space for all citizens and asks how the Church can contribute to a sensitivity to—and respect for—human dignity and human rights. Drawing on Augustine’s City of God and Vatican II’s Gaudium et spes, Gascoigne interprets the meaning of freedom in liberal societies through the lens of Augustine’s “two loves,” the love of God and neighbor and the love of self, and reveals how the two are connected to our contemporary experience.
The Church and Secularity argues that the Church can serve liberal societies in a positive way and that its own social identity, rooted in Eucharistic communities, must be bound up with the struggle for human rights and resistance to the commodification of the human in all its forms.
Augustine Harvard University Press, 2016 Library of Congress BR65.A6E5 2014
Aurelius Augustine (AD 354–430), one of the most important figures in western Christianity and philosophy, was the son of a pagan, Patricius of Tagaste, and his Christian wife, Monnica. While studying to become a rhetorician, he plunged into a turmoil of philosophical and psychological doubts, leading him to Manichaeism. In 383 he moved to Rome and then Milan to teach rhetoric. Despite exploring classical philosophical systems, especially skepticism and neoplatonism, his studies of Paul’s letters with his friend Alypius, and the preaching of Bishop Ambrose, led in 386 to his momentous conversion from mixed beliefs to Christianity. He soon returned to Tagaste and founded a religious community, and in 395 or 396 became Bishop of Hippo.
Confessions, composed ca. 397, is a spiritual autobiography of Augustine’s early life, family, personal and intellectual associations, and explorations of alternative religious and theological viewpoints as he moved toward his conversion. Cast as a prayer addressed to God, though always conscious of its readers, Confessions offers a gripping personal story and a philosophical exploration destined to have broad and lasting impact, delivered with Augustine’s characteristic brilliance as a stylist.
This edition replaces the earlier Loeb Classical Library edition of Confessions by William Watts.
Augustine Harvard University Press, 2014 Library of Congress BR65.A6E5 2014
Aurelius Augustine (354-430 CE), one of the most important figures in the development of western Christianity and philosophy, was the son of a pagan, Patricius of Tagaste, and his Christian wife, Monnica. While studying to become a rhetorician, he plunged into a turmoil of philosophical and psychological doubts, leading him to Manichaeism. In 383 he moved to Rome and then Milan to teach rhetoric. Despite exploring classical philosophical systems, especially skepticism and neoplatonism, his studies of Paul's letters with his friend Alypius, and the preaching of Bishop Ambrose, led in 386 to his momentous conversion from mixed beliefs to Christianity. He soon returned to Tagaste and founded a religious community, and in 395 or 396 became Bishop of Hippo.
Confessions, composed ca. 397, is a spiritual autobiography of Augustine's early life, family, personal and intellectual associations, and explorations of alternative religious and theological viewpoints as he moved toward his conversion. Cast as a prayer addressed to God, though always conscious of its readers, Confessions offers a gripping personal story and a philosophical exploration destined to have broad and lasting impact, all delivered with Augustine's characteristic brilliance as a stylist.
This edition replaces the earlier Loeb Confessions by William Watts.
This book seeks to explain this paradox in Augustine's theology by tracing how these different emphases arose in his thought, and speculating as to why he endorsed, in the end, his theology of predestination. T
God Owes Us Nothing reflects on the centuries-long debate in Christianity: how do we reconcile the existence of evil in the world with the goodness of an omnipotent God, and how does God's omnipotence relate to people's responsibility for their own salvation or damnation. Leszek Kolakowski approaches this paradox as both an exercise in theology and in revisionist Christian history based on philosophical analysis. Kolakowski's unorthodox interpretation of the history of modern Christianity provokes renewed discussion about the historical, intellectual, and cultural omnipotence of neo-Augustinianism.
"Several books a year wrestle with that hoary conundrum, but few so dazzlingly as the Polish philosopher's latest."—Carlin Romano, Washington Post Book World
"Kolakowski's fascinating book and its debatable thesis raise intriguing historical and theological questions well worth pursuing."—Stephen J. Duffy, Theological Studies
"Kolakowski's elegant meditation is a masterpiece of cultural and religious criticism."—Henry Carrigan, Cleveland Plain Dealer
Grace for Grace
Alexander Y. Hwang Catholic University of America Press, 2014 Library of Congress BT761.3.G725 2014 | Dewey Decimal 234
The contributors to Grace for Grace focus on the debates on grace and free will inspired by Augustine's later teachings on grace and the various reactions to it. In both popular and scholarly literature, the conflict has been traditionally referred to as the "Semi-Pelagian Controversy." For several decades, scholars have distanced themselves from that overly-simplistic and inaccurate portrayal. This book intends to solidify a disparate movement of scholarly thought and offer a secure basis for renewed study of the persons, texts, and events of this critical period in the reception of Augustine in the Early Middle Ages. This volume brings together new perspectives, based on fresh study of a wealth of primary sources, from an international team of scholars to explore the intra-church debates over grace and free will, after Augustine and Pelagius.
Happiness and Wisdom contributes to ongoing debates about the nature of Augustine's early development, and argues that Augustine's vision of the soul's ascent through the liberal arts is an attractive and basically coherent view of learning, which, while not wholly novel, surpasses both classical and earlier patristic renderings of the aims of education.
Although Martin Heidegger is nearly as notorious as Friedrich Nietzsche for embracing the death of God, the philosopher himself acknowledged that Christianity accompanied him at every stage of his career. In Heidegger's Confessions, Ryan Coyne isolates a crucially important player in this story: Saint Augustine. Uncovering the significance of Saint Augustine in Heidegger’s philosophy, he details the complex and conflicted ways in which Heidegger paradoxically sought to define himself against the Christian tradition while at the same time making use of its resources.
Coyne first examines the role of Augustine in Heidegger’s early period and the development of his magnum opus, Being and Time. He then goes on to show that Heidegger owed an abiding debt to Augustine even following his own rise as a secular philosopher, tracing his early encounters with theological texts through to his late thoughts and writings. Bringing a fresh and unexpected perspective to bear on Heidegger’s profoundly influential critique of modern metaphysics, Coyne traces a larger lineage between religious and theological discourse and continental philosophy.
During years of travelling through North Africa, author Barnaby Rogerson has encountered a handful of stories so complicated that he could not place them into neat, tidy narratives. These are stories of characters who were neither distinctly good nor noticeably bad, neither malicious nor noble. In Search of Ancient North Africa is a journey into the ruins of a landscape to make sense of these stories through the multilayered lives of six individuals. Rogerson digs into the lives of Queen Dido, who was a sacrificial refugee; King Juba II, a prisoner of war who became a compliant tool of the Roman Empire; Septimius Severus, an unpromising provincial who, as its leader, brought his empire to its dazzling apogee; St. Augustine, an intellectual careerist who became a bishop and a saint; Hannibal, the greatest general the world has ever known; and Masinissa, the man who eventually defeated him. Together these six lives, clouded with as much myth as fact, are characters that represent classical North Africa. Among these life stories, we explore ruins and monuments tell of their lives and see the multiple connections that bind the culture of this region with the wider world, particularly the spiritual traditions of the ancient Near East.
In Search of Ancient North Africa sheds new light on a time and place at the crossroads of numerous histories and cultures. It offers the first history of ancient North Africa told through the lives of North Africans themselves.
Love and Saint Augustine
Hannah Arendt University of Chicago Press, 1995 Library of Congress BV4639.A6513 1995 | Dewey Decimal 177.7092
Hannah Arendt began her scholarly career with an exploration of Saint Augustine's concept of caritas, or neighborly love, written under the direction of Karl Jaspers and the influence of Martin Heidegger. After her German academic life came to a halt in 1933, Arendt carried her dissertation into exile in France, and years later took the same battered and stained copy to New York. During the late 1950s and early 1960s, as she was completing or reworking her most influential studies of political life, Arendt was simultaneously annotating and revising her dissertation on Augustine, amplifying its argument with terms and concepts she was using in her political works of the same period. The disseration became a bridge over which Arendt traveled back and forth between 1929 Heidelberg and 1960s New York, carrying with her Augustine's question about the possibility of social life in an age of rapid political and moral change.
In Love and Saint Augustine, Joanna Vecchiarelli Scott and Judith Chelius Stark make this important early work accessible for the first time. Here is a completely corrected and revised English translation that incorporates Arendt's own substantial revisions and provides additional notes based on letters, contracts, and other documents as well as the recollections of Arendt's friends and colleagues during her later years.
Étienne Gilson (1884-1978) was a French philosopher and historian of philosophy, as well as a scholar of medieval philosophy. In 1946 he attained the distinction of being elected an "Immortal" (member) of the Académie française. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1959 and 1964.
The appearance of Gilson's Metamorphosis of the City of God, which were originally delivered as lectures at the University of Louvain, Belgium, in the Spring of 1952, coincided with the first steps toward what would become the European Union. The appearance of this English translation coincides with the upheaval of Brexit. Gilson traces the various attempts of thinkers through the centuries to describe Europe's soul and delimit its parts. The Scots, Catalonians, Flemings, and probably others may nod in agreement in Gilson's observation on how odd would be a Europe composed of the political entities that existed two and a half centuries ago. Those who think the European Union has lost its soul may not be comforted by the difficulty thinkers have had over the centuries in defining that soul. Indeed the difficulties that have thus far prevented integrating Turkey into the EU confirm Gilson's description of the conundrum involved even in distinguishing Europe's material components. And yet, the endeavor has succeeded, so that the problem of shared ideals remain inescapable. One wonders which of the thinkers in the succession studied by Gilson might grasp assent and illuminate the EU's path.
The Modern Age
James V. Schall St. Augustine's Press, 2011 Library of Congress B72.S325 2010 | Dewey Decimal 190
My Secret Book
Francesco Petrarca Harvard University Press, 2016 Library of Congress PQ4496.E29S33 2016 | Dewey Decimal 853.1
Francesco Petrarca (1304–1374), one of the greatest of Italian poets, was also the leading spirit in the Renaissance movement to revive literary Latin, the language of the Roman Empire, and Greco-Roman culture in general. My Secret Book (Secretum) records “the private conflict of my thoughts,” in the form of a dialogue between Franciscus and Augustinus in the presence of a beautiful woman, Truth personified. The discussion reveals remarkable self-awareness as Petrarca probes and evaluates the springs of his own morally dubious addictions to Fame and Love.
Once Out of Nature offers an original interpretation of Augustine’s theory of time and embodiment. Andrea Nightingale draws on philosophy, sociology, literary theory, and social history to analyze Augustine’s conception of temporality, eternity, and the human and transhuman condition.
In Nightingale’s view, the notion of embodiment illuminates a set of problems much larger than the body itself: it captures the human experience of being an embodied soul dwelling on earth. In Augustine’s writings, humans live both in and out of nature—exiled from Eden and punished by mortality, they are “resident aliens” on earth. While the human body is subject to earthly time, the human mind is governed by what Nightingale calls psychic time. For the human psyche always stretches away from the present moment—where the physical body persists—into memories and expectations. As Nightingale explains, while the body is present in the here and now, the psyche cannot experience self-presence. Thus, for Augustine, the human being dwells in two distinct time zones, in earthly time and in psychic time. The human self, then, is a moving target. Adam, Eve, and the resurrected saints, by contrast, live outside of time and nature: these transhumans dwell in an everlasting present.
Nightingale connects Augustine’s views to contemporary debates about transhumans and suggests that Augustine’s thought reflects our own ambivalent relationship with our bodies and the earth. Once Out of Nature offers a compelling invitation to ponder the boundaries of the human.
The One Christ
David Vincent Meconi Catholic University of America Press, 2013 Library of Congress BR65.A9M375 2013 | Dewey Decimal 234
By treating Augustine's passages on deification both chronologically and constructively, Meconi situates Augustine in a long chorus of Christian pastors and theologians who understand the essence of Christianity as the human person's total and transformative union with God.
Can people ever really change? Do they ever become more ethical, and if so, how? Overcoming Our Evil focuses on the way ethical and religious commitments are conceived and nurtured through the methodical practices that Pierre Hadot has called "spiritual exercises." These practices engage thought, imagination, and sensibility, and have a significant ethical component, yet aim for a broader transformation of the whole personality. Going beyond recent philosophical and historical work that has focused on ancient Greco-Roman philosophy, Stalnaker broadens ethical inquiry into spiritual exercises by examining East Asian as well as classical Christian sources, and taking religious and seemingly "aesthetic" practices such as prayer, ritual, and music more seriously as objects of study.
More specifically, Overcoming Our Evil examines and compares the thought and practice of the early Christian Augustine of Hippo, and the early Confucian Xunzi. Both have sophisticated and insightful accounts of spiritual exercises, and both make such ethical work central to their religious thought and practice. Yet to understand the two thinkers' recommendations for cultivating virtue we must first understand some important differences. Here Stalnaker disentangles the competing aspects of Augustine and Xunxi's ideas of "human nature." His groundbreaking comparison of their ethical vocabularies also drives a substantive analysis of fundamental issues in moral psychology, especially regarding emotion and the complex idea of "the will," to examine how our dispositions to feel, think, and act might be slowly transformed over time. The comparison meticulously constructs vivid portraits of both thinkers demonstrating where they connect and where they diverge, making the case that both have been misunderstood and misinterpreted. In throwing light on these seemingly disparate ancient figures in unexpected ways, Stalnaker redirects recent debate regarding practices of personal formation, and more clearly exposes the intellectual and political issues involved in the retrieval of "classic" ethical sources in diverse contemporary societies, illuminating a path toward a contemporary understanding of difference.
Augustine—for all of his influence on Western culture and politics—was hardly a liberal. Drawing from theology, feminist theory, and political philosophy, Eric Gregory offers here a liberal ethics of citizenship, one less susceptible to anti-liberal critics because it is informed by the Augustinian tradition. The result is a book that expands Augustinian imaginations for liberalism and liberal imaginations for Augustinianism.
Gregory examines a broad range of Augustine’s texts and their reception in different disciplines and identifies two classical themes which have analogues in secular political theory: love—and related notions of care, solidarity, and sympathy—and sin—as well as related notions of cruelty, evil, and narrow self-interest. From an Augustinian point of view, Gregory argues, love and sin constrain each other in ways that yield a distinctive vision of the limits and possibilities of politics.
In providing a constructive argument for Christian participation in liberal democratic societies, Gregory advances efforts to revive a political theology in which love’s relation to justice is prominent. Politics and the Order of Love will provoke new conversations for those interested in Christian ethics, moral psychology, and the role of religion in a liberal society.
No other theological text polarized the early modern Catholic world as much as Cornelius Jansen's Augustinus. In it the erudite bishop not only reconstructed St. Augustine's teaching on grace and free will, but also boldly claimed that his views were in line with the Council of Trent and the Society of Jesus. For Jansen the latter had marginalized the Church Father's doctrine on divine predestination by overemphasizing human free will. Published after his death in 1640, Jansen's work drew a large crowd of followers and inspired an Augustinian reform movement. Its papal condemnation unintentionally spread this theology, but stifled an impassionate, academic engagement with the Augustinus. This first-ever translation of some of its central chapters enables historians, philosophers and theologians to finally engage with the founding text of Jansenism.
"I don't know of any other book that deals with the hermeneutical problem of the relationship between Christianity and Judaism in the way this one does. Full of cunning and unpredictable turns, Prodigal Son/Elder Brother addresses the question of the elder brother's fate by opposing two sets of readings, Christian and Jewish, ancient and modern, figural and midrashic. No one, after reading this book, will any longer connect Judaism and Christianity with a hyphen."—Gerald L. Burns, University of Notre Dame
"Through a creative reading of the prodigal son parable, Jill Robbins demonstrates the hermeneutical impasse of the Christian exegete who must and yet cannot incorporate the Old Testament. Having disclosed the aporia at the heart of Christian hermeneutics, she proposes an alternative approach to the Hebrew Bible and new interpretations of Augustine, Petrarch, Kafka, and Levinas. Robbins brilliantly integrates the discourses of biblical texts, literary works, and critical analysis."—Mark C. Taylor, Williams College
Putting on Christ aims to situate Augustine’s early soteriology and sacramental theology within the context of his personal history and intellectual development. Beginning with an extended analysis of the theology of salvation and sacramental efficacy contained within Augustine’s Confessions (ca. 400), the study then traces the maturation of his views on these matters, beginning with his earliest extant works, the Cassicacum dialogues (ca. 386). The journey entails treating Augustine’s earliest discussions of Christ’s person and his saving work, as well as the believer’s subjective experience of conversion and salvation. As Augustine’s corpus shifts from philosophical dialogues to explicitly apologetic and scriptural-exegetical works, so too does his soteriological lexicon expand to include concepts and terms that will later become his stock-in-trade, such as the virtue of humilitas. And as his roles in the North African Church come to include participation in the presbyterate and the episcopacy, so too does his engagement expand to a wider set of polemical contexts, both anti-Manichaean and anti-Donatist.
Putting on Christ tracks these and many other aspects of Augustine’s maturing thought, showing where lines of both continuity and development lie and aiming to uncover their reasons. In doing so, it reveals Augustine to be a thinker and a teacher who continued to hone his understanding of salvation, the very heartbeat of Christian life and thought, as well as its relation to various other aspects of the Christian theological worldview, from Christology and anthropology to sacramental theology and ecclesiology.
The Quotable Augustine
Phillip H. Melton Catholic University of America Press, 2016 Library of Congress BR65.A52E6 2016 | Dewey Decimal 270.2092
This book is ideal for those who wish to read some of the wisest and most wonderful sayings of Augustine. It will help all those who wish to pepper a speech, or a sermon, or an essay with the wisdom of Saint Augustine. The book is a valuable resource, too, for anyone who wants to find out "Did Augustine really say that?" and, if he did, in which of his voluminous writings it appeared. Drawn from the internationally acclaimed and successful series, the 'Fathers of the Church,' The Quotable Augustine presents a wide-ranging sample of the writings of a towering figure of the early church.
Although Francesco Petrarca's position as the "father" of Italian Renaissance humanism has long been acknowledged, the specific meanings of his works and his legacy remain matters of controversy. Basic questions about the tension between his devotion to secular pursuits and his respect for religious withdrawal, about the authenticity of his ostensibly autobiographical writings, and about his relationship to scholasticism still provoke sustained debate. Rereading the Renaissance, a study of Petrarch's uses of Augustine, uses methods drawn from history and literary criticism to establish a framework for exploring Petrarch's humanism by approaching it through it central practices of reading and writing.
Carol Quillen argues that the essential role of Augustine's words and authority in the expression of Petrarch's humanism is best grasped through a study of the complex textual practices exemplified in the writings of both men. Petrarch's reliance on Augustine is most evident in his ways of reading and in his strategies of argument. Secondly, she maintains that Petrarch's appropriation of Augustine's words is only intelligible in light of his struggle to legitimate his cultural ideals in the face of compelling opposition. Finally, Quillen shows how Petrarch's uses of Augustine can simultaneously uphold his humanist ideals and challenge the legitimacy of the assumptions on which those ideals were founded.
Interdisciplinary in scope and method, this volume speaks to important debates that span the humanities. Scholars of literary and historical studies, as well as those in the fields of classical studies, patristics, and comparative literature, will find in Rereading the Renaissance a solid contribution to their interests.
Carol Everhart Quillen is Associate Professor of History, Rice University.
In The Revelation of Imagination, William Franke attempts to focus on what is enduring and perennial rather than on what is accommodated to the agenda of the moment. Franke’s book offers re-actualized readings of representative texts from the Bible, Homer, and Virgil to Augustine and Dante. The selections are linked together in such a way as to propose a general interpretation of knowledge. They emphasize, moreover, a way of articulating the connection of humanities knowledge with what may, in various senses, be called divine revelation. This includes the sort of inspiration to which poets since Homer have typically laid claim, as well as that proper to the biblical tradition of revealed religion. The Revelation of Imagination invigorates the ongoing discussion about the value of humanities as a source of enduring knowledge.
The study of any masterpiece can change one’s life, but the Confessions of St. Augustine, like Plato’s Republic or Dante’s Commedia, has the almost uncanny power to enact in the reader what it describes. Plato’s book reconfigures the city of the soul by freeing it from enslavement to the tyrannical passions and making it answerable to reason in its pursuit of the good. For Augustine, who shares many of the same ends, the pursuit of the good is not the rectification of philosophical reason, but (as it was for Dante) an intensely personal and consuming love: the encounter with the living God. Oddly, it may seem, that encounter comes for Augustine through the act of reading. Unlike Plato, who depicts the process of reasoning toward the truth, Augustine finds the truth revealed in another, immeasurably greater book that cannot be read in its true sense without the help of its author.
The essays uncover a variety of themes, from Augustine’s act of reading (Marc LePain and Bercier), his emphasis on memory (Roger Corriveau), and his choice to reveal to the world his “hidden and unworldly activity” (Daniel Maher), to the way Augustine’s own education might serve as a corrective to contemporary understandings of “assessment” (Gavin Colvert). The vast wake of Augustine’s work includes writers from Dante and Montaigne to Nabokov, but three representative figures were chosen to show his influence: Jean-Jacques Rousseau in the Confessions (Rick Sorenson), James Joyce in the whole range of his work (Eloise Knowlton), and T.S. Eliot in the Four Quartets (Glenn Arbery). The most direct engagement with Augustine is obviously Rousseau’s. In his essay comparing and contrasting the pivotal moments of the two Confessions, Rick Sorenson explores major differences between the way of faith and the path of reliance on reason. Joyce might be said to have taken Rousseau’s path (at least in rejecting revelation), whereas Eliot took Augustine’s.
In its sophistications and anxieties, the late antiquity Augustine inhabited feels a great deal like the late modernity we inhabit now. Certainly, the barbarians of materialist thought long ago sacked the civilization our ancestors inhabited. When Eliot published The Waste Land in 1922, he already saw the old order of antiquity and Christendom as “stony rubble,” “a heap of broken images.” As one of his speakers puts it, “Dry bones can harm no one.” This old book, the Confessions, might seem to our contemporaries as dry and dead as those bones, but it is not so.
Without being a defense of Christianity (as the City of God is) or a work of catechesis, the Confessions might be the greatest counter to the materialist creed in Western literature. It recounts Augustine’s central, intensely personal, and ultimately liberating struggle to conceive of spiritual substance, an intellectual achievement without which he cannot even hope to accommodate his understanding to the reality of God. This book of essays has one primary end, which is to entice the reader to reopen Augustine’s book, to look over his shoulder and see what the act of reading means to him and what it has accomplished: the world-changing encounter with the substance of the Word.
Recent research has explored how past interpretation can help contextualize current interpretation as well as provide a more colorful and theologically meaningful understanding of scripture. In St. Augustine's Interpretation of the Psalms of Ascent, Gerald McLarney examines Augustine of Hippo's (d. 430) interpretation of the ascent motif in sermons on Psalms 119-133. He looks at the delivery, transmission, and broader context of the sermons, as well as examining the sermons as they stand.
Supper at Emmaus
Glenn W. Olsen Catholic University of America Press, 2016 Library of Congress B74.O47 2016
Supper at Emmaus traces various important intellectual topics from the ancient world to the modern period. Generally, as in its treatment of the question of whether the long-standing contrast between cyclical and linear views of history is helpful, it introduces important thinkers who have considered the question. A preoccupation of the book is the appearance and reappearance across the centuries of patterns used to organize temporal and cultural experience. After an opening essay on transcendental truth and cultural relativism, the second chapter traces a distinction, common in historical writings during the past two centuries, between an alleged ancient classical "cyclic" view of time and history, used to describe the claimed repetitiveness of and similarities between historical events ("nothing is new under the sun"), and a contrasting Jewish-Christian linear view, sometimes described as providential in that it moves through a series of unique events to some end intended by God. In the latter, history is "about something," the education of the human race or the redemption of humankind. As in each of the remaining essays, the book then attempts to draw out the limitations of what the current consensus on this topic has become. It does this for such things as our current understanding of religious toleration, humanism, natural law, and teleology. Some of the essays, such as those on debate about Augustine's understanding of marriage or the concluding illustrated essay on the baroque city of Lecce, are published for the first time. Others are based on previously published contributions to the scholarly literature, though generally each of these chapters concludes with a postscript that engages with current scholarly debate on the subject.
Georgetown University Press, 2022 Library of Congress BJ1251 | Dewey Decimal 241
The first book to argue for the concept of tragic dilemmas in Christian ethics
Moral dilemmas arise when individuals are unable to fulfill all of their ethical obligations. Tragic dilemmas are moral dilemmas that involve great tragedy. The existence of moral and tragic dilemmas is debated in philosophy and often dismissed in theology based on the notion that there are effective strategies that completely solve hard ethical situations. Yet cases from real-life events in war and bioethics offer compelling evidence for the existence of tragic dilemmas.
In Tragic Dilemmas in Christian Ethics, Jackson-Meyer expertly explores the thought of Augustine and Aquinas to show the limits of their treatment of hard cases, as well as where their thought can be built on and expanded in relation to tragic dilemmas. She recognizes and develops a new theological understanding of tragic dilemmas rooted in moral philosophy, contemporary case studies, and psychological literature on moral injury. Jackson-Meyer argues that in tragic dilemmas moral agents choose between conflicting nonnegotiable moral obligations rooted in Christian commitments to protect human life and the vulnerable. Personal culpability is mitigated due to constrained situations and society is also culpable when tragic dilemmas are a result of structural sin. In response, Jackson-Meyer implores Christian communities to offer individual and communal healing after tragic dilemmas and to acknowledge their own participation in injustice.
Tragic Dilemmas in Christian Ethics offers practical strategies that Christian communities can use to provide healing to those who have acted in tragic dilemmas and to transform the unjust structures that often cause these tragedies.
Understanding the Medieval Meditative Ascent uses literary analysis to discover new philosophical meanings in these works. Clearly written in nontechnical language, its account of their literary structures and of the hidden meanings they generate will inform nonspecialist and specialist alike.
The Unity of the Nations
Joseph Ratzinger Catholic University of America Press, 2015 Library of Congress BR115.P7R42613 2015 | Dewey Decimal 261.7
What did ancient Christians and pagans believe makes the unity of the nations? Just as he began serving as a major adviser at the Second Vatican Council in 1962, Joseph Ratzinger (the future Pope Benedict XVI) studied this question in lectures delivered at Austria's University of Salzburg. These lectures, originally published in German, are now made available in English in this volume.
What is the role of love in opening and sustaining the temporal worlds we inhabit? One of the leading scholars in philosophy and the history of religious thought, Thomas A. Carlson here traces this question through Christian theology, twentieth-century phenomenological and deconstructive philosophy, and nineteenth-century individualism. Revising Augustine’s insight that when we love a place, we dwell there in the heart, Carlson also pointedly resists lines of thought that seek to transcend loss and its grief by loving all things within the realm of the eternal. Through masterful readings of Heidegger, Derrida, Marion, Nancy, Emerson, and Nietzsche, Carlson shows that the fragility and sorrow of mortal existence in its transience do not, in fact, contradict love, but instead empower love to create a world.