By Henry Chadwick

The existence and works of Augustine of Hippo (354-430) have formed the advance of the Christian Church, sparking controversy and influencing the guidelines of theologians via next centuries. His phrases are nonetheless often quoted in devotions during the worldwide Church this day. His key issues continue a awesome modern relevance - what's the position of the Church on this planet? what's the relation among nature and style?

Augustine's highbrow improvement is mentioned with readability and heat during this newly rediscovered biography of Augustine, as interpreted by means of the acclaimed church historian, the overdue Professor Henry Chadwick. Augustine's highbrow trip from schoolboy and scholar to Bishop and champion of Western Christendom in a interval of excessive political upheaval, is narrated in Chadwick's frequently rigorous but sympathetic kind.

With a foreword through Peter Brown reflecting on Chadwick's special method of Augustine.

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God had taken him by surprise. Tempest-tossed, he had seen in Ambrose his North Star; he has returned to himself and come home, sua dulcissima patria (BV 1. 2). ‘Late have I loved you, O Beauty, ever new and yet how ancient’ (C 10. 27. 38). The Confessions are not the sole source for the story of Augustine’s conversion, though they alone give the detailed narrative of the garden scene. The philosophical dialogues which he wrote during the next few months make several references to the change of direction that has come to his life.

This conception explains ‘evil’ which is a defect of goodness rather than a positive force with an independent substantiality. At times, however, Platonists also speak of matter as the root of change and therefore of evil. They think of creation as a divine ordering of a pre-existent and in part recalcitrant matter. The Platonists speak of the soul as fallen by an act of free choice and as needing purification by liberation from bodily ties and passions. The soul needs to recover its wings. It is an immaterial entity, immortal and eternal, whose true home is with the eternal verities transcending this world of change and becoming.

Change is bound up with the successiveness of time and with the transience of physical objects in space. The world is an ordered cosmos in which everything has its own level or grade of existence. The Good at the apex of all existence is free of all limitation from particularity, the fount of being, and the ultimate Monad or One, in contrast with the plurality and conflicting vanity of earthly things. As one descends the great chain of being, in which each effect is inferior to its cause, one also increases the limitations of physicality and therefore reduces the degree of both being and goodness.

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