The City of God (New York: New City Press, 2012)

Augustine’s magnum opus, this book gives his answer to why Rome fell to the Goths, despite having become a Christian city. The first half contains several brilliant reductio ad absurdum arguments as Augustine challenges the feasibility of the Roman pantheon. The second half of the book gives a theological history of the City of God and City of Man. These pages contain some of Augustine’s finest, most important writing: an explanation of the origin and nature of evil, the doctrine of ordo amoris, and his famous exposition of how the City of God and City of Man overlap.

Augustine’s theory of ordo amoris is essential for understanding his writing, as well as many of the great texts of the Middle Ages. Arguing from the biblical concept of the heart as the center of human identity, Augustine asserts that our loves are the fundamental driving force of our wills, thoughts, and actions. Good loves lead to goodness; evil loves lead to evil. This means that an individual is the sum total of his loves. All his virtue results from properly ordered loves; all his vice comes from aberrant loves.

The goal of human life, then, is to attain a proper order of love—a true ordo amoris. This can only be done, Augustine argues, through the grace of God in the individual. Since love is the core of our identity, and our loves are misshapen, God must initiate the change toward proper love. This means loving each thing with the right kind of love in the right degree—something that can only be attain through wisdom, grace, and the discipline of following Christ.

Note:  Be sure to order both volumes of this translation.

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