St. Augustine was undoubtedly one of the great thinkers of the early church. Yet it has long been assumed-and not without reason-that the main lines of Augustine's thought have been more or less fixed since his death. That insofar as we should be aware of him in the twenty-first century, he is a figure described-if not circumscribed--by his times.
A major revisionist treatment of Augustine's life and thought, Saint Augustine of Hippo overturns this assumption. In a stimulating and provocative reinterpretation of Augustine's ideas and their position in the Western intellectual tradition, Miles Hollingsworth, though well-versed in the latest scholarship, draws his inspiration largely from the actual narrative of Augustine's life. By this means he reintroduces a cardinal but long neglected fact to the center of Augustinian studies: that there is a direct line from Augustine's own early experiences of life to his later commentaries on humanity. Augustine's Christianity did not--in blunt assaults of dogma and doctrine--obliterate what had gone on before.
Instead, it actually caught a subtle and reflective mind at the point when it was despairing of finding the truth. Christianity vindicated a disquiet that Augustine had been feeling all along: he felt that it alone had spoken to his serious rage about humanity, abandoned to the world and dislocated from all real understanding by haunting glimpses of the divine.
Thus, this book is-in every respect-a new treatment of Augustine and this superb intellectual biography shines a bright light on a genuinely neglected element in his writings. In so doing it introduces us to Augustine as he emerges from the unique circumstances of his early life, struggling with ironies and inconsistencies that we might just find in our own lives as well.
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