An Augustinian Spring

I’m leading a directed study this spring on St Augustine for a few eager students, and it’s been delightful diving into material I haven’t read in some time. Always good to go back to crucial primary texts and see them differently, to perceive in them things missed the first time, or first few times, around.

So that’s one reason I agreed to do the directed study: to get myself back into Augustine, into some texts of significance and substance after all the administration and teaching I’ve done this year. But I also think Augustine is simply indispensable as a resource for Christian faith (I know, that’s like saying God is smart); and, given his shaping of the Western tradition, someone every educated person should be familiar with–at least Confessions and City of God. Indeed, I think it something of a scandal how little college/university grads are required to know about intellectual history. That’s the longstanding American anti-intellectual, pragmatic perspective at work, though. America began by taking supersonic flight away from history, and never had a real proper romantic reaction against that. In any event…

We’re reading Serge Lancel’s biography of Augustine. Intense, well-written, and theological, it’s quite a bit to digest but well worth the effort:

Then we’ve been reading the Confessions, in the New City Press edition:

City of God is up next, in the Penguin edition. We’re essentially skimming much of part one but reading most of part two. I had wanted us all to read CD straight through, but it’s a lot in our time frame.

Finally, Teaching Christianity (the New City Press edition of De doctrina christiana):

I’m not having the students read it, but for my own preparation, I’m using Levering’s new Theology of Augustine as a resource:

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2 Comments

  1. If these students of yours are future parish or diocesan catechetical leaders they ought to read De Catechizandis Rudibus. It is an edifying work in patristic catechetics. I would also recommend his Essential Sermons put out by New City Press. And if there is time left over Augustine the Educator by Eugene Kevane and Augustine and the Catechumenate by William Harmless. But definitely De Catechizandis Rudibus. That’s my two cents…
    Peace in Christ,
    James J. Bitting Jr.

  2. Thanks — I agree. It’s one of those things where I’m running up against the limits of time, esp. with someone so broad and deep as Augustine, who left us more works than anyone else from antiquity. Hopefully a solid intro to Augustine in this course will give these students the foundation necessary for lifelong study of Augustine.

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