Saint Augustine of Hippo: An Intellectual Biography

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Oxford University Press, 2013 - Biography & Autobiography - 312 pages
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 Hollingworth, 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 new Christianity did not--in blunt assaults of dogma and doctrine--obliterate what had gone 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 man, abandoned to the world and dislocated from all real understanding by haunting glimpses of the Divine.

A major new treatment of Augustine on all fronts, 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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1 Out of Africa
2 Augustines intellectual milieu
3 Augustines remarks on his parents
4 Reflections on infancy
5 Traumas of initiation into the Earthly City
6 Cicero and a sense of purpose
7 Manichaeism
8 On the singular deportment of death love and grief
9 Christian conversion and reflections on the supernatural
10 To write against selfconsciousness and its effects
11 Last days and reflections on the style of man
Abbreviations of Augustines writings

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About the author (2013)

Miles Hollingworth is Research Fellow in the History of Ideas at St. John's College, Durham University, in the United Kingdom. His writing on Augustine has won awards from the Society of Authors (2009 Elizabeth Longford Grant for Historical Biography) and the Royal Society of Literature (2009 Jerwood Award for Non-Fiction). He is the author of The Pilgrim City: St. Augustine of Hippo and his Innovation in Political Thought, which was shortlisted for the Royal Historical Society's Gladstone History Book Prize.

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