Review of The Theology of Augustine
The Theology of Augustine: An Introductory Guide to His Most Important Works is the most recent book from Matthew Levering, professor of religious studies at the University of Dayton. In this work, Levering, a prolific scholar, has produced a thorough but concise introduction to some of Augustine’s key writings.
Aside from a brief introduction and conclusion, Levering has organized the book into seven chapters corresponding to seven of Augustine’s chief works that, according to Levering, frame the major components of the African father's theology:
Levering is a trusted guide through these key works by Augustine. He clarifies the key themes in each work while presenting them in their historical context.
On the other hand, the subtitle is probably the more appropriate title as this book is an introduction to the literature of Augustine more than a synthesis of Augustine’s theology, which is what one might expect from such a title. The title and book structure seem to imply that one can walk away with a handle on Augustine’s theology from the seven works discussed. However, Levering’s survey did not really treat Augustine’s monastic or pastoral theology, and in my view, his Homilies on First John did not go far enough to lay out the Donatist issue and Augustine’s ecclesiology.
As I read Augustine, much of his theology is revealed through sermons, letters, and bits and pieces in other works. So, while I really appreciate what Levering has done, if I were assigning this book for an introduction to Augustine course, I would probably fill in these gaps by adding Harmless’ reader Augustine in His Own Words, which also includes some nice introduction to and commentary on Augustine’s writing. All said, I highly recommend this well-written, thorough and accessible book, especially to first-time readers of Augustine.
Comments are closed.