Whenever I read a book I make a series of notes from which to write a book review, picking out interesting quotes and ideas from the book. While I read City of God last year, I amassed a large number of notes and quotes, so I am posting them here as they form a summary of the things that caught my attention as I worked through it. The page numbers are from the Penguin Classics edition. “q” means it is a quotation (capital Q was for ones that I found particularly helpul). I’ve also included a brief summary of the argument in each of the “books” at the end of each section.
Book I chapters 1-8 argue that the attacking barbarians (Alaric entered Rome AD 410) spared people who took refuge in churches not out of any kindness but by the power of Christ’s name
Q Book I-Ch8 p14 “the good man is not exalted by this world’s goods; nor is he overwhelmed by this world’s ills”
p14 – fascinating argument on why God sometimes lets bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people
p14 Q “what matters is the nature of the sufferer, not the nature of the sufferings. Stir a cesspit, and a foul stench arises; stir a perfume, and a delightful fragrance ascends”
p16 “Good and bad are chastised together, not because both alike live evil lives, but because both alike, though not in the same degree, love this temporal life.
p17 Q: “The saints lose nothing by being deprived of temporal goods”
p20 “no one has died who was not going to die at some time”
p21 “Such things as a decent funeral and a proper burial, with its procession of mourners, are a consolation to the living rather than a help to the departed.”
p26 compassion for those who committed suicide rather than face rape and torture from barbarians … But comes out very strongly against suicide as a sin
p28 discussing if being raped defiles: “just as bodily chastity is lost when mental chastity has been violated, so bodily chastity is not lost, even when the body has been ravished, while the mind’s chastity endures”
p30 ch 21 – against suicide – to kill oneself is to kill a human being
p39 ch 28 “Therefore, faithful Christians, do not think life a burden because your enemies make a mockery of your chastity.”
p41 ch 29 Q: “When I am troubled with adversity, he is either testing my worth or punishing my faults. And he has an eternal reward in store for me in return for loyal endurance of temporal distress.”
p46 ch 35 “those two cities are interwoven and intermixed in this era, and await separation at the last judgement”
36 chapters – Lots of reference to current events – issues raised by suffering of Christians at sacking of Rome by barbarians. Considering pagan critiques of Christianity. Considers moral dilemmas such as suicide
p49 ch 2 recap of book 1, argues that Christianity’s influence in stopping worshiping pagan gods should not be blamed for the sacking of Rome
p50 ch 3 popular proverb “No rain! It’s all the fault of the Christians”
p54 ch 7 “the conclusions of philosophers are ineffective as they lack divine authority”
p56 ch 8 on some of the entertainment of the day: “Their subject matter is often immoral, as far as action goes; but, unlike many other compositions, they are at least free from verbal obscenities …”
chs 10-15 strange chapters dealing with the idea that the gods wanted obscene plays to be performed in which they were insulted
p67 ch 17 “I am sick of recalling the many acts of revolting injustice which have disturbed the city’s history; the powerful classes did their best to subjugate the lower orders, and the lower orders resisted – the leaders of each side motivated more by ambition for victory than by any ideas of equity and morality.”
p69 ch 18 “anyone who pays attention cannot fail to observe, that Rome had sunk into a morass of moral degradation before the coming of our Heavenly King”
p71 ch 20 – very modern sounding description of how the opponents of Christianity wanted to live – free to use prostitutes and eat and drink until they are sick.
p78 ch 23 – the Roman gods patently did nothing to help Rome from sliding into ruin through moral depravity
p78 ch 23 – Augustine views the Roman gods as demons, who may have some measure of power
p81 ch 25 – Augustine seems agnostic about the truth of the stories of the gods, but sees demons behind them
p85 ch28 in contrast to the licentiousness of Rome, in the church “there is a decent separation of the sexes”
p86 ch29 calling Romans to abandon worship of the gods – “the refuge we offer is the true remission of sins”
29 chapters – demonstrates that the Romans were already in a moral mess before Christianity came on the scene and that their gods did nothing to help
p92 ch 4 Augustine states he does not believe these tales (of humans and gods/goddesses having sex)
p100 ch 12 – mocks the ridiculous stories of which goddess parented which gods
p104 ch 14 on gladiators -”to my thinking it would be better to be punished for any kind of cowardice than to gain the glory of that kind of fighting”
p106 ch 15 the eclipse after Romulus’ death was not a sign from the gods, but merely due to the “invariable laws of the sun’s course” … however, the eclipse at Christ’s death was truly a miracle
p110 ch 16 both in the days of kings and the supposedly peaceful and just time of the consulship, all kinds of wrongs were perpetrated in Rome
p110 ch 17 is titled “Continued disasters in the early republic. No assistance given by the gods”
p112 ch 17 a great diatribe with repeated “where were they [the gods] when …”
p115 ch 18 moves on to the Punic wars – in which the gods also offered no protection
p120 ch 20 the Christian hope is an eternal one, but the pagans worshiped their gods for perishable and impermanent blessings – making it all the more meaningless when the gods failed to rescue them from suffering
p122 ch 21 “In that very period … the law called the Lex Vocoia was passed, forbidding the appointment of a woman, even an only daughter, as heir. I cannot quote, or even imagine, a more inequitable law”
p125 ch 25 – the temple of “Concord” would be better the temple of “Discord” since it was the site of riot and massacre
p131 ch 30 Q: “How can our opponents have the effrontery, the audacity, the impudence, the imbecility (or rather the insanity) to refuse to blame their gods for those catastrophes, while they hold Christ responsible for the disasters of modern times?”
31 chapters – rejects explanations of the disasters on history as being caused by angering the gods – often worshipers of the same gods were attacked by one another. Several chapters criticise the stories of the gods, pointing out their impotence to protect Rome.
p139 ch3 – Q: “The good man, though a slave, is free; the wicked, though he reigns, is a slave, and not the slave of a single man, but – what is far worse – the slave of as many masters as he has vices.”
p139 ch 4 Q “Remove justice, and what are kingdoms but gangs of criminals on a large scale?”
p144 ch 8 – talks about how the Romans had gods for all kinds of little things
p154 ch 15 – he mocks the inconsistency of the way they apportion domains to various gods. If the goddess Victory gives all victory in war, what does Jupiter, king of the gods do?
p157 ch 18 if the goddess Fortune is really fortune (luck) then there is no advantage in worshipping her – if she discriminates in favour of her worshipers she is not fortune.
p163 ch 23 Q “True religion is the worship of the true God, not the cult of false gods, who are just so many devils”
p165 ch 23 Q “Now if Felicity is not a goddess, because she is, in truth, a gift of God, we should seek the God who can bestow that gift and abandon the pernicious mob of false gods to which the silly mob of fools attach themselves. These fools turn the gifts of God into deities…”
p173 ch 30 Augustine points out that even the defenders of the gods admit to the stories being told and believed by fools – “a mass of frivolous nonsense”
p173 ch 30 he accuses them of superstition
p176 ch 32 people are more inclined to listen to poets than to scientists
p176 ch 33 the one true God gives earthly dominion both to good men and to evil – but not at random (he is not Fortune), but in accordance with his plan of history, hidden to us, but known to God
p177 ch 33 the NT is in the Old concealed
p177 ch 33 Q: In the OT the promises and gifts are of earthly things; but even then men of spiritual perception realized, although they did not yet proclaim the fact for all to hear, that by those temporal goods eternity was signified; they understood also what were the gifts of God which constituted true felicity.
p178 ch 34 great chapter showing how the story of Israel progressed with great miracles and victories without the Roman gods ever being invoked for help
p178 ch 34 q: the Israelites received from the one true God all the blessings for which the Romans through it necessary to pray to all the host of false gods, and they received them in a far happier manner.
34 chapters – Augustine continues to pick apart and ridicule the huge number of Roman gods, showing inconsistencies, before finally beginning to make a positive case for the one true God
p179 Preface Q: Felicity is not a goddess, but a gift of God; and therefore no god is to be worshipped by men except the God who can make men happy.
p179 ch 1 q: Without the slightest doubt, the kingdoms of men are established by divine providence.
p180 ch 1 critiques astrology
p182 ch 2-6 deals with twins, whose horoscope should be the same according to astrologers, which Augustine uses to disprove astrology
p187 ch 7 calls it “extraordinary nonsense” to conceive on certain days to get better offspring according to star positions
p187 ch 7 it is blatantly obvious that multitudes of people conceived or born at the same time as each other have greatly differing destinies
p190 ch 9 deals with “God’s foreknowledge and man’s free will”
p190 ch 9 q: We are not afraid that what we do by an act of will may not be a voluntary act, because God, with his infallible prescience, knew that we should do it.
p191 ch 9 Cicero thought free will and divine foreknowledge were incompatible
p193 ch 9 Q: the cause which is cause only, and not effect, is God
p194 ch 9 q: our wills have only as much power as God has willed and foreknown
p194 ch 10 it is because God is all-powerful that there are some things he cannot do (e.g. die or make a mistake)
p195 ch 10 we embrace both belief in divine foreknowledge and human free will
p195 ch 10 q A man does not sin unless he wills to sin; and if he had willed not to sin, then God would have foreseen that refusal.
p198 ch12 q: The important thing for the men of that time was either to die bravely, or to live in freedom. But when liberty had been won, ‘such a passion for glory took hold of them’ that liberty alone did not satisfy – they had to have dominion.
p202 ch 13 That the love of praise is, in fact, a fault, is recognised by the morally clear-sighted.
p203 ch 14 interesting chapter on the importance of living for the glory of God, not the praise of man
p206 ch 17 argues that Rome’s reason for expanding the empire was a desire for the glory of men (and a desire for liberty- ch 18)
210 ch 18 Christians should not boast of the sacrifices they have made for the glory of God. Many in Roman history made similar sacrifices for the glory of Rome.
215 ch 21 God granted dominion to the Romans when he willed and in the measure that he willed
p216 ch 21 God has given power both to the best and worst of rulers … “If God’s reasons are inscrutable, does that mean that they are unjust?”
p220 ch 24 * Christian emperors are “happy”, but by this Augustine does not mean everything went well for them, but that they ruled with justice and humility. They are “happy in hope, during this present life,” and “happy in reality hereafter”
p244 ch 26 Augustine announces he has made his case that worshiping the Roman gods doesn’t bring any benefits in this life – the life to come to be discussed in the next book
26 chapters – Augustine starts with a damning critique of astrology. A couple of very interesting chapters on the relationship between divine foreknowledge and human free will
p227 ch 1 – if the gods can’t give anything out of their minute jurisdiction (e.g. Bacchus can’t give water, only wine), then what hope has anyone of getting eternal life from them?
p228 ch1 Juvantas was goddess of youth – and “Bearded Fortune” was the god(ess)? that let you grow a good beard
p230 ch 2 Marcus Varro – an ancient academic was “a man who read so much that we marvel that he had any time for writing; who wrote so much that we find it hard to believe that anyone could have read it all”
p231 ch 3 Augustine is essentially giving a book review of the massive works of Marcus Varro (a worshiper of the gods, but a very intellectual man, with a boring writing style)
p233 ch 4 Varro more or less admits that the gods were of human institution
p236 ch 6 Augustine has immense respect for Varro’s intellect, but criticises him
p238 ch 6 the obscenities acted out on stage in honour of the gods only mirrored what was already going on in worship in the temples
p244 ch 9 another mockery of the ridiculous parcelling out of small domains to gods (the door, the hinges, the latch)
p246 ch 9 a whole plethora of gods to ensure that a newly married couple get to have sex – hilarious “let the bridegroom have something to do for himself!”
p246 ch 9 Augustine notes that in his whole treatise on which gods are to be invoked for which items, Varro never includes eternal life as being the domain of any god
p250 ch 10 Varro criticised fabulous theology but didn’t dare to criticise civil, which Augustine sees as inconsistency. Seneca didn’t hold back in faulting civil theology
p251 ch 11 Seneca also criticised the Jews for wasting a 7th of their lives by observing the Sabbath
p252 ch 11 interesting quote from Seneca on the Jewish ritual system: “At least they know the origins of their ceremonies: the greater part of our people have no idea of the reason for the things they do.”
12 chapters – Augustine engages with the scholarly writings of Marcus Varro, a worshipper of the gods. Takes him to task on his distinction between “mythical/fabulous, civil and natural” theology
Augustine plans to take down “civil theology” in this book
p255 ch2 Augustine lists 20 “select” gods who are thought especially important by Varro
p257 ch3 Augustine criticises the selection of these gods … again highlighting the tiny duties that are handed out amongst them
p260 ch 3 biting sarcasm on why Fortune was so unfortunate as to miss out on being a select god
p265 ch 8 pokes fun at the images of the gods
p268 ch 11 deals with the confusion of how Jupiter is distinct from the other gods and goddesses
p272 ch 14 continues with glaring inconsistencies, asking whether Mars or Mercury can be considered gods at all
p276 ch 18 Augustine considers it likely that the legends of the gods were stories of human beings who were elevated to god-like status
p279 ch 21 discusses the obscenities involved in the veneration of some of the gods
p280 ch 22 q: “are any of you so foolish as to think that this makes sense”
p284 ch 24 picks up on confusion between one goddess with many names and many goddesses
p291 ch 29 title: All the attributes ascribed to the world and its parts by “naturalists” should have been ascribed to the one true God.
p291 ch 30 true religion distinguishes Creator from creature
p293 ch 32 title: The mystery of Christ’s redemption was not absent in any previous era, but it was made known under different symbols.
p296 ch 34 interesting about a conspiracy to keep quiet the reasons behind many of the pagan ceremonies
35 chapters – Augustine continues critiquing the gods but includes a couple of chapters making a positive case about the one true God
Augustine moves on to philosophy (Socrates and Plato) to discuss “natural theology”
p298 ch 1 q: Because men call themselves philosophers it does not follow that they are lovers of true wisdom.
p303 ch 4 Plato was a brilliant student of Socrates
p304 ch 4 it is not always possible to work out what Plato thinks, because he considered it a virtue to conceal his opinion – some things he says are in agreement with Christian belief, others not
p305 ch 5 Augustine clearly rates Plato’s ideas as being infinitely more worthy of respect than the stories of pagan gods
p309 ch 8 discussion of the Summum Bonum (ultimate good?) – “everything else we desire for the sake of this, this we desire for itself alone”
p310 ch 8 man’s true Good should be found not in the enjoyment of the body or mind, but in the enjoyment of God
p301 ch 8 q: Plato has no hesitation in asserting that to be a philosopher is to love God, whose nature is immaterial.
p314 ch 9 q: Considers the possibility that Plato heard some of the OT scriptures
p321 ch 15 argues that demons are in no way to be considered superior to humans – and refutes any suggestion that it is OK to worship them (ch 17)
p324 ch 17 q: For surely the supremely important thing in religion is to model oneself of the object of one’s worship.
p325 ch 19 title: the blasphemy of magic, which employs the services of demons
p329 ch 22 q: we must realize that [demons] are in reality spirits whose only desire is to do harm, who are completely alien from any kind of justice, swollen with arrogance, livid with envy, and full of crafty deception.
p330 ch 23 discusses the idea (of an Egyptian called Hermes) that idols., though made by man, somehow get attached to the gods
p334 ch 24 Hermes somehow foresaw and lamented the end of Egyptian religion. Augustine thinks demons made it known to him.
p340 ch 27 Christians honour martyrs, but do not deify them
27 chapters – Augustine deals with Plato’s ideas, which he thinks is the philosophy that is closest to Christianity
p344 ch 2 in this book, Augustine begins to examine the suggestion (of pagans) that there might be good demons
p349 ch 5 q: in our discipline [i.e. Christianity], the question is not whether the devout soul is angry, but why; not whether it is sad, but what causes its sadness; not whether it is afraid, but what is the object of its fear.
p352 ch 8 interesting quote about humans from Apuleius
p359 ch 15 instead of demons, thought to be mediators between humans and the gods, we need Jesus – fully man and fully divine as our mediator
p364 ch 17 q: we need a mediator, since there can be no direct meeting between the immortal purity on high and the mortal and unclean things below.
p364 ch 17 the incarnation showed that the true divine nature cannot be polluted by the flesh
p367 ch 21 the demons have knowledge, but lack charity
23 chapters – a fairly obscure debate about the nature of “demons”, their eternality, rationality and whether they are subject to passions. all this to refute the suggestion that some might be good. Moves on to argue that Jesus, not demons, is the needed mediator between humans and God
p371 ch 1 q: That all men desire happiness is a truism for all who are in any degree able to use their reason.
p375 ch 3 q: For he himself is the source of our bliss, he himself is the goal of all our striving.
p377 ch 5 title: God does not require sacrifices, but he wishes them to be offered as symbols of what he does require.
p377 ch 5 q: it is man, not God, who is benefited by all the worship which is rightly offered to God.
p378 ch 5 q: what is generally called sacrifice is really a sign of the true sacrifice. Mercy is, in fact, the true sacrifice
p379 ch 6 q: a man consecrated in the name of God, and vowed to God, is in himself a sacrifice inasmuch as he ‘dies to the world’ so that he may ‘live for God’
p382 ch 8 the ten plagues on Egypt were full of hidden meanings
p382 ch 8 Moses’ prayer with his arms outstretched made the form of a cross
p384 ch 9 begins to take on proponents of “theurgy”, a kind of magic that claimed to be good (i.e. invoking angels not demons?)
p390 ch 12 q: whatever miracle happens in this world, it is certainly a lesser marvel than the whole world, that is to say, the heavens and the earth and all that is in them, which God undoubtedly made … man is a greater miracle than any miracle effected by man’s agency
p391 ch 12 argues that God is outside of time, and sees the future as having already happened
p392 ch 14 q: Now the soul of man is still weak because of its earthly desires, and in this temporal existence it craves for those inferior goods of this world which, although essential for this transitory life, are to be despised in comparison with the eternal blessings of that other life. Even so, it is altogether right that the soul should learn to look for those temporal blessings from God, and from him alone, so that even in longing for them it should not withdraw from the worship of that God.
p401 ch 20 Christ is both the priest, himself making the offering, and the oblation
p401 ch 20 q: “This one sacrifice [of Christ] was prefigured by many rites, just as many words are used to refer to one thing, to emphasize a point without inducing boredom.
p403 ch 22 q: For it is only sins that separate men from God; and in this life purification from sins is not effected by our merit, but by the compassion of God, through his indulgence, not through our power; for even that poor little virtue which we call ours has itself been granted to us by his bounty.
p404 ch 24 Q: in talking of each person, whether the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit, we acknowledge that each of them is God. But we do not, like the Sabellian heretics, identify the Father with the Son, and the Holy Spirit with both Father and Son. What we say is that the Father is Father of the Son, the Son is Son of the Father, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of both Father and Son, but he is not identical with either.
p404 ch 24 Augustine thinks that the ‘principles’ of God that the Platonists spoke of should have been recognised by them to be the three persons of the Triune godhead
p406 ch 25 title: “The saints in earlier ages under the Law were all justified by the mystery of Christ’s incarnation and through faith in him”
p407 ch 25 q: [The Psalmist in Ps 73] is reproaching himself and is ashamed of himself with good reason because, having (as he afterwards realised) such a treasure in heaven, he sought from his God such transient benefits on earth such a fragile and shabby felicity.”
p407 ch 25 q: The Psalmist goes on to say that his ‘possession’ is God himself, not something which comes from God.
p414 ch 29 in several chapters Augustine addresses Porphyry personally, urging him to recognize the grace of God in Jesus
p423 ch 32 argues that in the Scriptures there is a universal way of salvation – available to all nations (Porphyry had claimed that no religion offered this)
p425 ch 32 summarising statement: Thus in the ten books now completed we have refuted the objections of the wicked, who prefer their own gods to the founder of that Holy City
p426 ch 32 his plan for the next book is to speak of the two cities – which are intermixed with one another in this present world
32 chapters – starts discussing the nature of true worship, takes on the “theurgists”, who he calls ‘superstitious meddlers’. Is mainly a critique of the thought of Porphyry who he urges to come to Christ.
p431 ch 2 q: As man he [Christ] is our Mediator, as man he is our way. … As God he is the goal, as man he is the way.
p434 ch 5 there was no time before the world, there is no space outside it
p435 ch 6 q: the Bible never lies
p436 ch 6 [on 7 days of creation] q: What kind of days these are is difficult or even impossible for us to imagine, to say nothing of describing them.
p436 ch 7 q: We cannot understand what happened as it is presented to us; and yet we must believe it without hesitation.
p439 ch 9 argues that angels were made on the first day, part of the “light”
p444 ch 12 in our future hope, we have something better than the human race had before the fall.
p447 ch 15 asserts that the Devil was made by God
p449 ch 17 “God turns evil choices to good use” … “the Devil, who was good as God created him, became bad by his own choice”
p449 ch 18 Q: For God would never have created a man, let alone an angel, in the foreknowledge of his future evil state, if he had not known at the same time how he would put such creatures to good use, and thus enrich the course of world history by the kind of antithesis which gives beauty to a poem.
p452 ch 21 God’s knowledge is not like ours, which has three tenses – past, present and future.
p453 ch 22 q: Divine providence thus warns us not to indulge in silly complaints about the state of affairs, but to take pains to inquire what useful purposes are served by things.
p456 ch 23 q: there are three questions to be asked in respect of any created being: ‘Who made it’, ‘How?’ and ‘Why?’. I put forward the answers: ‘God’, ‘Through his word’, ‘Because it is good’
p457 ch 24 discusses the Trinity in Creation – especially looking at the Spirit as the source of “goodness”
p460 ch 26 fascinating, possibly circular argument to prove your existence (I exist – and if I’m mistaken, then I must exist in order to be mistaken)
p465 ch 30 entitled: “The perfection of the number 6”
p465 ch 30 Q: the theory of number is not to be lightly regarded, since it is made quite clear, in many passages of the holy Scriptures, how highly it is to be valued.
p466 ch 31 discusses why 7 also is a perfect number
34 chapters. Starts discussing Creation, gets onto the existence of evil, and what purpose it may serve. Also includes discussion of when angels were created (he thinks first day of creation – they were part of the “light”)
p473 ch 2 God is immutable good – while things he creates are good but mutable
p474 ch 3 God is incapable of any change or injury
p474 ch 3 q: a fault cannot exist in the Highest Good, but it cannot exist except in some kind of good
p477 ch 5 q: God supremely exists and therefore he is the author of every existence which does not exist in this supreme degree.
p477 ch 6 the beginning of all sin is pride
p480 ch 8 interesting on what is to blame for evil desires (gold is not to blame for greed, nor beauty for lust)
p482 ch 10 evil is not caused by good but by falling away from good
p484 ch 11 states categorically that there have been fewer than 6000 years since Adam, based on genealogies
p485 ch 12 discusses believers in an infinite number of worlds
p492 ch 16 it is nonsense to say that there was a time when time did not exist
p496 ch 18 [God] did not stand in need of his creation, but produced his creatures out of pure disinterested goodness
p503 ch 23 q: God was well aware that man would sin, and so, becoming liable to death, would then produce a progeny destined to die.
p503 ch 23 q: But God also foresaw that by his grace a community of godly men was to be called to adoption as his sons
p504 ch 24 disagrees with those who think man’s creation is a fable and attribute it to purely natural physical causation
p508 ch 28 God’s decision to create man knowing that some would be evil was a “just decree, however inscrutable to us”
28 chapters – continues dealing with the origin of evil – why did some angels fall? Also the philosophical issue of why God created the world when he did
p511 ch 2 the first death is good for the good, and bad for the bad. the second death is not good for anyone
p513 ch 3 – briefly touches on infant baptism
p514 ch 4 q: The righteous prefer to endure for their belief what the first sinners suffered [i.e. death] for their unbelief.
p515 ch 5 q: just as the law is not an evil thing when it increases the evil desire of the sinner, so death is not itself a good thing when it enhances the glory of the sufferer
p518 ch 10 discusses the fact that we all fast approach our day of death
p521 ch 11 a rather curious discussion of being “in death”
p522 ch 12 the death Adam and Eve were threatened with was the death of the soul and the death of the body (i.e. first and second death)
p523 ch 14 on our fallen nature: q: Only those who are set free through God’s grace escape from this calamitous sequence.
p524 ch 15 on “where are you Adam?” q: Obviously God was not asking for information; he was rebuking Adam; and by the form of the rebuke he was warning him to take notice where he was, in that God was not with him.
p526 ch 16 rejects the idea of the platonists that it is a good thing to become separated from your body
p532 ch 19 dealing with inconsistencies in platonist ideas of the soul existing forever without a body – they believe that the gods (e.g Jupiter are tied to planets)
p535 ch 21 argues that the church is described in Song of Songs
p535 ch 21 argues that allegorical interpretation (of Genesis) is fine so long as we do not deny the historicity of the story
p538 ch 23 contrasts “animal bodies” (mortal) with “spiritual bodies” (our resurrection bodies)
p540 ch 23 q: no one dies in his animal body except “in Adam” and in the same way no one is brought to life in a spiritual body except ‘in Christ’
p534 ch 24 an extended discussion on what was happening when Jesus breathed on his disciples and said “receive the Spirit”
24 chapters – now onto the fall of man, with initial focus on death
p547 ch 1 q: so heinous was their sin that man’s nature suffered a change for the worse; and bondage to sin and inevitable death was the legacy handed on to their posterity.
p547 ch 1 Q: there is, in fact, one city of men who choose to live by the standard of the flesh, another of those who choose to live by the standard of the spirit.
p548 ch 2 by living according to the flesh, Augustine does not mean just living for physical pleasure – those who see the intellect as the Highest Good can live for the flesh too
p551 ch 3 q: those who imagine that all the ills of the soul derive from the body are mistaken
p552 ch 4 q: Falsehood consists in not living in the way for which he was created.
p553 ch 4 every sin is a falsehood – we commit sin to promote our welfare, and it results instead in our misfortune
p556 ch 6 q: “Hate the fault, but love the man.”
p559 ch 9 interesting – wishing for yourself “the provision of extravagant banquets” is Augustine’s example of something dishonourable
p563 ch 9 disagrees with Greek philosophers that emotions are faults
p563 ch 9 q: human emotion was not illusory in him [i.e. Jesus] who had a truly human body and a truly human mind
p568 ch 11 q: Now God foreknew everything, and therefore could not have been unaware that man would sin.
p568 ch 11 q: The choice of the will, then, is genuinely free only when it is not subservient to faults and sins
p571 ch 12: deals with the objection that the sin of eating the fruit seems so trivial – Augustine says that the real issue is obedience
p574 ch 14: pride seeks to pin blame on another – the woman blames the serpent, Adam blames the woman
p574 ch 15 q: God’s intention in this command [i.e. not to eat the fruit] was to impress upon this created being that he was the Lord; and that free service was in that creature’s own interest.
p575 ch 15 q: the disobedience in paradise was all the greater inasmuch as the command was one of no difficulty at all
p576 ch 15 interesting on many different types of lust
p577 ch 16 we would surely prefer to beget children without experiencing sexual lust ?!
p580 some chapters on the shame we feel when we are naked, and the desire for sex to be in private
p583 ch 21 argues that lust arose only after the fall – before there would have been no lust between Adam and Eve
p588 ch 24 q: “A number of people produce at will such musical sounds from their behind (without any stink) that they seem to be singing from that region” !!!
p593 ch 27 q: God was not unaware of any event in the future, and yet he did not, by his foreknowledge, compel anyone to sin
28 chapters – dealing with questions of the fallen human nature, some stuff on sex before the fall being without lust and passion (but an act of will), and why God created man knowing he would fall
p594 ch1 q: “I classify the human race into two branches: the one consists of those who live by human standards, the other of those who live according to God’s will. I also call these two classes the two cities, speaking allegorically
p596 ch 1 Cain belonged to the city of man, Abel to the city of God
p599 ch 4 The earthly city is generally divided against itself
p601 ch 5 q: the good, if they have reached perfect goodness, cannot fight amongst themselves
p605 ch 7 q: a man will have the mastery over his sin if he does not put it in command of himself by defending it, but subjects it to himself by repenting of it. Otherwise, he will also be its slave, and it will have the mastery, if he affords it encouragement when it occurs.
p608 ch 8 deals with some questions raised by Genesis accounts – e.g. where did the people come from for Cain’s city?
p609 ch 9 deals with those who take issue with the ages of the patriarchs
p611 ch 10 and some differences in ages specified in Hebrew vs Vulgate/LXX
p617 ch 13 – an elaborate theory on why the LXX and Hebrew ages differ. Notes that greater reliance should be placed on the manuscripts in the original languages
p623 ch 16 sisters could be taken at wives in the early times
p626 ch 17 sees Cain and Seth as heads of the two cities
p628 ch 18 argues that Abel and Seth represent Christ’s death and resurrection (from the meanings of their names)
p634 ch 20 more stuff on numerical significance
p634 ch 21 Cain’s line starts and ends with a murderer (Lamech)
p635 ch 21 Q: And so the will in nature can turn away from good to do evil – and this through its own free choice; and it can also turn from evil to do good – but this can only be done with divine assistance.
p637 ch 22 the Song of Songs is about Christ’s bride, the City of God
p640 ch 23 q: We may then pass over the tales contained in the scriptures which are called ‘Apochrypha’ because their origin is obscure and was not clear to the fathers, from whom the authority of the true Scriptures has come down to us by a well-defined and well-known line of succession.
p642 ch 25 Q: Now God’s anger is not an agitation of his mind; it is a judgment by which punishment is inflicted on sin.
p643 ch 26 ingenious attempt to parallel the dimensions of the ark with Christ’s body including the door being where the spear went in … though he does recognise that this is speculation, and must be tested by the “rule of faith”
p646 ch 27 argues for the historicity of the account of Noah’s ark, but it is filled with symbolism too
p646 ch 27 q: we must believe that the writing of this historical record had a wise purpose, that the events are historical, that they have a symbolic meaning, and that this meaning gives a prophetic picture of the Church.
27 chapters – Cain and Abel/Seth represent the cities of heaven and earth. Deals with historical objections to various features of Genesis
p650 ch 2 is now starting to look at the period from Noah to Abraham and attempts to look for symbolism in Noah’s sons
p652 ch 2 Q: These hidden meanings of inspired Scripture we track down as best we can, with varying degrees of success; and yet we all hold confidently to the firm belief that these historical events and the narrative of them have always some foreshadowing of things to come, and are always to be interpreted with reference to Christ and his Church, which is the City of God.
p657 ch 4 Babel = Babylon
p658 ch 5 people are here called “sons of men”, not “sons of God” because they are a society that lives by man’s standards – the city of man
p659 ch 6 the plural “let us” when God is speaking is correctly understood to refer to the Trinity
p663 ch 8 deals with myths / tales of people with very unusual physical characteristics
p667 ch 10 Augustine supposes, despite no mention of them in the period from Noah to Abraham, that there were always some of the “sons of God” (i.e. those who lived God’s way) amongst all the “sons of men”
p670 ch 12 Augustine assumes that Terah’s family were God-fearing, and spoke Hebrew (the last remaining descendants of Heber)
p674 ch 15 continues to be concerned with issues of chronology
p668 ch 19 not taking all possible precautions against danger to your family is testing God rather than putting your hope in God
p683 ch 24 finds interesting symbolism in the account of the covenant with Abraham in Gen 15:18ff (e.g. the fire symbolises the day of judgment)
p685 ch 25 seems overly enthusiastic to defend Abraham from any accusations of wrongdoing in any instance – including sleeping with Hagar (also in ch 26)
p689 ch 27 argues for the reality of original sin
p694 ch 32 q: Abraham, we can be sure, could never have believed that God delights in human victims; and yet the thunder of a divine command must be obeyed without argument.
p694 ch 32 q: [Abraham] did not doubt that a son who could be granted to him when he had ceased to hope could also be restored to him after he had been sacrificed.
p695 ch 32 q: Who, then, was symbolized by that ram but Jesus, crowned with Jewish thorns before he was offered in sacrifice?
p697 ch 34 yet again defends Abraham, this time for taking a second wife after Sarah died
p698 ch 35 q: both (Rebecca’s twins) were on the same footing, without a shadow of doubt, in respect of original sin, while in respect of personal sin neither of them had any guilt
p700 ch 37 now attempts to tell us that Jacob didn’t use deceit??
p704 ch 39 very keen to find symbols of Christ in the story of Jacob – e.g. the angel was a willing loser in the wrestle to symbolise the passion of Christ, who appeared to be defeated by the Jews
p707 ch 42 Joseph’s two sons: the elder typifies the Jews, the younger the Christians
p708 ch 43 After that, rushes right through Exodus, the Conquest and right up to David in a single chapter!
p710 ch 43 David marks the beginning of a new epoch – the start of the manhood of God’s people
43 chapters – deals with the period after Noah, through Babel and on to Abraham.
p711 ch 1 now turns to deal with the “era of the prophets” which is from Samuel to the return from exile.
p713 ch 2 argues that the prophecies concerning the land were fulfilled in the time of David and Solomon
p714 ch 3 q: [Jer 31:31-33] is, without doubt, a prophecy of the Jerusalem above, whose ‘reward’ is God himself; and to possess him, and to be his possession is the Highest God, and the Entire Good, in that City.
p715 ch 4 Hannah personifies the church
p717 ch 4 argues that Hannah’s prayer in 1 Sam 2:1-10 was more than just thanks, but a prophecy
p728 ch 5 a slightly obscure interpretation to Eli in 1 Sam 2:27-36
p729 ch 6 entitled “The Jewish priesthood and kingdom, said to have been established forever, no longer exist. The promised eternity must be interpreted as applying to others”
p729 ch 6 q: the priesthood of Aaron’s line was itself set up as a kind of shadow of the eternal priesthood that was to be.
p731 ch 7 Saul personified Israel, which was about to have the kingdom taken from it when Christ came
p734 ch 8 titled “God’s promises to David about his son; in no way fulfilled in Solomon, but abundantly fulfilled in Christ.”
p735 ch 8 Ps 71 not about Solomon but about Jesus
p737 ch 9 deals with the issue of the prophecy about Christ referring to being punished for sins – this he takes to mean the church as the body of Christ needing discipline
p744 ch 14 is of the opinion that all 150 Psalms were written by David
p746 ch 16 takes Ps 46 as an example of a Psalm very clearly about Christ and his church
p748 ch 17 – Christ’s priesthood described in Ps 110, and his passion in Ps 22
p750 ch 18 explores more Psalms prophesying Christ’s death and resurrection
p754 ch 20 discusses prophecies of Christ in Ecclesiasticus and Wisdom of Solomon
p758 ch 21-24 brief survey of later kings of Israel and Judah, accelerating very fast through return from exile to prophets immediately before birth of Christ
24 chapters deals with various prophecies, from Hannah, from the Psalms, which he explains relate to Christ
p764 ch 2 a history lesson on some of the kings of Assyria at the time of Abraham
p767 chs 3,4 continues to say who was king during times of Isaac, Joseph. Particularly notes the worship as gods of these rulers
p767 ch 5 the death penalty was issued for anyone who for anyone who asserted king Arpis to be a mere human being
p770 ch 8 seems to believe that some of the gods e.g. Mercury, Hercules, Minerva, were people who were thought divine after their deaths
p771 ch 9 women lost the vote in ancient Athens!
p780 ch 16 gets to the fall of Troy
p782 ch 18 discusses whether mythological tales of people turning into animals are to be believed – apparently lots of people were willing to testify to having seen them
p782 ch 18 q: “Stories of this kind are either untrue or at least so extraordinary that we are justified in withholding credence.”
p788 ch 23 discusses some remarkable prophetic poetry from the Erythraean Sibyl – the lines began with iesous chreistos theou uios soter.
p796 ch 28 gets onto the prophecies of Hosea and Amos
p796 ch 29 a chapter on Isaiah’s prophecies, which he deems so plainly about Christ that he quotes them without needing to comment
p798 ch 30 Micah, Joel and Jonah
p799 ch 31 Obadiah, Nahum and Habakkuk – finds it a little harder to find prophecies of Christ in Obadiah
p804 ch 32 some texts have I will be joyful in God my Jesus instead of “God my saviour” (one letter different)
p806 ch 34 prophecies of Christ in Daniel and Ezekiel – more widely agreed on selections
p808 ch 35 finds several references to Christ in Malachi
p812 ch 38 discusses why some books are considered non-canonical
p815 ch 40 rejects Egyptian claims that they knew astrology for 100,000 years
p817 ch 41 highlights the huge diversity of opinion amongst Greek philosophers
p819 ch 42 title: “the Scriptures translated into Greek, by God’s providence, for the benefit of the Gentiles
p820 ch 42 believes the Septuagint was translated separately 70 times with no discrepancies
p822 ch 43 holds Septuagint in high regard, though acknowledges some differences from Hebrew – believes the Spirit may have chosen to speak also through these translators
p823 ch 44 – even defends the difference between the Heb and LXX in regards to how many days until Ninevah overthrown (3 or 40?)
p826 ch 45 reaches the desecration of the temple by Pompey
p828 ch 46 q : “when the Jews do not believe in our Scriptures, their own Scriptures are fulfilled in them, while they read them with blind eyes.”
p829 ch 47 Job was not an Israelite, but an Edomite
p830 ch 48 entitled “Haggai’s prophecy of the future glory of God’s house finds fulfilment in the Church of Christ”
p833 ch 50 Q: “to prevent their being frozen with fear they burned with the fire of love.”
p834 ch 51 God even uses heretics to train the church whether through enduring persecution patiently, or through answering error wisely.
p836 ch 52 rejects a teaching that the end times were upon them because 10 persecutions had already come and the 11th would be the final one
p838 ch 53 rejects those who think they know the time of the 2nd coming (e.g. some said as much as 1000 years). Repudiates as pagan an idea that Christ will return after 365 years.
54 chapters – now turns to track the city of man (having tracked the city of God to the coming of Christ), taking a history of pagan and Greek beliefs, with an excursus showing Christ in the major and minor OT prophets
p846 ch 1 Varro works out that there are 288 possible philosophical systems, then he refutes all except the one he holds to. (key differentiator is in terms of what is the supreme good and supreme evil)
p850 ch 3 Varro argues that we are soul and body in combination (not a soul merely contained by a body) and thus the ultimate good is what brings happiness to both soul and body
p852 ch 4 Augustine gets onto the Christian view of Supreme good and evil
p852 ch 4 Q: “eternal life is the Supreme Good and eternal death the Supreme Evil, and that to achieve the one and escape the other, we must live rightly.
p855 ch 4 argues that it is obvious that true happiness cannot be attained in this life
p860 ch 6 discusses the miscarriages of justice from torturing witnesses to gain a confession
p862 ch 7 discusses the misery the wise feel in the necessity of waging just wars
p863 ch 8 q: “how can it be that a man’s death should not be bitter if his life is sweet to us?”
p868 ch 12 pride is a perverted imitation of God
p871 ch 13 q: “not even the nature of the Devil himself is evil, in so far as it is a nature; it is perversion that makes it evil.”
p873 ch 14 q: “a man who loves God is not wrong in loving himself”
p875 ch 15 argues that man is naturally free, and slavery is caused by sin
p880 ch 19 q: “a ‘bishop’ who has set his heart on a position of eminence rather than an opportunity for service should realise that he is no bishop.”
p884 ch 22 “willy nilly”
p890 ch 23 a slightly hard to follow explanation of Rome was never a commonwealth
28 chapters – discussing supreme good and evil, and various other topics
p897 ch 2 discusses the many injustices of this life, however on the final day, all the things God has done during earth’s history will be seen to be just
p900 ch 5 Jesus teaches that there is a judgment to come, and it will coincide with the resurrection of the dead.
p900 ch 5 is a brief survey of the NT evidence for a final judgment
p907 ch 7 gets onto the millennium – doesn’t like the views of the chilliasts, expecting 1000 years of feasting (as a Sabbath after 6000 years since creation)
p908 ch 7 discusses a few possible interpretations of the millennium
p909 ch 7 seems to favour an amillennial view – devil can lead individuals astray, but not nations during the millennium
p911 ch 8 on the unbinding of Satan – q: “In the end the Omnipotent will unloose him, so that the City of God may behold how powerful a foe it has overcome, to the immense glory of its Redeemer, its Helper, its Deliverer.
p913 ch 8 is concerned about the plight of unbaptised children at the time of the unbinding of Satan
p914 ch 9 amillennial – the 1000 years is the period beginning with Christ’s first coming
p915 ch 9 q: the church even now is the kingdom of Christ and the kingdom of heaven
p923 ch 14 q: The correct interpretation of ‘the beast’, is, as I said earlier, the ungodly city itself;
p924 ch 14 q: it is by a transformation of the physical universe, not by its annihilation, that this world will pass away
p928 ch 16 “the sea” is used as an allegory of this stormy age
p928 ch 17 the city has been coming down from heaven since its beginning
p934 ch 19 those who are led astray by false signs and wonders are those who deserve to be led astray because they didn’t love the truth
p936 ch 20 fascinating argument that even those alive at the time of Christ’s second coming will briefly die before being raised again
p951 ch 25 q: From these words (Mal 3:1-6) it seems quite evident that in the judgement the punishments of some are to be purificatory
p956 ch 29 q: men should learn to understand the law in a spiritual manner, and find Christ in that law
p958 ch 30 is devoted to finding places in the OT where Christ is directly speaking (through the prophets)
p963 ch 30 Augustine summarises the end time teaching: “Elijah the Tishbite will come; Jews will accept the faith; Antichrist will persecute; Christ will judge; the dead will rise again; the good and the evil will be separated; the earth will be destroyed in the flames and then will be renewed.” … then confesses that it may not be in that exact order
30 chapters – on the final judgment, starting with teaching of Christ, moving on to some eschatology and exegesis of Revelation, before moving on to find statements on the final judgment in the NT epistles. Then deals with OT prophecies of the final judgment (e.g. Isaiah, Daniel) before devoting a few chapters to Malachi
p965 ch 2 addresses the question of how it is possible for a material body to survive forever in eternal fire, and yet to feel pain
p966 ch 3 q: For pain is really an experience of the soul, not of the body, even when the cause of pain is presented to the soul by the body – when pain is felt in the part where the body is hurt.
p970 ch 4 discusses the remarkable properties of various substances that react in unusual ways to fire
p978 ch 8 describes magnetism as “some insensible power of suction”
p985 ch 10 concludes this part of the argument – the bodies of those in the fires of eternal punishment are certainly able to experience the pain of those fires
p987 ch 11 argues that it can be quite just for the duration of a punishment to greatly outlast the duration of the time taken to commit the offense
p990 ch 13 a poss reference to purgatory? “Some, in fact, will receive forgiveness in the world to come for what is not forgiven in this life, as I have said above, so that they may not be punished with the eternal chastisement of the world to come.”
p993 ch 16 infants who die after baptism do not go through any purification process to enter the kingdom
p994 ch 16 q: “It follows that anyone who desires to escape everlasting pains needs not only to be baptized but also to be justified in Christ, and thus to pass from the Devil to Christ.”
p996 ch 17 refutes the suggestion that the punishment is not eternal
p999 ch 19-23 enumeration of various other views about automatic salvation for those who are baptised, or take the mass etc, these are followed by refutations
p1001 ch 23 Q: “is it not folly to assume that eternal punishment signifies a fire lasting a long time, while believing that eternal life is life without end?”
p1007 ch 24 q: So we see that God has mercy on all the ‘vessels of mercy’; but what is meant by ‘all’? It must mean all those from among the Gentiles as well as those of the Jews whom he predestined, called, justified, and glorified. He will not spare all men; but none of these shall incur his condemnation.
p1008 ch 25 q: “heretics and schismatics, being separated from the unity of the Body, are able to take the same sacrament; but it is not for their profit. No, indeed; it is for their harm.”
p1009 ch 25 q: “those people who continue to the end of their lives in the fellowship of the Catholic Church have no reason to feel secure, if their moral behaviour is disreputable and deserving of condemnation.”
p1011 ch 26 a man can love his wife the way Christ loves the church, but not in a worldly way, which is ‘sensual’
p1014 ch 26 Q: anyone who puts any loved objects before Christ does not have Christ for his foundation
p1016 ch 27 acts of mercy do not cancel out sins – we can’t earn ourselves a “licence to sin”
27 chapters – on the punishment of the devil and the city of man. Includes a long-winded defence of the possibility that a material body could suffer eternal pain in fire without being consumed.
p1022 ch1 q: in this City, all the citizens will be immortal
p1024 ch 2 q: the ’righteousness of God’ means not only the quality whereby God himself is righteous, but also the quality that God produces in a man who is justified by him.
p1028 ch 5 argues for the resurrection
p1030 ch 6 q: Rom believed Romulus to be a god because she loved him; the Heavenly City loved Christ because she believed him to be God.
p1033 ch 8 discusses whether miracles have ceased, includes some testimonies of healing
p1037 a story of a healing from an anal fistula
p1038 a story of healing of breast cancer
p1042 some accounts of raising the dead
p1043 ch 8 claims to have seen more miracles of healing than he has space to write about
p1050 ch 11 a curious debate as to how we will live in “heaven” based on Platonist suppositions about the order of elements in the universe (earth, water, air, sky), which Augustine does not seem to be fully willing to embrace in any case
p1052 ch 11 q: The conclusion is that the Platonist’s arguments for the classification of the elements by weight cannot set limits on the power of Almighty God so that he cannot make our bodies capable even of dwelling in the heavens.
p1052 ch 12 refutes some thoroughly ridiculous objections to resurrection based on what size people will be
p1054 ch 13 tentatively suggests that aborted babies can be resurrected
p1056 ch 15 corrects the bizarre misunderstanding that all people in heaven will have the exact same body size as Christ
p1056 ch 16 cites Rom 12:2 “Don’t model yourselves on the world’s pattern. You have a new outlook; remodel yourselves accordingly.”
p1057 ch 17 q: a woman’s sex is not a defect; it is natural.
p1058 ch 17 q: Christ denies the existence of marriage in the resurrected life; he does not deny the existence of women in heaven.
p1060 ch 19 answers those who take “not a hair of your head will perish” in an extremely literalistic way (do we get all our hair back in heaven?)
p1064 ch 20 is humble enough to admit we do not know what stature everyone will have in the resurrection
p1068 ch 22 Augustine cites all the sorrows and evils of life in the world and concludes – q: From this life of misery, a kind of hell on earth, there is no liberation save through the grace of Christ our Saviour, our God, and our Lord.
p1069 ch 23 q: we must be aware that however valiantly we battle in the fight against evil propensities, and even if we win the battle and subdue the enemy, as long as we are in this body we shall have reason to say to God, ‘Forgive us our debts.’
p1071 ch 24 there is still a ‘spark’ of the image of God in mankind
p1074 ch 24 suggests it would make more sense to him if women had beards instead of men!
p1077 ch 25 again takes on those who object to a bodily resurrection – it is a good thing, since the resurrected bodies will not be subject to decay
p1080 ch 27, 28 argues that Plato, Porphyry, Plato, Labeo and Varro all had bits of the truth, but not the whole truth, and would surely have become Christians had they pooled their insights
p1085 ch 29 we will be able to see God with physical eyes because we will see Christ
p1087 ch 29 Q: perhaps God will be known to us and visible to us in the sense that he will be spiritually perceived by each one of us in each one of us, perceived in one another, perceived by each in himself; he will be seen in the new heaven and the new earth, in the whole creation as it then will be; he will be seen in every body by means of bodies, wherever the eyes of the spiritual body are directed with their penetrating gaze.
p1088 ch 30 “the delight afforded by a beauty that satisfies the reason”
p1088 ch 30 “the reward of virtue will be God himself”
p1088 ch 30 Q: “[God] will be the goal of all our longings; and we shall see him for ever; we shall love him without satiety; we shall praise him without wearying. This will be the duty, the delight, the activity of all, shared by all who share the life of eternity.”
p1089 ch 30 on whether there is free will in heaven: Q: “the will will be the freer in that it is freed from a delight in sin and immovably fixed in a delight in not sinning.”
p1089 ch 30 in the heavenly city we will remember “past evils as far as intellectual knowledge is concerned; but … utterly forget them as far as sense experience is concerned.”
p1090 ch 30 it will be the seventh (Sabbath) day that has no evening
p1091 ch 30 history is in 7 epochs, we are in the sixth: 1: Adam to flood; 2: flood to Abraham; 3: Abraham to David; 4: David to exile; 5: exile to Christ; 6: present age; 7 eternal Sabbath
30 chapters – a “discussion of the eternal bliss of the city of God”