Few books have impacted the West as deeply as
St. Augustine’s The City of God, not only in politics
and philosophy, but in the spirit, with its exploration
of the relationship between a loving God and a shattered world. Thomas Aquinas, Charlemagne, John
Calvin, Hannah Arendt, and Pope Benedict XVI all
drew from the text’s deep and varied wells.
Yet few of us will ever read the gargantuan work
which stretches past one thousand pages. This volume, however, edited by Hans Urs von Balthasar,
offers a simple road through Augustine’s masterpiece. It contains selections from The City of God,
culled for their beauty and spiritual power, bolstered
with notes, and arranged by theme, from creation to
Rome to happiness to the end of time. In Augustine,
the heart is as crucial as the mind.
This edition is intended above all for prayer and
meditation. Still, for readers who wish to engage
Augustine on a critical level, the introduction by
Balthasar—recipient of the 1984 International Paul
VI Prize under Pope John Paul II—provides a rigorous analysis of the City, with an eye on the philosophical and theological discourse of the twentieth
century. The book is also furnished with a detailed
index of names, subjects, and Scriptural references.
All excerpts of the City are taken from William
Babcock’s 2013 translation with New City Press,
praised by critics as “a remarkable achievement”
(Johannes van Oort), “the most beautiful and up-todate of the existing versions” (Arabella Milbank).